Broadcaster Petra Bagust slams ACT's criticism of journalists reporting on Newshub's demise

Broadcaster Petra Bagust has hit out at ACT after the party criticised how journalists have reported on Newshub's demise.     

ACT released a damning newsletter on Tuesday saying journalists have reacted to Newshub's demise with all the "usual self-entitlement and lack of self-awareness we know and love them for".      

"They piled in on politicians who said Newshub's closure was the market in action, media are changing, and it's sad for the people involved but them's the breaks and other true and reasonable things," the press release said.     

The newsletter, which doesn't disclose its author, goes on to say journalists "grin down the camera" at politicians' failures and have competed for decades for scalps.  

Broadcaster Petra Bagust joined AM on Wednesday morning and told the show the newsletter doesn't make any sense to her.     

"I think 300 people losing their jobs is news, so it's just valid news, that's a fact," Bagust told AM's panel on Tuesday.     

"This newsletter feels like it was written by somebody late at night drinking wine who couldn't make up their mind, but not to attack that, it's just the newsletter doesn't make sense.      

"It doesn't sort of take into account the fact that the fourth estate and a healthy fourth estate is keeping politicians, keeping business, keeping citizens informed and engaged and on track."     

Political journalist Barry Soper, who joined Bagust as part of AM's panel, added New Zealand needs a healthy media to have a vibrant country.    

"There are two sides to this. There is the side that involves you and that's the people side and then there's the business side and many media businesses are relying totally on the advertising dollar and it's all about ratings. If you're not rating, you're not going to get the dollar," he told AM's panel.     

The ACT press release also points to the "loss of trust" in the media but doesn't mention the lack of trust in politicians.     

An Ipsos poll released in November last year showed only 17 percent of people polled trusted politicians - the profession with the second-lowest trust rating. Government ministers were slightly higher, with 22 percent of people trusting them.      

Journalists were sandwiched between Government ministers and politicians, with 21 percent of people trusting them.      

AM co-host Melissa Chan-Green said there has been a loss in trust in the media but added that doesn't mean people should lose their jobs.    

"There aren't 300 people who deserve to be made redundant," Bagust replied.

Broadcaster Petra Bagust says ACT's newsletter criticising journalists reporting on Newshub's demise doesn't make sense.
Broadcaster Petra Bagust says ACT's newsletter criticising journalists reporting on Newshub's demise doesn't make sense. Photo credit: AM

She added New Zealand had been through a very difficult period with the COVID-19 pandemic, which had put a lot of pressure on people.   

"They suffered with the illness, they suffered with isolation, they suffered through the restrictions and lockdowns," she said.   

"I think it's a human thing to want to push that pain out and so an easy target for that pain could be journalists, who are reporting things that you don't want to hear, who are saying things you don't want to partake of, so I think journalists have become an easy target in that sense."  

But Soper believed the public had lost trust in the media because of "inane questions" they ask as the need for comment had become much greater in recent years.   

"The commenting on issues has become much greater for journalists," he explained. "They're out on the field and they really piss people off sometimes with some of the stuff they say... when you see people out in the field being asked inane questions from the desk and saying, 'where do we go from here?' Of course, they've got no more idea than anybody else and you insult your audience.  

"So, I think there is a problem with that and that's built up over the years as distrust of the media."  

Watch the full interview above.