Media and Pavlov’s dogs

Ana Fifield, editor of the DomPost and someone I refer to as Charlotte Bellis on steroids (read Anna’s bio), opened a can of worms with her opinion piece on the arrogance of New Zealand’s public service.

If you didn’t read it check it out here Rachel Smalley posted it on Linked in and at last look it had 2,211 views and 188 comments, mine included.

I can’t help but contrast it with a story out of Gisborne on February 8, where a gold variety kiwifruit grower successfully challenged the Gisborne District Council in the Land Valuation Tribunal. The council had wanted to rate the grower’s land based on the value of what he paid the kiwifruit industry for a licence to grow the gold variety.

The story was written by a “local democracy” reporter. In other words a journalist funded by the Government under its “Public Interest Journalism” scheme.

The win for kiwifruit growers in Gisborne was huge, not only in the reduction in rates proposed, but the potential ramifications for growers throughout other regions.

It occurred to me that it might be time for someone (a thesis maybe?) to do a story on the material produced by these local democracy reporters and to contrast it with the leading news agenda promoted by mainstream media on the same day.

I have wondered whether media have missed the mark by concentrating on what they think is news people want to see/hear/read. Like the cessation of smoking, have New Zealanders been socially engineered into wanting click bait type articles – like Pavlov’s dogs?

If the Public Interest Journalism scheme is swinging the pendulum back to where it reflects the media’s job – to be a true mirror of society – then hooray! But the question is why did the pendulum get so far off centre and who was responsible?

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