Shoot the messenger. A look at trust and distrust in the media.

Dutch On the 15th April 2014, Coolpolitics presented Shoot the messenger: a look at trust and distrust in the media at Het Huis in Utrecht. This debate was in Dutch.

Previously, people had little choice other than to accept news at face value, trusting in the institutes whose broadcasts they consumed. Nowadays, the populace have alternatives. Through alternative, often online, outlets, people are beginning to depend less and less on mainstream newscasters. Subsequently, many have become cynical about the larger, more traditional media institutions, comparing their information with that which they can find themselves and finding discrepancies.

Interestingly, a side effect of this new development is that, while on the one hand people are losing faith in mainstream media, on the other hand many seem to blindly believe the information which is churned out on blogs and emerges through so-called “trending”. Sometimes we are able to appreciate the delicate relationship between media and truth, enjoying for example the satire which we see in De Speld or on Lucky TV. On other occasions, however, we also get to see the fact checking process in which journalists partake. For example, trending messages may be taken up by newspapers, but often tend to then be presented with more background information than was the case in the original format.

What is the aim of such candour and what effect does this fact checking procedure have upon our perception of the media involved? Do we still trust our journalists? Do we even want to make use of the new possibilities available to personally verify the stories we come to hear, or, do we actually prefer to believe what we see, hear and read, opting for simple narratives in place of the often more complex realities? This Coolpolitics debate put its audience in the driving seat and asked who they believed and which of the messengers amongst them they’d thought we’d be better off without.

 

Their main speakers were:

Jelte Sondij

Jelte Sondij is a Dutch presenter, working on programmes such as RamBam and The Social Club. Jelte started his career as a reporter for a programme called CQC where he worked on a series of reports about the Dutch troops in Uruzgan, Afghanistan.

Hans Laroes

Hans Laroes is a former editor-in-chief of NOS [Netherlands Broadcasting Foundation] News (NOS supplies news programmes to Dutch public television and radio) and worked in state broadcasting from 1988 through to 2011.

Before the debate, Hans described present perceptions of journalism as follows: “Once, let’s say up until the turn of the century, we derived our authority by remaining separate from those to whom we preached. We were fair, radiant and out of reach, perched upon the lofty peak of our profession. Those we worked for [the public] would tip their hats in respect as we walked by. Nowadays, however, we work in a very different environment. Our audiences are constantly on our backs, they want information, they want it now and they want to know why and how we went about obtaining it”.

Also featured were Teun Gautier (board member of Free Press Unlimited and Publeaks), Eva Müller and Thomas Manuhutu (from the independent editorial team of Parallax Reporter), Yvonne Roerdink (of Nieuwsuur, the daily news programme of NOS and NTR [the Dutch public service broadcasters]), Paul Schram (producer and journalist for Eén op Eén of KRO-NCRV [also a Dutch public service broadcaster]), and Marlies Dinjens (reporter for the daily newspaper, Metro).

All photography courtesy of Niels Vinck.

On target?

 

Shoot the messenger. Over wan- en vertrouwen in de media. 

Vroeger zat er niets anders op dan de nieuwslezer op zijn blauwe ogen te vertrouwen en het nieuws voor zoete koek te slikken. Tegenwoordig is de mediaconsument minder afhankelijk en goedgelovig. Via internet hebben we toegang tot een enorme hoeveelheid informatie en feiten waar we journalisten geregeld mee om de oren kunnen zwaaien.

Aan de ene kant wordt de media steeds vaker geconfronteerd met een groeiend wantrouwen vanuit de consument. Aan de andere kant hebben we de neiging om blind te vertrouwen op nieuws en feiten die naar voren komen in blogs of trending topics op Twitter.

Soms lijken we het juist te waarderen dat de media een loopje nemen met de waarheid. Satire, zoals we gewend zijn van bijvoorbeeld De Speld of Lucky TV. Maar we krijgen ook vaak een kijkje in de journalistieke keuken: in kranten verschijnen rubrieken waar internetfeiten en rondzingende nieuwsberichten worden gecheckt op waarheid. En in televisieprogramma’s is de research het doel zelf.

Wat doen deze openhartigheid en feitenchecks met ons vertrouwen in de media? Is er sprake van een vertrouwensbreuk tussen nieuwsconsument en journalist? Maken we vaker gebruik van de optie om zelf te checken en te verifiëren? Of willen we juist het liefst direct geloven wat we zien, horen of lezen?

 

Wie geloof je en wat schiet je liever af? 

Tijdens Time to Talk #1 – Shoot the Messenger gaan jonge en oude mediamakers het gesprek aan met de mediaconsument. O.a. Hans Laroes (oud-hoofdredacteur NOS Journaal) schuift aan om zijn visie te geven:

“Ooit, laten we zeggen tot de eeuwwisseling, ontleenden we ons gezag door helder en schijnend, onaantastbaar, hoog op een berg te staan. De mensen voor wie we werkten namen respectvol hun pet af als ze beneden langsliepen. Nu is dat volstrekt anders. Mensen voor wie we werken, individuen, kleine groepen, staan vlak naast ons. Willen antwoord als ze een vraag hebben, willen weten waarom we iets doen.”

Verder zijn Teun Gautier (Free Press Unlimited, De Correspondent, Publeaks), Eva Müller en Thomas Manuhutu (Parallax Reporter), Yvonne Roerdink (Nieuwsuur, JOB), Paul Schram (Eén op Eén) en Marlies Dinjens (Metro) ook te gast bij deze gespreksavond.

Jelte Sondij – bekend van o.a. Jakhalzen, DWDD en RamBam – neemt de presentatie van het programma voor zijn rekening.

Fotografieën Niels Vinck

On target?