Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Obscuring the News

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to Tze Ming Mok,

    I’d actually even be happy to read the story about the cheese, because at least it’s a local non-news story, rather than a non-news story from Canada or Australia or some random town in the US.

    You make a sound point.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • EE,

    Technically, there is no reason why the herald can't have two different interfaces for people who want serious news, and people who don't. (A proper "news" tab). Of course there is all the news feeds which go up automatically but it would be fairly easy to filter those... by source for a start

    Auckland • Since Aug 2014 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    By "news generated", do you mean "newsworthy things happening", or "newsworthy things written up into stories"?

    I meant that for whatever reason, not enough local stories are produced. Both the options you suggest are reasons, I think. We're a small country, so important dramas are sporadic; meanwhile there aren't enough people to write the kind of news that needs people to go out and get it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3119 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari, in reply to EE,

    cue serious debate on what "news" actually is

    I would imagine the Herald considers all their posts news or opinion

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 532 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Robyn Gallagher,

    shared on Facebook three days ago

    Yeah this is the thing that bugs me too. When I look at Stuff or The Herald I frequently get the weird deja vu feeling of didn't I see this in my twitter feed a weeks ago ... oh yes I did.

    So not only are they plagiarizing twitter they are really slow and bad at it - it pretty much defines digital media failure - the kind of thing thought up by OWGs in suits over an expensive lunch on the viaduct.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4426 posts Report Reply

  • Northshoreguynz,

    Danyl over at the DimPost is looking for an aggregator, having read this article. That is what Twitter does for me. Points me towards journalism I want to actually read.
    https://dimpost.wordpress.com/2016/09/05/the-need-for-an-aggregator/

    New Zealand • Since Aug 2014 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    not enough local stories are produced

    You're right, we just aren't doing enough weird shit. It's our responsibility to provide strange bizarre behaviour for The Herald to report back to us. There are only four and half million of us so it will require some effort but we're kiwis, we can step up to the mark and do what's needed, no matter how stupid or trivial.

    We need a national campaign, do more stupid stuff, preferably with videos, so The Hearld can fill it's web page.

    ... oh wait you meant real news.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4426 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari, in reply to Northshoreguynz,

    I use a variety of things as aggregator - twitter and Facebook are fast becoming the less used as I follow and friend things I relate to and like, thus end up in a feedback loop of the sorts of things you'd expect... which means I miss out on balance... have been using reddit (r/newzealand/) as my aggregator for a bit over a year cause it gives me news, entertainment, silliness and most importantly access to people who don't agree with me all... so discussion is vastly more interesting and enlightening

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 532 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to Pete Sime,

    The ODT has also overhauled its site and so far they haven’t put up the paywall that they had promised for April.

    The ODT site is much cleaner since the overhaul and still provides some decent regional journalism. Long may their proposed paywall remain sealed in its box under a desk.

    While news sharing arrangements are now commonplace, I’d like to point out one despicable example from Sunday’s ODT. The Herald ran this story written by my friend Phil Vine. It was picked up by the ODT verbatim, apart from the byline which became “Blair Mayston”. Here’s a tip ODT. The ability to cut & paste does NOT justify a byline. You’ve just stolen someone else’s work.

    And thanks Russell… you’ve articulated a lot of the frustrations we ordinary readers experience with both major NZ news sites these days. While I take a quick peek at national news on both sites, lately I’m spending more time on the Guardian, NYT and other credible news sites.

    And if I read "The internet went into meltdown" one more time… grrrrr!

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1342 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Tze Ming Mok,

    I can’t put my finger on when exactly, but within the last 2-4 months perhaps?

    Me too, I think it was last week when the thought first popped into my head that reading the Herald homepage was as frustrating as Stuff. But I only formed the thought after my subconscious had clearly been frustrated for some time and my lazy conscious hadn’t got the memo.

    It’s a bit scary that our main NZ newspaper has hit about the same level of ability to penetrate my consciousness that televized news does. I’ve got to the point, as Russell suggests, of feeling that these two media are hiding the news, and that it’s actually less frustrating for me to let Twitter mediate it, as northshoreguynz says. Because however much Twitter is also full of banality, it’s still easier to spot actual news.

    I’m reluctant to Twitter for my morning news over coffee though. It’s too addictive. There was a happy medium before between a newspaper which could be trusted to bullet point the main real news, and yet also annoy me enough with the fluff that I’d put it down and get on with some serious work. That feels like it’s gone, and now I have to apply serious discipline if I’m to let something as dangerously engaging as Twitter fill my life. I think one Public Address level obsession is bad enough.

    Oh bugger. I just noticed I passed 10,000 posts without even realizing. Boom goes my plan of torturing the readers on 9,999 with, like, several hours delay :-).

    ETA: False alarm! Still got 30 in the bag. Don’t know why it was showing as 10,020 on one of the other pages.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10559 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Northshoreguynz,

    Danyl over at the DimPost is looking for an aggregator, having read this article. That is what Twitter does for me. Points me towards journalism I want to actually read.

    Yeah, this is what I was thinking while I was reading that. If I want to know what Matt Nippert has written, well, I follow him on Twitter and he'll tell me. I don't just follow a whole bunch of journalists because I like their deeply bitter sense of humour.

    I'm not from Auckland, so I've never been a big reader of the Herald. But Stuff. In the same time-frame people are talking about for the Herald, I've noticed a change in Stuff's "related stories" links, at the bottom of the page. They're not related, they're the worst kind of Women's Weekly diets, junk science and body-shaming crap. I used to go there every morning for news. Now I just do the quiz and leave.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4634 posts Report Reply

  • Tze Ming Mok,

    Radio NZ website: still news.

    SarfBank, Lunnin' • Since Nov 2006 • 154 posts Report Reply

  • Barnaby Bennett,

    Great article Russell. It reminds me of the final essay in Don't Dream it's Over: Reimagining Journalism in Aotearoa NZ in which Simon Wilson suggests a more productive local focus for the Herald that would both serve Auckland better and build a more loyal following. Is this plunge into rapid shallow journalism similar to Mediaworks and really about preparing a company for sale rather than building a business?

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2012 • 17 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Tze Ming Mok,

    Radio NZ website: still news.

    FTW

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10559 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Northshoreguynz,

    I'd like an aggregator.

    The optimal tool for reading stuff on the Internet was in many ways the first one I used back in - 1993 - xrn.

    The killer feature was its killfile => with a bit of regexp-fu, you could consign people, topics and entire ideologies to a world outside your vision. If only we could have that again.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • EliotBlennerhassett,

    I'm coming to the conclusion that http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/ is put together by a robot without human oversight.

    Right now, top item with photo is "Rebuild finds its mojo in 2016"
    Scroll down to the Rebuild section, top item is "Rebuild finds mojo in 2016" hmm. Next section is Opinion, top item is ..."Rebuild finds mojo in 2016".
    moving on to Business, second item is "Rebuild finds mojo in 2016", and finally Sport - OK the robot knows not to put the same story in this section!
    (Perhaps: "Rebuild finds mojo in 2016" - injury plagued Christian Rebuild finally scores a win after 6 year drought?)

    and several other stories similarly repeated. This is not unusual. Its not even imported stories displacing other news, its just useless repetition.

    Christhcurch • Since Jan 2010 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Alfie,

    I’d like to point out one despicable example from Sunday’s ODT. The Herald ran this story written by my friend Phil Vine.

    Pretty sure that's operator error. I believe ODT syndicates stories from the Herald (note the credit at the bottom of the ODT story).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3119 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Barnaby Bennett,

    Great article Russell. It reminds me of the final essay in Don’t Dream it’s Over: Reimagining Journalism in Aotearoa NZ in which Simon Wilson suggests a more productive local focus for the Herald that would both serve Auckland better and build a more loyal following.

    And it must be said, what's happening to the website is the exact opposite of what Simon suggests in that chapter.

    Is this plunge into rapid shallow journalism similar to Mediaworks and really about preparing a company for sale rather than building a business?

    As I noted above, one theory is that it's a preparation for merger – with Fairfax NZ. It may be that there is a dollar value being placed on one or more metrics – impressions or unique users. So they're desperately trying to juice up those metrics to improve the NZME side of the deal.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Speaking of the Daily (Hate) Mail, at least it's been a tabloid rag from the start. What's been happening at NZME is a more insidious case of a broadsheet devolving into a tabloid, and in danger of taking the Overton window with it.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5385 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    So they’re desperately trying to juice up those metrics to improve the NZME side of the deal.

    Death by KPI.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10559 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I wonder whether a false value is being placed on those clicks, and whether as advertisers become more sophisticated, click revenue will tail off?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Am thinking back to the early days of newspapers getting online. People warned then of the dangers of giving the news away for free, but the lure of modernity was too strong. Interesting to ponder what would have happened if those people had won or at least held the line for a few years longer.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3119 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Incidentally I read on the weekend that for the first time in many years, perhaps ever, the NYT now gets more revenue from subscriptions than from advertising. While those subscriptions are still mostly print, this strikes me as yet more evidence that the paywalls are a-coming generally.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3119 posts Report Reply

  • Nik Dirga,

    Paywalls for quality, sure. I subscribe to the NYT and might eventually sign up for some of the other quality news organisations, but I'm not paying for viral clickbait I can find for free on FB and Twitter and reddit.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Nik Dirga,

    For sure, quality is a precondition for successful paywall.

    Anecdata: my Dad, 78, told me a few weeks ago he now subscribes to Washington Post online. He was tired of the thin world news coverage in the Herald, and is very interested in the US elections, so he figured he could cut down his Herald purchasing to just Wednesdays and Saturdays and spend the savings on the WaPo sub...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3119 posts Report Reply

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