NZPA – the supermarket syndrome

Well, a sad day in some ways. This is the end of the last vestiges of ‘neutral reporting’, going down the same track as the Listener – once the voice of the nation, now a biased bleat. We can see the problem – it’s a bit like the way movies have gone, and pornography; we need to go further each time to tittilate. More violence, more graphic……everything. Sooner or later, that process has a problem: if the real news (something based on science, for instance, which will be inconvenient to hip-pockets) is mundane, it won’t sell.

And herein lies the heart of the problem – that ‘being informed’ requires ‘being paid’, which immediately biases the information in the direction of the fiscal system the providers are part of. Boards of Directors demand not an adherence to the divulgence of ‘truths’, but a return on investment. The only alternative, are the John A Lee / Broadsheet type rags, which of course have their own in-built bias.

Maybe there is no real answer. Even the likes of Gwynne Dyer get it wrong sometimes, due to personal biases (and I make that statement with genuine respect – but his underlying “I like who we are” is the key to my critique) and seniors like John Armstrong, much as he tries, sometimes let their personal biases through.

Probably t’was always thus – rumour, Town Criers, edicts, Bulls, it must have been hard to ascertain the medieval truths too.

Structurally, this is a process not unlike the corner dairies morphing into supermarkets – the old ‘economies of scale’ thing. When you get two left in the game, they won’t agree to sharing a neutral edifice for long – they only have each other to outdo, and – human nature being what it is – both will think they can do better than the other…..

The other elephant in the room, is the blogosphere, now sorting itself out into criteria, so you can do my ‘blogroll’ type of thing – selecting what you want in the way of info. There are good and bad aspects to that – you could self-induce a mental picture of affairs which was slanted to the point of being horsepoo – but remember, that’s what the vast majority of today’s media do already – re the reporting of growth, of science, of balance. It is the way things will go, ex the tabloid-trending mainstream media – subject-specialist enthusiasts putting their stuff up in the ether, free.

Which leaves what my partner was teaching (and touting at international conferences) – namely ‘Critical Literacy’. What one of my vintage would have called “reading between the lines”. It involved teaching the students to look at the possible reasons for the production of the article, the record of the author, and to look for alternative points of view, to compare with.

At the end of the day, that’s the only yardstick – The closer a society gets to being informed, the less that information is slewed by disingenuity, lies, or just omission (as with the ODT, MY DCC submissions and the Stadium debt), the better.

The drays are surely gone from old Cork Station, the corner dairies likewise, and paper papers will inevitably go too. Just as long as truth doesn’t go down in the morph, I don’t mind.

(here’s the song – I preferred Redgum’s version; perhaps that shows my bias…..  🙂 (not as much as I liked their ‘Walk in the Light Green, though)

The faces in the photograph have faded
And I can't believe he looks so much like me
For it's been ten years today
Since I left for Old Cork Station
Sayin' I won't be back till the drovin's done

For the rain never falls on the dusty Diamantina
And a drover finds it hard to change his mind
For the years have surely gone
Like the drays from Old Cork Sta-ation
And I won't be back till the drovin's done

Well it seems like the sun comes up each mornin'
Sets me up and takes it all away
For the dreaming by the light
Of the camp fire at ni-ight
Ends with the burning by the day

For the rain never falls on the dusty Diamantina
And a drover finds it hard to change his mind
For the years have surely gone
Like the drays from Old Cork Sta-ation
And I won't be back till the drovin's done

Sometimes I think I'll settle back in Sydney
But it's been so long it's hard to change my mind
For the cattle trail goes on and on
And the fences roll forever
And I won't be back till the drovin's done

For the rain never falls on the dusty Diamantina
And a drover finds it hard to change his mind
For the years have surely gone
Like the drays from Old Cork Sta-ation
And I won't be back till the drovin's done

For the rain never falls on the dusty Diamantina
And a drover finds it hard to change his mind
For the years have surely gone
Like the drays from Old Cork Station
And I won't be back till the drovin's done 

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