Last week I suffered a rare bout of depression. I was pursued by the Black Dog due to a situation over which I had no control. It wasn’t the Coronavirus pandemic but that didn’t help. Nor did the news media.
I negotiated my way out of the darkness with the help of my wife, my brother and a good friend. I realised most of the stresses in my life – like editing a newspaper – had been matters over which I could exercise a measure of control and my black mood was caused not by the current situation but the fact that I couldn’t fix it.
The depression lifted with the realisation that I had to rely on others to resolve the issue.
Journalists endanger one of the cornerstones of their profession when they lose sight of the fact that politics is a contest for power. And in New Zealand right now their vision is blurred.
Emboldened by opposition politicians eager to exploit real or imagined weaknesses in the post-lockdown management of Covid-19, some news media are indulging in a blame game.
They are the eager messengers of ‘knocking stories’ that seek to reverse public perceptions that the Government and its ministries did a good job in containing a virus that is decimating other countries.
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”.