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Scoop Column: Scoop Not Part Of Dumbed Down Media

NZ First leader, Winston Peters, decided to play journalist in a speech yesterday and again attacked the media saying it was dumbed-down and will trot out any old rubbish and pass it off as news. John Howard reports.

NZ First leader Winston Peters said yesterday: "There is no such thing in this country as investigative reporting. I thought today I would play journalist, and give you some thoughts about Labour, and their policies, and make a few comments about a new political party called "NACT" - that's National and ACT." (See the Parliament wire for his full speech.)

Well, we're not dumbed-down and our readers won't like being indirectly insulted either. Perhaps Mr Peters retains an old media mentality.

For the last few years most New Zealanders have well understood the news media does not consist of just newspapers, radio and television.

150 million people around the world visit news websites each day on what is popularly called the New Media - the Internet. Those "hits" on news-stories are often e-mailed to friends and associates so, in reality, the actual readership of a new media news page is far higher.

Clearly, the attraction and popularity of the new media for people is exactly because of what Mr Peters claims is not happening in NZ - investigative reporting of the news behind the news.

Scoop correspondents and staff, for example, have recently broken some quite signficant investigative stories. The background of B. J. Habibie, the IMF and World Bank scandals, Indonesian and US corruption, the Bank Bali scandal, the Lord of the Rings, the East Timor, Pakistan and APEC backgrounders, to name just a few.

However, just because CNN publishes an on-line edition or TVNZ or the newspapers have a website doesn't make them part of the new media. In fact, around the world, many old media editors and journalists are high-tailing it out of newspapers and television as fast as they can.

There is an conscious effort on behalf of most of those involved in the new media not to subscribe to the same old tired values with the risk of having stories "spiked" by editors with agendas. That's exciting for journalists because it means more informed consumers which the new media is helping to create.

There was recently a move to establish an Internet Press Guild. We don't need an Internet Press Guild because we have informed consumers who are our watchdogs. There is no need for "professional" gatekeepers any more than there is a need for the kind of government who would like to stick its nose under the tent.

Not many in the new media would yield to the "wisdom" of an Internet Press Guild or government gatekeepers either.

The Internet new media is the free press - the real thing. It aims to give the news, all the news, in a concise and attractive form and it gives it as early, if not earlier, than any other reliable medium. It aims to give the news impartially, without fear or favour regardless of party, sect or interest involved.

Most in the new media do not let anyone else set their goals, objectives and priorities and, most importantly, they don't try to distort our perception of reality. It is not seduced by television contracts, multi-million dollar deals nor does it rely on "celebrities." Sure, the new media takes advertising. But hell, everybody's got to eat.

But dumbed-down? - Don't think so.


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