Aardvark Daily

New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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How far has the media fallen?

8 Jul 2024

Sadly, I believe the mainstream media as reached a new low.

On the weekend I was browsing the pages of Stuff and saw a headline that caught my attention.

This was a health warning aimed at those who might abuse drugs and it appeared to suggest that some illegal drugs being distributed in the Waikato area actually contained very harmful substances.

I consider this sort of story to be a public service announcement and, if the news source concerned was adhering to the principles of the Fourth Estate then it would place the dissemination of that information ahead of any imperative to make a profit.

Boy, was I wrong.

The Waikato Times, the publisher of the story, clearly believes that profits gazzump human lives.

Here is the story in question:

Fake drugs circulating in Waikato found to contain brake fluid, antifreeze chemicals

Unless they've had a sudden attack of ethics then clicking on the above link will take you to a paywall and if you want to read the whole story ( notwithstanding) then you'll have to subscribe for the requisite amount of money.

I'm sorry but I really don't understand the morality or the ethics of hiding potentially life-saving news behind a paywall.

Sure, throw other stories behind such revenue-generating barriers if you want but not stories that genuinely could save lives. I mean, I don't see many folks with a hardcore drug dependency handing over whatever it costs to subscribe to the Waikato Times in order to get the rest of this story... do you?

So I emailed the editor of the Waikato Times to ask WTF?

Here is his response:

"The modern media needs people to pay for journalism Bruce, otherwise there will be nothing but state funded media.



Jonathan MacKenzie
Editor, Waikato Times."

Yep, apparently money trumps public safety and human lives in the eyes of the editor of this fine periodical and I suggest that his sentiments are widespread within the industry.

Now I understand why it is that the mainstream media is in such a state of decline; why it is that services like Stuff have to constantly beg readers for donations and why the Waikato Times and NZME have to erect paywalls around their content.

The mainstream news media has lost all sight of its role, its purpose and the importance of offering a fair "value exchange" for those who consume its content.

Their message to readers: "Pay up... or else!".

Why is it that I seem to be the only person who can identify exactly how to restore the value exchange that has been lost? I'm pretty sure I know how to create a news media publication that would deliver profits for the publisher and honest, ethical, accurate reporting for the consumer. It boggles my mind that the MSM seems far more focused on trying to squeeze its own square peg business model in to the round hole that is the consumer's needs and wants.

I've hinted that I might disclose this new model in recent columns and... maybe I will.

I really wish I wasn't so busy with other projects right now because there's a killing to be made reinventing the news media and I'm pretty sure I have the formula for doing so.

Stay tuned... some of my large projects are coming to an end so you never know.

Carpe Diem folks!

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