Cracker by Damian Christie

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Cracker: How Media Made me a Bad Person.

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  • Kumara Republic, in reply to B Jones,

    relentless empty positivity

    Putting on the Stepford smile, much?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to B Jones,

    the whole Smarm vs snark thing

    I'm pretty sure nobody wants 200 comment variations on "you're so right!".

    What I like so much about PAS is that people put a lot of thought into what they say. Most of us genuinely want to have a conversation. There's conflict, and occasionally that gets out of hand. But conflict can bring out some terrific writing and fresh perspectives.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I honestly, honestly have no idea what in this thread could prompt the passive-aggressive threat to turn off comments. This is... really not a very contentious conversation (unless "Danielle's negative opinion of the Herald" is a sign of the apocalypse). Am I missing something?

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Danielle,

    Tbh, I'm not super-interested in watching you two fight about it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Greg Jackson of the South,

    I kinda thought earlier that the thread was about trying to stay human in an environment where tragedy, sorrow, grief and rage are staples of the news diet. I have seen over the years that many reporters do not seem to make old bones and believe that is in part because of the toxicity of years of news gathering.
    I'm fairly hard but I used to dread getting the short straw to do the door knock/ call to the surviving family of a tragic death to ask them variants on "How do you feel.?" Court reporting also is cheap, captive copy but it hardens you up to the point where I can't quite shake a lingering fondness for the death penalty.Does parenting erode this? Well yeah, I stayed in the game for much of my first son's childhood but by the time the twins were born bailed in favour of spin doctoring, which as Hebe pointed out is almost genteel in comparison.

    Christchurch • Since Sep 2013 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Believe me, neither am I, but since I'm not actually trying to have a fight at all, things should be golden. Kumbaya, etc.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    I wasn't trying to be passive-aggressive at all Danielle. I ummed and ahh'd long and hard about whether to turn on comments in the first place, and decided a "go easy" would set the tone, and mean that this thread wouldn't end up like so many others on PAS, in a general discussion on how the media is letting y'all down.

    There's place for that, and there's a place for that on PAS, I was just hoping that the place for that, just this once, wouldn't be here. There were a few nice comments and then once again it was heading down the same old route.

    It's not a fight. You go ahead and say what you want. Discussion thread is and will remain open, but I won't be a 'warm body' here, nor Twitter. Knock yourself out.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Damian Christie,

    You go ahead and say what you want. Discussion thread is and will remain open, but I won’t be a ‘warm body’ here, nor Twitter. Knock yourself out.

    I found your original post very interesting and thoughtful.
    But you seem not to want to discuss the issues at all. Do you really think there’s nothing to be gained by discussion? You must have a low opinion of this community if that’s so.

    With this internet thing, for better or worse we're all in it together.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    your point leaves me a bit uncomfortable. Clearly we are allowed to, and should, criticise the media and the behaviour of some individuals within it

    Little thought experiment: try to imagine (it's more a question of remembering, but whatever) what it would be like if people who don't work in media couldn't publicly comment on it. No blogosphere, no social media, no internet. Only letters to the editor, and the likes of Garth George choosing whether or not to publish them. Meanwhile, Michael Lhaws, Bob Jones, John Tamihere roam the land. How would that make you feel?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Michael Lhaws, Bob Jones, John Tamihere roam the land.

    I don't count them as journalists. They are opinion columnists and talkback hosts: "personalities", paid by media companies. Most of all they are former politicians who have found anther venue to foist their views upon the public. No pretence of reportage or reasoned commentary among the three of them.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Hebe,

    don't count them as journalists.

    They are in our newspapers, aren't they? They are seamless part of the product. And what about Paul Henry? Isn't he in fact a journalist?

    It was interesting to run the Jonesy Awards on Twitter last year, in part for the reactions that it elicited from some journalists. Some of them I think were genuinely offended by the concept. (Not Damian, it must be said.) Yet what was obviously and spectacularly offensive was the material, which was really just a small sample of what is fed to us on a daily basis.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    They are in our newspapers, aren't they? They are seamless part of the product.

    They occupy space. Being published does not make them journalists any more than I, as a commenter/participant on PAS, is qualified to call myself a blogger, or a photographer because I take photographs that sometimes work well.

    A journalist is a practitioner of craft who has had at least had some, often years of, learning that craft. Also someone who has an understanding and practical application of ethics. I could go on.

    Having said that, I am not surprised at the negative reactions from journos to the likes of the Jonesy. I am repeatedly dumbfounded by some journalists I know who dismiss the internet and all its works -- with certain people I avoid mentioning anything webbish because the divide of experience and understanding is too great.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    It was interesting to run the Jonesy Awards on Twitter last year, in part for the reactions that it elicited from some journalists.

    All it needs now is a bigger profile, if it's to be the Roger Award of NZ journalism.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    When I think of discussion threads here on PAS that have bagged journalists or editors, the criticisms were about very specific things. The Herald's treatment of Len Brown's affair, which affected public opinion. A review of Lorde that really crossed the line. I think it's vital that the press be accountable, and that it works in the public interest.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Damian Christie,

    Discussion thread is and will remain open, but I won’t be a ‘warm body’ here, nor Twitter.

    No worries, Damian. After six glorious days off, I’m overflowing with moderator juice.

    To take up the theme of your post, I try and let my peers know when they’ve done a good job. It doesn’t mean I have to be their mate, but it’s useful to let people know when you think they’ve done well. This is something non-journalists can do too – most of these people are on Twitter. Constantly telling people they’re shit, or their employer is shit, just makes them defensive and they stop listening.

    I don’t think regarding the Herald as monolithically terrible is fair or accurate. On balance, it’s the best paper in the country (although The Press probably has a shout at that title too) and people like David Fisher, Jarrod Booker, Audrey Young, Simon Collins and chief photographer Brett Phibbs are very, very good at their jobs. Some of the paper’s editorial decisions drive me nuts, but I greatly admired the process around the resizing of the paper.

    Poor decisions – like that silly Lorde “f-bomb” headline on the website – happen in different contexts at different times of the day. That, for example, was a night sub getting it wrong.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Lilith __,

    The Herald’s treatment of Len Brown’s affair, which affected public opinion.

    That was good and bad. Remember, it was the Herald's reporters who busted Slater, Cook, Wewege and Palino, and who were able to talk to Bevan Chuang and establish that she'd been horribly manipulated by them and that they'd deliberately misrepresented her. They also turned up the angle -- hotel rooms -- where Brown did actually have a case to answer.

    On the other hand, the subsequent decision to stake the paper on a demand for Brown's resignation was silly. He didn't, they couldn't make him and they ended up looking spiteful and desperate in pursuing it. It didn't help that one reporter seems to have a negative obsession with Brown.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Russell Brown,

    That was good and bad. Remember, it was the Herald’s reporters who busted Slater, Cook, Wewege and Palino, and who were able to talk to Bevan Chuang and establish that she’d been horribly manipulated by them and that they’d deliberately misrepresented her. They also turned up the angle – hotel rooms – where Brown did actually have a case to answer.

    On the other hand, the subsequent decision to stake the paper on a demand for Brown’s resignation was silly. He didn’t, they couldn’t make him and they ended up looking spiteful and desperate in pursuing it. It didn’t help that one reporter seems to have a negative obsession with Brown.

    And the discussion here covered all these angles. I think it's worthwhile talking about.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I try and let my peers know when they’ve done a good job. It doesn’t mean I have to be their mate, but it’s useful to let people know when you think they’ve done well. This is something non-journalists can do too – most of these people are on Twitter.

    I see this happening a lot on Twitter. The negative tweets I see are usually about opinion columns, bad headlines, or strange syndication choices.

    ETA: Also, the comments! Arrgh.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I don’t think regarding the Herald as monolithically terrible is fair or accurate. On balance, it’s the best paper in the country

    Which is really not saying much, as anyone who has been out of the country can testify. Besides, I think 'monolithically terrible' is a misrepresentation. No-one is saying that the Herald is as bad as The Daily Mail. But since, unlike in Britain, we have no alternatives, the fact that the Herald is so stupefyingly thin and shallow is an issue. I grew up in a two-newspaper household. I've always loved reading the paper. Always watched the news on TV. The fact that I materially cannot do this in New Zealand is a problem for me.(*)

    As for whether constructive criticism is the answer, boy, I’m not so sure. You expressed satisfaction that the Herald online changed a bad headline on Lorde after feedback from Twitter, and that is well and good, but this is the same paper that is proud to publish confirmed rape apologist Bob Jones, and had no qualms running Paul Holmes' Waitangi Day column two years ago, to say nothing of the reactionary tosh that fills 80% of its columns. How’s constructive criticism working for you there? And really, to echo Danielle’s earlier point, the occasional ‘fuck this shit’-type response is perfectly justified, when essentially all you have is the power to express a frank opinion, and vent some frustration. Because if anyone here really thinks that we’ll improve journalism in New Zealand by praising the good reporters so they don’t develop a siege mentality, the outlook isn’t good. I’d rather be the person who expects more of people who are perfectly capable of doing better.

    (*) Although: Radio New Zealand. What a treasure that place is.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Yes, I think praise for good work is what we should do. One current example--the cover feature by Mark Broatch on 'binge TV' in the latest Listener--especially as he tells me he hasn't got a job at the Listener after Feb 28.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2560 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    but this is the same paper that is proud to publish confirmed rape apologist Bob Jones

    Oh, don't get me wrong. I enjoy and appreciate your practice of regularly reminding Tim Murphy and Shayne Curries that they publish Bob Jones.

    The reason they publish Bob Jones is fairly simple: people click on his columns, in whatever spirit, like crazy. People talk about his columns, and comment on them, furiously. The fact that he writes for nothing helps too. It's worth reminding them that there are other costs to persisting with him.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    It's worth reminding them that there are other costs to persisting with him.

    I think so, but then I also wonder - it's not like people can go to the competition, can they? It'll be genuinely interesting to see what happens after the paywall.

    As for praising the good stuff... We do that already, don't we? Social media is really good for that.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I don’t think regarding the Herald as monolithically terrible is fair or accurate.

    True. I like what Fran O'Sullivan and Christopher Adams are doing covering NZ-China trade. And for all I complain about the Herald, I do keep going back to it because the set-up of its website works best for me. I find its National section a touch Auckland-centric, but not so badly that I can't keep informed about what's going on in the whole country. It's Politics section is fine for what I need. But a major reason I hang out here at is that discussions fill in all the holes in the Herald's coverage of NZ issues. Also, the Herald has got far too reliant on simply reposting the feed from AP and a few other international news organisations and they don't seem to provide any context or look for the NZ angle, which just isn't enough. And op-ed is patchy, to say the least. But even op-ed writers I normally avoid thanks to bitter experience get things right What they're getting right they're doing well at, but there are too many gaps that aren't being filled. And when I compare with the Guardian, Le Monde, NY Times (oops, no, I'm not allowed, that's not harmonious enough - oh, the Guardian now, too), Al Jazeera, etc, I feel NZ is quite poorly served by its media.

    I'm pretty sure it was Damian who said that non-journos were perceiving this as "the media are treating the people badly" while journos were perceiving it as "the people are treating the media badly". I read the original post and comments by journos present and reformed as "it's a toxic system that turns people bad" - quite Mencian logic, really: People are basically good by nature, but how they turn out depends on the environment they're raised in. Young journos just starting out are good, but they're corrupted by the system they work in. Never been a journo, so I don't know, but that's the impression I get from this discussion. How to fix this, I also don't know, but my suggestions are:
    1: Dump the celebrity fixation and "if it bleeds it leads".
    2: It would be nice if APN and Fairfax would create an "international curator" role (yes, I am asking for a job) whose job is to scan through all the international news and digest it into a form aimed at a NZ audience. Simply relying on the international agencies does not serve NZ.
    3: Demand a higher standard from op-ed writers, and drop those who don't measure up.

    And no, I'm not and never have been a journo, but I've spent 14 years teaching, which means 14 years of people telling me how to do my job regardless of (and sometimes especially because of) their own lack of experience. And all of us who are parents have had plenty of often ill-informed and inexperienced people telling us how we're doing everything wrong (hell, in China you get complete strangers walking up and telling you you're a child abuser for not wrapping your child up enough to survive on the dark side of the moon when you're only in Beijing in early autumn [slight, but only slight, exaggeration]), so I can sympathise with the "walk a few steps in our shoes before you criticise" aspect of the argument. But I can see a few professions subject to similar pressures - teachers (mentioned already), police, lawyers, judges, politicians, the various medical professions, even pro sports. The thing I've noticed is that even in the most virulent and vile criticism there can be hidden useful grains of truth.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Damian Christie,

    how often do you say "excellent piece of reporting there, such-and-such"?

    more than you'd think. I love Twitter for that

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It's worth reminding them that there are other costs to persisting with him

    Yes, how *are* those under-30 readership figures looking? :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

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