Monday, 12 September 2011

Prisms distorting real journalism – Nicky Hager vs the DomPo

Extraordinarily pious DomPo editiorial today, about the “prism” through which Nicky Hager presents his research.

Now some of us find the idea that what we write is influenced by what we believe, think and know really quite ordinary. Not the DomPo:

But the flaw in Hager’s modus operandi is that he amasses what he has learned and then presents it to the public through the prism that best suits his world view, without allowing for the possibility that there might be a plausible explanation for what he has “uncovered”.

The case he builds is thus rarely troubled by opposing opinions and inconvenient facts, realities that journalists in the mainstream media are morally obliged to take into account, and present.

This could be just one of those dry “objectivity is possible” type disagreements, were it not for my own experience as an intern at the DomPo a couple of years back. I shared then my email to the news editor at the time:

Hi Haydon,

Jim Tucker just passed me your email – just wanting to check in re: my internship with the Dominion Post starting on 12th January.

What time would you like us to arrive on the Monday? Anything we need to know about coming in?

I’ve been having a think about story ideas, and will get back to you about this closer to the time, but one I wanted to run past you now at Jim’s suggestion is the Parihaka Peace Festival. It’s on 9, 10, 11 Jan – and full of story opportunities – could do a colour piece, piece about the event’s growing popularity, piece about the history - anything you think might be of interest?

Looking forward to starting.


Sandra Dickson
Whitireia Journalism School

The reply from the DomPo, world-view and prism shining:

Hi Sandra,

9am on Monday is fine. Just report to reception downstairs and someone will come and grab you.

Keep thinking about news story ideas and issues-based stories that you can work up.

I’m not terribly interested in the Parihaka festival – unless there is a hard news angle from it i.e. riot/police raids etc.


I think the world-view on offer here is truly offensive, as I’ve already said. The fact that writing that blog resulted in the DomPo throwing a tantrum and refusing to take any more interns from Whitireia Journalism School looks like the world-view and prism at the DomPo doesn’t brook any challenging.

Which is perhaps why Nicky Hager – just a researcher, not an objective journo, didn’t you know – so gets under the DomPo’s skin.

I haven’t read Nicky’s book, but I’ll take his research over the Dom-Po’s version of journalism any day.

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