The "we just report the facts" argument is disingenuous, at best. It suggests the journalist is unaware of agenda setting or priming, or the simple fact that not everything is reported all the time – there's always judgement calls being made. "Just the facts" is their way of saying "we're staying out of it", which Jay Rosen points out is no longer the best route for journalists to take:
For a very long time, the logic behind “he said, she said” journalism, and “get both sides,” as well as, “I’m sorry, but we’ll have to leave it there” was that operating this way would reduce risk to a news publisher’s reputation. When you have both sides speaking in your account, you’re protecting yourself against charges of favoring one or the other. By not “choosing” a side — by not deciding who’s right — you’re safer.
You’re safer because you could be wrong if you choose, so why choose? You’re safer because even if you’re not wrong you can be accused of bias, and who needs that? You’re safer because people will always argue about [fill in some bitterly contested narrative here] and you don’t want to be a contestant in that. In the middle is safe. Neither/nor is safe. Not having a view of the matter is safe… Right?
Increasingly that is not right. More and more — but not always — the “no position” position is the chancier move, especially when disputes turn on factual questions and checkable claims. A newsroom that goes with “he said, she said” when a call can be made is engaged in reckless behavior that may easily blow up in its face. That wasn’t true ten years ago. But it is now.
Mic.com has a good explainer article up here, including this passage which punched me in the gut:
A 43-year-old man was arrested for public urination…
He was handcuffed and placed in a transport van in good health. He emerged a quadriplegic.
Before he died, he complained to his doctor that he was not buckled into his seat when the police van "made a sharp turn," sending him "face first" into the interior of the van, court records state. He was "violently thrown around the back of the vehicle as [police officers] drove in an aggressive fashion, taking turns so as to injure [Johnson], who was helplessly cuffed," the lawsuit stated.
Johnson, who suffered a fractured neck, died two weeks later of pneumonia caused by his paralysis. His family sued, and a jury agreed that three officers were negligent in the way they treated Johnson. The initial $7.4 million award, however, was eventually reduced to $219,000 by Maryland's Court of Special Appeals because state law caps such payouts.
Honestly, and I’m not proud to be this cynical, I think the only way an adult is getting into this particular room is when The Herald and the “gossip media” manage to hound someone into a suicide’s grave.
The Debbie Gerbich case gets very close.
How is the Taxpayers' Union and Family First an "unusual coalition"? Two right-wing reactionaries hiding behind the pretence of an "organisation" whose sole goal is to get into the papers as much as possible. They're a match made in heaven.
Nixon had to resign because of the cover-up, not the crime. Key's genius is he never had to cover anything up – he fully admits to people in his administration dealing with people who hacked into the Labour website, even comparing it to something the All Blacks would do to the Wallabies. That's the difference.
As I read today's Herald piece on Slater using the former prostitute to dig dirt on public figures, I wondered how much power Slater would instantly lose if we all stopped giving a shit who was sleeping with whom. After all, the reason he's been able to wield so much power over people (including, it seems, journalists and politicians) is because the public eats up the gossip and "scandal" he provides. We need to stop providing a market for this crap. Which isn't to downplay the revelations of Dirty Politics or the people involved, who absolutely need to be held accountable.
Maybe we should use Paul Henry's definition of what a New Zealander looks like.
Preventing unwanted pregnancies, and dealing with them once they’ve happened, are two quite separate things
Man, can we display this as a disclaimer before every abortion debate? It seems to be entirely ignored. You can be against killing babies but for making abortion not as farcical and painful as it is now.
There's lots of things the public might have an interest in that the media chooses not to include in its publications – porn, perhaps (I'm still waiting on the Herald on Sunday to start featuring Page 3 girls). Less savoury things. Editors make decisions all the time about what not cover. I think this whole "well Woman's Day sells!" argument is just an excuse not to think about it too hard. Why is it this issue – celebrities having no privacy whatsoever – that we all just abdicate any responsibility for? Maybe something to do with resentment?
Also, I'd wager the reason the SST isn't going after shots of Judith Collins has precisely nothing to do with her "illness" and everything to do with being shit scared of her and her (governing) party.
Now Judith Collins has called the press liars, I hope the press has the guts to call her the same.