In the introduction they describe the report as follows:
“This is the third survey of journalists undertaken by the Worlds of Journalism Study group. The WJS is a collaboration of academics from more than 120 countries…These preliminary results are from the Aotearoa/ New Zealand part of the WJS study…this is the first time NZ journalists have been asked about their attitudes to the Treaty of Waitangi…”
Here are their key findings:
- Women increasingly dominate the profession, making up nearly 60% of the workforce.
- Māori now makes up a tenth of all journalists, a 20% increase in five years.
- Journalists overwhelmingly support the Treaty of Waitangi in their work. Almost a third (31%) said the Treaty applied to everything they wrote about. Another 43% said it applied to most things, such as any stories that involve legislation or politics, culture or society in which the treaty is referenced. A minority (16 percent) thought it only related to some things, such as stories for Māori about Māori issues, while 2% thought it had no relevance to journalism.
- Journalists now feel their most important role is “educating the public”, more important than what traditionally has been a “non-biased neutral observer role”.
- On the subject of bias, they say “there are very few strongly right-wing journalists, but a substantial number of moderately or strongly left-wingers.” Five percent were described as “extreme left”, and 15% “hard left”. In other words, one in five journalists is a rabid socialist. At the other extreme, there were virtually no extreme right or hard right journalists. Given the left-wing bias is stated so plainly, they make a puzzling comment: “Somewhat surprisingly, there has been an increase in journalists favouring supporting government policy and conveying a positive image of political leadership…”
- With respect to the topics reported, 75% said they had “either a great deal or complete media freedom about what they write about and deciding which aspects of stories to emphasise”. That would suggest there is very little oversight from editorial management to ensure articles meet the ethical standards of balance and fairness.
- On the matter of journalist practices, there were some extraordinary findings. Seventy-nine percent said it was OK to use the personal materials of powerful people, such as documents and photos, without their permission! That dropped to 54% if the information related to “ordinary people”. Clearly “powerful” people are less deserving of fair treatment. Seventy-six percent said it was OK to use “secret recording devices”! Thirty-five percent said it was OK to impersonate someone else! Thirty-five percent said that "Publishing or broadcasting stories with information that is not yet verified" is acceptable!
The survey confirms what most news consumers already know – as a whole, journalists are biased. Not only do they have a strong left-wing bias, but about a third of the industry is also hard-core in their left-wing beliefs.
That would not be of concern if the journalists kept their personal views to themselves and saw their role as non-biased neutral observers. While that may have been their role in years gone by, journalists now see their role is to change the opinion of their audience.
Typically, editors have acted as the gatekeepers to maintain balance and ethical practices. That too has shifted with journalists stating they have a high level of autonomy. That would explain why some publications are now overtly biased.
What is quite clear is the growing disconnect between what journalists produce and what the public wants to consume. That is visible in their declining audience and reflected in a noticeable mistrust of the mainstream media.
The audience that is looking for media coverage that is balanced and fair is increasingly turning to new channels for news and political commentary. It is therefore hardly surprising that the legacy media is becoming its own echo chamber with a dwindling audience.
The challenge for the media sector is how it remains relevant. The logical response is to return to the more traditional values as espoused in the virtuous principles of the Broadcasting Standards Authority and the Media Council. That will, however, be difficult for an industry that is now highly populated with extreme socialists intent on re-educating their audience towards their form of left-wing ideology.
View the full survey HERE >>>
Frank Newman is an investment analyst. He served two terms as a councillor on the Whangarei District Council and is the author of numerous books on investment matters.