Covid reporting has me thinking of approaches to news journalism and interaction with media organisations.

My training and early experience as a journalist starting out in early 2000 led me to believe that news is a kind of collision of people, ideas and events: the premise being that there must be conflict for there to be news.

Over time I have found that, in fact, conflict of the ‘dog bites man’ variety is only one form of news – and hardly ever the most useful for showing the world at work.

The trouble with conflict-driven news is that it tends to crowd out the ‘explainers’ that truly give a story depth.

It’s no easy job pulling together a cloudy collection of facts and assertions to put meat in a story.

But it does no one any good to compensate for uncertainty by pitting one fighting party against another.

All this does is leave the news consumer with a smack on the lips: a sense of being confronted, challenged or even moved- but little wiser.

So, when we accuse media of failing to ‘root out the real story’, or ‘hold the government to account’ we should consider what we’re really asking for.

Are we satisfied with evidence of a journalistic kill, the so-called gotcha, or is this only window-dressing for a shallow, less than enlightening approach to news?

I think we can all do better than being a peep show for conflict, a purveyor of shallow news.

I love writing in all its forms, from contributions to magazines and newspapers, to helping companies prepare for interaction with media. You might call it PR, some call it spin. I call it common-sense preparation for one of the most important pieces of communication in business.

My advice to clients – and one I aim to follow myself – is to gather the facts, be sure of your story and be clear on why you are telling it.

And once you’re ready, tell that story with conviction.

So, the next time you mistake conflict for news, consider getting advice.

www.timfultonmedia.co.nz

 

 

 

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