Somewhere today, the news of the world has lost it’s way. DISCLAIMER: this is not the start of a children’s fairy tale.
What we are faced with daily is a luke-warm bowl of soup that is either slightly off, riddled with grammar and spelling bugs or questions the integrity of the news estate from its humble beginnings (you don’t get toast with the luke-warm soup either). That’s what the news is for us today though- you drink it because you don’t want to starve and you have an absurd fear of missing out.
I spent three years studying this now semi-bullshit. So where did it all go wrong? And what am I even talking about?
The news industry itself has always been cyclical and has weathered a number of challenges along the way. It’s an interesting beast at times with a number of tentacles moving in a number of directions. Television’s arrival in the 1950s began the decline of newspapers as most people’s source of daily news. But the explosion of the internet in the 1990s increased the range of media choices more easily available to us cutting into newspaper’s dominance and consequently the morning, midday and 6pm news TV bulletins. The internet, social media and our smartphones are bringing news to us faster, in a visible style, while not being constrained by a newspaper or a television’s physical format.
With this brief history in time, it’s essentially the industry screwing itself over with every changing decade. Start singing Elton John’s “The Circle of Life” to get a better picture. The bigger the badder and the better form of communication is taking over and eating it’s predecessor in one gulp.
Which leads me to a point now where these channels are competing against one another – the cheap news that will get the readers, and the over-hyped news that will get them talking.
Social media, I’ve gotta take my hat off to you – as overtaking TV as a source of news for us young people, organisations are now becoming increasingly reliant on social media platforms for generating traffic collaborating their platforms to keep their heads above water.
But when we go online, each of us now becomes our own editor and gatekeeper. We can say what we want in blogs, we can write our own stories and have them published. We decide what’s news and what isn’t, sending the industry into a frenzy of trying to chase tail.
Which leads us to 2017. A time of turmoil for the industry as a whole. Where journalists and credited organisations are now questioning their integrity, which in turn means we do as well. Has the modern day journalist lost sight of their code of ethics? In my first year of uni we were taught that above all else the code of ethics was the commandment. Full stop.
“The journalist must resist any efforts to distort information or introduce censorship. Principles for searching and receiving information, respecting the right of society to objective information, the journalist must convey truthful information and a whole spectrum of opinions on certain issues. The news should be based on facts and information where truthfulness can be checked. The journalist should do his/her best to obtain information from all possible sources, to make sure it is complete, truthful and unbiased. Information which may offend or humiliate a person should be checked especially carefully”.
This is what we were served today by a leading news source:
ENTREE: “Adele’s ‘unflashy’ new house”,
MAIN COURSE: “I spent a week in the nude”
DESSERT: “Most hated women in Hollywood”.
And in amongst all of this- we have children dying in war torn countries every hour, landslides in South America killing innocent civilians, and a poverty and housing crises that isn’t being given the investigation or the passion that it deserves. Copy and pasting Hollywood gossip and speculation is by far the easiest. It’s cheap and it’s dirty and it’s how we roll in 2017.
Instead of working on behalf of the individual, they are working against them. Instead of working on behalf of us, giving us a voice, working hard to investigate the questions we are asking, the tables have turned.
I was reading an article the other day: “Did Kylie Jenner Get A Boob Job? Why Am I Being Paid To Write About This Shite?” It was fantastic.
Have a read of it in full here. Warning: a lot of F bombs are dropped-
“This is exactly why I studied journalism, cheers for hiring me. Dream job my A hole.”
“Any chance I can write about a business woman without it being about the fact she is a woman in business? Oh, what’s that? You now need 8 pics of Jenner tits? Got to keep people on the page for longer is it? Loud and clear Siobhan.”
Now don’t get me wrong, I have this stupid, idiotic muscle memory that kicks in when I see a Jenner/Kardashian headline pop down my Facebook newsfeed, I click on the links. But there is a place for this content and it doesn’t lie within the 6pm news.
And then we have the double standard. Take our All Black idols Aaron Smith, Daniel Carter and Ali Williams. Quick update in case you’ve been living under a rock: Smith was caught going into a Christchurch Airport loo with a lady that wasn’t his, Carter was caught drink driving in France over twice the legal limit, and Williams was caught in possession of some highly illegal drugs. One of these things is not like the other AKA two of these things are illegal.
So, poor Aaron Smith must be wondering about the silence regarding Daniel Carter. Smith was persecuted last year for his assignation in the airport bathroom, an incident which offended only some of the population’s moral code. But unfortunately for him, this was an incident the media grabbed hold of and squeezed dry.
Smith was never cuffed by the Gendarmerie, as was the clown Ali Williams in Paris, nor was he caught speeding like Carter near the Champs-Elysee.
Smith had to leave his All Blacks team early during this time as a result, which is about as demoralising as it gets for an All Black, and to this day, he shouldn’t have had to. But let’s not forget, ‘all hail Carter’ was allegedly found to have almost twice as much French sauce in his body than was legal. ILLEGAL. Yet the silence on this was deafening. A CRIME. His only excuse for speeding was that he was playing for a team called Racing.
Williams’ alleged cocaine deal is also a crime in France. These guys are aged in their mid-30s and one day they might just grow up. Carter got away with it by saying sorry on social media. He even flew home on holiday with no airport ambush, as if drinking and driving was just what you did with the lads.
All Blacks in positions like Carter and Williams can now be their own gatekeepers by making statements on social media so they don’t have to answer the curly questions from the media. They are both heavily paid in media money, which I’m sure comes with extra responsibility when you haven’t done a day’s menial work in your life, nor had much of a mortgage. Being professional should mean staying off the turps when you are the world’s highest-paid player at a reported $2.3 million a year.
Anyway, whatever the Paris court dished out to Carter or Williams won’t come close to the punishment served upon Smith. A legal, mutual act the media chewed up and spat out because they were having a slow week at the office. It’s a laziness of epic proportions.
But then we go back to ‘real’ stories. Take the biggest storm “since the Wahine”, “the 100 years floods” that ‘hit’ the country last month.
Stuff spent the entire week building up a news story bigger than Cyclone Cook. When New Zealand woke up to blue skies the headlines read “Did New Zealand overreact to Cyclone Cook?” No no, it was just you.
Because of this a lot of people these days are turned off by the nature of news. It’s critical, it’s negative, it’s sensational, it’s trivial. At some point, people will start to think that there are better ways to spend their time. If you go looking for it, on the other hand, there is still quality news out there. But it loses it’s meaning when the front page headline discusses the intricate details of Kylie Jenner’s boobs.