Bread & Circuses, Penguins & Rugby.
Our entire mass media seems to be fixated on RWC, or Rugby, or any other sport, social event, or person(s) vaguely related to balls. If “Happy Feet” had played rugby on Peka Peka beach, our media moguls would have died happy in their beds…
Case in point how the RWC has supplanted normal, every-day, news events. On 25 September, TVNZ7 News-at-8 consisted of the following:
8.00 – 8.07: The Warriors’ win
8.08 – 815: Rugby. RWC. People with a rugby ball. Sick Jonah Lomu (ex rugby player). More rugby.
8.15: Christchurch earthquake. Meningitis case in Wellington.
8.16: Crime story in Dunedin.
8.18: Plane crash in Nepal/Mt Everest
8.19: Libyan civil war
8.21: Civil unrest in Yemen. Fire and fatalities in London.
8.23: Politics in Russia. Putin standing for President again. (Aside; will he campaign bare-chested?)
8.25: Campaign against bull fighting in Spain. (True! No bull!) Crazy US stuntman in China. Followed by Weather today. Followed by International Weather. (Raining in Botswana, I see – fishing trip cancelled tomorrow.) Then TVNZ7 station break.
8.28: Global financial crisis
8.33: UBS Bank Fraud – CEO quits. I shed at tear. (No, not really.) ASB computer glitch. (Some IT geek too busy watching internet porn?) ACT announces policy to decriminalises cannabis. (Good policy – except pot heads will have forgotten by tomorrow morning.)
8.38: Kiwi chick #1,000 born. (Lack of suitable penguin story?)
8.39: “Coming Up Soon” announcement.
8.40: TVNZ7 station break.
8.41: Sport. Rugby. (At this point I switch off. Consider phoning ASB IT geek to obtain his favourite porn website.)
There we have it, folks: fifteen minutes of rugby leading a supposedly “serious” TVNZ7 news hours – with another 15 to 20 minutes of same, at 8.40.
By comparison, the global financial crisis – which threatens the entire planet with another Depression and collapse of entire governments – lasted five minutes.
Though this information was collated from TVNZ7, the other two television news serices, TV1 and TV3, have been likewise guilty of trivialising news reporting. Theresult is that we, as a society, are less well informed as to what is happening in our own country, and indeed the world.
This is perhaps a matter made even more critical as we have a general election looming and the global economic crisis seems to be gathering an evil head of steam. We also have a piece of legislation called the Police Surveillance Bill currently before the House – a proposed law that could make New Zealand one of the most surveilled country in the Western world.
Big Brother has taken a step nearer.
All this is practically “invisible”. The news media has practicalled muzzled itself, as it chases the Rugby World Cup, and cute animal stories.
Now I’m as happy as the next bloke or blokette to have TV news cover the RWC. No, honestly, I am! But not at the expense of general news; politics; the economy; community; and international affairs. There is a time and place for everything and the News media have a responsibility to inform New Zealanders what is happening in their own country. There is more to our lives than a 15 minute story on the All Blacks thrashing [insert other rugby team here], and then a human-angle story on one of the All Blacks’ mum and dad.
Otherwise, this isn’t just “dumbing down”, this is a pre-frontal lobotomy of the electronic media with an ECG charge of 5,000 volts to the temples, for good measure.
Welcome to Bread and Circuses, 21st Century style – instead of Christians and Lions, we have penguins and rugby.
Question – without using Google, do you know the answers to the following:
- What date will the coming General Election will be held on?
- Which party proposed a Capital Gains Tax?
- There are NZ military staff in which country: Iraq, Libya, Fiji?
If you don’t know the answers, but do know who will be playing the next match, then ask yourself why?
And who knew that this was going on: