Here at the News with Nipples, I don’t just bitch and moan about the media. Sure, I do a lot of that, but I also spend a lot of time thinking about how great journalism could be. Should be. Particularly as we’re in election mode, even though the election hasn’t been called yet. Political coverage today is meaningless – politicians saying exactly what you’d expect them to say, for the sole purpose of getting through the election, not past it. And how useful, really, is constant polling? There’s no vision beyond the election, and part of the blame for this lies with the media. Politics is reported as conflict, rather than as a search/debate for solutions that are relevant to our lives.
When a Minister announces something, the Opposition isn’t going to say anything beyond ‘too little, too late/we disagree/blah blah blah’. The media cycle doesn’t leave any room for meaningful discussion of the policy or any alternatives. Journalists report what the Minister said and what the Opposition said, and believe they’ve presented a balanced story. It’s bollocks. In presenting myself the Award for Stating the Bleedin’ Obvious, the world isn’t as black and white as the mainstream media pretends it is. There is messiness, and arguments, and uncertainty, and shades of grey, and agreement, and even the possibility that both sides of an argument are wrong. (Some would say that when it comes to the Labor and Liberal parties, both sides being wrong is a probability, not a possibility.)
Don’t get me wrong – both sides of politics should have their say. But that shouldn’t be the end of the story.
I raise these issues at work and I’m always dismissed with ‘we haven’t got enough time to do that’. (A news editor once told me that I lived in ‘la la fantasy land’ when I said that as journalists we have a responsibility to report accurately. But that’s another story.)
I have a strong belief that news should be useful. If we don’t have time to do our jobs properly, then clearly what we are doing is very very wrong (and making ourselves irrelevant).
As the audience, what would you prefer – a story quickly, within minutes of the politician opening their mouth, or a story that not only covers what both sides of politics are saying about an issue, but also includes the voices of experts outside the political system? Experts who spend their working lives researching an issue or working in that field. Do you want news that is useful in helping you make up your mind about an issue, or news that just reports what politicians say as they try to score points off each other?
So, over to you. How do you think news reporting can be better?