OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Did you know we're in a recession?

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  • BenWilson,

    it's just that breaking news is presented objectively for reasons that are pragmatic as well as philosophical.

    I'd never really thought about it that way before. I'd presumed it was philosophy right down the line. But I guess that's the real lure of footage - you don't even have to interpret into words, just play it. Next easiest thing, transcribe. Next easiest, edit the transcript for the highlights. Next, canvass for opposing quotes.

    Analysis is last. But that's also a race to the punch, so lightweight analysis is always going to get there first, or highly specific stuff.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    Even lightweight analysis would be better than the regurgitated press releases that pass for news reporting.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1768 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    The headline of the NZPA/Herald story is:
    "Govt claims credit for six-year inflation low"
    How is this not true? Doesn't your piece make an identical claim?

    Sorry, I should have been more specific. I was just blowing off steam with that comment. I got a bit pissed off after seeing these headlines

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 530 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Analysis is last

    But it's a false dichotomy - a journo who knows the subject properly will ask the right questions and challenge spin at the time - *before* they write a story.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16277 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Even lightweight analysis would be better than the regurgitated press releases that pass for news reporting.

    Yes, but Danyl's point is that they take quite a lot longer to write, so they miss the punch. That's where blogs seem to have the jump - the analysis is immediate, because they're not so concerned to take 3 days to analyze Bill English, just to be sure they're not wrong in some technical detail.

    Indeed, I usually get the feeling with paper editorials that they've drawn heavily on blogs, on which the analysis is public. Even if blogs were to get it wrong 99% of the time (of course they don't), they raise all the questions, state most of the positions, basically drive the debate.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Hey, it's world statistics day tomorrow.
    Make a wish!

    I don't want to sound mean, but I wish everyone a very average day.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 841 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    But it's a false dichotomy - a journo who knows the subject properly will ask the right questions and challenge spin at the time - *before* they write a story.

    Yes, it's hardly a story, to just quote a transcript. But it is:
    1. Fast. Nearly immediate.
    2. True (the person did really say that).

    I would agree that more could be expected of papers that have had, on average, half a day to write a story to do more than just transcribe.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    Danyl, I feel that some of the commenters have been unfairly harsh and a tad aggressive about what you've said. The PAS community is a great bunch of folks, but we do hate on the MSM pretty hard. I do too. I know I over-generalise about the crappy aspects, and under-appreciate the good parts. I'm working on it.

    But if journalism is simply a passive reporter of information, then what's the point of their existence? What does, for example, NZPA provide that Scoop doesn't? Completely predictable quotes containing nothing but platitudes from the opposing side? Slightly more snappy copy?

    If journalists don't have any subject knowledge, or have the time and aptitude to learn about it, then I don't see what value they actually provide.

    Once upon a time, I though that resource was the biggest issue. I thought that if they could afford factcheckers, they would do this. This is not true. I can debunk facts, I can provide transparent links to authoritative official data, and still nobody cares. I can prove that politicians flat out lie about facts, base policies on complete bullshit, and... nothing.

    According to our editorial gatekeepers, statistics are basically opinions. Nobody cares when a minister lies about statistics, about how the country is doing, or evidence for a policy - because that's basically opinions anyway.

    Unlike you and Russell, I *don't* have real newsroom experience. All I know is that a great deal of the information published in our media is wrong. It's academic whether that information is quoted, or paraphased or editorialised, in columns or features or news. When the headline reads "'Inflation Figures Encouraging' - English", people think inflation figures are good. The only people who pay attention to whether it's an opinion or a stated fact from the editorial voice are people like us.

    The experience that I do have is sitting around the table at the PM's office. Since the media has no truth-filter, lies and truth get the same mileage. It means that perfectly good ideas become political liabilities. Bullshit ideas become core policies for no good reason.

    It makes a mockery of the idea of governance by an informed citizenry, and it has turned politics into the circus of bullshit that it is today.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 530 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Applause

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16277 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    Executive Summary

    " All I know is that a great deal of the information published in our media is wrong."

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    When the headline reads "'Inflation Figures Encouraging' - English", people think inflation figures are good

    Then people need to learn to read. There is nothing wrong with that headline, and the fact that Bill English claims that inflation figures are encouraging is news, and it is quite appropriate to report it. It's where you go from there that is at issue I think. If you just rely on the opposition to disabuse that notion, you're really not doing your job in a case like this. It's not editorialising to have somebody on board - and it doesn't have to be the reporter who signs the story, surely they can talk to each other in the newsroom - who is sufficiently literate on the subject to say "no, that's bullshit", and be prepared to back it up. If you just reflexively turn to Cunliffe for the counter-spin then it just becomes the theatre of bullshit that you've ably described.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7320 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    So who did the analysis and fisking 10 years ago before blogs became part of our media diet?

    Well, it did happen so someone must have done it. My money would be on journalists.

    So unfashionable now.

    Lower Grey Lynn • Since Jul 2009 • 789 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    There is nothing wrong with that headline, and the fact that Bill English claims that inflation figures are encouraging is news, and it is quite appropriate to report it.

    Inflation control in New Zealand is a 100 headline story, low inflation in a recession is not good news, it's what the model delivers naturally.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Stephanie Chilcott,

    I thank you, Keith, for the conciseness of your original post, the complex ideas you address so clearly, your followup comments, and you just being you. thank you. Keep on....

    Wairarapa • Since Aug 2010 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • martinb,

    Good to see Public Address keeps its Nat apologist around ready to defend anything these clowns claim.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2010 • 156 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    if the Finance Minister makes a statement about the economy and you have five minutes to turn around a story on it

    Employing a little hyperbole, in the time factor methinks.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1157 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    So who did the analysis and fisking 10 years ago before blogs became part of our media diet?
    Well, it did happen so someone must have done it. My money would be on journalists.

    So unfashionable now.

    If you go to the archives and look at newspapers from ten years ago you'll find plenty of columns and features and opinion pieces, just as you do today! I mean - have you ever actually looked in a newspaper? You'll find pages and pages and pages of commentary and analysis! You just don't find it in wire service stories about breaking news that are posted to the web sites, for reasons I've already explained.

    If you go back twenty or thirty years you'll be quite shocked by the very poor standards of journalism. Political stories are only a couple of paragraphs and contain no balance. There is no commentary, other than the anonymously written editorial. Things are a lot better than they used to be.

    What does, for example, NZPA provide that Scoop doesn't? Completely predictable quotes containing nothing but platitudes from the opposing side? Slightly more snappy copy?

    Let me put it to you like this. How would you like to learn about what the political news of the day was:

    1. Go to Scoop and read the forty or so press releases issued by different MPs, Ministers and lobby groups every day, read the Select Committee transcripts and Hansard when the house is in session, call MPs and Press Secretaries and ask for clarification on various points.

    2. Read three or four NZPA stories.

    If journalists don't have any subject knowledge, or have the time and aptitude to learn about it, then I don't see what value they actually provide.

    Yeah, this is a complaint I hear from my colleagues a lot when they read science journalism and fly into a rage because the science journalist doesn't know as much about the subject as a professor who has studied it for thirty years. Economics and statistics are your area of expertise, so you know more about them than most journalists. But looking at the NZPA gallery wire, here's a list of stories they've covered in the last day (I think they have two journalists on at the moment):

    The Health Quality and Safety Commission
    The House
    The cost of living
    Natural Dairy and the Crafer farms
    A housing New Zealand tenant dispute
    Youth offending programs
    Tau Henare misbehaving in a select committee
    The Foreshore and seabed legislation
    The Tuhoe negotiations
    Chris Carter
    Rebuilding in Christchurch
    McCully's trip to Asia
    Inflation(!)
    The Greens and National updating their MoU
    Changes to the maternity system.

    Would you be able to write in depth commentaries on all these subjects on the same day without some expert in, say treaty law throwing a tantrum because there were errors in your legal analysis?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 895 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    You just don't find it in wire service stories about breaking news that are posted to the web sites, for reasons I've already explained.

    Danyl, you've whittled back your argument -- or your definition of journalism -- so far now that I agree with you:

    Yes, it would be unusual and probably inappropriate for breaking wire stores on statements from senior political leaders to contain a great of sceptical analysis or fact-checking on those statements.

    But that's not what you started out saying, is all.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Good to see Public Address keeps its Nat apologist around ready to defend anything these clowns claim.

    Thanks, Martin. Hang around a little longer, and you might get a clue why that kind of patronising crap doesn't add any value to PAS. Perhaps Kiwibog or the Sub-Standard would be more your cup of tea?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Employing a little hyperbole, in the time factor methinks.

    Not much, Andin. Any halfway competent political spin doctor is going to be fully aware of everyone's deadlines and manipulate them to best advantage. Hold that press conference in the middle of the afternoon - early enough to make the six o'clock news, but not early enough that too much scrutiny will be applied by the print scum before they have to file their copy for tomorrow. Feed stuff into the newsrooms on the weekend, and hope the skeleton staff holding the fort are going to be so desperate for copy they'll run any old tosh.

    Also, don't forget the time honoured tradition of the Christmastide Info Dump. It must be pure coincidence reams of papers land on journalists' in-trays just as Parliament (and everyone else) starts winding down for the summer holiday.

    And on planet Earth, "stop the presses, I've got my Pullitzer-winning expose in my hands!" only happens in the movies. And even then, your name better be Lois Lane, with all the dish on Superman.

    But back on topic: Was I expecting in-depth and sceptical analysis of Phil Goff's conference speech ten minutes after delivery? No. Would I expect Bill English to ever say "golly, we're fucked like a two-bob hooker at a gang-bang" as Cunliffe assured him he's not doing that badly, instead of the other way around? Not in this universe.

    But, yes, I wouldn't mind a little sober, reality-based forensics following pretty closely behind. That can't be unreasonable, can it?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Not much,

    Well I only said a little ................I have got the wrong thread. OH thats right size is not an issue, here.

    I wouldn't mind a little sober, reality-based forensics following pretty closely behind. That can't be unreasonable, can it?

    Put those forceps down, this minute.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1157 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    Thanks, Martin. Hang around a little longe

    ETA: {redacted} - I now see there's a martinb

    Lower Grey Lynn • Since Jul 2009 • 789 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    But, yes, I wouldn't mind a little sober, reality-based forensics following pretty closely behind. That can't be unreasonable, can it?

    Finance Minister bullshits about state of the economy, opposition finance spokesman disagrees isn't really all that worthy of analysis. The only reason this one got picked up is because the bullshit was so egregious.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 895 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    ETA: {redacted} - I now see there's a martinb

    Indeed - Mr B. should be informed that Danyl isn't a National Party stooge. I'd have met him at the coffee meeting-slash-black mass if he was.

    We are Legion. Do not take Our name in vain, or We will fuck you up.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    Um... this seems like a good place to ask "is this more Government bull-shit, or fair comment"... despite not being directly related to the economics that triggered the thread...

    This morning on TV1 or National Radio(I forget which) Anne Tolley said (paraphrasing) that teachers wishing to address class size issues need to take it up wither their school board, as the ministry already assess secondary teacher funding on a class size of 17 pupils and if teachers were teaching classes of 30 or more it was because of local decisions....

    Which sounds "reasonable" before you engage your brain... but just doesnt seem right... where's the catch? What is she not saying? Is that at first-day-on-job trainee teacher pay-rates, and more experienced teachers (who are payed more) need to teach more kids to cover their pay-rate? Or is it based on every teacher being in front of students for every time block (ie. no planning, no paperwork or assessing, no further training)... is it all of those and more I havent guessed?

    It just screamed "bullshit" at me, but I'm sure theres some small element of truth in it or she wouldnt think she could get away with saying it....

    So, what's the deal?

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 786 posts Report Reply

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