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Dr Muriel Newman

Media Concerns

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journalistsAccording to surveys conducted by the US polling company Gallup, trust in the media fell to an all-time low of 40 percent last year, from a high of 72 percent in 1976. A loss of confidence in the mainstream media’s ability to report the news “fully, accurately, and fairly” along with a perception of bias – that the media is “too liberal” – has resulted in a growing disenchantment. As people look elsewhere for their news, all traditional media channels have been affected – radio, television and newspapers.

In New Zealand in 2013, the percentage of the population older than 15 that listened to the radio at least once a week declined from 96 percent in 2000 to 79 percent, and television audiences fell to 2008 levels.

Newspapers have also been in decline – figures released by the New Zealand Audit Bureau of Circulation show that between December 2013 and December 2014: the Herald’s circulation fell from a daily average of 148,000 copies to 143,000, the Dominion Post from 75,000 to 69,000, the Christchurch Press from 70,000 to 64,000, and the Otago Daily Times from 37,000 to 36,000. Some weekly papers also suffered – the circulation of the Sunday Star Times fell from 123,000 to 116,000 and the National Business Review from 6,200 to 5,500, while the Herald on Sunday was stable on 99,000.

Newspapers, radio and television used to be the only real source of news. They were the gatekeepers who decided what information was passed on to the public. But the rise of the internet has changed all of that – the mainstream media no longer has a monopoly on the control of information.

As Paul Thompson, the Chief Executive of Radio New Zealand said in a speech last year about the rise of multimedia digital platforms and other consumer-driven changes, “This transformation means many profound things, as we all know. But I want to highlight one of them: the death of mediocrity. Our control of transmission in the past allowed us, the broadcasters, to largely set the standards of quality and relevance. But in a world where the audience has more choice than ever before their attention will always shift to those media sources which best meet their needs. In effect the audience will call the shots, not us, and the first thing they will shoot is any content which is sub-standard.”

He’s right. Public scrutiny of mainstream media is on the increase. Many of the concerns being raised are the same as those identified by Professor Thomas Gibbons in the UK’s Leveson Inquiry into the press, namely that news coverage is “unfair, biased, sensational, misrepresents views or does not report impartially”. Such failings are driving consumers away, and the more desperate the press becomes in trying to win back their audiences, the worse it gets – especially when they engage in their own self-perpetuating media ‘pandemics’.

We saw it only too clearly last year, when the media’s fixation with Nicky Hagar’s well orchestrated book of stolen emails dominated the election campaign – to the exclusion of a proper debate on policy issues that actually matter. They were relentless in their search for sensation, where there was none. In response, many people simply switched off. Others turned to the internet for better quality information.

The latest in a long line of such media pandemic has been “ponytailgate”. In his erudite way, this week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator Sir Bob Jones has written about this:

“Ponytails, which I’m a fan of, have been tugged by males since they were invented by the third century BC Macedonian poet Samus, who wrote lyrically and at length on the desirability of pulling them. Doubtless you already know that. Come to think of it, having an interest in the classics, I dutifully give my 7-year-old daughter’s ponytail the occasional tug. That incestuous confession should excite diverse madwomen from the Human Rights mob, Children’s Commission and Women’s Affairs, all utterly unnecessary agencies which greatly irritate everyone at the long-suffering taxpayer’s expense.”

In his entertaining article, Bob pokes fun at the way the media operates, but the underlying message is serious: “I spoke to dozens of people about this matter and, confirming my suspicion, the response was uniform, namely contempt for the media for flogging this non-story. Newspapers and television, in the face of the technological assault, are fighting for survival. They did themselves no favours with this nonsense. Shame on them.”

In spite of the media’s obsessive political attacks, the polls show that the Prime Minister remains popular. The public like him. Although he rubs shoulders with the world’s most powerful leaders, he has no airs and graces – and he loves New Zealand.

The Herald reporter Claire Trevett provided an interesting insight when she explained that she has been watching how people react to John Key for years. She noted that the barriers that usually lie between people in power and the public were almost invisible, that his informality is natural, and that he touches almost everyone he meets – “a casual thing aimed at reinforcing the connection”. She said there was nothing remotely inappropriate about it all and nor was it one-sided: “During a visit to the Christchurch races in 2011 any number of people launched at him for a kiss. At Gallipoli in 2010 one young bloke high in the stands at Chunuk Bair yelled out for a hug and then leaped down to get it. The Turkish media were astonished and slightly envious, saying their own leader never did such things.”

Most people are fair minded. They don’t like to see others – especially a Prime Minister – treated unjustly by the media. The public’s response to this, and similar issues, should cause media bosses to reflect on the integrity of their own profession, which at such times appears to be seriously lacking.

In 2008, award winning British journalist Nick Davies, who had just published an exposé on the wrongdoings in the industry, was interviewed by Radio NZ journalist Kim Hill. He condemned the media’s dodgy reporting, explaining how untruths were frequently disguised as unassailable facts. He said he was shocked by the scale of the “falsehoods, distortion, and propaganda” in stories put out by the press.

During the interview, a Cardiff University study of newspapers was discussed, which had found that 60 percent of news stories were largely derived from public relations releases or news agency wire services, 20 percent were partially so, 8 percent of news came from unknown sources, and only 12 percent was genuine news generated by reporters. In other words, only a minority of published mainstream news is based on in-house investigative journalism – the rest of their content is composed of recycled material from other sources.

Without a doubt there are many pressures on journalists. Since most of the income from mainstream media comes from advertising, material that could offend major advertisers may be edited out. Similarly, journalists who have access to highly placed government and corporate sources, and want to keep them onside, may be loath to publish adverse reports. News editors may be reluctant to deal with controversial political and social issues that they feel may alienate consumers. This explains why contentious issues of grave concern to large segments of the population are often ignored by mainstream media. Similarly, with ‘human interest’ stories being used more frequently to make up for the lack of meaningful content in mainstream news, consumers seeking in-depth information on complex issues are likely to be disappointed.

Long standing concerns about political bias in the media came to a head last year. The Herald reported that, “A survey of New Zealand journalists as part of the Worlds of Journalism Study will have confirmed the darkest fears of many in the National Party. Of the 320 respondents, 62 percent described themselves as left of centre. Only 16 percent categorised themselves as right-leaning, and 22 percent as centrists”.

The issue then made headline news, when the general manager of the Maori and Pacific Unit of Television New Zealand, Shane Taurima, was forced to resign after it was revealed he had been using TVNZ resources for Labour Party business. Calls for the media to disclose political affiliations, so that the public could better judge how much credibility to give to their reports, followed.

The issue was raised in a Parliamentary Select Committee. TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick said he was reviewing the company’s disclosure rules and may require employees to declare any links with political parties: “My personal view is that we should expand that to be more specific about participation in political parties.”

The State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie opposed the idea: “All State servants must balance their professional roles and responsibilities with their private views and keep their job out of their politics and their politics out of their job… It would not be appropriate for any organisation in the State Services to monitor or keep a register of their staff’s political views or affiliations.”

But from the public’s point of view, since the media enjoys a presumption of independence that gives them a level of credibility that most commentators do not have, surely it would only be reasonable for members of the press to disclose any affiliation with a political party. The editor of the Herald agreed: “It is elementary to journalists that joining a political party is not an option unless they plan to make their career in the party’s publications. Those who want to be credible reporters of news and politics for a mass audience cannot belong to a party. If they did, they would have to declare their affiliation, and their audience would rightly question the reliability of everything they reported.”

Television New Zealand came to a similar view, and is now demanding journalists and presenters declare membership, fund-raising or other political party activity. As Chief Executive Kevin Kenrick said, “It’s an absolute necessity for our news and current affairs service to operate free from political influence.”

In their defence, journalists will often claim that their own biases and the pressures from advertisers and media owners, does not affect their work because of their adherence to the norm of ‘objectivity’. This requires them to avoid expressing their own views or beliefs, to take a balanced approach by reporting both sides of an argument, and to quote people and facts accurately. Professor Gibbons describes objectivity as a “cornerstone of the professional ideology of journalists in liberal democracies”.

In a free democracy, the media stands alongside the Executive, Parliament, and the Judiciary as the Fourth Estate. They not only act as a watchdog over government, but as a fearless defender of free speech. Given the crucial role they play in society, it is surely beholden on them to do whatever it takes to restore their professionalism and win back public trust.

I will leave the last word to Keith Rupp, a US Communications Advisor, who, as a former journalist, has some sage advice for the media: “Here are the nagging thoughts I have when I see mainstream news organizations attempting to ape the success of opinionated online platforms. What if journalism is dying because of something else and not the Internet per se? What if journalism is dying because news executives have been chasing the consumers with ‘news’ products that increasingly seek to affirm their audiences’ existing biases instead of holding the line and reporting boring fact-based news? What if Marshall McLuhan had it all wrong when he posited that ‘the medium is the message’? What if the message is still the message? And what if the messenger is getting it wrong?”


Do you believe the standard of mainstream journalism is declining?

Vote x 120

*Poll comments are posted below.


*All NZCPR poll results can be seen in the Archive.


Click to view x 120


Media do not report things that happen ! They give their own spin on it and if they can’t say it they want they change by inference to give an impression there is a lot more behind the news than meets the eye !! David
The main reason for this is because there are too many left wing losers in the industry. Doug
One only has to look at the biased, ignorant “reporting” (aka parroting) of Anthropogenic Global Warming/Climate Change/Climate Disruption to reach that conclusion. One wonders how much else is written without thought & asking questions? Dave
They have declined for many, many years and the level of bias and outright BS has increased exponentially! James
The standard today is ‘lowest common denominator’. Graeme
It has declined with more and more journalists showing left wing bias. Robert
Without doubt. Ray
Trivia and bias seem to dominate most of mainsteam media these day. The main source of good jounalism for me is found in the weekly give away farming newspapers. Miles
The difficulty in voting yes to this proposition is the realization that to decline further, a deeper bottom must exist. Every indication is that TV and Print journalism followed by most radio in NZ in particular has become the leftish bastion of propaganda dogma , long past descending to the gutter, it has already swept down into the cesspit. We have long since given up on Listener and NZ Radio, we no longer subscribe to the horrid rag, Campbell cannot be put to pasture soon enough , the way of the idiot Holmes before him and hopefully the upstart paul wont be far behind. We need believable people and the news must be accurate, not only factual but reasonably researched. Too much of our tax money and even pay subscription is wasted on, rubbish advertising, despicably inaccurate advertorials and politically bias claptrap. Richard
I believe the truth comes second to sensationalism. Andrew
A long time since we had the truth investigated especially with issues like race-based privilege, rampant apartheid. Far too much socialist, sensation, left-wing bias, opinionated journalists .Brilliant newsletter content. Monica
I’m sick of the media and their leftish scocial reporting God give this govt some credit. Ron
The degree of political bais has also been hijacked to an alarming extent. Michael
It is irritating that even the news readers “express” their opinions with their facial expressions. Only older readers (like Peter Williams) still read the news objectively and professionally. Jane
Opposite result to media intent. Key’s popularity has increased. Harry
Yes they have lost the art of being journalist they are scared of MPs to ask the hard questions, & delive into the articles they are writting. Geoff
None needed. Just look at the way the media tried to blow ponygate out of all proportion. Anthony
Test from my laptop as per your request. Neil
The “Pony gate” front page story in the N.Z. Herald was puerile drivel.. Don
Not just the content; also the quality of reporting. So much has descended towards the gutter. Peter
Whilst the question suggests the answer, I have the following comments:- 1) In general I regard the printed word as more likely to be researched adequately and as a consequence, more creditable. 2) By contrast, radio and television is more “of the moment” and therefore less likely to contain as much in depth analysis. Points 1 and 2 are generalizations and will have their exceptions. 3) The irreversible rise of many forms of instant digital communication seems to have spawned a significant degree of dependency, or perhaps addiction; I suspect that the herd mentality is at play here, consider the adherence by so many to facebook, twitter et al. 4) New Zealand has in the past been well served by the mainstream press:- Auckland (Herald), Hamilton (Waikato Times), Wellington (Dominion), Christchurch (Press), Dunedin (Otago Daily Times). The smaller regions have also had good local papers and perhaps still do. These days I take just the Herald on a subscription basis as now live in Auckland. 5) In my view the Herald changed its position when the Hortons left the fold and the Riley group assumed ownership. It seems that the Herald slid toward the less desirable attributes of the British gutter press and that stance has been largely accepted by its readership, so in that sense the Herald may well be giving its readers what they want; good marketing perhaps. 6) Not only has the standard of journalism declined, so has the ability to write good, grammatically correct prose. Take any currently available newspaper and subject it to the standards of Fowler and other reputable standard works on syntax. 7) More importantly, what is the state of investigative journalism in New Zealand? I’d suggest that it is in a woeful state of decline. To advance this line of thought further, I pose this question. Do we have any journalists in New Zealand interested in carrying out good, well researched, investigative journalism? I do not doubt that we have practitioners who are capable of this task, but are they interested? Is the issue here the editorial stance of the publications for whom they work? 8) I read newspapers to get facts so that I can form my own opinions on issues. What I get ad nauseam is the opinions of the journalist. Please give me facts from identified sources! 9) English is an evolving language and that is something to be celebrated. However the slang, and worse, of the street need not be routinely printed in our newspapers. 10) Perhaps the photojournalists do their colleagues no favours. So much sensationalist writing is supported by graphic pictures; are these dulling our senses and reducing the power of words? I suggest that the use of photographs in newspapers be reduced by half and that journalists be encouraged by their editors to write well constructed, descriptive prose. These steps may encourage and support a resurgence of good, well written English. Peter
Most definitely. Winifred
Sadly, the standard has been dropping for many years. As a professional journalist who has been working at all levels in newspapers, magazines, radio and television, both here and overseas, since the early 1950’s (yes, I am in my eighties) I have watched it happening. In the early years after World War II New Zealand had some excellent newspapers. The standard was as high or higher in the provincial papers as it was in the metropolitans and I found when working overseas that New Zealand journalists were rightfully held in high regard for the accuracy and objective fairness of their writing, besides their kiwi ingenuity in hunting down facts. In those days a reporter or his editor would proudly go to prison rather than betray a news source and I can remember politely rejecting the blandishments of a political party secretary to become a member, saying that while I remained working as a journalist I could not be affiliated with any political group, no matter what my personal feelings might be. In similar vein I shied away from a lot of public relations material. As an editor I insisted that a story would be published in spite of threats of withdrawal of advertising and warned the advertiser that his threats may be published too. The rot really seemed to begin in this country with the advent of radio and television news. Both these media have less time in which to tell their story so material must be condensed and there is always a need to tell the story in an entertaining way. By and large the early State radio and television news tended to be accurate and objective but because of its brevity if you wanted more detail you needed to buy a newspaper. Television presentations were, and are, attractive and increasing numbers of newspaper journalists began aping the tv presenters. It seemed to be from there that the standards began to drop. Many of the early radio and tv reporters were originally well grounded in principles from the first class newspapers on which they had worked under the guidance of older and wiser journalists. But a second generation of radio and tv reporters began directly in radio and tv. Many, indeed most, of them were excellent people but lacked the education or guidance to appreciate the difference between being a presenter and being an objective reporter. As their standards dropped, so did those of their fellows on newspapers who were anxious to be as bright and entertaining. There were two other major causes for a drop in the quality of newspaper journalism; one was the pervasive influence of very cleverly devised public relations and the other was the buying-up of newspaper after newspaper by groups of business interests who had little interest in anything but that which made them a profit. Rob
Seems journalism is definitely left leaning, fortunately most Kiwis realise this is just the normal rubbish we are fed on a daily basis. Ray
One does not have to be a genius to figure that out. Just read the New Zealand Herald. John
Too few real reporters now. Simon
We don’t get News we get sensation. Rod
I find too many quoted “facts” questionable, where a bit of simple thought shows them as wrong. Denis
Yes. Certain subjects are taboo……e.g the maorification of New Zealand. The media, who should be reporting this fairly and openly shies away from it almost completely……..and that is only one example………what about vaccines…….when did a journalist in a main stream media do a real in depth article on the dangers of vaccines quoting the very many scientific resources that prove vaccines are just a giant con……..and a very dangerous one at that. There are many other examples as well.. Ronmac
Cancelled my newspaper subscription after the Nicky Hager debacle. Peter
The NZ HERALD reporters do not check on the facts of their articles, cannot spell and have very little knowledge of English useage. Leon
The Press have been deciding who they wish the NZ public should have as the government for many years now. They need to become more mature as overseas. Ive taken to watching A.J. Edwin
The need sensational items to sell newspapers and Television Time. So As long as the public will watch and read this rubbish they will continue to chase the stories. Colin
It is censored and aimed at the lowest common denominator – about disinterested 4 year olds. The standard of language, grammar, spelling and punctuation is absolutely appalling. Alan
Hell yes. The reporters are supposed to report the news on current events not make it up, or broadcast a casualty list from disasters, crashes etc from everywhere. Continued news watching is likely to cause depression. It seems good news is no news – boooo! John
Radio and television journalists need speech and pronunciation training. They should report news, not twist it or make it to suit their politics. That’s why I repair to the internet where the range and choice is far greater. Don
From change to ponytails the evidence is clear.Bias is dominant. Joan
Considering that half of them cannot spell, and the remainder have no concept of grammar, the fact that they all seem to focus on infotainment really puts a nail in the coffin of the concept of “reporting”. Andy
The glee of the media over ponytail episode Was over the top. John
There is a dearth of local and independent international event reporting and far too much influence from “media moguls” and a subsequent marked decline in balanced reporting. Phil
On a daily basis we are exposed to news media that is headlining with shallow impartial reporting that is not scrupulously researched resulting in one-sided opinionated social media commentary. C lawrence
Unquestonably the answer has to be yes. The decline has been obvious for a long time and is getting worse. There is, currently, not one media source in NZ that I would trust to be objective and unbiased. Martin
Absolutely the standard of journalism is declining! There is no doubt at all that those journalists who go through the “School of Journalism” emerge with limp liberal attitudes. From that point they are basically useless as fact finding terriers and become lefty puppets because of the mind bending University influence and of course their lack of life experience and the further disadvantage of being barely literate. Modern schooling neglects reading, writing and arithmetic, so the poor creatures are hapless victims of a flabby education system dominated by left wingers who basically regurgitate rubbish. Dianna
What a lot of rot pulling a ponytail have they not got anything better to report on! Andrew
The media let us down consistently, the election being a major one as it was very hard to get facts when they were only interested in publishing rubbish and one sided dirty politics. Lynn
While standards of journalism are undoubtedly slipping, it is sadly, a reflection on society, for said media realise that increasingly, the minds of the general public out there are “mush.” Why else would the great unwashed of the left persuasion screech and clamor over such trivialities as erstwhile pony tail pulls, long since acknowledged by the perpetrator as silly, when far more serious issues confront the country? Geoff
Hard to believe as it is already so low anyway. TV news is absolute rubbish. Laurie
Journalism is declining, if it’s not politically correct they censor it. Ponytail pulling by Key was an exception, he continued repeatedly after she complained. Journalists kept quiet on the fact the object of constitutional reform was to install a Constitution similar to Bolivia where private farms, houses and cars were confiscated, put into Community ownership where if past owners wished to retain the use of what used to be theirs they had to rent from the Community with rental profits split 50/50 between Government and indigenous people. George
60 years, plus; convince, me that journalism has declined to a frightening degree. Malcolm
Journos these days do not investigate. They tend to try to either make it up, or embelish for the sake of sensationalism. Simon
Newspapers are more like women’s magazines these days. David
Our news sources all appear to have their own agenda. We haven’t had an impartial TV presenter since Mark Sainsbury left the scene. Mitch
Nobody has the guts to ask the hard questions and delve into our so called democracy. John
There is NO story in Ponytailgate and it is a personal thing between her and the person who pulled it. It is only a story because its John Key. Absolute rubbish for the press to keep it alive. Roger
Yes editors are afraid to actually tell the truth and afraid of political, cultural truth sensitive of the truth, thus freedom of the press is fallacy with an expanded ego. Robert
A very strong bias to the left. Janet
Yes our mainstream journalism standards are very declining. Just watch seven sharp on TV . Robert
There has been a steady decline in investigative journalism over the last 2 decades. I suspect this comes from the liberal bias of our education system which appears to support mediocrity over endeavour. John
We pay for factual, timely and yes independent news. Often the facts are incomplete, for questions have not been asked, or purpose probed. The media should expect and ensure that a political bias is not given to articles. If action is not taken soon, the news supplier, will be reduced to small ads and public notices – before they also move to an electronic form.  Has been on a very low ebb for some time! Brian
In some cases, yes it is.  Jack
Sensation is king in all forms of the media. Perhaps NBR is the exception. John
The media should apologise to John Key over the ponygate affair They were a disgrace. Kathleen
Yes it definately is. Journos will report any ridiculous petty thing these days! Rhys
As along with everything else. Dennis
Newspapers these days sometimes have headlines that do not properly indicate the content of the item or report. The spelling and grammar contained in many reports is far from what can reasonably be expected and the use of profanity to give emphasis is appalling. All forms of the media are politically and racially biased resulting in distorted and incorrect information. Peter
I copy you, you copy me. Warren
After sitting on a jury trial and reading the newspaper reports of the incident, it was very obvious that the articles were written solely from a “sensational’ approach, which while not strictly incorrect, simply did not accurately report the progress of the trial. Since then there have been further “reporting ” that I have had a factual knowledge of, where a very definite bias towards attention catching took preference over accurate reporting. I now no longer by the newspaper. Maurice
Mainstream journalism is becoming nothing more than a collection of personal opinions of individual journalists pushing their own barrows. We need to get back to reporting the facts and leaving opinions to editorials.. I am getting sick of journalists slanting the news to fit their own personal ideology. Des
There is more sensationalism. David
As a subscriber to the Dom Post we are very disillusioned with the poor content. Sensationalism seems to be the dominant factor, coupled with trivial items blown out of importance. If it was not for the Business and some overseas & local items we would cancel our sub and rely on the internet. We consider this is the main reason for the decline in the printed paper. Our reason for retaining is that it is convenient to peruse after breakfast. Brian
It has already declined so far that NZ newspapers and radio/TV can only be called Gutter press. If everyone voted with their feet and boycotted any media that tried to sensationonalise or put bias on news, then they media barons might take notice. Bruce
Sensationalist & very little proper research. Opinion published as fact without critical analysis. Jenny
Shonky rubbush – no objective analysis. Henry
Standards have noticeably fallen, there is very little “serious” journalism in the mainstream media. the media seems to be aimed at populism & the lowest common denominator. Heather
A lot of reporting seems to be based more on the Reporters own views and opinions and not real facts. Lorraine
It is deplorable – the coverage given to the Prime Minister’s hair pulling tells me that those who report on it are virtually incapable of reporting issues that matter. Furthermore there are very few journalists who have a grasp of English grammar e.g. “the Rugby Union ARE investigating…….the Rugby Union is a single entity – IS is the correct word. This error occurs every day on radio, t.v. and in the Press. I suppose the excuse is that they were never corrected at school!!. Ian
It has declined to an appalling extent, especially news reporting. Factual reporting is now rare, and we always get an opinion from the reporter. And usually some ridiculous and inappropriate and irritating (and scripted) banter between the 2 newsreaders. Why 2 people to read the news? Keith
I thought something similar this morning reading the Herald. The front page article is usually something the public does NOT “Need to Know”. And I want to read facts, not some reporter’s idea of what is meant by a fact. Geoffrey
Total lack of investigative journalism in all media offering a balanced view. Radio does not now offer “journalism” to its listeners, only self opinionated biased vane and arrogant talkback hosts giving listeners only their personal perspectives. John
too much repeating of social media comments. not enough traditional investigative journalism. Dave
Many years ago when I worked in Radio, the News Desk and personnel were sacrosanct – nobody was allowed any outside influence whatsoever. In the early ’80s the News dept had INTEGRITY; nowdays the News reporters can’t even spell the word, let alone understand or honour it. Now it is all about circulation /listener/viewer numbers, to gain advertising reach credibility. The truth has very little input, hence the many ‘trial by media’ incidents we now experience. I no longer have any belief or trust in the Media on News ‘stories’. Too many 1/2 truths, misleading statements open to interpretation several ways, lies by omission, and sensationalist and emotive language. MervB
A excellent, long overdue comment. Well done! John
Inadequate investigation to confirm reports. Jim
Journalists are no longer the trusted sources of information, they have no integrity and are more like gossip spreading gutter trash than journalists. When was the last time any so called journalist investigated and reported on important issues like the racist Waitangi Tribunal farce? It’ll never happen because like politicians they are too scared of being labelled Racist if they ever question anything Maori, It’s time the public started asking why and how this has been allowed to happen. One law for all. Steve
I have turned to journals and internet. Mainstream news is often biased, or filled with falsehoods and innuendo and rarely backed with verifiable fact. They should have to be able to prove every statement before publishing it. Ayr
Have not bought a newspaper for 40 years- Reason? No “News” TV is now as low if not lower in all aspects both news and entertainment. Radio- Shock Jocks appear to be the current apex, Who would even bother? Colin
It has been for some time, to the extent that I no longer consider the TV news and commentaries worth watching. (Our TV now resides in a spare room with a sheet over it), or paying good money for the local newspaper – preferring instead the so-called “alternative” media freely obtainable via the internet. Sure there are a few” whacko” sites out there, but they are readily discernible and easily avoided. Scott
Particularly on TV excepting TV3. Paul
It has been declining for years! Isa
There will be factors reducing the standard of journalism, mostly related to reducing returns for the industry and reduced staffing. Radio NZ is an interesting example though. It is fully funded by our taxes yet has for decades now chosen to function as a feminist propaganda machine, unashamedly spreading false claims and refusing to balance stories with any male perspective and often any informed comment. Mainstream media have perhaps become too beholden on advertisers, their funding masters. In the case of Radio NZ, perhaps its funding master, government, is requiring it to engage in relentless social engineering, but I suspect that’s not the case. I suspect it’s a matter of individual managers and others in the institution pushing their own gender political bias. Hans
Just watch the morning “News” on TV1 & TV3 [.Appalling.] Jim
Absolutely, It appears that the press go to lengths to attack the PM. It appears that if the party can not be adversely faulted then the next best thing is to attack personalities. Gary
They are unable to report the truth about anything. I have no confidence in anything they report. Allan
Way too much sensaliastion used to ensure they make public awareness and at time total bias and unsubstantiated information. Steve
Not just bias but an emphasis on trite and irrelevant material to the exclusion of real news. The fact that someone hasn’t done something becomes a cause for speculation! It seems to be getting worse. Roger
Trivia is highlighted. David
Beyond a doubt it is just one persons opinion not a general over view. Clark
Rapidly. Poor overall and inaccurate reporting. Poor spelling, use of words and making up words. Rog
They sure never let the truth stand in the way of a story. Chris
Of course, we have known about this for a long time, and the only question is how deep in drowned. Another recent disaster was the notification in the press that Dame Alison Holst’s health is failing and the manner of announcing it was positively brutal and totally unfair to an educated, charming, and very talented woman. (All f which attributes seem to be cannon-fodder for some journalists). We really on get the daily paper to find out who has died, and at our age that’s often not a surprise, anyway. And even there, there printers often spell the named incorrectly, or leave the deceased off the list for the day. If I want news, I have to seek out overseas top quality press and just hope it is not too biased one way ot the other…..News? No, scandal sheet tabloids are what we are left with. Maggie
Anyone with an iPhone purports to be a journalist, catering to the ‘instant’ mentality. what’s happened to investigative journalism. Rosa
Media is getting worse and is slanted what about factual not sensational type reporting e.g. ponygate. Richad
The Dotcom saga really emphasized this. Les
The “news” media focus on trivia when we are a country which could do with more in depth delving into matters that concern us all. While they are boosting mediocre we are losing basic elements of our society thought Parliamentary stealth. Elizabeth
The concept of objective, constructive investigative journalism is totally lacking in our present day media. Alan
Further evidence needed?, check out the DomPost. Barry
In the light of a devastating earthquake in Nepal, the birth of a new royal, Im not a royalist, the media still went on and on about a ponytail. This country has become too PC with “the tail leading the horse”. We are becoming a boring over regulated small minded community and our media is reflecting that change. Christine
One would be a fool to believe what you read in the newspaper. It is biased by economic and political intentions. Michael
It’s a show now about ratings and income. Wayne
It all comes down to ownership of your actions and your position and taking responsibility for these actions. Unfortunately there seems to be a drift away from these values and “presentation” of an article that will sell newspapers becomes the sole reason for the way an item is presented in print. Gary
Several news reporters – Corin Dann, Katie Bradford and Heather du Plessis – manage to deliver a smug, smarmy opinion instead of a report. Celia
No two ways about it .. there’s so much drivel and not enough report ing of the really important stuff. So Key pulled a ponytail .. should we not hear more about how NZers are being slowly ripped off by this govt and successive govts when it comes to Treaty settlements that are a joke. Why are journalists not investigating the facts vs the load of codswollop being told! Maddi
Nobody owns the water. They need To get real. Barrie
I find it very hard to belief that the media in not blowing their own trumpet. Bring back honest, real honest reporting without making it sensational. Look at the head lines. Far to often they have nothing to do with what the article is about. Johan
Most definitely! Brenda
The media reports are totally different now to the way they used to be. Reports are biased, bitchy and nit-picking. The latest reports regarding John Key and his ponytail tugging were so far overboard that the international media picked it up and made New Zealand the laughing stock of the world. Then to cap it off, our Media Blamed John Key! Diana
Most journalists promote their personal views and do not provide objective analysis of the issues. John
Never see any thing positive any more it seems to be all about scandle which is of no interest to most of us. Russell
Few if any investigative journalists and not many qualified to report on subjects attempted. Stuart
The main stream media a blatantly biased and do not know what investigative journalism is. Ken
A minimal amount of thorough investigative journalism appears in print media now, & when it does it is accused of being “right wing(usually). Get my drift. Don
Almost plumbing all depths – particularly RNZ to which I have ceased to listen. Used to be a fan of Morning Report and the Mora programme – but not now, both mouthpieces for the left. Andrew
I believe the continuing reporting on the ponytail affair just blew it out of total proportion..as a small country we have little or real news worthy stories to be published so journalists just clutch at straws for so called news ..this news item being typical of news they regurgitate time and time again..just utter rubbish most of the time and this is perpetuated by all media. It’s just boring repetitive nonsense most of the time..who cares about some young girl’s issue of pulling hair..go to the kids playgroung you will see it all the time. Don’t take actions of this kind but there are the right ways to do it not necessarily in the public arena. Audrey
Younger journalists seem to have no basic common sense to fall back on. The public likewise, they have been undereducated in the common sense stakes. Roy
This rubbish about ponytail pulling by the P.M. is a classical example, when there are far more important issues for the press to print. Graeme
..a bunch of demented low life garbage…. Christopher
Absolutely. The 6 news is often a report about something from long ago, not todays news at all. The left wing bias in the tv news and the ‘panel’at 1600 on radio, has driven me to not listen to it and we don’t watch the news at all. feel much better. Donald
The present infantile argument over the rights and wrongs of the waitress and the Prime Minister illustrates perfectly the decline in journalism standards where journalists are desperate to keep the nonsense alive as a sensation instead of reporting important news. It follows the previous childish nonsense with Nicky Hager with its argument of who knew what and when. No wonder newspaper circulation is dropping.  Chris
Becoming more and more pushy and rude. Karl
I see many journalists are just muck rakers incapable of educated investigative journalism – loosing any respect they may have had. Stui
Lefty bias has been evident for a long time, especially in TV. Roy
First teachers, & now journalists, preaching Socialist propaganda to the,’to mentally lazy to seek out the truth’ population. Hitler used exactly the same tactic in the 30s & almost won world domination. Most of the rubbish that we are supposed to believe, [climate change, poverty in NZ, etc] can be traced back to U N directive. Work the rest out for your selves.. Allan
Very seldom do so called journalists canvas both sides of a story and report honestly. The media has a huge influence on how the general public perceive things and they use it to influence thinking to their chosen path. just look at the continued obsession with finding any thing however trivial to lambaste John Key. What is the real agenda behind ponytail gate for example. Undoubtedly he was silly to have done it in spite of being in what he thought was a fun environment. if the waitress had a problem why did she allow it to go on so long. An honest media would seek answers to some very obvious and disturbing questions. The media has enormous power why should they not be scrutinized like other prominent people. Peter
Left Wing Bias is Unbelievable , Eg : Katie Bradford can’t help show her excitement when reporting something that she thinks will hurt the National government. She is a joke with no Credibility. Greg
The Herald in particular is now a sensationalist waste of paper. Shameful behaviour b the editorial team over both sides of the “Ponygate” nonsense. GF
Many of them seem unashamedly biased. Few real investigative journalists. Lower standards of English can often be widely seen. Lack of good proof reading. Frank
Without a doubt, and it has been for years. Terry
Investigative journalism no longer exists in NZ – msn here is sinking to the Fox network level! Mark
Grammar, content & attention to detail is all lacking, to name but a few. Is it an editors push to compete with the reality TV influence of knife edge drama (or lack of) or that the populous has an inability to pay attention for longer than a text message? Neil
The move by journalists to becoming opinionated is the greatest flaw. The dumbing down of the news to events and personalities is the next, However my experience of watching the news on TV with others would suggest that many do not care about the news content, and love the mindless articles on Hollywood people and the royal family for instance. Attention spans do appear to be getting shorter. John
The standards have always been appalling, so they can’t be declining. Obviously there have been exceptions e.g. Karl Du Fresne. Sensationalism and trivia and “interviewing your typewriter” were rampant even 150 years ago. Peter
In fact it is now beyond pathetic! Ken
Without a doubt. No one should be surprised by the stats showing the numbers of journalists with left leanings. There are journos out there that go after John Key at every opportunity who would not have said ‘bum’ for a big rosy apple when Helen Clark was P.M. They make me sick and for that reason I rarely listen to their puke take on matters nor do I read about it. Cheers Jim
Yes, without a shred of doubt. And the decline has been in progress for many years – from at least the 1970s in my own observation. “Journalists” appear to ape the shoddiest media practitioners rather than the best – and entertainment, particularly television, is stuck in the same lowest common denominator pattern. They do us all a gross disservice. John
Radically so! I’m a journalist and almost too ashamed to admit it! Bruce
There is a decline in factual accurate reporting and an increase in opinion and sensationalism. Andrew
Forgetting the lack of correct, spelling, grammar and pronunciation for a moment which, incidentally is generally appalling, the pressure for news and to be the leader of a “scoop’ is continuous and overwhelming compelling reporters to create and embellish whatever they can either uncover or simply “come across”. That the majority are left leaning is no secret but disappointing where impartiality is paramount. Perhaps a similar survey of school teachers could be initiated as some of the comments I hear from my grandchildren display significant political and personal bias. Mike
Obvious bias is shown in all forms of media. Mark
It all has to appease our American masters. Roger
These days one can BUY a journalist for peanuts. I guess the saying “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys” has come of age. George
The media are always over dramatising the news to make it look more dramatic than it actually is. Wayne
Much of the media’s political comments I don’t bother to read or listen to. It is extremely biased and untrue. Muriel I enjoy your very well researched and unbiased articles. At the beginning I wondered why you gave up being an MP, but now believe both you and hubby Frank are doing more to inform the public of FACTS on issues very important to all NZers. Albie
Not so much about Journalism, there is never a day goes by where there are not at least 5 and sometimes up to ten spelling mistakes in the Auckland Herald !!! Ian
Declining, along with the standard of English usage. I believe the media, particularly RNZ has a responsibility to protectt the English language, not lead the charge to impoverishment!!! Graeme
Tremendously so — and cannot be relied on now – some situations are farcical in the bias – reporting – John
Too left wing. Ian
Completely biased… the worst case being an anti-semetic bias in regards to the Israel/Palestinian conflict where our media demonstrates very clearly that they do not understand the situation and easily embrace palestinian/muslim propaganda and end up supporting the wrong side! Wayne
Uninformed, extremely biased and stupid questioning tactics. Hilary
Inherent biases are often reported as fact. I have witnessed complete falsehoods portrayed as the truth because it suits the agenda of the paper to bash certain people and organisations (often the tall poppy syndrome at play here). I see my media elsewhere now. Philip
Much of it has descended to the level of trash. Graham
It has been very poor for a very long time. Peter
It has been for a long time now. Dick
News sorces/stories appear too often sourced from similar news banks. One of the problems of multi-national conglomerates taking over independents which’ take the money and run’ ! Unfortunately NZ is too small to support many independent journalists, without bias being part of the price of that independence. ‘Print/publish and be damned’ was the catch-cry of the great writers once. But it may come at a price if you have not done your homework! BillyO
Ezy quistion ezy answr Ray
Our media is becoming more like the American reporters and are turning into ambulance chasers. In the race to out sensationalise each other trivial incidents are being blown out of proportion. Nowadays with the internet it is easier to check a news stories validity and as anyone who has been involved with a news story will tell you’they rarely get it right’. In the early 2000s there was a story floating around that Adam Hussien had convinced the people of Iraq they had won the 91 war. My wife said how could they possibly believe that? My answer was how do you know they didn’tt. We only have the media sword on it that we did. Cyril
Yes I certainly agree with the question.10 years ago I cancelled the local manawatu paper due to editorial bias and again approx five years ago the dominion for the headline rich get tax cuts.the herald and our news media bias and very left wing.the Internet is my only news source. Maurice
As an older person, I continually despair at the shallow, even chidish, content of the journalism displayed almost daily. Colin
Propaganda is repeated ad nauseum and widely so it becomes “the truth” and any comment that might be racially or politically controversial albeit honest and fair will not be published. Alan
Has been for ages a good article by you! Michael
The examples given are crystal clear. Anything that can be twisted, exaggerated or taken outof context to create a story with, will be exploited by current media. Last Election coverage was a disgusting example. Hugh
Its really bad now spelling mistakes and all. Jim
There are no journalists any more, just reporters who regurgitate what they are told/given without investigating or checking the facts. Richard
My yes is couched with an observation that human nature is effected by courage and by reasoned information. Lance
Balanced reporting only needs the funeral – it has been decaying for years. Collin
It’s very difficult to find out who’s telling the TRUTH. Politicians completely fudging issues and the media focusing on their own spin. We are heading down a slippery slope as folks can’t be bothered with what is happening around them because they can’t trust what they read and hear via t/v. Barry
They stopped asking appropriate questions some time ago, making the purchase of their biased publications pointless. Murray
Journalists ….better than no news at all? .But is IT ??? Independent Journalists in the past rated highly, in today’s New Zealand they have become an extension of our bureaucratic system. Always telling us what we need to know from their standpoint, regrettably as a general rule, this also involves a highly rated c.v. to enhance their creditability. I guess there are a few rather old fashioned ones still about, but by telling the news as it comes over without rancour or bias, may liable them in this era of sensationalism, to quickly adorn the proverbial scrapheap. Our standard newspapers provide a supreme example of what was known years ago as ‘gutter journalism’, but the real problem is that the public are being deprived of news, especially so from overseas. Unless this happens to involve a huge crisis, an earthquake or murder news, coverage is pathetic, and one must assume that our Media in general, is merely concerned with what happens inside ‘Fortress New Zealand’. Which ends up in making us more insular than ever; and is a boon to our resident Politicians. Another feature of both Radio and Television interviews is that they are in the most part one sided, no opposite point of view; save that from the interviewer, who is ever active in the attempt to get his or her side of what the story should be about. In a phrase our news imparters are the purveyors of mediocrity and self glorification. Brian
The media is appalling these days – biased and unprofessional. Ivan
The media’s attacks on John Key have been shocking. Karen
We won’t go near MSM nowadays. They misrepresent everything. There are far better choices on the net. Graeme
I can’t stand listening to the rubbish about the PM. The media is a disgrace these days. John
The internet has a real wealth of information. traditional media need to smarten up their act. Murray