Are the Media Reporting or Creating the News?

By Michael Edmonds 22/09/2014 8


I ask this question after the post-election reporting that I have seen over the last couple of days, including that in the general media and on TV programmes The Nation and Q+A. Consider the following examples:

This morning I heard one radio commentator suggest today would be “Coup 2”, that is that David Cunliffe would be rolled as leader of the Labour party.

Yesterday on either Q+A or The Nation (or possibly both – both programmes were so similar it was hard to keep track) David Shearer was invited on to speak about what Labour had done wrong, then once he had left it was claimed that his very appearance on the programme showed he would roll Mr Cunliffe.

Jamie Whyte (who  is probably my least favourite politician) was treated badly being repeatedly asked why he wasn’t going to resign, even after he had explained he had been asked not to. The idea that if someone isn’t successful at something means they need to give up and resign doesn’t seem to be a particularly healthy attitude.

While I think it is important that the media ask politicians the tough questions, I think some are crossing the line into trying to create the news rather than reporting it.


8 Responses to “Are the Media Reporting or Creating the News?”

  • What an interesting post. You confirm a niggle at the back of my brain, which has made me turn off the radio and TV and turn on music and On Demand TV, rather than listening to all this so-called analysis.

  • Very true Michael. For example much of the “Dirty Politics expose” was media hype. Perhaps we can take heart in the possibility the public is able to analyse/spot multiple agendas?
    ” You can fool some of the people …”

  • That is a very odd comment, Donald.
    Have you read ‘Dirty Politics’?
    Can you elaborate on your comment that you think it was media hype?

  • The ‘media’ are neither reporting nor creating the news; they are interpreting it. This is necessary because obviously we lack the ability of independent critical thought and judgement let alone sound decision making. In some cases the ‘media’ have to translate a politician verbatim because some politicians are known to speak Gobbledygook and very few humans have mastered this. We should be grateful that the ‘media’ are willing to take on this onerous task without asking anything in return; this is true altruism.

  • Frederik,

    When the media predicts a coup, where one does not exist then I think that is creating the news. Similarly when they invite David Shearer to an interview and then state that by appearing it it confirms that he wants the leadership of labour back when this was not what he said at all then that is attempting to create the news.

    “This is necessary because obviously we lack the ability of independent critical thought and judgement let alone sound decision making.”
    I hope that comment was tongue in cheek, because I think many of us are perfectly capable of interpreting what politicians are saying (or not saying) ourselves

  • Hi Michael,

    I strongly agree with your thesis and would personally go a lot further than what you wrote with much stronger wording; I thought my sarcasm was obvious in my previous comment.

    We seem to be getting more and more tabloid ‘journalism’ with misleading attention-grabbing headlines and sound bites. If this cheap dramatization and sensationalism were just to raise the number of readers, viewers, or listeners this would be tolerable to some extent. It seems, however, that the audience in some (?) cases may well be manipulated and subject to sinister and obscure agendas and motives.

    Since you brought politics into it I feel at liberty to draw the attention to two articles in the New Zealand Herald today that are related to this topic of reporting vs. creating news.

    Although I am not a fan of hers I think Pam Corkery made some good points on reporters’ behaviour http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11331543

    Another worrying development was described in an article by Kathy Marks regarding recent alleged terrorist activities in Australia and news reporting thereof http://www.nzherald.co.nz/international-politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503226&objectid=11330898

    Science reporting and media are also not immune – and why should they? – as so nicely summarised by Dr Victoria Metcalf in her blog dd. 25 July posted on this site https://sciblogs.co.nz/icedoctor/2014/07/25/sensationalising-science-sometimes-behind-the-sizzle-is-just-fizzle/

    The role of the media will hopefully be hotly discussed by all people and I think this should start at primary school level; call it “critical reading comprehension” or “spot the BS and cut (through) the crap”.

  • “The ‘media’ are neither reporting nor creating the news; they are interpreting it. This is necessary because obviously we lack the ability of independent critical thought and judgement let alone sound decision making. In some cases the ‘media’ have to translate a politician verbatim because some politicians are known to speak Gobbledygook and very few humans have mastered this. We should be grateful that the ‘media’ are willing to take on this onerous task without asking anything in return; this is true altruism.”
    Um yeah right.. well the news is still edited and sometimes those with the loudest voice get heard, at the end of the day the boss has the say.
    But carrying on..
    Latest space science news
    An unique organic molecule found in space
    http://rt.com/news/191008-space-organic-molecule-life/

    I suppose it all depends upon who you are listening to..

  • New German bestseller talking about the illusion of free journalism
    Here is a short video
    https://www.youtube.com/user/RussiaToday

    If you believe the world is fair and money does not taint truth, well you may as well believe in the creation myth (either one religion or the big bang).
    They have a name for people that don’t think analytically, ba ba baaaa.