South Taranaki Star
Legitimate media gives real story
As the horrors of the Ukraine invasion blast at us each day through the media, I’ve been imagining what the people of Russia are thinking.
There are many claims Russian state television is reporting that Ukraine and Nato provoked Russia’s ‘‘special military operation’’, calling it a ‘‘liberation campaign’’ to purge Ukraine of Nazis. State television is where most Russians get their news. It’s a reminder how lucky we are to have access to quality reporting from both New Zealand and international media.
I’ve been saddened by recent claims that our media is biased and even ‘‘bought’’. These allegations have mostly been on social media swirling around in a pool of half-truths and misinformation. The truth is there are rigorous systems in place to ensure that real journalism is fair, accurate and unbiased.
Journalists know that they’re there to inform us about changing events, issues, and characters. It may be interesting or even entertaining, but the most important thing is that it helps us make informed decisions.
And if you’re not happy with coverage you can lay a complaint with the New Zealand Media Council, which holds the media to account for accuracy, fairness and balance. This independent group need to ensure the public has faith in media.
Anything that is an opinion, like this column, must be clearly marked. This is very different to social media, which has allowed anyone to offer their opinion, produce podcasts or write posts. The author may be articulate, have valid opinions and command a large audience, but they are not journalists, and thereby not bound by the same rules.
That is why, when I want to find out the real story, I go to a legitimate media source, an organisation that knows it cannot be blatantly biased or misinform its audience.
In this world of constant information, I see a lot of evidence that the public is confused between what is news from a real media organisation and what is opinion, mostly on social media. They may also be confused between broadcasters who offer opinions and journalists who report the facts.
Journalists develop stories by interviewing experts, searching information, and being on site at newsworthy events and meetings.
As trainee journalists, we had the importance of balanced stories drilled into us, sometimes by scary old sub-editors roaring at us from the other side of the newsroom. And while I am the first to admit that media are not always perfect, you can be sure that newsrooms have systems in place to ensure a reporter who produces questionable information will be sent back to their keyboard before anything is published or broadcast.
Social media has brought many advantages. It has given real meaning to what freedom of speech is, and made it easy for anyone to express themselves.
It has given us the opportunity to talk with family, friends and groups of interest all over the world. But we cannot guarantee that those conversations are based on fact, no matter how many people are involved in the chat.
While Russian media has always faced restrictions, it’s concerning to see foreign news networks such as the BBC and Deutsche Welle have been blocked, and the two independent Russian media outlets have been taken off air, accused of spreading misinformation.
It is sad for the Russian people and makes me immensely grateful we still have a solid news service. By all means enjoy social media, but when you need facts, stick to the guys whose job it is to tell them.