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Anna Fifield: Who controls what we see?

As average citizens we consume news media daily, but how often do we look to those who are creating the news that we so avidly consume?

Have you ever questioned why some stories are deemed newsworthy while others are not? You should. The amount of responsibility involved in this decision-making process is enormous, and the consequences should this responsibility be mishandled are even larger. 

Editor of the Dominion Post, Anna Fifield more or less sets the tone for Wellington’s news.

Therefore she has sway on the community’s perceptions of what’s relevant and what’s happening.  A ring leader of sorts, Fifield keeps our news bubbling along. With her takes constantly fluctuating between positive and negative angles.

Standing in the top position at arguably Wellington’s largest media publication, the influence Anna has is immense as she essentially controls what news we read. Her snappy responses and fearless criticism aimed at those in powerful positions is something to be admired, especially in a world where a large chunk of media is controlled by such people.  Bold titles such as ‘When did our public service get so arrogant?’ and ‘No, Sir John Key, New Zealand is not like North Korea’ are a speciality of Anna’s, and it seems this daring trait and constant transparency has led her to the position she is in today. 

However.

the Dominion Post and Stuff have been known for a long time as media outlets that have no quarries with throwing people under the bus. Frequently, writers including Anna criticise individuals from politicians to business owners, with seemingly no second thought to the negative implications this could mean for the person targeted.

In an attempt to seem unbiased, writers tend to skillfully utilise other people’s words in order to portray their own message. For example, when describing Andy Foster’s decision to meet with protestors writers carefully selected the quotes “extremely dangerous” and an “embarrassment” so as to form the angle they wanted to depict.

Essentially throwing someone under the bus while ensuring no accusations of bias could fall upon them. 

 

Who needs journalism when you have clicks.

As we venture further into the digital age, the amount of online viewership and engagement media companies require for their continuation is becoming detrimental. And so arises the problem – which news articles are created for the sole purpose of clicks and virality as opposed to serving the public’s greater interest?

We look to people like Anna Fifield for reliable journalism from a credible and respected source, and with the hope that such people will rise above these new click-baiting tendencies. In her own article titled ‘Letter from the editor: On choosing what not to cover’, Anna addresses her audience about this very issue;

“We are trying to rise above that by making trust, not clicks, our metric.”

As a consumer, is it our job to identify which articles are genuine news as opposed to those intended to generate views? I guess the only other option is to trust people like Fifield to have the community’s best interest at heart.

                                                                                   Image: Rod Searcey

If we don’t do it, who will?

Constantly scrutinising the news we are presented with would be a tiresome task, but that doesn’t mean we should place blind faith in these media companies either.

In this current climate, almost everyone has their own agenda to which they serve. As the public, it is our responsibility to remember this, and question what we see. Above all, the people in such positions of media power need the ability to hold themselves accountable too. An ability which, Dominion Post readers will be happy to hear, Anna Fifield is familiar with;

“It’s always a judgement call. Sometimes I’ll make the wrong call, and I will absolutely learn from that.”