Not remotely surprised trust in media is falling. It’s falling, according to the authors of this week’s latest report into the industry, at “an alarming rate.”
This is the AUT Trust in News in New Zealand report. They mark various organisations out of 10. Over the past three years overall it’s gone from 62%, as in 62% of us trust the media, down to 52%.
That’s barely over half. In a year’s time, at this rate, the majority of us won’t trust the media.
State-run and funded media has been hard hit. Iwi Radio, Māori Television, and TVNZ dropped more than 10% from the previous year. That is an indictment and we have every right to ask some serious questions around neutrality and whether we are getting value for money.
Here is the frustrating if not depressing thing for me, a person who has plied his trade in this sector for over 40 years, it is all so predictable. This is not a surprise. It has, not only been coming for years, it is, in too many cases, encouraged.
Too much of the media is biased. The danger in it is not the fact they are biased, it’s the fact they claim they aren’t. They claim they are the defenders of the truth. In that is the con.
It’s a little bit complex. Many would argue they are neutral because they believe they are, despite the fact they are not. In other words, they can’t see their own shortcomings. Others are just plain dishonest.
It’s widely accepted for example that Jacinda Ardern got an easy ride in the early part of her rise to Prime Minister. It is widely accepted the media fell in love with her. That has changed, and the fact it has changed is proof it needed to change. But at the time if you had asked, and believe me I did, would they have admitted it? No, they would not.
The public funding programme the government dreamed up for journalism hasn’t helped either. It is perceived as buying coverage. In reality, it’s not that blunt or blatant, but it’s not that hard to join the dots.
Then we come to what I would call the annoying bits. The Māori words sprinkled liberally these days into bulletins and coverage that really don’t need to be there because we already have Māori language news, most people don’t speak Māori, it’s not their job to be language teachers it’s their job to cover news and it’s tokenism.
Put all that and more together and you’ve got a mess. You’ve got a grouping of news gatherers and presenters who look like they have been hijacked either by a government, ideology, political correctness, or all three.
It doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of good stuff out there. It’s just too much of it’s tainted with suspicious operations.
The tragedy is this, will they address it? No. So, guess where next year’s numbers are heading?