Low trust in media has underlying cause

Trust me, I think I know when I’m wrong.

For a very long time I have advocated quality journalism as the antidote to declining trust in news media. Three reports last week convince me that doing a better job is not the cure I thought it would be.

Of course, better reporting and analysis will always contribute to improving the regard with which journalists are held by the public. And it can always be done better.

However, a new survey by the Journalism Media and Democracy ((JMaD) centre at AUT and the latest Acumen Edelman Trust Barometer on New Zealand, together with further analysis by the Reuters Institute’s Trust in News project, have led me to conclude that journalism is not the cause of diminished trust but a victim of a deeper malaise. Continue reading “Low trust in media has underlying cause”

Journalists do not play piano in a brothel

A decade ago, a renowned Spanish editor wrote a book on the future of journalism. For its title he drew on a popular saying: “Don’t tell my mother I’m a journalist. She thinks I play piano at the whorehouse”.

In The Piano Player in the Brothel, Juan Luis Cebrián (a former editor of El País) wrote of the restoration of democracy after Spain’s repressive fascism ended with the death of Franco, and journalism’s regression in the face of ambiguities that are part and parcel of the globalised Digital Age. After a long life in the trade, he concluded: “Although I have stated that our profession has low-life origins, it also aspires to a higher truth, where honesty and transparency play an essential role.”

The vast majority of journalists that I know aspire to that higher truth. Unfortunately, the public doesn’t seem to recognise that reality.

Instead, their view of New Zealand journalism is like plaque: A nasty build-up, caused by the things they shove down their throats, that only gets worse the longer they neglect to clean their teeth. Continue reading “Journalists do not play piano in a brothel”