Honesty again – whodathunkit! What do we do about the news?

February 21, 2010

There must be something in the water, or maybe there’s an optometrist involved. I’m not sure what the reason is but another nationally syndicated columnist has let fly at her reporter colleagues  this weekend.

The fun started when Tracey Barnett claimed most columnists were short-sighted egoists in the NZ Herald yesterday. Tracey’s lament was that columnists can’t see past the daily rush of ‘new’ and, when it comes to analysis, they tend to be pack-like in approach.

We get so sucked into the vortex of the endlessly hungry daily news machine, we begin to think every story is about the fight, not the resolution. Suddenly our job becomes declaring momentary winners and losers.

[All commentary, no analysis, all of the time, NZH 20 Feb 2010]

Now Rosemary McLeod in the Sunday Star Times is having a go at the shallow pool of news-celebrity culture and the fact that precious column inches are wasted on fatuous stories about the sex lives of newsreaders and their ilk.

[4pm Sunday update]: Sometimes it does take me most of the the day to get through the papers and so I’ve only recently come across Deborah Coddington’s column ‘Live in the public eye? Get used to being gawked atRead the rest of this entry »


Shock, horror: Columnist admits shortcomings

February 20, 2010

Congratulations Tracey Barnett, you have won this week’s Poolittzer for unexpected honesty in journalism. You can pick up your prize – a neatly string-tied bundle of fish and chip wrappings – from  out the back of any dairy in central Auckland.

All facetiousness aside, Tracey is one of the more readable columnists in the New Zealand Herald – it might be because she’s not from ’round here. From memory I think I heard an American accent the last time I spoke with her. Sorry, I’ll really put that facet aside now.

Whatever the reason – Tracey thinks it was a well-earned rest from reading the news over summer – today’s column All commentary, no analysis, all of the time should be a wake-up call to the rest of her colleagues.

The basic premise is that columnists are show ponies who are so caught up in the hype of the news cycle that they lose sight of the bigger picture.

My profession suck at what they do. Let me be very specific. Commentators, pundits, columnists, people like me who get their little heads put in a box on the left side of the story, are myopic sheep – on a good day.

Someone finds a way to start the news narrative and like clueless lemmings, we all jump into the same plotline to finish each other’s sentences, clinging to page one.

Yep, I reckon she’s right and there’s a PhD thesis in there for some enterprising postgraduate. Read the rest of this entry »