“This is an industry; it’s here to make money.”
I've been thinking about this all weekend which is not to imply my thinking has any value more perhaps that my thinking is slow and tortured.
It seems that Damian wants to talk about the people that are journalists without getting bogged down by the industry of which they are a part. I understand the desire, but I think it is misplaced.
I don't know what motivates people to become journalists, I suspect it is quite variable from person to person. But I would hope that for many there is a desire to play a valuable role in society.
If the industry they are a part of prevents that occurring and worse causes them to behave in ways they personally find unbecoming, then it seems to me that you can't have the discussion about the way journalists behave towards each other without considering the nature of the industry as well.
While Damian's personal changes may help, if the industry itself is broken no amount of personal honour will help.
I'd point out that I don't think the media is entirely broken. I think there are parts of the media that are broken but there are also parts that are very strong. I guess the problem at the moment is that the best paying parts of the media are also the most broken.
If the industry they are a part of prevents that occurring and worse causes them to behave in ways they personally find unbecoming, then it seems to me that you can’t have the discussion about the way journalists behave towards each other without considering the nature of the industry as well.
That's been the elephant in the room through most of this thread. For anyone who's inclined to lift their perception of the media above the personal, the real misgivings aren't about individual journalists, but about apparent editorial decisions. I won't speculate about why particular stories suddenly appear to die, but it appears to happen all the time. The impression is that talented journalists don't necessarily enjoy editorial support. I imagine that kind of ongoing frustration is vastly more corrosive than what the public might think of you as an individual journalist.
I remember an ABC Radio panel discussion where one of the participants deliberately scandalized their colleagues by describing the Sydney Murdoch Telegraph as an "excellent newspaper". Having got their full attention he went on to explain that it was an excellent newspaper of its type - i.e. a newspaper that takes the fears and anxieties of its readership and delivers them up to those with a vested interest in entrenching the status quo. While we don't have anything quite so blatant as the Telegraph in NZ, that still appears to be a pretty fair analysis of why some editorial policies are pursued.
I've been thinking about Damian's comment on how differently 'the media' looks from inside vs outside. (It's not a strict binary, of course; media workers are consumers too, and consumers may well have some inside experience).
My own television experience is dated, and as a camera op I wasn't subject to the same pressures journalists face. But 'inside' was often exciting, very clique-y, boredom and pressure came in fairly intense bursts- and subject to an easily mockable sense that what we were doing was important. (We treated it as important; other people did too- 'important' people taking time out of high-powered jobs and lives to talk to us. It was easy to fall into the trap of believing in 'the mission' - which was often just to get something done well enough to meet the endless cycle of deadlines.)
I can easily appreciate how the 'camera stampede' at Lorde's airport arrival happened. 'Media pack' situations are always competitive, even when you really like the folks from the other station. One person starts running- and no-one wants to miss out. You know if someone else has a good shot you didn't get, it's noted. The results are very public. In such cases, normally gentle, friendly people run and jostle. (Along with the competitive cynical types - yeah, there are some in the media :)).
It can be amusing- one operator points a camera at someone quite random, and everyone else jumps up to do the same; an operator takes their camera round the back of the building, perhaps looking for shade or a place to take a leak- and a straggle of others follow, just in case, you know, maybe they're onto something.
From the inside, all this makes perfect sense, however ambivalent one personally feels about it. But from the outside, I'm sure it can feel like a ravening pack descending to devour whatever is offered- and snap at the scraps and the heels of even a dignified departure.
(I don't have any insightful solutions to this state of affairs- except maybe 'de-mystifying' the media world can help.)