Tag Archives: Journalistic bias

Front page NEWS @!&^#$%

ODT 17.5.13 Budget page 1 lowres

Received from Grahame Sydney
Friday, 17 May 2013 5:35 p.m.

Just in case you were nursing some warm notions that our proudly independent local newspaper slaved to keep a balanced, objective approach to the day’s news and its presentation, a glance at today’s dominating front page story by Dene Mackenzie on yesterday’s National Party Budget might prove instructive.

Under the banner headline “It’s a Win for the South”, Mackenzie begins the story as follows:

“Budget 2013 provides plenty for the South” (my italics) then goes on to state “Most attention was directed towards the Budget’s focus on the lack of housing in Auckland and on the rebuilding of Canterbury – but there was certainly something for those in business south of the Waitaki.”

Given the statement that “most attention” was directed at Auckland housing and the rebuilding of Canterbury – by which single stroke Christchurch now becomes Canterbury – it’s hard to see where the “Win for the South” emerges triumphant, unless of course you’re in business south of the Waitaki.

Tough bikkies if you’re not in business…

The article then goes on to state that “Mr English’s Budget was reasonably exciting for the South”, listing at the top of its illustrations the allocation over the next four years of money for an additional 20 places at Otago Medical School, though not necessarily in Dunedin. Exciting indeed !

Further evidence of the “Win for the South” apparently lies in the additional money for aged care and dementia services, because “the South has an ageing population (and) regional medical services should be in line for some of that money.” Hmmmmmm.

I suppose Mackenzie would also claim a significant win for the lower latitudes in the $19 million taken from the general education allocation to fund John Banks’ charter schools project. That’s what you get with cynical coalitions.

However the best comes mid-way in the lead story, Mackenzie plainly stating the ODT’s biased position as follows:

“The major disappointment of the day was the failure of the Opposition to land a significant blow on what was Mr English’s fifth Budget.”

and
“Labour leader David Shearer resorted to cliches, calling it a “blackjack Budget””

and
“Green Party co-leaser Russel Norman demonstrated again his inability to read a balance sheet.”

and
“Apart from the three leaders saying National was, in various ways, catering for its “fat-cat developer mates” there was nothing for the Government to worry about from yesterday’s Opposition statements and speeches.”

Hey, here’s a bold idea:
Why not try keeping the front page news stories to reporting the facts, with some effort at balance, and let readers make their own decisions on matters of interpretation ? The Op Ed columns are the place for heavily-weighted opinion like this.

Grahame Sydney
Cambrian Valley, Central Otago

{ODT Online says —Editor: The article was clearly marked ‘Budget Comment’ in the ODT print edition. That it was not marked as such online was an error which was rectified.}

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

13 Comments

Filed under Business, Economics, Geography, Media, Name, People, Politics

Extraordinary editorials

The ODT bellows: “They should be more open.” Their editorial today is a form of tirade directed at the Southern District Health Board (SDHB); with a wrist slap to the University of Otago. The message, however, has sticky parallels.

### ODT Online Fri, 3 Aug 2012
Editorial: Open communication
It is natural organisations want to control news about themselves. They want “good news” to spread and bad news to remain as hidden as possible. No-one wants their dirty linen flapping in the breeze. Thus, public relations firms and communications specialists are paid to develop strategies and to help massage and control information. Of course, it pays to be upfront and open because the consequences of not doing so could well be much worse publicity. Often, public relations advisers will, sensibly, advise openness, recognising the longer-term benefits. But no-one should be fooled into thinking that they are operating for wider altruistic reasons. They are serving their clients or bosses.
Read more

We’re in NO DOUBT the ODT editor has chosen their words very carefully, but in so doing perhaps they should pause to reflect on their own production of what constitutes local news in the Southern Region. We use the plural.

And here’s the thing, it’s hard for the ‘average reader’ to work out who is ‘speaking’ in each of the newspaper’s editorials these days, since there’s a discernible movement and variance of principle, voice and direction, or so it appears.

The anonymity of the editor – or the actions and beliefs of the team producing editorial material – erodes believability and reader confidence; in much the same way as when the newspaper’s ownership comes to bear (do we detect?) on the printed editorial stance.

‘Open communication’ is the headline. It’s something we expect from the independent newspaper, owing to the less than edifying antics and misdeeds that riddle city power structures and business, tied to in-your-face indiscriminate spending of public funds for little or no perceptible public gain.

In an effective democracy, and particularly when public money at stake, however, transparency should be fundamental. Not only does this diminish the opportunity for the cancer of corruption, but it also – as noted last week by the Law Commission in its report on the Official Information Act – promotes accountability. -ODT

ODT itself should be in no doubt that if it wants to play ‘dumb blonde’ or ‘dull brunette’ then the community’s quest for transparency, exposure and lack of newspaper bias will simply change gear – we’ll slip quietly to other news sources for the information we seek, some published, some underground. Motivated people get what they need, where they can. The work-arounds: internet and web sources are all-powerful for constant/instant messaging and exchange of visual data. The underground news economy.

The newspaper – while the physical paper appeals to the eye and hand – is ‘maybe’ something we’ll continue to buy, as a habit. For the most part, Southern news (and morality) is coming to us via social networking services, phone calls and person-to-person meetings – it’s fast and unabridged. People are taking charge of their information sharing. It’s exciting, it’s risky, it works for good and bad. It’s addictive.

We know that lumbering institutions have trouble sending the ‘real news’ by official means – there’s a lot to hide, wheelings, dealings, and slights.

Watch the silence of city councillors. Most are scared of communicating with their constituents by media; god forbid that social media should come between them and their council paychecks or, for some at least, the kickbacks and advantages received from private interests to propel decisions through council committee and departmental processes.

It’s a small world and the Otago Daily Times could adopt a neutral independent newspaper stance to capture most of the undercurrents. Does it? No. Especially not, if when things get too close.

Why are letters to the editor not printed? Why are online comments deleted, rewritten or abridged without explanation on certain topics? Frankly, it’s not all about bad grammar or actionable comments.

Most of the time we’re allowed to read ‘what is safe’, things guaranteed to not upset the Applecart of Order established by the Otago Daily Times in conjunction with (we suspect…) Dunedin City Council and the old boy networks. Intelligent networked people watch for what’s NOT being printed by the patriarchy.

****

The Catholic Bishop of Dunedin has come out as a misogynist… that ODT won’t allow comments at the online post in the interests of widening the debate for female and male subscribers is a sad indictment on the newspaper. Loudly, it shows the inability of All to participate in ‘open communication’ through the newspaper at yet another critical moment for the great ink-blackened unwashed.

Related Post:
28.7.12 Pokie fraud: ODT fails to notice own backyard

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

78 Comments

Filed under Business, Economics, Geography, Media, Name, People, Politics