The front pages of both Stuff and NZHerald today are a sad indictment of both media in NZ and of what readers want to read.
Let’s look at them article by article – and to do so I’ve helpfully colour coded the homepages for each. I’ve sampled each page this morning above the fold on my big screen, and categorised the articles. Your interpretation may vary, but overall I feel the ratio is sadly skewed towards fluff.
Let’s start with the NZHerald. Real news included Aussie business confidence, churches and schools dealing with flu, Obama’s new plan for the US financial system (arguably the most important piece – certain for business/economy) and new property listings down.
However they also had “Man jumps off Yellowstone falls”, “Is Joe Karam a good pundit choice?” and “Flash cars don’t reel in the girls”.
Pink is “fluff”, green is “fluffy – but still news” and dark purple is “real news”. Click on the picture to see a zoomed up version.
Stuff’s (and I blame them for starting me on this post) real news included “Swine flu hits prison”, “bodies suggest jet broke up in air”, Jetstar’s bad first week, Dows (pathetic) offer to clean up their chemicals and the postponing of the eviction of gang members from their house.
However they also had “Poolside photos with the Allblacks”, Michael Hill’s new house and “World’s most handsome man named”. (I didn’t click through, but I am guessing it wasn’t me)
Neither had anything on Iran’s post election story – which is the biggest geo-politial thing happening in the world right now.
However if you want to read world news, then you can scroll down on each site- which I did, searching for the Iran coverage:
Stuff had a 5 word link to an article:
NZHerald had a short paragraph link to an article, and a small photo – better, but sad for what are critical moments for Iran, the region and the global economy and politics. (Iran has oil, issues with Israel and so on).
I’m not an editor – in fact the only time I ever made an editorial decision at Fairfax resulted in Stuff inadvertently breaking a budget lockup embargo. Editorial decisions are best left to journalism professionals and I stayed well clear.
But yet – can the editorial teams at Fairfax and NZHerald be happy with the content of those home pages? How do they compare to the newspapers? Are both Stuff and NZHerald worrying too much about pageviews and not about content? The end of that particular path is well trodden by Rupert Murdoch, and it’s not pretty.
Surely we can do better.
NBR is doing better – their home page has a much lower fluff quotient, and is a remarkable effort for a group that was late to the party.
However these days I’m doing what many others are doing, and getting my news via twitter alerts from WSJ, NYTimes and fellow twitters, via RSS reader for blogs and sites like interest.co.nz and the very occasional visit to a news home page.