Thursday 10 November 2022

Watching Mediawatch

Massey University's Journalism school put out a survey of the nation's journalists. 

Mediawatch's story on it focuses on gender and ethnic diversity, as well as journalists' reports of taking abuse online, after an opening that casts things this way [updated to insert link that I forgot the first time round...]:

These days, there’s no shortage of the same sort of scepticism – and cynicism – among a group of New Zealanders convinced the media are biased and agenda-driven, even without any firm evidence.  

Cranky claims of pro-government media bias have been amplified by increased public funding of media and journalism under this government, twinned with declining trust in the media and journalists as captured by opinion polls and surveys.

... One startling finding from the latest survey was that when journalists were asked whether "supporting government policy" was part of the role of reporting,10 percent agreed. 

Does that not confirm the suspicions of critics who feel that the media isn't impartial and journalists are often biased?

“There's always going to be journalists that think their role is to change society and advocate for one thing or another," Hollings said. 

"It may be that sometimes that aligns with government policy. But there's a difference between journalists actively propagandising for a particular point of view and doing the ‘watchdog role’ of asking difficult questions about something that's going on.

"They can often be mistaken for having an agenda when their agenda is really to find out what's going on – and not necessarily to push a political party. I think one is sometimes mistaken for the other and it's easy to label a journalist as being an activist who is, in fact, just asking difficult questions which some people don't like."

With that kind of opening, you'd expect that the survey either found no evidence of ideological or partisan bias among journalists, or didn't ask about it. Surely the claims are only 'cranky' if they aren't borne up by the evidence right?

They helpfully link through to the study at least, so you can check for yourself. And here's an interesting chart.  

For some reason, RNZ's Mediawatch decided that this chart, showing that there are more self-identified extreme-left journalists as there are "Hard Right", "Right", and "Mild right" combined, and that "Hard left", all on its own, outnumbers everything to the right of "Middle leftish" by a massive margin, wasn't worth noting. 

Probably just an innocent oversight by the always politically and ideologically neutral team at Mediawatch. 

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