Is there another model for the media?

Much has been made of the imperfections in the American media recently as the post-mortem continues on the American election result.

It is very easy to look from a New Zealand perspective and be a little naive as to how "independent" our media here are.

If we consider media to be a whole host of vehicles for an individual or organisation to have a voice, than we reflect on some of our own experiences in recent times to realise that the information that we digest is not always brought to you free of any commercial interests.

Two stories from our own recent past come to mind.

We were approached and interviewed by a major business publication to present our thinking on a certain topic in the leadership / boardroom space, only to be asked to pay for some advertising in order for the article to be published. Our mistake was in agreeing to do just that. Never again.

The organiser of New Zealand's major conference for board members / directors approached us to do a piece on how boards could best approach chief executive search, something we would certainly have something to contribute on. In the next sentence however a sponsorship pack was pushed across the desk. $10,000 for a main session or $2,500 thousand dollars for a plenary session. No thank you.

These experiences do make you think, how does the merit of an idea ever trump the basic commercial interests of the ‘channel’ whether it be a TV channel, radio station, newspaper or indeed conference organiser. With commercial TV or newspaper, you could argue it is naïve to think they wouldn’t have an agenda… But the ‘average punter’ looking at a conference programme would likely believe that the organiser was selecting speakers on the basis of merit and value to the audience?

The big question – is there another way?