What’s happend to the gatekeepers?

The media used to have gatekeepers.

They were the experienced people who used their intelligence and judgement to decide what was news and what wasn’t.

They knew the difference between what was in the public interest and what the public was interested in.

They knew the fact someone wanted to speak didn’t mean that others had to hear.

They saved people from themselves when a mistaken belief that telling their story would help might have done more harm than good.

It wasn’t censorship, it was discretion and events over the last few days have shown it’s a quality sadly lacking in our media.

What would a visitor to New Zealand have thought had they turned on television for the news on Thursday?

One of our neighbours is having a constitutional crisis, the OECD released a report on our economy, the Prime Minister was in China . . . and the lead item on both channels was a tabloid item about someone who used to work on television who’d admitted assaulting a woman.

 

Trying to find something to listen to while driving to Dunedin yesterday morning I found the issue leading Nine to Noon, and being discussed on NewsTalk ZB & Radio Live.

 

It’s also been given prominent coverage in newspapers and their websites.

 

We’ve got past the mistaken view that some violence can be dismissed as “only” a domestic and is best ignored, but turning the aftermath into a circus is almost as bad.

 

A report on the plea and sentence might have been news, saturation coverage of he-said-she-said isn’t. It’s merely prurience.

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13 Responses to What’s happend to the gatekeepers?

  1. What happened to the gatekeepers?

    They got sacked when the media companies were taken over by accountants and what one of my old bosses, Kerry Packer, once described as ‘carpet strollers’.

    The problem is the carpet stroller mentality is now what passes for managerial wisdom even in those sectors of the media where accountants don’t reign supreme.

    Incidentally, the number of managers in media companies has continued to rise even as the numbers of front line journalists has fallen. In many cases people with no editorial background are making decisions about what stories should go where.

    Yes, I am grumpy about this.

  2. barnsleybill says:

    It is a simple answer to provide. We know longer have reporters. We have repeaters, they are simple cyphers incable of independent thought or analysis.

  3. macdoctor01 says:

    Still, it’s good to know I’ll never run out of material for my blog…
    🙂

  4. Agree and well done for leaving out the names!!

  5. Paul Walker says:

    One thing I have to add. Consumers buy newspapers, they buy magazines, they watch TV, they listen to radio etc. Is it not just possible that the media are giving people what they want? Markets tend to work that way, they give people what they want. So maybe the problem isn’t the new media, just maybe its us the consumer.

  6. homepaddock says:

    Paul – I stopped watching/listening/reading when this issue was covered because that’s not what I want.

    Once I realsied what was on the TV news on Thursday I turned it off; I changed stations when I found it on the radio; I didn’t go past the headline in papers and have not bought the SST today.

    Whether or not that’s what other people want, the media – at least those parts of it which regarded themselves as responsible – wouldn’t have given it to them in the past.

  7. Paul Walker says:

    “Whether or not that’s what other people want, the media – at least those parts of it which regarded themselves as responsible – wouldn’t have given it to them in the past.”

    Well its not what I want, but my point is as far markets work then it must be what a lot of people want. This must sell newspapers and get people to watch tv, if it didn’t then we won’t see it. The problem in these situations isn’t just the media, a lot of the problem is the us, the buying public.

  8. homepaddock says:

    Paul – there’s a market for junk food but good restaurants don’t serve it.

    Some media used to provide a balanced diet, now it’s all deep fried muck & sugar.

  9. Paul Walker says:

    “Paul – there’s a market for junk food but good restaurants don’t serve it.”

    I agree. The problem (my fear) is that when it comes to media lunch what people want is MacDonalds and thus the “good restaurants” are forced out of business. So you are right what we are left with is “deep fried muck & sugar.” But don’t blame the restaurants, blame the customers.

  10. homepaddock says:

    “But don’t blame the restaurants, blame the customers.”

    Or is the problem that the menus are being designed by accountants and marketing people not chefs?

  11. Paul Walker says:

    “Or is the problem that the menus are being designed by accountants and marketing people not chefs?”

    No, because if it was the restaurants would be out of business. They are not and that’s because they still have customers.

  12. homepaddock says:

    “No, because if it was the restaurants would be out of business. They are not and that’s because they still have customers.”

    But are the customers there because they like the menu or because they’re hungry and anything will do or because there’s no better alternative?

  13. […] It’s only a few weeks since I asked what’s happened to the gatekeepers? […]

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