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”

[Don’t] read all about it!

The latest readership survey shows New Zealand newspapers are very good at reporting other people’s bad news but not their own.

Last September the New Zealand Herald bragged that its Nielsen readership statistics had “soared to record levels” and this year ran an extensive story about NZME titles increasing readership in the February Nielsen survey, which it claimed was “highlighting Kiwis’ love affair with print”.

Last week Nielsen released its latest survey. It received no coverage in the Herald or in the Waikato Times or in the Dominion Post or in The Press or in the Otago Daily Times. Continue reading “[Don’t] read all about it!”

Trust is a percentage gain


Public trust is a percentages game. A survey released last week tells us 53 per cent of New Zealanders trust overall news sources most of the time.

That isn’t a particularly high number, but it ranks well against other countries. We sit behind Finland (59 per cent), equal with The Netherlands, and ahead of Germany (47 per cent), the United Kingdom (40 per cent) and Australia (38 per cent). We are well ahead of the United States, where a dismal 32 per cent of the population trust most news most of the time. America, though, has become a very strange country under the leadership of President Trump. And when it comes to the news sources New Zealanders personally use, the percentage who trust it jumps to 62 per cent.

Our ranking will help to validate the campaigns being run by news media to demonstrate to the public that they are the trusted sources to news. Continue reading “Trust is a percentage gain”