Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Complaint and culture

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  • Hilary Stace, in reply to dc_red,

    Actually it reminds me more of 1975. Muldoon was the media hero who ran a very slick dog whistle campaign, and could do no wrong while hard working Rowling who had taken over after Kirk's death in 1974 (37 years ago today), could get no traction. The shock of the 1975 National win got many of my generation interested in politics. But Muldoon still had time to gut the compulsory superannuation scheme before voters could comprehend the long term consequences.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 1901 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Could be. He’s been around for years on the local internet. And I’m sure he’s not malicious, just eccentric.

    I’ve known Don for about 10 years through the local Wellington amateur science community (though I’ve not been in touch for about the last 5 and now I’m overseas). When Don was first threatened with a fine in December 2010, George Jones (of the Royal Society) sent an angry email around the Science Wellington mailing list, and got back a very positive response.

    I’ve never quite understood why Don’s writing comes out the way it does but face to face I’ve always found him much clearer to communicate with. Don’s an okay guy who’s very interested in science and mathematics and the world around him, if he sees a broken streetlight or a missing drain cover he’ll call the council (because otherwise they can’t know to fix it), and he feels strongly about unnecessary and lazy inaccuracies in media reporting. Maybe there’s a medical reason for the written communication, and I don’t know about that, but I’m reluctant to be too critical without knowing more.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I don't think it's reasonable to expect that every correction should take up time on the 6pm news, but certainly on the broadcaster's website, and perhaps even in a weekly half-hour programme on Sundays.

    Doing this would make complete sense for a news programme. But when the nightly news is primarily an entertainment-styled ratings machine in a largely polarised TV media world, I suspect TVNZ publishing errors (and thereby encouraging more people to report them) would also create lots of new TV3 opportunities to lead its own nightly news with stories about how useless TVNZ is. It'd probably also look bad at the Qantas Media Awardsat least in producers' eyes.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to izogi,

    in a largely polarised TV media world, I suspect TVNZ publishing errors (and thereby encouraging more people to report them) would also create lots of new TV3 opportunities to lead its own nightly news with stories about how useless TVNZ is. It’d probably also look bad at the Qantas Media Awardsat least in producers’ eyes.

    I suspect you're quite close to the mark here. That's very much the TV news mindset.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    That's very much the TV news mindset.

    I'd suggest it's old media culture in general when you look at their sneering responses over the last decade to the idea of 'blogs' or 'citizen journalism'. Again, more about a stressed business model.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15714 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Deborah,

    When I was pregnant with our eldest daughter, my brother, who is an anaesthetist, commented to me that the politics around giving birth were incredible, and during his time in medicine (starting from when he started med school in the mid 1980s), he had seen power pass from doctors, to midwives, but that still the women giving birth had no power.

    Quite - I've got a friend (who I won't name for obvious reasons) who has worked on a neo-natal ward for a very long time and she views of doctors and midwives conducting their turf war over women in severe physical and emotional distress is heart-breaking. And enraging.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11614 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    He makes a refreshing change to other regular columnists who just spout forth unsupported cr&p and don’t seem at all concerned about errors of fact. Like, for instance, Karl du Fresne, in today’s DomPost who asks:

    Karl du Fresne’s columns seem to follow an hour-glass pattern – either he writes very, very well, or he writes very, very badly, with little middle ground. His recent column on the threatened extinction of public broadcasting fits the former.

    @Hilary Stace:

    Actually it reminds me more of 1975. Muldoon was the media hero who ran a very slick dog whistle campaign, and could do no wrong while hard working Rowling who had taken over after Kirk’s death in 1974 (37 years ago today), could get no traction. The shock of the 1975 National win got many of my generation interested in politics. But Muldoon still had time to gut the compulsory superannuation scheme before voters could comprehend the long term consequences.

    Then who’s the new Simon Walker? Somehow it’s not the BBC's Stephen Sackur.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 3896 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew C, in reply to Danyl Mclauchlan,

    But what's really struck me at this point is that the entire profession seems to cross the line when it comes to advocacy for breast-feeding
    .....
    so I don't think it's helpful for mid-wives to send the message that failure to breast-feed is tantamount to child abuse.

    +1

    We went through exactly that. And imagine what its like being a new mum and desperate for all the help you can get, but living in absolute fear of the Plunket visits because of the pressure and abuse heaped upon you because you are not (because you cannot) breast feeding your baby.

    While Im sure they mean well, being told you suck as a mum is simply cruel, and they really need to change up.

    Auckland • Since May 2008 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Sacha,

    Again, more about a stressed business model.

    Nah, I really think that's a cop-out Sacha. At the risk of sounding like I'm blowing smoke up Russell's arse, funny how Keith and Tse-Ming fisked the shit out of Deborah Coddington statistical bad touching -- they didn't have the resources of a multi-national media corporation (however "stressed") at their back.

    A lot more to do with human ego and an obsession with scoops and feeding the 24/7 news cycle beast, which isn't exactly anything new.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11614 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    So how would you explain what has changed?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15714 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    A lot more to do with human ego and an obsession with scoops and feeding the 24/7 news cycle beast

    Not to mention a corporate culture where admitting mistakes is considered a weakness.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to DeepRed,

    Karl du Fresne’s columns seem to follow an hour-glass pattern – either he writes very, very well, or he writes very, very badly, with little middle ground.

    You're quite right, DeepRed. He is a binary creature. The column I was referring to was a series of questions, of which some were quite reasonable, and some were just offensive and stupid, like the one on climate change, and this little beauty:
    Why do so many women drivers tailgate? Um, what?

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 623 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Andrew C,

    While Im sure they mean well, being told you suck as a mum is simply cruel, and they really need to change up.

    Nah, fuck it – I though in 2011 healthcare professionals were trained not to behave like they’re potty-training incontinent puppies. There have been times when I've been tempted to threaten doctors with a rolled up newspaper while chanting "We're going to stop being a patronising dick-bag, yes we are, diddums" in soothing baby-talk tones.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11614 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    Why do so many women drivers tailgate? Um, what?

    Far out. Might he not, in a sane moment, look at that sentence and wonder about himself?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Sacha,

    So how would you explain what has changed?

    Empirically, I don't know if the media has ever been that good at owning their mistakes without a lawyer twisting their arms. What may well have changed is, for better and worse, we live in a culture where people are more sophisticated (and adversarial) in their relationships with media and the old model of the handful of outlets serving as "gatekeepers" is breaking down. Or something.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11614 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    the old model of the handful of outlets serving as "gatekeepers" is breaking down

    a stressed business model then, perhaps?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15714 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Might he not, in a sane moment, look at that sentence and wonder about himself?

    Probably wonders why he's not living it up in some caliphate with the adoration and respect he so richly deserves, and none of those uppity wimmin on the roads.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15714 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Special e-vex...

    While these complaints are kind of amusing, I don’t envy the BSA committee having to process them all.

    I have fond memories of Misleading Cases apparently only 4 episodes still remain, no trace of which can be found on the web - so far...
    I see Roy Dotrice is still going strong and has a role in Game of Thrones

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4197 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Andrew C,

    While Im sure they mean well, being told you suck as a mum is simply cruel, and they really need to change up.

    I found attitudes to breastfeeding varied widely, particularly when I was in hospital. As someone who had to supplement with formula for the first few weeks (mainly because I was sick: more on that later) but then happily continued with breastfeeding for over a year, there were some hospital midwives who really exercised the 'pressure with guilt' button way too often, and then some others who were very understanding and practical about things like bleeding nipples (awesome) and formula. There's a line between 'actively encouraging' and 'assholey' and I think perhaps it's overstepped sometimes, particularly when parents are emotionally fragile and sleep-deprived. Some consistency would be nice.

    The North and South article has put me in a weird mental state. I'm one of those people whose pregnancy was totally fine... until it wasn't (hypertension at 41 weeks! failed induction! emergency c! readmittance to the HDU two weeks postpartum for what doctors solemnly called a "major event"! congestive heart failure! Yes, I am great fun at parties). So while I academically applaud a more parent-centred approach to births, and appreciate what the feminist health movement did for patient autonomy in childbirth, the thought of being solely under a midwife's care, and that midwife not being risk-averse enough, gives me... pause? (Translation: terrors.) I feel a bit guilty about that.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3582 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Danielle,

    the thought of being solely under a midwife’s care, and that midwife not being risk-averse enough, gives me… pause? (Translation: terrors.) I feel a bit guilty about that.

    And I'm sure you know you shouldn't, at all ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    What may well have changed is, for better and worse, we live in a culture where people are more sophisticated (and adversarial) in their relationships with media and the old model of the handful of outlets serving as “gatekeepers” is breaking down. Or something.

    And also, that there is now a model for corrections and fact-checking, that grew up in the wild and is now available for adoption by enlightened media organisations.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Empirically, I don’t know if the media has ever been that good at owning their mistakes without a lawyer twisting their arms. What may well have changed is, for better and worse, we live in a culture where people are more sophisticated (and adversarial) in their relationships with media and the old model of the handful of outlets serving as “gatekeepers” is breaking down.

    The big music companies failed to embrace the possibilities of the internet for so long. Rather than get their customers on board with paid-for downloading, collaborative filtering and special offers…they damned and sued them. I think there’s an echo of this attitude in the way big media companies seem to view their consumers – as both dumb and difficult. Yes, the rise of internet culture and citizen journalism threatens their old business models, but surely they’re better to embrace change while they still can. Getting your customers onside and harnessing their skills to add value to your product has to be win-win.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3298 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    not being risk-averse enough

    Humans are bad enough at comparing different risks as it is, even when the numbers are laid out, and here we apparently don’t even have good numbers. It just seems impossible at this moment to have a reliable opinion. Although obviously I will back my prejudices to the hilt given enough alcohol.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2906 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    There have been times when I’ve been tempted to threaten doctors with a rolled up newspaper while chanting “We’re going to stop being a patronising dick-bag, yes we are, diddums” in soothing baby-talk tones.

    Craig, you just made my day. :-)

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3298 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Michael Nielson offers a broader - and quite compassionate - view of disruptive industry change (from a couple of years ago).

    It’s true that stupidity and malevolence do sometimes play a role in the disruption of industries. But in the first part of this essay I’ll argue that even smart and good organizations can fail in the face of disruptive change, and that there are common underlying structural reasons why that’s the case.
    ...

    The result is that the newspapers are locked into producing a product that’s of comparable quality (from an advertiser’s point of view) to the top blogs, but at far greater cost. And yet all their decisions – like the decision to spend a lot on photography – are entirely sensible business decisions. Even if they’re smart and good, they’re caught on the horns of a cruel dilemma.

    The same basic story can be told about the dispruption of the music industry, the minicomputer industry, and many other disruptions. Each industry has (or had) a standard organizational architecture. That organizational architecture is close to optimal, in the sense that small changes mostly make things worse, not better. Everyone in the industry uses some close variant of that architecture. Then a new technology emerges and creates the possibility for a radically different organizational architecture, using an entirely different combination of skills and relationships. The only way to get from one organizational architecture to the other is to make drastic, painful changes. The money and power that come from commitment to an existing organizational architecture actually place incumbents at a disadvantage, locking them in.

    He predicts similar disruption for scientific publishing, interesting in light of George Monbiot's article this week about the nutty model for academic publishers.

    You might resent Murdoch's paywall policy, in which he charges £1 for 24 hours of access to the Times and Sunday Times. But at least in that period you can read and download as many articles as you like. Reading a single article published by one of Elsevier's journals will cost you $31.50. Springer charges €34.95, Wiley-Blackwell, $42. Read 10 and you pay 10 times. And the journals retain perpetual copyright. You want to read a letter printed in 1981? That'll be $31.50.
    ...

    Murdoch pays his journalists and editors, and his companies generate much of the content they use. But the academic publishers get their articles, their peer reviewing (vetting by other researchers) and even much of their editing for free. The material they publish was commissioned and funded not by them but by us, through government research grants and academic stipends. But to see it, we must pay again, and through the nose.

    The returns are astronomical: in the past financial year, for example, Elsevier's operating profit margin was 36% (£724m on revenues of £2bn). They result from a stranglehold on the market. Elsevier, Springer and Wiley, who have bought up many of their competitors, now publish 42% of journal articles.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15714 posts Report Reply

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