The journalistic sin that festers in open sight

Guest Post: Lushington D. Brady
Punk rock philosopher. Liberalist contrarian. Grumpy old bastard. After working as a freelance music journalist, auto worker, railway worker, taxi driver, small business owner, volunteer firefighter and graphic designer, Lushington Dalrymple Brady decided he finally had an interesting enough resume to be a writer. Miraculously, he survived university Humanities departments with both his critical faculties intact and a healthy disdain for Marxism. He blogs at A Devil?s Curmudgeon. Lushington D. Brady is a pseudonym, obviously.

When I was studying journalism, it was drummed into us that mixing opinion and reporting was a cardinal sin. Journalism academic Stephen Lamble ruled that, ?journalists should clearly distinguish between news, comment and opinion?.

Yet one flagrant example of this journalistic sin occurs almost daily in media right across the ideological spectrum. That this particular and glaring breach of journalistic good practice is allowed to fester in open sight is, I suspect, because almost everyone – journalists and audiences alike – has been conditioned to simply accept it as a received truth.

News is what journalists commonly call ?hard news? – the ?just the facts? of who, what, when, where, why and how. In print, hard news is usually the front pages of the paper. News reporting is supposed to strictly report the facts without inserting the reporter?s opinions. ?There should be no clues in a journalist?s work,? says Lamble, ?about her or his political leaning?

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Bob Jones on useless pimping media

Bob Jones is still a national treasure. In his column at NBR he hooks into Fairfax and the NZ Herald:

I once wrote an article speculating about what would happen if there was no news and reached the conclusion that on well-established form, reporters would simply invent it.

Bob, mate, they already?do and have done for decades.

Believe it or not, that actually arose in early January.? For three days, nothing significant happened; no murders no interesting courtroom dramas, the politicians were on holiday, no mad murdering Muslim episodes, just nothing. Sure we had an amazing last day at the Basin against Bangladesh but that was sports page territory and you can?t fill the paper with it.? So some journos set to and made up the news. ?? Read more »


Winter may be coming for the MSM but New Media is snug and warm

Cam’s good mate Chris Trotter drew his attention to an article titled “Winter is Coming: Prospects for the American Press Under Trump.” I read it and while I agree that winter is coming for the American MSM, they are the grasshopper and New Media like Breitbart and Drudge Report are the ant. For those of you unfamiliar with the fable, the grasshopper enjoyed himself during the summer and didn’t understand why the ant laboured away gathering and storing food in preparation for Winter. The grasshopper ended up begging the Ant for food.

New Media have worked hard to gain the readership they have today and they haven’t taken their audiences for granted. They are very aware that their financial existence is wholly dependent on their audience and they are very in tune with their audience because New Media is internet based. New Media knows which articles they publish are popular and which are not. They know which articles got the most comments and which ones got the most views. They know which ones were shared the most. In short, they have their finger on the pulse of their audience. In contrast, establishment media have taken their readers for granted. They still think and work with the old paradigm which worked well for a paper publication with deadlines in the days when there was no online news or New Media competition. They have failed to adequately adapt and now as the article says, winter is coming and they must pay the price.

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Should a stock photo of a child be used to illustrate a news article about child rape?

Both Stuff and the New Zealand Herald chose to illustrate an article about the rape of a ten-year-old New Zealand schoolboy with a stock image of a young boy on a bed with his head in his hands. One of our readers sent me an e-mail about it. They said that even though it is a stock image they couldn’t understand why a journalist would use someone’s real child in an article about a child raping another child. They said that they ?felt absolutely sick before they even read the article.

Apart from the content of this article being awful – WTF with using a stock photo of a 5 or 6 year old to highlight a rape?

What is wrong with reporters???????????????????
-reader e-mail

This is the stock photo that the New Zealand Herald used.

The woman, who was not named to protect her son’s identity, said another child witnessed the incident. This image is a stock image.

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Advertising is New Media’s Achilles heel

Kellogg Co. breakfast cereals are arranged for a photograph in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015. Kellogg Co. is scheduled to report 2014 fourth quarter earnings on Feb. 12. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Kellogg Co. breakfast cereals Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Make no mistake?New Media is going up against the establishment and it’s success with the?public is tempered by its vulnerability to attacks on its advertising revenue. Breitbart News is the new News sheriff in town and is expanding rapidly but the establishment who preferred the old News sheriff still have a few bullets in their arsenal. If they can’t beat the new News by being better they will instead try to beat it by crippling it economically. It is a bit like the ageing Sheriff with arthritis trying to get rid of his rival not in a gun fight but by talking the local store into refusing to sell him any supplies for his ranch. He might be the better gunslinger but how long can he last without any supplies?


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Stop reading the news

One of the people I read to give me ideas, strategies and direction is Ryan?Holiday. A great deal of what we do here at Whaleoil comes from his ideas. One of his books is my bible.

Now you may think I am giving up our secrets, but the reality is no one will bother to try to emulate me, for a start they don’t have the work ethic I?do, and they aren’t prepared to do what it takes.

That said, Ryan?Holiday makes some observations about the media and politics:

The last few months have been particularly unhappy ones for me. Not because there was anything wrong in my life; on the contrary, in my life things were going surprisingly well. The source of my misery? I was caught up in the news cycle.

I told myself it was partly my job. But the reality is, I was doing less of my job. How could it have been otherwise? I?d become consumed by a divisive, contentious, scandal driven news loop. Twitter. Google News. Apple News. Facebook. Longreads and hot takes via Instapaper. CNN. Email conversations. NPR.

My media diet had gone from abstemious to addicted. As someone who is normally self-disciplined, I felt guilty about the time I was wasting and the energy I spent emoting about things far beyond me, and yet, I could not control it. I know I am not the only one?the most common thing I?ve heard from people the last few months is: I can?t wait for this election to be over so I can go back to work. I?d venture to guess that there is someone else, who deep down, can at least relate to that sentiment: Fellow (and admitted) news junkie and, now President-elect, Donald Trump.

It?s time we all came to terms with our compulsion: How is anyone going to make America or themselves great again?if we?re all glued to our devices and television screens? How can anyone maintain their sanity when everything you read, see, and hear is designed to make you stop whatever you?re doing and consume because the world is supposedly ending?

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ComCom favours rejecting Fairfax/NZME merger #StuffMe


The ComCom has issued a draft determination rejecting the bid by Fairfax and NZME for a merger of the two companies.

NBR reports:

The Commerce Commission says a proposed merger of New Zealand?s two biggest media companies will substantially lessen competition and lead to reduced editorial quality.

In? draft decision published this morning, the regulator said its preliminary view was to decline to authorise the merger.

The two companies had sought clearance or authorisation to combine their businesses in New Zealand, which include the two biggest news websites and

NZME owns eight daily and two weekly newspapers, 24 community publications, six magazine titles, ten radio stations and 38 websites.

Fairfax operates the largest print media network in New Zealand, featuring nine daily and three weekly newspapers, 61 community publications, ten magazine titles and six websites.? Read more »


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