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The rise of journalist op-eds

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

Feature editors are filling column inches from within their own ranks. Beat journos are writing lengthy articles with solid perspectives on politicised issues.

Some of these articles make good points. But it’s challenging for organisations to see journalists being impartial on weekdays and idealogues on weekends. Their concern is understandable. Information provided to a journalist for a story can be weaponised against the provider in a later op-ed.

We’ve always known journalists and editors have political and cultural views, but the trend for editorialising is affecting trust of news.

The 2023 Trust in News survey by the AUT research centre for Journalism, Media and Democracy (JMAD), found the main reasons for public mistrust in news were biased and opinionated reporting, and the politicisation of newsrooms. The recent Curia Media Bias Poll found New Zealanders see Stuff as the most left-leaning paper, followed by the Spinoff and One News. Newstalk ZB and the Platform topped the list for right-leaning outlets.

So we can relax a little: Audiences are also under no illusion about what is news and what is opinion, and all studies show media opinion does not sway public opinion.

There is even reason to thank journalists for expressing their opinion. It tells us who will appreciate a client’s story, and who we can discard from the recipient list.

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