Monday, April 11, 2022

Karl du Fresne: Break out those Tui billboards

Well, hello. The latest Edelman Trust Barometer contains possibly the least surprising research findings so far this century. It confirms that New Zealanders are losing, or have already lost, faith in the media.

The barometer, which surveyed 36,000 people in 28 countries, found that governments and the media internationally are fuelling a “cycle of distrust”. Both institutions are seen as divisive, a finding unlikely to come as a revelation to any vaguely sentient human being.

Perhaps most significant is the finding, reported here by Pattrick Smellie of BusinessDesk [paywalled], that 55 per cent of New Zealanders regard the media as a divisive force, against 23 per cent who see it as unifying. The corresponding split globally is 46/35, meaning New Zealanders are far more likely than citizens of other countries to view their media as agents of polarisation.

This underlines a striking trend in recent years for the mainstream media in New Zealand to align themselves consciously and deliberately with causes that they must know alienate a large proportion of their readers, viewers and listeners. Call it slow-motion suicide.

The bigger picture is that the media have abandoned their traditional role of trying to reflect the society they purport to serve in favour of advocating on behalf of divisive and often extremist minority causes. By doing so they create a perception of New Zealand not as a cohesive, stable society made up of diverse groups with vital interests in common, but as one characterised by aggrieved minorities whose interests are fundamentally incompatible with those of a callously indifferent (or worse, deliberately oppressive) majority.

Media outlets that once tried conscientiously to provide a platform for a range of opinions and ideologies now unashamedly attack, or just as insidiously ignore, views and beliefs that run counter to the narrative favoured by the leftist cabal that controls the institutions of power. The most obvious example is the collective undertaking by major media organisations to ignore any opinion, including those of distinguished scientists, that runs counter to the “approved” narrative on climate change or the effectiveness of policies intended to ameliorate it.

Such flagrant suppression of news would have been unthinkable not long ago. Now it’s official editorial policy.

The Edelman Barometer confirms that overall trust in the New Zealand media remains low at 41 per cent (although it’s up slightly on recent years) compared with 50 per cent internationally. Again, this is hardly a surprise when media independence has been fatally compromised by the industry’s acceptance of tainted government money via the Public Interest Journalism Fund, aka the Pravda Project.

This rort hasn’t gone unnoticed by the public. The latest findings of the Auckland University of Technology annual Trust in Media report, which are also reported by Smellie, reveal a continuing decline in trust – down from 53 to 45 per cent – and quote some respondents as saying the reason for their distrust is that the media are funded by the government and politically influenced by it.

One finding of the Edelman report that should particularly alarm media leaders (but won’t, because they are in denial) is that 64 percent of respondents thought New Zealand journalists purposely tried to mislead people by saying things they know are false or grossly exaggerated. This is a predictable result when journalists are given licence to use the news columns as platforms for their ideological agendas.

As an occupational group, journalists have long tended to lean to the left. Earlier generations of reporters countered this by restraining their natural impulses, knowing that media credibility hinged on public confidence that events and issues would be covered fairly, accurately and impartially. That professional discipline is long gone, along with the moderating influence exercised by editors who insisted on the now highly unfashionable principle of objectivity.

We are bombarded daily with politically slanted content masquerading as trustworthy and authoritative reportage. A recent example was an episode of the New Zealand Herald’s newly launched podcast The Front Page (which claims to “go behind the headlines” and ask “hard-hitting questions”), in which Herald journalists Damien Venuto and Georgina Campbell purported to examine the Three Waters project without once mentioning its most contentious feature – namely, the proposal for 50/50 co-governance with iwi.

“High-quality, trusted” coverage as promised by Herald managing editor Shayne Currie? It's time to revive the Tui billboards, surely.

Karl du Fresne, a freelance journalist, is the former editor of The Dominion newspaper. He blogs at


Janine said...

As journalists the MSM should surely have an understanding of words. "Trusted", " Balanced" " Intrepid" and " Honest" are all words that jump out from the page when they are describing themselves. Needless to say, anyone with half a brain gave up on the newspapers and TV channels several years ago. None of the above words describe the New Zealand MSM.

The joy of this failure by our MSM to be fair and balanced is that many of us found blog sites such as this one where we could express an opinion. Believe me I have discovered the alternative sites to be many and varied and they have large followings.

The downside is that many of our politicians still want to fund and are actually " scared" of our MSM. So politically we are still in a pretty dire space where the MSM see themselves as government spokespeople. They are no longer the voice of the people.

Robert Arthur said...

My existing disdain for the impartiality of local msm took a further dive this morning when on RNZ Saturday Morning 16 April formerly renowned media personnel Kim Hill and Jim Tucker both declared that PIJFunding had no effect on reporting bias. The conditions for PIJFunding clearly state that maori must be supported. In other words no criticism. Most govt policy is now blatantly pro maori. In effect, PIJF conditions require no criticism of govt policy. All media actions are affected. No organisation is going to objectively review policy in general, action which will inevitably involve criticism, then expect favourable PIJFunding of some specific topic.
It is sad that journalists of their calibre seem to have succumbed to the current pro maori bribery. It seems indicative of the enormous fear many now have of questioning matters pro maori, thus incurring the racist slur and the career and life horror of cancellation.

Robert Arthur said...

To add to the above, there has been very little general and even less critical reporting of Pae Ora, the radical history curriculum, Three Waters, RNZ Charter review, Council maori Wards, etc. It is too much to expect modern journalists to formulate their own criticism. Quite apart from the fact that few reporters now have even the ability and certainly not the inclination, the obvious source of critical material would be a trawl through parliamentary submissions. But many of the arguments are not pro maori. Reporting frankly on would therefore not qualify for PIJFunding and poorly place any applicant to qualify for funding for other topics.

Auntie Podes said...

The prime example is the one time Auckland Herald. As it began to degenerate it became The Harald - a bit of a joke. Now it has sunk so low it has sold-out the newspapers heart - it's front page - to crummy and repetitive advertising for Harvey Norman. Its so-called journalists gave up all pretence of factual, unbiased, both-sides-of-the-story reporting. Instead they strap themselves firmly into the saddle of their particular bike and publicise their bias. Ardern recognised her fellow travellers and rewarded their efforts by backing those leaning her way. They responded by idolising her and sanctifying her every word. "Best" of all is Simon Collins. It would not surprise me at all to hear that he gets paid twice. Once by the rag he writes for and a massive bonus by the lefties he serves so well.

KP said...

World-wide the mainstream media is nothing more than the propaganda arm of the Govt or big business owners. The internet has shown just how fake their news is, and how hard they battle to discredit any opposing view. Covid bought it into sharp relief, and Russia-Ukraine has magnified it. It is now so blatant and demonstrably false even a child can see it.

...and they wonder why some bloggers have a larger number of readers than any newspaper or TV. They have destroyed themselves.

Pamela said...

Aye Robert, I heard Kim Hill blow her credibility as well. Very sad that an admired and reasoned journalist has lost impartiality.
We all know she has wit and quick intelligence - so her sell-out is quite damning to her reputation. On the 16th she got quite hissy on air at being corrected about Good Friday, very offensive but she is free to say so - yet she will bend the knee to not offend Maori.

Geoffrey said...

I have been bombarded by NZ Herald requests to renew my subscription for $5 per week and then $1 per week. Why would I when their editorial policy is unchanged from when I ceased subscribing. A cheap rotten egg is no more palatable than an expensive one.