Saturday 13 April 2024

No Longer Trusted: Ageing Boomers, Laurie & Les, Talk Politics.

Turning Point: What has turned me away from the mainstream news media is the very strong message that its been sending out for the last few years.” “And what message might that be?” “That the people who own it, the people who run it, and the people who provide its content, really don’t like, or approve of, people like me. 

IT WAS THAT MOMENT of the year when comfort teeters on the divide between hot and cold. Les and Laurie didn’t often venture out onto the little pub’s wooden deck, but today, officially autumnal, but generously waving through Summer’s diminishing throng of shirt-sleeved stragglers, they’d decided to risk it.

The two old friends sat there in the silence that descends upon the elderly when the sun is warm, the ale is cold, and the view is full of familiar and friendly detail.

“We should sit out here more often”, said Les, breaking the mellow silence.

“Nah” Laurie responded. “Most days its bloody awful out here. It’s only on the rare, Goldilocks-days of autumn, like this one, that I’m prepared to venture out.”

“Met Office is predicting another one tomorrow.”

“Good Lord! Do you still listen to the news?”

“Why wouldn’t I?” Les gave Laurie a quizzical look.

“Why wouldn’t I? Because I no longer believe what the media is telling me is true.”

“Even the Weather Forecast?”

“Even the Weather Forecast. Haven’t you noticed how the whole thing is being sensationalised? I mean, the other day, I heard a forecaster warning that the Met Office might be issuing a Heavy Rain Warning for the West Coast of the South Island. Just imagine that. Rain on the Coast. Stop the bloody presses!”

“I think they call that ‘Click-Bait’, Laurie. It’s everywhere these days.”

“Look, I don’t mind the odd bit of sensationalism. When all is said and done, the media are in the business of getting ads in front of eyeballs. I get that. No, what has turned me away from the mainstream news media is the very strong message that its been sending out for the last few years.”

“And what message might that be?”

“That the people who own it, the people who run it, and the people who provide its content, really don’t like, or approve of, people like me. What was the quote you once gave me from Lenin? After he purged the Bolshevik Party of all the members who disagreed with him?”

“Fewer, but better.”

“Yep! That’s the one! It’s as though the Media doesn’t care if it has fewer readers, listeners and viewers, just so long as the ones who stick with them are better than the ones they drive away. The young journalists, in particular, they just aren’t interested in communicating with the, with the, oh, what did Hilary Clinton call them?”

“The ‘Deplorables’.”

“Yeah. That’s it. The Deplorables.”

“Though it pains me to say it, Laurie, I agree with you. Two things, really, got me going. The first was when the Stuff newspapers apologised for their racist past.”

“I’d have thought you would have approved of that.”

“Well, part of me did. But another part of me winced. A newspaper is a record of the times in which it is published. The record it leaves may not meet with the approval of tomorrow’s readers, but that’s okay. News stories aren’t written for the future, they’re written for the present. Journalism has been called ‘the first rough draft of history’ – composed of the facts, or, at least, such facts as an honest, diligent and courageous reporter is able to assemble under pressure. It’s called a rough draft because it is – or should be – lacking in opinionated analysis. That can come later: from political scientists, historians, economists, and philosophers. But, it is not the job of the working journalist. Their job is to tell us what happened – not what we should think about what happened. I just thought that it was professionally indefensible for Stuff to apologise for its past. What can we possibly learn from a past we’ve just dismissed as morally imbecilic?”

“What was the second thing.”

“Oh, right, the second thing. The second thing is Radio New Zealand. Its rising level of editorial and journalistic bias is becoming a national embarrassment. The public broadcaster seems determined to make every New Zealander pick a side in the Culture Wars. RNZ is saying good-bye to its most steadfast listeners, and, more in sorrow than in anger, those listeners, now deeply mistrustful of the publicly-owned media institution they have for so long relied upon for accurate, fair, and balanced journalism, are leaving.

“They no longer accept us,” Laurie sighed, “and we no longer trust them.”

This short story was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 12 April 2024.


Archduke Piccolo said...

Les and Laurie sound like a couple of blokes with whom I'd enjoy having a beer - or maybe two.
Ion A. Dowman

David George said...

Simon Wilson (NZ Herald) doubled down on his dismissal/derision of our Laurie and Les deplorables with this pearler:

"listen less to the perpetually angry ppl and stake a bigger claim to the hearts and minds of all who want a decent inclusive society: is that a recipe for media success?"

Unfortunately I suspect his "inclusive society" excludes a hell of a lot of us.

There's been a catastrophic collapse of trust in the media, perhaps you, Simon, have played no small part in that. Remember the malicious lies about the public meetings during the election campaign. What does it say about the Herald that he still has a job after that?
Mind you, a paper that runs stories about a Kiwi man giving birth have probably long abandoned any commitment to the truth anyway.

The arrogance is breathtaking.
Mike McRoberts on the reasons for the demise and distrust of the MSM: "People have their opinions; they're wrong".

So no coming back for the legacy media then.

In all of this its worth bearing in mind that all of our legacy media are committed to, and are willing to sacrifice what's left of their journalistic integrity to, dogmatic partisan positions: the requirements of the PJIF obviously but also Covering Climate Now propaganda, Rainbow Tick, ESG ratings and God knows what else.

Here's a great essay from someone actually willing to forthrightly confront the issues:

"I’ve Been at NPR for 25 Years. Here’s How We Lost America’s Trust.
Uri Berliner, a veteran at the public radio institution, says the network lost its way when it started telling listeners how to think."

And, of course, the brilliant Bari Weiss NYT resignation letter from a couple of years ago.

new view said...

Journalists in general (not all) are angry that the last Labour coalition wasn't able to make the changes that THEY supported, and to make real social change including have Maori play a bigger more inclusive roll in the way NewZealand is administered. They believe they have the moral high ground and so any government policy that to them, appears to go against their thought processes will be shown up for what it is by the power of their editorials. Where they have failed is their belief that the government is alone and isolated in it's determination to implement it's policies. That those policies are proven not to work so we will undermine them by biased reporting and no one will notice. The half of the country that voted for the new National coalition must be misinformed surely. They must understand that this government is wrong. The journalists may be right. This government could be wrong and fail at it's endeavours, but the journalists don't know that, they just believe the government is wrong and they want us to believe that too.
IMO if you are going to have a balanced interview you have to have an impartial interviewer. So if an interviewer has his or her own beliefs how are they to be impartial. By interviewing people fore and against the subject matter. Either together on the same programme or separately in a series. By asking questions that give the person being interviewed a fair right of reply, or when writing an article, making sure to give both sides to the story. It just doesn't happen enough. If everyone thought the government was wrong the media wouldn't have a problem but half the country thinks the government is right, so the media do have a problem. The recent media coverage of the redundancies to happen in Television is another biased example, with the media giving plenty of coverage to the likes of Willie Jackson and his criticism's of Mellissa Lee, but no criticism of Willie Jackson and what he achieved or didn't, in the same space over six years. Who's dumb here, the media or the people they are trying to influence. The media needs to do a lot of naval gazing imo.

greywarbler said...

Good approach Chris - makes us think and look from different angles. Watch out for people who would lie on the floor and look up ladies' skirts though! Some of us need to find the balance between hedonism and puritanism; individuality and communality. Seems morality and humanity are up for grabs. Would do as you would be done by - the golden rule, provide a reasonable floating device to keep us up, not drowning?

The Barron said...

Ahh, the continuing adventures of Les Misérables and Laurie Driver, or as the professionals would say, Chris' Id and Ego.

Hillary Clinton's "deplorables" is often revisited in this blog. It has been used to show the intellectual and idealized left disconnect with the working class. We should recall, Clinton won the popular vote and the bulk of this was the traditional Democratic Party working class base. However, in 2016 the 'rust-belt' swung and the disillusioned worker narrative went forward. Enough of that vote was reclaimed in 2020.

While conceding Clinton spoke to broadly, the march in Charlottesville showed there were those it was correctly applied. January 6th reiterated this. The Trump supporters are financed by the real elites and have re-intensified racism, attacks on women's bodily autonomy, has been both anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim, has called immigrants 'animals', have targeted children with gender-identity liminality, have stigmatized sexuality and have created and expanded a culture of hate towards the vulnerable. I find these actions deplorable, and I find little problem with those involved identified as such.

Stuff's apology - the use of fictional talanoa should not allow a writer as informed as Chris to misinform. The editorial director stated - "Our coverage of Māori issues over the last 160 years ranged from racist to blinkered. Seldom was it fair or balanced in terms of representing Māori, we are sorry. But apologies are hollow without a commitment to do better in the future. The distance left to travel on our journey includes ongoing consultation and engagement, ensuring our journalism is for all New Zealanders and trying to repair our relationship with Māori. That will take time and effort, and from time to time we might stumble. We will, though, continue to hold ourselves to account."

There is an apology for misrepresentation and bias. There is nothing that offers 'alternative facts', but an acknowledgement that the reporting and comment had bias. This should be an aid for anyone researching to note the bias and understand the views of those reporting or commenting should be mitigated in regard to the time, circumstances and hegemony. This is followed by a commitment to check future bias. This would seem solid journalistic practice.

As for RNZ picking a side in the culture wars, the RNZ Charter has since 2016 committed to foster - "a sense of national identity by contributing to tolerance and understanding, reflecting and promoting ethnic, cultural, and artistic diversity and expression." Balance is not providing someone who hates groups within diversity every time representatives of those sector are interviewed. The Charter is about tolerance within nation building.

Les and Laurie seem to negative to be good company. I struggle to remember the last positive comment either made.

John Hurley said...

Hayden Donnell's hatred of old white people relates in particular to NIMBYism.
In Mediawatch his argument is people living in cars or density. He calls Brexit and Trump a "rise of Naziism" (he scoffs at people's right to sunlight).
Paul Spoonley is no different, because migrants are sacred old white people are a threat; if only they would go and live in apartment blocks. Perhaps (as an architect of it all) he feels guilty and a little insecure.
Old white NZ (and non-woke Maori) are the skeletons in the closet.

Don Franks said...

Despite the supermarket’s sophisticated air conditioning, Mary was hot and flustered. Kids coming round for tea this weekend with the fussy little grand brats in tow and Mary hadn’t been able to find half the stuff. Gluten free nut allergic vegans are a bastard to cook for. And Les moaning about the extra expense, why can’t you just make them one of your nice steak and kidney pies. As if steak and kidney grew on trees. Charging round the aisle Mary’s trolley belted into another shopper’s bottom. “Owww!! Gees Mary! Where’s bloody fire ?!” Laurie’s new Russian bride with the name Mary could never remember had lost little time picking up the vernacular. “Sorry dear. Just in a bit of a rush to finish the shopup and get back to vacuum before Les comes home. He hates it if the place is a pigsty. “ Not worry Mary. Les with Laurie on little wooden deck. On third jug, they be ages” Mary sighed. “Well that does give me time to straiten the place up a bit before tea.” She groped at the aisle shelf for Litentasty. “That pub would go broke without those two subsidising it. What they find to yak about every day for hours and hours I have no idea.” Mrs Laurie shrugged. Mary plucked fat free yoghurt from the aisle fridge. “Anyway I better get on. Les will have a fit if tea’s not ready to dish up before the news."


Its instructive, after many years of (total?) media domination of ... the media! ... all in THE MEDIA'S interest note ... to now discover a better balance emerging.

Even Simon (Bloody) Wilson these days avoids his erstwhile intemperate outbursts.

There is a more inclusive air about these days.

Take for example the slack given by the media to the new government's policy pronouncements such as the many reversals of plain dumb-ideological Lab/Green decisions on speed humps/limits/roads constructions-now many such project cancellations.

The Labs/Green more "personal" pet projects approach has been firmly rejected and rates of return/CB ratios are back on the agenda.

Hooray ... sanity prevails.

Jonzie said...

In the end it all comes down to money. Boomers have money that younger generations don't have. And to date, no younger generation has out-boomed the boomers. Other than a few tech entrepreneurs, younger generations don't have the spending power of boomers and they never will have it. They simply don't have the collective work ethic. Which brings us to journalism in NZ. Journalism these days is just copy and paste the tweet, add a link and pretend you're an awesome journo. Minimum effort, maximum expectations of readership. Most of NZ news is boring and banal. When last has a NZ journo reported from the coal face? Who is in Gaza that we know? Who wants to pay for shallow copy and paste social media journalism? Not the boomers with their money! They expect a bit of value for money. And the value is not there. Simple as that. There's not enough Trotters...maybe CT should start a journalism school.

David George said...

Its quite frightening to see the media become more like cheerleaders for certain beliefs; a narrative. Anyone with any sense can see or, at least, feel it. Stuff, with an even lower trust score, are taking over the untrustworthy Newshub. A double dose of BS? The truth from two liars getting together? Good luck with that!

Mary Harrington:
"How does a public consensus come into being? The Sensible Centrists like to imagine that this is a careful, deliberative process. Ideas are debated, among people of good faith, and assessed dispassionately, on their merits, in an ongoing collective striving for truth.

But this is nonsense. As we’ve seen in the wake of the Cass Report, what actually happens is a mixture of magical thinking, conformism and moral grandstanding coalesces under a thin veneer of rational objectivity — and everyone except the most stubbornly reality-oriented falls obediently into line. And amid the chaos of frantic back-pedalling and rewriting of history, this consensus can form and re-form in real time without its basic structure ever changing, or lessons ever being learned."

Gary Peters said...

I suggest everyone carefully read the barron's post.

It clearly demonstrates the disconnect with reality and ordinary people of those on the hard left. No wonder they're currently eating themselves.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Don Franks @ 18:59

Touché! Don, Touché!

The Barron said...

I remember the first lines to a Monty Python poem-
Much to his.mum and dad's dismay
Horace ate himself one day
He didn't stop to say his grace
He just sat down and ate his face
We can't have this, his dad declared
If that lads ate, he should be shared ...

That's all from memory, I am sure Google could supply the rest.

Anyway Gazza, your left eating themselves comment maybe mitigated when you consider the Government in place for the 2016 RNZ charter.

John Hurley said...

On Mediawatch Hayden Donnell, who argues coverage of MDRU is unbalanced asks his friend a number of questions. One is sunlight. Sunlight is "subjective": it can be too hot and it can be too cold.
You have to wonder what privileged lifestyle would think like that: heated floors, best location and locale?
Donnell uses a motte and bailey argument: people are living in cars (bailey); "highest immigration in OECD" (mottee)
They have simply been very successful at elevating their own opinions and excluding others.
Peter Davis noted that we have had wall-to-wall Paul Spoonley (my words) and "super economist" (Hayden Donnells words) Shamubeel Eaqub who downplays immigration (always).
As always NZ On Air gives them all the coal they need for their furnaces.

John Hurley said...

The Barron said...
Take your pick: Anne Applebaum or Eric Kaufmann.
The difference is the nature of human nature. They are us (with a technocratic elite telling us what we want for our birthday) or we are unique and there is no other New Zealand (for most of us).
Maori had taken the sensible if you can't beat 'em join 'em route* until liberation by the left in the 1970's. NZ On Screen has Chinese NZr reaction to be dissolved by newcomers (also).
This is a good example of information management by the elites: they know damn well that the public want their nations; it just doesn't suit the scum who float to the top.

When news came of the Wairau Affray Some Maori at Pigeon Bay discussed massacring the new settlers but the settlers were warned by a Maori woman.

Anonymous said...

Forget looking at themselves in the mirror, the vast majority of our media bosses, the ones who set the narrative, really really need to take a hike.

In the past two to three weeks, two criminals who make abysmal decisions, caught up in serious criminal acts, or on the job doing their dirty deeds are described as "Loving fathers" by our media in their headlines. That is two of many in recent months. WTAF?

Loving fathers are not associated to gangs, they are not in the middle of a crime at night, or pursued or scraped up by the police post crime, no, they get off their arses, go to work, real work, come home, be there when they can for their families, have the common decency not to annoy others and keep their heads down. They ensure the mother of the children are supported and cared for, not beaten, they pay their way and they just get on with it, ensuring their kids are better than they were. Not asking for much, eh? Just don't be a shithead!

Not the Heralds woke oozing liberal left shit labels they paint these crooks as. Do they really think readers are that brain dead?

This is yet another example of the bizarre inversion that woke think brings us, like "war is peace".

Its another example of why the media is increasingly untrusted!

Anonymous said...

I'd greatly enjoy hanging out with the Les and Laurie, actually, because they're not bloody wrong.