Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

We Need Both Tougher And Gentler Ways To Get At The Truth

Good Journalism: We Need Both Tougher And Gentler Ways To Get At The Truth


By Max Rashbrooke

When I look at New Zealand's media landscape, I see great work being done, but also massive gaps. One is in the field of investigative journalism. Some good investigations happen – the work of the Herald team, Nicky Hager's world-class exposés, Jon Stephenson's foreign reporting – but nowhere near enough. And that's no great surprise. Investigative journalism is slow, difficult and expensive; it doesn’t produce volumes of sexy headlines. So it's not a priority for most publishers right now.

Another big gap is in the place where civilised debate should be. Where in New Zealand is the space for people to come together and challenge each other's views in a way that is constructive, illuminating or transformative? Not in the comments section on mainstream news sites. Not, with some honourable exceptions, on blogs. Again, this absence is no great surprise. Debate of that kind requires a genuine willingness to engage with others, and can take place only in an arena that all-comers regard as neutral, or at least inviting. It also requires patience, effort, and the ability to withstand criticism and change one's mind. None of this comes easily, or cheap.

You could think of these two things, investigative journalism and genuine debate, as two very different ways to get at the truth of what is happening in New Zealand right now, to understand the key issues that sit before us. Investigative journalism is the tougher way. It is inherently combative, controversial, abrasive. It involves digging out things that people in power don't want to see brought into the light. It involves standing up to legal threats, and persistence in the face of people telling you that you should stop, or that you're wasting your time. It is oppositional by nature.

Good investigative journalism requires a certain kind of toughness, and we need more of it. But we also need gentler ways to understand the world. Not everything is a scandal waiting to be revealed. Many issues are complex and multi-layered, and can only be grappled with through prolonged debate, through a free and constructive exchange of views. Being good at that requires us all to be gentler: more respectful of others' opinions, less defensive of our own positions, less certain of our own absolute rightness. It requires us to build spaces, whether online or in real life, in which everyone can feel comfortable contributing, as long as they respect certain standards of decency and non-discrimination.

I think we will come to better understand our country and each other only if we can encourage both these forms of thinking and writing. And I think Scoop has a better chance than most to foster them. The people involved in it care passionately about investigative journalism, and have built an infrastructure for channelling funds into such projects. Scoop also has a broad and non-partisan readership: 120,000 people every week, from businesses, government departments, unions, community groups and everywhere else, reading and digesting the widest range of content imaginable, items sourced from all across the political spectrum and posted without censorship. That's a strong base on which to build forums in which the wider public can engage each other.

More people digging out uncomfortable facts, and more people constructively debating what they mean: that's a vision for a richer public realm, a better informed bunch of citizens and, ultimately, a healthier country. That vision is something people could get excited about – and it’s the reason I'm supporting Scoop's transition into its brave new future.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 



Nuclear White Elephants: Australia’s New Submarine Deal

It does not get any messier or more chaotic than this. Since 2009, when Australia’s Future Submarine Program (FSP) known as Project SEA 1000, began to take shape, strategists and policy makers have been keen to pursue the next big White Elephant of defence spending. And few areas of an already wasteful area of public expenditure are more costly – often mindlessly so – than submarines... More>>


Digitl: Facebook Vileness Of The Week
Another week, another example of Facebook not taking responsibility. At the Wall Street Journal Jeff Horwitz writes Facebook Says Its Rules Apply to All. Company Documents Reveal a Secret Elite That’s Exempt. His second deck reads: A program known as XCheck has given millions of celebrities, politicians and other high-profile users special treatment, a privilege many abuse... More>>



John Stanton: Elon Musk’s Spacefaring Civilization is a Pipe Dream

Elon Musk surely must recognize that for the human species to become a spacefaring civilization it is going to take the world’s nations to work as one on the task. The amount of cash required is astronomical, only a little less skyward than the materials, engineering and technological resources required to get humans to live on the moon and set foot on Mars... More>>


Dunne Speaks: Proud to call Aotearoa home

Te Paati Māori continues to provide a breath of fresh air in the political space, otherwise thoroughly choked by Covid19. Its call this week this week for a referendum on changing the country’s name to Aotearoa by 2026 is timely and a welcome diversion to the necessarily short-term focus engendered by Covid19... More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Blinken Says No To Greenland Real Estate

In May, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a visit to Greenland. In a rather unedifying way, he was called ‘Tony’ by his hosts, a disarming point that was bound to open the floodgates of insincerity... More>>

The Conversation: New Zealand's wet regions wetter, and dry ones drier

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has delivered a sobering update on how much the Earth has warmed and how the climate system is responding. The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) is the most comprehensive yet. It shows Earth is now 1.09 warmer than it was in the 1850s... More>>