Tim talks about the past 18 months, but my feeling is that there has been an additional lurch in the past month or two. The website has become more crowded than ever with lifts of heavily-contrived Daily Mail stories, what Tim describes as “foreign stories … paraded with a geographic anonymity that dupes and frustrates readers who bother with that click”, things pillaged from social media and the kind of trivia your stupid friend insists on sharing in their Facebook feed.
There are various problems with this. It degrades the paper’s reputation. (I’m often found explaining that the printed version of the Herald is still actually pretty sound, that the Herald employs some of the most badass investigative reporters in the country, is doing great things with data journalism, etc). Actually obscuring the origin of a story to deceive the reader is an act of contempt for that reader. And, perhaps most of all, it’s really demoralising for the journalists.
The foreign stories trick is one that really annoys me. You think it is a story about someone in NZ so click to read it, but then after a few lines realise that this didn’t happen in NZ, and close the story. It is designed to trick you.
This of course happens on both the main media websites. As someone who reads half a dozen international news sites a day, you often see the same stories repeated here.
Even when the content does have a local bite, it can be meaningless. Take the Stuff story on NZers who share a name with US presidential hopefuls.
Now if it was about Kiwis named Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton there would be some small interest in how they are coping with famous counterparts.
But they interview a Heather Clinton and a Elizabeth Von Trump. Why, I have no idea.