Photo Acknowledgement: Sunday Star Times
It was a feeling of sadness and a losing a familiar part of my world , when I heard today (28 November) that Geoff Robinson would be resigning next year, on 1 April, from his role as Radio NZ’s Morning Report co-host. (see: Geoff Robinson to leave Morning Report)
Geoff Robinson had been a part of my mornings since I “discovered” Radio NZ in the early 199os. He had been part of my mornings since then, outlasting several partners/lovers, and being there as I had my brekky and first of umpteen coffees.
His style was professional and reassuring. He asked the questions and voiced pertinent points from his guests that screamed from my own thoughts. He always sounded chatty and “laid back” – but his subtle questioning could be deceptively edgy and insightful.
It’s a cliche, I know, but he will be a tough act to follow.
I will miss him terribly. Like a family member who hangs around, never really imposing himself, but always with something interesting to say.
I thank Geoff for making my mornings something to look forward to. How else could one face a Monday morning after a relaxing weekend?
And I thank Geoff for giving us notice up till 1 April. I shall be making the most of the time left and relishing every moment of the time he has given us.
Enjoy your retirement, Geoff. And your lie-ins. You’ve more than earned it.
= fs =
Source: Dominion Post, 6 August 2013
Anyone wanting to express their views in a similar vein can email the editor;
- Or send snailmail to The Letters Editor, PO Box 1297, Wellington
- Word limit: 200
- Don’t forget to include your full name, home address, and a contact phone number (not published)
= fs =
NZ, Wellington, 25 May – Journalists and other staff working for Fairfax media, were told last week of a review that the company was carrying out. Management told staff that times are tough; advertising revenue was down; and that job losses had not been ruled out. Incredulous staff were told that there would have to be a reshuffle to make things work and that their would be job losses.
Staff were given no further details.
According to Radio NZ,
Acting general manager Andrew Boyle says there are potential job cuts across the entire company, from advertising to editorial.
Acknowledgment: Radio NZ – Fairfax looks at job cuts
And according to Stop Press,
He’s unable to say how many of Fairfax NZ’s roughly 1800 staff will be affected by the restructuring, as the company is still in early consultation with its business departments. However, he does expect it to be wide reaching including editorial, sales and operational roles. Pre-press (ad placing) and a contact centre run by Fairfax are also in the scope, he adds.
Acknowledgment: Stop Press - Job cuts on the horizon for Fairfax, company looks towards paywalls
Fairfax NZ acting general manager, Andrew Boyle, was quick to make reassuring noises to his readers,
“We still intend to be the largest newsroom in the country. We know competing with quality local content is vital to our future.”
Acknowledgment: NBR – More jobs at risk as Fairfax continues to restructure
Which was reinforced with his statement to Stop Press,
“At the end of all this we will remain the largest newsroom in the country and we won’t compromise what we’ll do for our readers.”
Unfortunately, if past trends with the Dominion Post, Evening Post, and The Dominion are any indication, Mr Boyle’s optimism is not confirmed by past experience.
Since 1983, newspapers in Wellington have gone through radical changes in both style; the number of titles available – and page-count.
Whilst prices have risen, the number of pages has dropped.
Monday 20 May 2013
Tittle: Dominion Post
Page count: 24
Front Page Headlines (stories):
- “Mystery as China blocks NZ meat”
- “The tragic toll of asthma”
Monday 26 May 2003
Title: Dominion Post
Page count: 44
Front Page Headlines:
- “Millions creamed from pokies”
- “Only two All Black canes expected”
- “Woman with rifle threatens shoppers”
- “Hollingworth resigns for sake of office”
- large photo-story of father/son Tae Kwon Do contestants in national competition
Monday 24 May 1993
Title: The Dominion
Price: 60 cents
Page count: 44
Front Page Headlines:
- “Cyclist killed in horrific accident”
- “Woman dies in domestic related incident”
- “Referendum may not have Senate vote”
- “Bolger rules out Aussie marriage”
- “Hutt Council may scrap its school recreation programme”
- “EnergyDirect faces another court challenge”
- + 6 mini-item single-column stories
- + photo-story on rugby league player, Robert Piva
Title: The Evening Post
Price: 60 cents
Page count: 28 (TV Week: 16 pages)
Front Page Headlines:
- “Projects blamed for Hutt debt”
- “Eve determined to keep going”
- “Waite caps off Kiwi golf clean-up”
- “Million Cambodians vote for peace”
- + 6 mini-item single-column stories
Monday 23 May 1986
Title: The Dominion
Price: 25 cents
Page count: 20
Front Page Headlines:
- “Sea and air rescue of 20,000 gears up”
- “Grampa takes a bow”
- “Rock fall injures rafters”
- “Car batters wineshop”
- “Bodies found in snow”
- “Tear gas use defended”
- “Mosely ends racing career”
- “Tour lifts cloud for Dairy Board Chief”
- “Tories get jobless vote”
- “Wholesalers seek change in margins”
- “Wages action meets tough line”
- “Douglas expects Cabinet reversal”
- + 6 mini-item single-column stories
- + 1 mini-item story
Title: The Evening Post
Price: 25 cents
Page count: 36
Front Page Headlines:
- “Freeze stretched to Feb 29 – Back-dating kills allowances”
- “Ferries sale, planes fly – Storm battering travellers”
- “600 bed down on board”
- “Her new car met train”
- “Gale shuts out containership”
- “Edward lunches with Cabinet”
- “Mud, water rupture hill road fill”
- “The longest gale”
Generally speaking, as the price of newspapers has risen, the page count has dropped, and the number of news stories on the front page has also reduced in number. Content within newspapers has most likely also reduced.
According to one source, whilst readership levels remain fairly positive, advertising revenue has also dropped by at least 40% in the last financial year alone.
Staffing levels have also been slashed. Three years ago, about a hundred sub-editors were made redundant – a process that began in 2008, but received very little media coverage (see: Fairfax says 100 further jobs to be cut in NZ ). Those who were kept on were reassigned to “hubs” that Fairfax set up to supply a centralised news service to service its various metropolitan dailies.
Only Fairfax’s on-line staffing levels – those who maintain the Stuff.co.nz website – have shown an increase in numbers, as the company diverted more resources to it’s web presence.
Financially, APN’s NZ Herald is in an even worse financial state. So much so that APN has not found any willing buyers for the ailing newspaper and remains on the market to this day.
According to Stop Press, Boyle is considering pay-walls Fairfax NZ’s online publications,
“We’re investigating quite actively what paywalls might mean. There’s a lot of modeling and research work being done but I can’t tell you a definitive time line for it or what it might look like.”
Both Fairfax and APN are actively considering the pay-wall model – but are afraid to make the first move, lest the other hold off, and readers flock to a free web-version of their competitor.
As Whakatane Beacon editor, Mark Longley pointed out,
“If one major newspaper website charged and the other one remained free, well, that would be a tough call.”
There are already three pay-to-view publications in New Zealand; the Listener, Whakatane Beacon, and the Ashburton Guardian.
On TV3 News, Ashburton Guardian editor, Coen Lammers said,
“If you want to know about Ashburton you have got to come to us, people have no choice really. If they value our journalism they’ll pay for it.”
That may work well in a town or small city, but in larger cities people have recourse to alternative sources of news. In fact, this blogger questions whether a pay-wall will turn around the fortunes of these large media chains when the problem is not with the readership – but with the content of their publications.
As the numbers above show (with one exception), the page count has dropped dramatically since 1983. It’s not possible to offer a similar service to readers even as page numbers drop – and advertising clients still have their advertisements crammed into fewer remaining pages.
Something has to give, and it has unfortunately been the quality of news presented.
To give an example; in the mid 1990s, the Evening Post alone assigned two reporters to covering Wellington City Council issues. A third reporter was assigned part time. The Dominion most likely also had their own reporters covering Council issues.
This blogger has learned that the Dominion Post – an amalgamation of the former Evening Post and The Dominion – has assigned just one reporter to cover Council business.
How is that geared toward improving coverage of City Council issues?
Another case in point; “fluff pieces” dominating the front page does not help to present a serious, credible image of a newspaper;
Acknowledgment; Dominion Post, 21 May 2013
Whilst burying serious news stories – of a nature that may will have incalculable consequences for the future of our country – somewhere in the back pages, does not scream Serious Media;
Acknowledgment; Dominion Post, 21 May 2013
Putting Fairfax’s Stuff (a god-awful name, by the way) website behind a pay-wall simply presents the same reduced news service, with a price-tag attached. This is not a clever business model. Especially when the “consumer” has free alternatives to choose from.
If Fairfax (and APN) are finding that revenue from advertising is falling, perhaps it is appropriate for management to re-visit their business strategy. Their model may be wrong when they treat print advertising separate from their online service.
Perhaps if Fairfax and APN proprietors treated both print and online media as a combined service, their clients may think more favourably about using it. Shoe retailers are masters at presenting a good deal for shoppers.
The last thirty years have shown that reducing the quality of media publications has proven disastrous in terms of building readership and a strong advertising base. Trying to ‘sting’ readers for using an on-line service harks back to the old “cost-plus” business mentality. That didn’t work out well either.
If Fairfax and APN want to grow their revenue then they need to get a lot more clever than simply putting their hands out and expecting readers to ‘cough up’. They will be mightily disappointed.
There is good reason why this blogger ceased buying newspapers ten years ago. I have a reasonably good memory that harks back to fine journalists like Lidia Zatorski who use to cover the Wellington City Council brief. If the mayor so much as sneezed – Ms Zatorski and her colleagues knew about it.
The Dominion Post is a pale shadow of it’s predecessors. My current short-term subscription of the Dompost confirms to me that nothing much has changed for the better (and said subscription will shortly be cancelled). Quite simply, the Dompost is hardly worth the paper it’s written on.
As a customer, this is how I see it.
And really, isn’t the customer always right?
Good luck on the pay-wall.
I’ll be on the other side.
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 27 May 2013.
National Business Review: Fairfax says 100 further jobs to be cut in NZ (26 Aug 2008)
Stop Press: Sky TV profits up, APN suffers losses, and Fairfax not doing so well (22 Feb 2013)
Stop Press: Job cuts on the horizon for Fairfax, company looks towards paywalls (21 May 2013)
Radio NZ: Fairfax looks at job cuts (21 May 2013)
National Business Review: More jobs at risk as Fairfax continues to restructure (22 May 2013)
TV3 News: News sites to adopt pay wall (24 May 2013)
NZ Herald: Maori TV payout and the year of the paywall (24 May 2013)
= fs =
Sunday morning TV current affairs yielded a wide range of issues discussed; Len Brown and the Auckland Unitary Plan; Hekia Parata’s political career; US-NZ relations; New Zealand Universities; the high incidence of asthma in Maori; the Living Wage campaign; the rising careers of Dayna Grant and Maisey Rika; and the recently released findings of the Independent Police Complaints Authority. Plus the obligatory ‘plug’ for TV3′s “X Factor” on TV3′s “The Nation“.
On the issue of the IPCA’s report, “Q+A” host, Susan Wood introduced the issue with this segment;
SUSAN WOOD: “And the police conduct authority delivering it’s findings on the Urewera raid. Some road blocks and searches found to be unlawful. Some on the receiving end thinking about compensation.”
RUATOKI CITIZEN: “Because you know, stress and all that kind of stuff. Cleaning the house. Because it took quite a while. That tear gas is quite hard to get rid of. I had to paint the ceiling.”
SUSAN WOOD: (smiling) “Who’d have known?”
Time Stamp: 1.05 – 1.20
A screen-shot captures the moment when Wood made light of the young man’s experience, with her flippant, dismissive remark,
Yes, Susan. Who’d have known that a white pakeha could so openly lack empathy with fellow New Zealanders, in our own country, that had been terrorised by a para-military exercise that our own IPCA labelled as unlawful, unjustifiable and unreasonable?
Who would have thought, Susan, that women and young children could be locked up in a garage for nine hours under guard, without food, and a supposedly reputable journo like you could make light of it?
Who’d have thought, Susan, that an entire small town could be locked down and sealed off from the rest of the country in a scene straight out of C.K. Stead’s “Smith’s Dream/Sleeping Dogs” – and it would be an object of mirth for you?
When something like this – perhaps one of the most shameful events in our recent history – is so casually dismissed by you, then perhaps you should reconsider if you’re in the right job.
Your flippancy might be suitable on the cyber-sewer that is Whalesoil or David Farrar’s marginally less odious Kiwiblog, like this insensitive clod, anonymously revelling in his racism,
Is that the kind of racist moron you’re lining up with, Susan?
Sorry, but one expects better from a supposedly experienced, professional in our media. Just because they were brown folk and poor, and not like your refined middle-class neighbours in your fine, leafy suburb – a bit of empathy mightn’t go astray here.
Or has the mask slipped, revealing the true attitudes of white mainstream media in this country?
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 26 May 2013.
= fs =
Seven month and a half months after right-wing blogger, Cameron Slater took over as editor of ‘Truth‘, the newspaper has been put into receivership.
On a TV3 report he offered the excuse that,
“Bottom line is that Truth was too far gone.”
= fs =
… and it is Paul Thompson, replacing outgoing CEO, Peter Cavanagh.
The appointment of Paul Thompson was (is still?) a bit of a worry. His background, as Radio NZ disclosed in a Scoop.co.nz press relelease is firmly rooted in the world of commercial media,
Paul Thompson is currently the Group Executive Editor of Fairfax Media in New Zealand and a former award winning editor of the Christchurch Press and the Nelson Mail.
Acknowledgement: Scoop – Appointment of Radio NZ Chief Executive and Editor-in-Chief
Why is this of concern?
This report, in the NZ Herald, five months ago, for starters;
Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Radio NZ on the hunt for next chief executive
Note the references made by Herald reporter, John Drinnan,
However, a source said the board was expected to appoint a new chief executive more amenable to change, particularly over sponsorship income…
… Critics say that has been at the expense of innovation and by resisting Government calls for new funding sources.
Radio NZ is one of the few state entities that earns very little income (if any); makes no profit; and requires constant funding by the government of the day.
It is anathema to a right-wing party such as National – which instead prefers to lavish tax-payer funded largese on private corporation such as Warner Bros.
As such, Radio NZ’s annual budget of $31,816,000 has not changed since 2009, after National’s election to power the previous year.
Despite a successful Save Radio New Zealand Facebook campaign in February 2010, there is still considerable apprehension that National has a dark, neo-liberal agenda for Radio NZ. The Nats want Radio NZ commercialised. Commercialisation would ‘gut’ the broadcaster and turn it into a radio-version of TVNZ.
And we all know what TVNZ serves up to it’s audience…
Pressure is also coming from right-wing bloggers and “columnists”, such as this piece of propaganda BS from conservative Karl Du Fresne, RNZ’s bias needs to be tackled. (Du Fresne’s allegations of “left wing bias” is strange, considering that he and several other right wing commentators are often guests on various Radio NZ programmes, such as Jim Mora’s 4-5 Panel. See previous related blogpost: Karl Du Fresne has a public baby waa-waa cry-session)
The commercialisation of Radio NZ can only be achieved if, at first, the broadcaster’s leadership is changed, and someone more ‘amenable’ to National’s destructive monetarist ideology, is appointed.
Paul Thompson would seem to fit that bill perfectly.
However, there is a glimmer of hope that the last bastion of non-commercialised public broadcasting will not be corrupted by a National Party stooge. If Paul Thompson is being straight up with us, and his comments can be taken at face value, then he is no stooge of this shabby, incompetant government,
“I think any form of commercialisation of any of the stations or the content would be a bad thing.
The funding is what the funding is, and lets hope in future at some stage that changes. In the mean time I’m sure that we can continue to do a very good job.”
Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Incoming RNZ head rules out sponsorship
For more on Paul Thompson’s comments on this issue, Listen to Paul Thompson on Morning Report
Let’s hope Mr Thompson is a man of his word. I think it is no exageration to say that the fate of one of New Zealand’s best known iconic institutions lies in his hands.
Don’t stuff it up please, Mr Thompson.
= fs =
… has ended her two week stint as co-presenter on Radio NZ’s Morning Report.
I think more than a few folk will miss her considerable presence on the Morning Report segment of Radio NZ’s programming. Her no-nonsense, commanding style of interview delves past the BS, and demands answers to questions which we, the public, are entitled to know, but unable to put to those in positions of authority. (And when we do put questions to those in Authority, our efforts are “rewarded” with fob-offs; bullshit, or ignored entirely.)
Kim is one of the best interviewers we are currently blessed with, with more talent in one finger than a regiment of reporters.
Note: Kim Hill will still have her own segment on Saturday Mornings.
= fs =
Just got home from being down at Backbenches Pub, for the filming of Backbenches. It was a good evening. A good natured crowd. We even gave up a couple of our spare chairs for a National MP and one of his staffers’ children.
Low points of the night…
- The anti-flouridation fanatics behind us. One of whom was asked his point of view, and he gave it whilst the rest of the crowd listened with relative attentiveness.
When pro-flouridation views were offered by others, the anti-flouro crowd erupted into hyena-like yelling, cat-calls, and interjection, until Damien told them to knock it off. As he pointed out to them, their man was given the courtesy of being heard without abuse thrown at him.
Advice to anti-flouro activists: a bit of civilised respect cuts both ways. You will not change public opinion by yelling your opponents down.
- Judith Collins. Collins turned up with her retinue of staff, and others. She was standing less than a metre from our table.
As the subject for the three MPs in front of the cameras got around to Peter Dunne, I looked at Collins. Was that smirking that I saw on her face as the question was asked who felt sorry for Dunne?
Yep, I’m fairly sure it was smirking.
One may disagree with Peter Dunne’s vioting history during this government – and god knows I sure as hell do – but it takes a sadistic charachter to take pleasure in someone’s very public fall from grace.
Not that I’m saying that Collins is sadistic…
But I’m fairly sure of one thing.
She was smirking.
Bad form again.
Backbenches: tonight, Prime TV, 10.30pm
= fs -
Dominion Post cartoonist Tom Scott has had one of his cartoons re-published in French newspaper Le Monde. His caricature of Syrian dictator, President Bashar al-Assad, has won him accolades,
Acknowledgment: Kiwi cartoonist published in Paris paper
A cartoonist pokes fun at positions of authority; those in power; and established social “norms”. A cartoonist is a critic , or at least exposes contradictions so the public reader can see an issue or problem from another vantage point.
A cartoonist can also create images that reinforce evil such as racism and other discrimination – but then that raises the question; what is the point?
Reinforcing prejudice is easy-peasy; just repeat what the previous bigot said. No original thought required.
Al Nisbet’s openly racist cartoons in the Marlborough Express and The Press are examples of reinforcing preconceived prejudices. Nothing is challenged. Only reinforced.
Acknowledgment: Marlborough Express & The Press
That’s not cartooning. That’s propaganda.
Speaking of “propaganda”…
On 31 May, Deputy Editor of Christchurch’s The Press, Ric Stevens, made this comment defending Nisbet’s cartoons,
“On the wall of my office in Press House in Gloucester St is a drawing by New Zealander David Low, described by Britain’s Guardian newspaper in a 1963 obituary as the “dominant cartoonist of the western world”.
The cartoon I look at every working day, which sadly does not belong to me, is an inoffensive thing.
Canterbury’s founding fathers reach out from a book – the pages of history – to a young couple of 1950, congratulating them on reaching the Christchurch Centenary.
Judging by a furore over our cartoons that blew up yesterday, it seems some readers would want all our cartoons to be that nice.
But not all Low’s cartoons were as gentle. His acerbic Rendezvous of 1939 depicts a meeting between Stalin and Hitler, who are shown politely bowing while describing each other as “the scum of the earth” and “the bloody assassin of the workers” respectively.
After World War II, the British-based Low found his name on Hitler’s blacklist of people to be rounded up should the Nazis ever successfully invade the United Kingdom. But he had enemies at home as well as abroad – the British press once decried him as a warmonger.
Low was knighted in the end.
Low was an exponent of a long tradition of newspaper cartooning which has always tended to push boundaries. Unlike the editorial which often sits alongside them, cartoons do not necessarily represent the view of the newspaper, but very much that of the artist.”
Acknowledgment: Cartoon row misses the point
Low’s cartoon’s vilified dictators like Hitler and Stalin,
None of these cartoons vilified the victims of Stalin, Hitler, Franco, and Mussolini.
Therein lies the difference between Lows cartoons with Nisbets.
Which makes Ric Stevens’ attempt to associate Nisbet with Low as wholly inadequate.
The Press: Cartoon row misses the point
Dominion Post: Kiwi cartoonist published in Paris paper
= fs =
Fairfax Media has a ” new columnist for the Waikato Times” (see: Bill denies kids what they need). Narelle Hensen’s first piece appeared in the Waikato Times on 18 March, followed five days later by another piece, Dole queues long but bosses can’t get workers. (Note: Ms Hensen has previously written and worked under her maiden name; Narelle Suisted, for the Auckland publication, “Auckland Now“, and TV3′s “The Nation“.)
Her first column-piece was a thinly-disguised, homophobic lecturing against gays, lesbians, marriage equality, and their fitness (or lack thereof) as parents.
The second was a nasty little smear against the unemployed.
(This blogger is waiting for her next target. Solo-mums? Maori? There are plenty of minorities available.)
What Fairfax hasn’t disclosed is that Ms Hensen also worked as a Communications Officer for the right-wing think-tank, Maxim Institute (see: Wikipedia Maxim Institute). The Maxim Institute is virulently opposed to marriage equality, as outlined in their submission to Parliament on the Marriage Amendment Bill (see: Submission to the Marriage – Maxim Institute).
It appears that the right-wing in this country have a new voice in the msm (mainstream media).
In her first article, Bill denies kids what they need, Ms Hensen railed against marriage equality. She used children as her weapon-of-choice, and started of with this bizarre statement,
“Most of us, no doubt, would agree, and would find it difficult to decide which of our parents to give up for another mum or dad. But that is what the Marriage Amendment Bill will require of some kids in generations to come. That is why I don’t support the bill.”
Did I read that right? She condemns the Marriage Amendment Bill because a child “would find it difficult to decide which of our parents to give up for another mum or dad” ?!
Why would marriage equality demand that of children now? And in what way would that be different to divorce as it is presently?
As most of us are perfectly aware, it is the Family Courts that determine access to children – not the concept of marriage equality. I doubt if Ms Hensen could point to any aspect of the Marriage Amendment Bill that would demand that a child has to “decide which of our parents to give up for another mum or dad”.
She offers another justification to oppose marriage equality,
“That means some kids will be denied the right to either a mother or a father, while their peers, by luck of birth, will be allowed both.”
Really? And what about the thousands of children who already have only one parent? What about the thousands of heterosexual couples who have separated and their children are “denied the right to either a mother or a father”? Or one has died through illness or accident – that’s real bad luck!
And just why is it “luck” to have heterosexual parents as opposed to gay or lesbian parents? The implication being that having gay/lesbian parents is “bad luck”. Perhaps being born to a mixed-race couple is also “bad luck” for a child? Or born to parents, one of whom might have a disability?
Not to mention the bad luck of being born to right wing parents…
If a child is ‘lucky’, it is that they have a stable family, with love, attention, set boundaries, support, respect, nutritious food, warmth, good housing, access to education; healthcare, etc. The gender/orientation of parents and caregivers doesn’t really seem to factor as a life-giving necessity.
Indeed, Ms Hensen seemed eager to dismiss love as a trivial matter not worthy of consideration,
“Of course, a lot of people argue the Marriage Amendment Bill is about love, and equality. But love or equality for who? These terms sound great, and they capture our emotions, but taking a moment to think about them makes us realise that in practice, they demand compromise from someone – either gay couples who must compromise the right to raise children, or children, who must compromise the right to have both a mum and a dad.”
It is unclear why gay (or straight) couples need to “compromise” – except in Ms Hensen’s mind where, for some reason, having gay or lesbian parents is a lesser option than heterosexual parents. Is love a transaction that “demands a compromise”? She doesn’t explain what she basis that idea on.
What a strange world that Ms Hensen inhabits.
Ms Hensen referred to a particular group to justify her prejudices,
“That is why the group Homovox started in France. It consists of homosexual couples who disagree with same-sex marriage, and same-sex adoption. As one contributor says: “The law should seek what is best for a child, and that is to have a mother and a father“.”
It took only a few clicks and poking around on a Search Engine to find out a little more about “Homovox“.
For one thing, it is not a LGBT organisation at all. It’s a front group set up by the Catholic Church, as GAYNZ reported on their website,
When is an LGBT organisation not an LGBT organisation? When it has been established by an antigay French conservative Catholic to make it seem as if there is “French LGBT” opposition to marriage equality. Thus it is with France’s “Homovox”, allegedly a “French” gay organisation of “LGBT” marriage equality opponents. However, on his website, Joe. My. God’s commenters uncovered who was actually behind the website, which turned out to be someone from the French Catholic Right. To be more precise:
A google search of Maillard Jean-Baptiste turned up this:
He appears to be an anti-gay French Catholic.
Doing some more research on these guys–they are all Catholics, some are ex-gay, most are right-wingers, and some can’t be found online.
None of these men–an no women–give their full names, where they work, and the man who claims to be the mayor of a “village” doesn’t actually name his village.
Source: “Homovox” Exposed
It seems that the Catholic Church in France has copied the tactics of the Unification Church and Scientologists, who also employ front-organisations as smoke-screens to the parent-church.
Did Ms Hensen know this? If she didn’t, she’s not much of a journalist.
If she was aware of the true nature of “Homovox” – and chose not to disclose it – then she has an agenda of her own. And the presentation (or lack) of facts is not part of it.
Ms Hensen is not above claiming statistics to back up her prejudices,
“Of course, there are those who argue it is better to bring up a child in a loving homosexual relationship than it is for them to be raised in an antagonistic heterosexual relationship. But if we are going to make comparisons, they must be fair. And when you compare a loving, heterosexual marriage with a loving homosexual union, the statistics paint a very clear picture.”
- but tellingly, she refuses to disclose any such statistics for the reader. So much for her comment that “if we are going to make comparisons, they must be fair”.
We are, I guess, expected to take her word that such statistics exist? Perhaps they are held by her former employers at Maxim Institute – an organisation known for it’s hostility toward gays and lesbians having full equal rights.
The point of that last paragraph, I suggest to the reader, is to undermine any notion that having loving parents who care for children should not be judged on the basis of sexual orientation. Note her reference,
“And when you compare a loving, heterosexual marriage with a loving homosexual union…”
What about comparing a dysfunctional heterosexual household with a loving gay/lesbian household? God knows there are plenty of the former. Our newspapers are full of stories where children, infants, babies were mercilessly ill-treated until their fragile bodies could no longer cope with dad’s punches whilst mum looked on, or vice versa.
The parents of Delcelia Witika were good, solid, heterosexuals who engaged in Maxim Institute-approved, heterosexual, sex. Then they killed their little girl.
I submit to Ms Hensen, that at such a point in a brutalised child’s life, they are not really going to give a damn if the wearer of steel-capped boots kicking their heads to pieces, is heterosexual or not.
Ms Hensen’s says,
“It is often very difficult to decide whose rights win, which is why there are so many court cases, and indeed courts, all about human rights. But when it comes to adults’ rights conflicting with the rights of children, most of us would agree that children should come first.”
Except when good parents are gay or lesbian, right, Ms Hensen?
Ms Hensens next article on job seekers, was nothing less than a hate-fest on one of society’s minorities; the unemployed. (See: Dole queues long but bosses can’t get workers)
Her entire article was dedicated to a simple premise; that job seekers in this country are unemployable, with anti-social personalities and severe behavioural flaws consisting of;
Failing drug tests
Physicality when told to leave site
Not turning up for interview
Smoking throughout interview
Chewing gum throughout interview
No CV prepared
CVs full of basic spelling mistakes”
Her column mercilessly depicted the unemployed as unfit for employment. One of her commentators even questioned their right to be citizens.
She quoted anecdote after anecdote of unemployed people with allegedly poor personal habits and poor work ethics – though she gave few details what the jobs were or any other specifics.
Employers and Manufacturers Association Northern chief executive, Kim Campbell, referred to New Zealand’s unemployed as being “the dregs” - a theme typical of Ms Hensen’s piece.
Dave Connell, vice-president of the New Zealand Contractors Federation and managing director of Connell Construction, was somewhat more subdued in his criticisms,
“We have dealt with absenteeism, drunkenness, drugs . . . We are persevering for three to six weeks sometimes.”
As a damning propaganda piece, with the purpose of vilifying the unemployed, it was masterfully done.
Other than that, though, one has to ask the question; what the hell was the point of it? What possible purpose did it serve? Because it sure as hell didn’t shed much light on the subject.
I have an idea.
Up till now, the unemployed have been painted as lazy, boozing, and unwilling to go out and find work.
That myth has been well and truly dispelled with stories of thousands of unemployed queuing for a few jobs. Just recently, on 12 March, ‘Campbell Live’ did a series of stories of hundreds of workers lining up for just seven jobs at an Auckland factory (see: Sign of the times: hundreds queue for 7 jobs)
Or any of these stories of job seekers outnumbering vacancies,
Ms Hensen could not write a credible story desparaging the unemployed as “lazy”. In these times of high unemployment, the public no longer accepts that generalisation. In fact, most people probably know someone who has lost their job, or, fresh our of school or University, cannot land a job, and has been turned down application after application.
So, for Ms Hensen that avenue was closed off.
Instead, in the best tradition of right wingers who blame the victims of this country’s on-going recessionary fall-out, she attacked and desparaged the quality of job seekers.
Repeating anecdotal stories, without any supporting context to offer a deeper understanding, she wrote a piece that painted job seekers as poorly educated; drug addicts; inarticulate – even chewing gum!
As a hatchet job, it certainly perpetuated negative stereotypes about the unemployed. It also reinforced the unacknowledged class structure that has been developing in this country for the last 30 years; the unemployed are “riff raff, beneath our contempt; and not worthy of being treated as our equals”.
As a “dog whistle” it attracted 321 comments (as at the time of this blogpost being written) – many of which were little more than ill-informed, offensive, stereotyping.
Ms Hensen might care to reflect on the irrational hatred expressed by those who supported her story. Is that the readership she is pandering to?
It also showed of some of Ms Hensen’s sources as less than ideal unemployers, with barely concealed prejudices.
But even if Ms Hensen’s poisonous polemic was 100% accurate, reflecting an unvarnished reality – employers and government have only themselves to blame.
How many times have trade unionists, economists, and leftwing commentators warned employers and government that if New Zealand continued to drive down wages – as National has been doing with it’s labour law “reforms” – what did they think would happen?
On 1 April, the minimum wage will rise by 25 cents to $13.75 per hour. In Australia the rate is NZ$19.96 an hour, though wages are usually higher than that.
On 1 May, young people 16 to 19 will also have a new youth rate, that will be 80% of the minimum wage. That’s $11 per hour. How will young New Zealanders react to what is effectively a wage-cut?
And employers are whinging their heads off that the best and brightest are buggering off to Aussie?
The reality, though, is more prosaic. People want work. The unemployment benefiit ($204.96/wk/net) is not sufficient to live on. Many looking for work will be University graduates. Others will be poorly educated. But they all want a job.
Perhaps the real purpose of Ms Hensen’s article - dressed up as a “news story” - was designed to serve as propaganda in a prelude to relaxing immigration laws and allow immigrant workers to flood the country? By creating a new urban myth that unemployed New Zealanders are “dregs”, it gives National the excuse to bring in labour from overseas. Cheap labour. Workers who will not kick up a fuss about exploitation; lax safety practices; and abuse.
The abuse of workers on Foreign Charter Vessels fishing within our EEZ waters gives an idea what might be our future (see previous related blogpost: A Slave By Any Other Name).
I suspect Ms Hensen is not finished with excoriating minorities in this country. Her poison pen is poised. It’s only a matter of who is next in her sights. And what her agenda is.
What a waste of intellect.
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 March 2013.
Bill denies kids what they need (18 March 2013)
Dole queues long but bosses can’t get workers (23 March 2013)
The Jackal: National’s Campaign of Disinformation
= fs =
Continued from: Karl Du Fresne has a public baby waa-waa cry-session
On 27 march, Karl Du Fresne had a bit of a public melt-down over Radio NZ, complaining,
Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – RNZ’s bias needs to be tackled
He accused Radio NZ on being a left wing organisation;
But on some programmes, a stubborn Left-wing bias persists.
Kim Hill is the worst offender. This is a problem for whoever runs RNZ, because she’s also its biggest name.
Chris Laidlaw lists to the Left too, as does Jeremy Rose, a journalist who frequently crops up on Laidlaw’s Sunday morning show. Rose appears to be on a lifelong mission to convince people that there are humane alternatives to nasty, heartless capitalism.
Part of the problem is that National Ministers regularly refuse to front on Radio NZ to explain government policy. An example this morning was typical of National ministers ducking for cover whenever negative stories hit the media.
The Salvation Army will be closing services and making staff redundant, as government funding is cut for critical social services;
Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Salvation Army warns of cuts to budgeting services
Cuts to services – such as provided by the Salvation Army – will hit the poorest; most down-trodden; people and their families, in our society. It would be like stealing coins from a blind beggar on the footpath.
All the while, National spends-up large on Tim Groser’s job-hunt at the WTO;
Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – NZ First calls on Groser to refund travel costs
And National’s colossal spend-up on consultants and witch-hunts is now legendary;
Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – ‘Consultancy culture’ cost $525m last year – Labour
Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – PM defends money spent on MFAT leak
The above stories all reflect badly on National. But is it the fault of state-owned, Radio NZ? Is the broadcaster “left-leaning”, as Du Fresne charges?
Or, is the reason somewhat more prosaic?
So, Minister for Social Development, Paula Bennett, was invited to appear on Radio NZ’s “Checkpoint” this morning (29 April) to explain why funding for social services for organisations such as the Salvation Army, will be cut.
When Bennett was invited to front on “Checkpoint” – she refused. Instead she provided a written statement. (Well, wasn’t that ‘big’ of her?)
Hear: Radio NZ – Checkpoint – Labour speaks out against recession funding cuts
This is not the first (nor last) time that National Ministers have refused to front on Radio NZ. It happens with annoying regularity (with Dear Leader John Key being the worst offender).
On the other hand, Labour’s spokesperson on social issues, Jacinda Ardern, accepted an invitation to take part in the story.
If Ministers like Bennett, Ket, et al, – whose salaries are paid by taxpayers – do not have the courage of their convictions to appear on TV, radio, or other media to explain their policies – then they are not worthy of our electoral support nor attention. They are a waste of space.
And right wing munters like Karl Du Fresne should have nothing to whinge about.
= fs =
The latest anonymously-penned, propaganda-piece, for the National Party, by the establishment media,
OPINION: An unholy mess. There is no other way to describe the Government’s partial asset sales programme.
With just days to go before the public offering of shares in Mighty River Power closes, the float is shrouded in uncertainty. Is the country’s single biggest consumer of electricity about to shut its doors? Will Labour and the Green Party be part of the next government and, if so, will they make good on their promises to renationalise the electricity industry by stealth?
Potential investors have no way of knowing whether Rio Tinto is serious about closing the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter unless it can wring further concessions from the Government and Meridian Energy. Likewise, they have no way of knowing whether Labour and the Greens will be in a position to implement their policies after the next election.
But, amid all the uncertainty, there is one certainty: the price the Government and, ultimately the public, will receive for shares sold in Mighty River Power will be lower because of the uncertainty. Immediately after Labour and the Greens announced their plans to establish a new Crown entity to take over the running of the electricity industry, shares in publicly listed Contact Energy dropped almost 10 per cent in value. A similar drop in the value of Mighty River Power would reduce the amount the Government hopes to receive for the 49 per cent of the state generator it is putting up for sale by more than $150 million.
In similar circumstances, a prudent private-sector business owner could be expected to consider the wisdom of proceeding with the sale in such an uncertain environment.
Perhaps John Key and his ministers should do likewise. The Government has a mandate to sell, but it is not a mandate to sell regardless of the price. Suspending the process would be a bitter political pill for Mr Key to swallow. He has made the partial asset sales programme the centrepiece of his second term in government.
However, political considerations should not determine the fate of an asset worth billions of dollars that has been built up by generations of taxpayers. The Government’s overriding concerns should be ensuring that taxpayers get fair value for the business and that as many New Zealanders as possible take advantage of the opportunity to become shareholders in it.
Neither of those goals are likely to be achieved while there is a possibility of the country being flooded with cheap electricity and the next government telling generators how much they can charge for electricity and how they should operate their power stations.
Labour and the Greens’ Stalinist proposals are as unattractive as the free-market ideologies that have produced windfall profits for power companies and ever-rising prices for residential consumers.
But, delaying the sale till after the next election would at least allow voters to choose which of the two approaches offers the better prospect of sensible pricing and secure supply. It would also allow time for the future of Tiwai Point to be resolved.
Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media - Editorial: Key should consider MRP sale delay
“Labour and the Greens’ Stalinist proposals are as unattractive as the free-market ideologies that have produced windfall profits for power companies and ever-rising prices for residential consumers. “
WHOA!!! Back up there, fella!! There’s nothing “Stalinist” about this. It’s out for the public to determine and we get to vote on it. Having a single-buyer desk is as “Stalinist” as Zespri, Fonterra, Pharmac, etc.
Every time I hear abject fear-mongering like “stalinism”, I’m wondering what the writer’s secret agenda is? Have they no intellectual rigour in promoting a sensible, rational debate?
Is ‘McCarthyism’ the only knee-jerk response that the Right Wing has to Labour-Green’s policy on NZ Power?
This is a shabby way for a supposedly ‘respectable’ newspaper to behave. It is as “Stalinist” as the old totalitarian regimes it complains off.
I’ve put my name to a post on the messageboard immediatly after this so-called “editorial” . Will the author of this biased piece of dogma put his/her name to the editorial, I wonder?
The Dominion Post demands that all letter-writers to the paper provide their own name and address to anything submitted.
Funny how the same policy doesn’t apply to the authors of their editorials?
The “editorial” pretends to take a swipe at neo-liberal policies by stating,
Labour and the Greens’ Stalinist proposals are as unattractive as the free-market ideologies that have produced windfall profits for power companies and ever-rising prices for residential consumers.
However, pointedly it offers no constructive alternative solutions.
Because by condemning Labour-Green proposals for real reform, it undermines the prospect for meaningful change – whilst at the same time, allowing the status quo to remain intact. Every time a proposal to effect meaningful change is derided – but not offering alternatives – the neo-liberal ideologies remain unchallenged.
It is the same technique that the Right used in their campaign against MMP.
It’s a sneaky way to sow doubt in the public mind.
As for claiming,
“The Government has a mandate to sell, but it is not a mandate to sell regardless of the price.”
It has no such thing.
As has been pointed ad nauseum, more voters voted against the asset sales than for it. Whilst the National-ACT-Peter Dunne Coalition has 61 seats, and Labour, NZ First, Greens, Mana, and Maori Party have 60 seats – the number of Party votes cast tells a different story.
|National , ACT, United Future Party Votes||Labour, Greens, NZ First, Maori Party, Mana, and Conservative Party votes|
National – 1,058,636
Labour – 614,937
ACT – 23,889
Greens – 247,372
United Future – 13,443
NZ First – 147,544
Maori Party – 31,982
Mana – 24,168
Conservative Party* – 59,237
TOTAL – 1,095,968
Total – 1,125,240
* Note: Whilst the Conservative gained no seats in Parliament (because of the 5% threshold), their numbers are included because they gained over double the electoral-support for ACT.
= fs =
Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – RNZ’s bias needs to be tackled
The right wing, it would be fair to say, dislike the media. Or, most of the media. Fox News, religious programming, and Rantback Radio are acceptable.
But nothing that challenges us to think.
Kark Du Fresne’s recent outpouring of grievance in Fairfax Media’s ‘Manawatu Standard‘ made it plain and obvious to the reader that he has a problem with Radio NZ.
Du Fresne referred to RNZ as “left wing”. And then listed all those people whom he thinks are guilty of being “left”. People like,
Obviously, these people all need to be brought before Parliament’s House Committee for Un-New Zealand Activities. (Which, we don’t have – yet – but I’m sure one of Mr Du Fresne’s right wing colleagues such as Maggie Barry could easily organise one. More on Maggie Barry in a moment.) Then the H.C.U.N.Z.A. can ensure that Hill, Laidlaw, Rose, and Ryan never work in this town again.
Our American cuzzies did that in the 1950s, during what we now refer to as the “McCarthy Era“,
So what were Du Fresne’s allegations?
So what might the new RNZ chief executive do to enhance the organisation’s standing in a political climate that is less than favourable? One obvious step is to take a tougher line against the editorial bias that still permeates some RNZ programmes.
Which would be interesting to consider – except that Du Fresne doesn’t actually spell out where “the editorial bias that still permeates some RNZ programmes” actually lies.
He tells the reader that “the editorial bias” is there – but not where, precisely. It’s all rather… nebulous.
Du Fresne then claims that,
“Public broadcasting organisations, by their very nature, tend to be Left-leaning.”
Really? What “nature” is that, I wonder?
Perhaps Du Fresne is refering to Public broadcasting organisations challenging peoples’ thinking – whereas right-wing media tend to reinforce preconceptions and prejudices?
He goes on to say,
“It’s not hard to understand how this comes about. Journalists distrustful of capitalism naturally gravitate toward state-owned media organisations, seeing them as untainted by the profit motive.”
Now that is an intriguing claim to make.
Especially considering that Maggie Barry (who I referred to above), was the morning presenter on Radio NZ’s “Morning Report” in 1986, and hosted “Nine To Noon” show in 1990.
Later, in November 2011, Ms Barry stood as a political candidate in the general election, and won the seat of North Shore.
She stood as a National Party candidate. National being New Zealand’s main centre-right political party,
And then there’s Richard Griffin, Radio NZ’s one-time political editor, who worked for National Party ex-Prime Minister Jim Bolger, as his press secretary in the late 1990’s.
National, as I understand it, being New Zealand’s main centre-right political party.
Then there are the regular guests on Radio NZ – who are well noted for their National or ACT Party affiliations, or who simply express right-wing views;
- ex-National President, Michelle Boag;
- National & ACT supporter and anti-MMP campaigner, Jordan Williams
- rightwing blogger and National Party apparatchik, David Farrar;
- ex-ACT MP and Party President, Rodney Hide;
- ex-ACT and later, ex-National MP, Stephen Franks;
- former speech-writer and press secretary for National and right-wing commentator, Matthew Hooten;
- and former police officer and front-person for television’s “Police Ten 7“, Graham Bell (who holds right wing views on many issues).
There are probably others I’ve forgotten to list.
So what is the “... ideological mindset that permeates the entire organisation” that Du Fresne refers to?
We don’t know. Again, he doesn’t tell us.
But I wonder what Ms Boag; Mr Farrar; Ms Barry; Mr Williams; Mr Hide; Mr Franks; Mr Hooten; Mr Bell, and Mr Griffin might say about Du Fresne suggesting that,
“This becomes self-perpetuating, since the more Left-leaning an organisation becomes, the more it attracts other people of the same persuasion.”
Perhaps Radio NZ might not appear so “left-leaning” if National ministers – especially John Key – actually bothered to take up invitations to front for interviews?
On almost every occassion when government policy is under scrutiny, or when National is being heavily criticised, National ministers almost always refuse to be interviewed, to present their side of things.
The result is that National’s critics often accept invitations to be interviewed – thereby giving an impression of anti-National bias.
But it’s only an impression of bias because National Ministers refuse most invitations for interviews.
One then has to shake their head when Du Fresne then demands,
“But publicly funded broadcasters have an obligation to make programmes that reflect the views and interests of the entire community – not just those the broadcasters happen to favour.”
Bollicks. Anyone can read between the lines and understand what he is really saying. Let me “fix” the above statement so we clearly understand what Du Fresne is actually demanding of Radio NZ,
“But publicly funded broadcasters have an obligation to make programmes that reflect the views and interests that I’m comfortable with – not just those the broadcasters happen to favour for the rest of New Zealand who are a bunch of leftie, pinko, mung-bean eating, hippies.”
And this bit really takes the proverbial cake,
“This is explicitly stated in RNZ’s charter, which commits the organisation to impartial and balanced coverage of news and current affairs.”
Really, Mr Du Fresne?
Du Fresne’s demand that Radio NZ fulfill it’s Charter requirements (though he yet again omits to tell us how Radio NZ has been derelict in it’s duty) is in contrast with his views on TVNZ’s (now defunct) charter,
“The Clark government saw where things were going and tried to arrest the decline by imposing on TVNZ a public service charter, which was largely ignored. Today, the unremitting diet of banal, so-called reality shows and American crime dramas on the two publicly-owned channels is indistinguishable from the offerings on their privately-owned rivals, and disillusioned viewers have been driven into the welcoming arms of Sky TV. ” – 16 October 2010
Acknowledgement: The Spectator – Time to sell off TVNZ
“The notion of the public service broadcaster survives in the form of Radio New Zealand, but otherwise it’s in peril. TVNZ is in the process of being released from its obligations under the public service charter introduced under Labour. Its sole objective in future will be to return a dividend to the government (not that viewers will notice much difference, since the charter was largely ineffectual).” – 23 July 2011
Acknowledgement: Karl du Fresne – The changing TV landscape (sorry, media ecology)
No demand anywhere amongst his writings that TVNZ abide by it’s Charter. Just a resigned acceptance. And usually followed by none-to-subtle hints to privatise TVNZ.
Perhaps the most pertinent point of Du Fresne’s whinge-session is this remark,
“Overall, RNZ presents a more balanced range of perspectives than it used to. But on some programmes, a stubborn Left-wing bias persists.”
There we have it; “Overall, RNZ presents a more balanced range of perspectives than it used to”.
And then, “But on some programmes, a stubborn Left-wing bias persists”.
And then states that “Kim Hill is the worst offender“.
To put it bluntly – Du Fresne seems utterly confused in what he is demanding. On the one hand he states,
“But publicly funded broadcasters have an obligation to make programmes that reflect the views and interests of the entire community
This is explicitly stated in RNZ’s charter, which commits the organisation to impartial and balanced coverage of news and current affairs.”
But he also admits that,
“Overall, RNZ presents a more balanced range of perspectives than it used to…”
Whilst then stating,
“But on some programmes, a stubborn Left-wing bias persists.”
What Du Fresne has omitted to say is,
“But on OTHER programmes, a RIGHT WING bias IS PRESENTED.”
Because, my fellow New Zealanders, when people like Stephen Franks, Rodney Hide, Michelle Boag, or David Farrar are guesting on Radio NZ and expressing their right wing views – that is when Radio NZ is meeting it’s Charter obligations and presenting the Right Wing point of view.
For example, listen to Stephen Franks (if your stomach can bear it) on Jim Mora’s 4pm Panel on 8 April. Franks is ranting some right-wing rubbish, as usual, on people’s “reliance” on insurance,
I think we all know what is going on here. Du Fresne isn’t interested in “balance” at all. He is demanding unquestioning, Stalinist-style, fealty to the current National government.
He even let’s it slip, near the end of his diatribe against Radio NZ,
“The second, more pragmatic, reason is that the Left-wing bias apparent in some of RNZ’s programmes is hardly likely to endear the organisation to the politicians who control its fate.”
Why would a supposedly independent public broadcaster need to “endear” itself to the government-of-the-day?
And does that logically mean that when Labour is in power, that Radio NZ must “endear [itself] to the politicians who control its fate”?
Du Fresne does add this caveat, though,
“In saying this, I’m not suggesting for a moment that RNZ should become a tame government puppet. That would be far worse than the status quo.”
Bullshit. That is precisely what Du Fresne is calling for; becoming a tame government puppet.
Ironically, four years ago, Du Fresne had this to say about Radio NZ,
“Another commenter sneered at my statement that the news media functioned as a marketplace of ideas, claiming this was a meaningless slogan typical of “faded old neoliberal ideology”. Really? Perhaps I’m imagining all those lively and informed expressions of opinion and exchanges of ideas – exchanges that help shape public opinion on the issues of the day – that I see every day in newspaper stories, opinion pieces and letters to the editor, or hear on talkback programmes and interviews on Morning Report. Priggish leftists hate this stuff because it permits the dissemination of views they disapprove of.” – 30 May 2009
Acknowledgement: Karl du Fresne – Why leftist academics hate the media
So back in May 2009, Du Fresne was positively gushing with adoration at Radio NZ?!
So what’s changed?
In 2009, the msm* were in love with Dear Leader and the six month old National government could do no wrong. The Media-Key “honeymoon” was just beginning. Media reports critical of Key were minimal. Everyone loved Key and National.
Now, four years on, as the “honeymoon” has ended and a bitter “divorce” is in progress, the media is reporting one scandal after another. National policies are drawing heated criticism from all sectors of society. National poll ratings are gradually falling. And Dear Leader is no longer as popular as he once was.
That is the nub of the issue here. The Right are beginning to feel defensive and threatened. Like a cornered wild beast, they are lashing out at their critics – especially the media,
Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – John Key calls media ‘Knuckleheads‘
And people like Karl Du Fresne - an unrepentant Right Wing political commentator – is bitter. He’s not feeling the love anymore, folks.
On a final note; Du Fresne complains that Radio NZ is biased and left wing.
Perhaps we might take him more seriously if his own columns were less biased and right wing.
Wikipedia: Kim Hill
The Listener: Karl du Fresne
* msm = mainstream media(newspapers, radio, televison broadcasters – as opposed to “New Media” such as bloggers, websites, youtube, etc)
= fs =
The current mess surrounding the appointment of Ian Fletcher as the Government Communications Security Bureau’s (GCSB) Director should serve as a clear warning to any future Labour-Green government: Don’t Do It.
To be precise; don’t do what Key (and his ministerial cronies) has done. Circumventing the State Services Commission to “facilitate” appointments – even if done for decent motives – is simply;
(A) Not a good look
(B) Not worth the hassle when the media, bloggers, and Opposition get hold of it
(C) A slippery-slope toward cronyism and inevitable corruption.
The appointment of John Key’s Electorate Chairperson, Stephen McElrea (who is also the National Party’s Regional Deputy Chair, National Party Northern Region) to the Board of NZ On Air raised numerous charges of cronyism and an agenda of political interference in public funding for television programming. (See: Call for McElrea to resign from NZ On Air; See: PM has questions to answer over NZ on Air link )
Concerns over political appointees to highly sensitive positions, vulnerable to political interference, was quickly borne out when McElrea began to flex his “political muscles” even before being appointed to NZ on Air’s Board,
Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – National man eyes NZ On Air chair
Key’s background in deal-making; cutting corners to achieve set goals; and getting results fatally blinds him to the realities that politics and government is a whole different kettle of fish to ‘high finance’. (Which would be a good thing, considering the almighty crash of ‘high finance’ four years ago.)
The State Services Commission was set up precisely to keep politician’s greasy hands of appointments. At the beginning of out nascent civil service, ministerial cronyism was rampant,
The departments that grew up over the next few decades operated under the direct control of their Ministers, in arrangements that were practical in pioneering times. Ministers approved appointments, determined pay and conditions, and oversaw administration and financial management, with varying degrees of diligence.
Understandably, Ministers were inclined to see that the people appointed were sympathetic to their own political outlook and priorities – and inevitably, in a small population, these were sometimes friends or acquaintances. The Public Service was run on somewhat ad hoc ‘frontier’ lines, and seems not to have been much different from its parent institution, the British civil service. In their report on the British civil service Sir Stafford North and Sir Charles Trevelyan described a bureaucracy that was, in the 1850s, rife with patronage, fragmented and inefficient.
Accordingly, after 1912, reforms were enacted to clean up this unholy mess,
The Hunt Commission in due course recommended, as ‘the most important matter of all’, establishment of a Board of Management under Cabinet, to have ‘absolute and undisputed power’ in ‘all matters relating to the control and management of the Service – … appointments, salaries, promotion, suspensions, dismissals, and indeed everything affecting officers – ‘ It suggested the Board’s first duties should include blocking all ‘back doors’ of entrance to the Public Service, and arranging for all promotions be made from within the Service.
The outcome was the Public Service Act 1912 – based on Herdman’s Bill already before the house – which set up a non-political and unified career Public Service; non-political through powers of appointment, promotion and dismissal being entrusted to an independent body – the Public Service Commissioner.
It is abundantly clear that John Key doesn’t ‘get’ any of this, when he said,
“I didn’t do anything wrong whatsoever. Labour have done very similar things.”
Again, blaming Labour.
Is everything he says or does predicated on what the previous government did?
Does Key not have standards of his own? (Rhetorical question. Don’t answer.)
Because Key’s memory lapses cannot be blamed on anyone but himself. Especially when, on 3 April he openly contradicted himself as to who-phoned-who, as Andrea Vance reported,
…he appears to be confused about who first suggested Fletcher for the job.
Asked why he didn’t tell the full story last week, Key said: “I’d forgotten that at that particular time.”
In Porirua this afternoon, Key was grilled about the sequence of events that saw Fletcher appointed as director of the GCSB in September 2011.
At first Key said: “Iain Rennie, state services commissioner recommended him to me… I rang [Fletcher] and said ‘look, you know, you might be interested.”
Asked again who first brought up Fletcher’s name, Key replied: “Iain Rennie put it to me.”
Later on, he was asked again who first mentioned Fletcher. “I would have mentioned it to him, I’m sure.”
When pressed to clarify if he first suggested the name to Rennie, he said: “I’m sure I probably would have.”
Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – Fletcher’s appointment defended by SSC boss
Key lied. He was caught out lying.
On 4 April, Scoop Media wrote about the rationale behind Ian Fletcher’s appointment as GCSB director. Fletcher had no prior military of Intelligence experience. But he did have an extensive background in intellectual property, commerce and “free” trade (see: The CV of a Spy Boss ) .
Fletcher’s appointment was announced in September 2011, and was due to take up his new job in early 2012.
At the same time, police were planning their raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion, scheduled to take place on January 20 2012.
Suppose Dotcom’s arrest and extradition was the clincher in the deal that secured Warner Bros’ agreement to produce The Hobbit in New Zealand. But any link to John Key, who led the negotiations with Warner Bros, would tend to confirm Dotcom’s claim, supported by the strong connection between Hollywood and US vice-president Joe Biden, of political persecution. So the prime minister had to be protected by having total deniability, leading to the completely implausible claim of not knowing about the most prominent resident in his own electorate until the day before the raid.
Acknowledgement: Kim Dotcom Part Two
Remember that Key has had several top level meetings with Warner Bros executives,
Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – No decision yet in Hobbit talks – Key
Acknowledgement: Fairfax – PM’s ‘special’ movie studio meeting
Acknowledgement: TV3 – Key: Dotcom won’t be discussed during Hollywood visit
And those are only the meetings which we, The Masses, are aware of.
It’s interesting to note Chris Dodd, the CEO of the Motion Picture Assiciation of America (MPAA) referred to the Trans Pacific Partnership Aggreement (TPPA) in the 5 October NZ Herald article above.
The TPPA has more to do with intellectual property rights than with “free” trade. (See: “Global Research - The “Trans-Pacific Partnership”: Obama’s Secret Trade Deal; See: MFAT -Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations – Intellectual Property Stakeholder Update)
It’s also worthwhile noting that Ian Fletcher’s appointment coincided to the month with the raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion.
- Ian Fletcher appointed in January 2012. (See: GCSB – Mastery of Cyberspce for the security of New Zealand)
- Raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion: 20 January 2012.
And both men were involved in intellectual property rights – though from different angles,
- Kim Dotcom – the man who Hollywood executives wanted brought down because of alleged copyright violations on his ‘megaupload’ website. (see: The MPAA on Dotcom)
- Ian Fletcher – the man who had worked in the UK to protect oroporate interests in intellectual property rights. (see below)
When Ian Fletcher’s appointment was announced on 8 September 2011, Key himself proudly boasted of the new Director’s career,
Announcing the appointment Prime Minister John Key said he has ” policy and operational experience particularly in relation to international economic and trade matters.”
Acknowledgement: New Zealand’s new top spy boss revealed
Fletcher’s ” policy and operational experience particularly in relation to international economic and trade matters” seemed to matter for John Key for some reason?
Kim Dotcom was very high on the list of issues relating to “international economic and trade matters“; namely intellectual property rights. Indeed, in March 2007, Fletcher was appointed as Chief Executive of the UK Office of Intellectual Property.
On 20 March 2007, Ian Fletcher said,
“I am delighted to be joining the Patent Office. It already plays a vital role in the UK’s economic prosperity, its scientific excellence and its innovation system. As the Office moves on to tackle to challenges set out in Andrew Gowers’ review, the Office’s role will become even more central to the UK’s response to the challenges of globalisation.”
(Hat-tip; Karol, on The Standard)
It has been widely commented that Ian Fletcher has no background in the military, nor Intelligence – yet was considered the one candidate who was eminently suitable for the role of Director of the GCSB. Perhaps now we are starting to understand why Ian Fletcher’s appointment seemingly related to,
- the Crown’s case against Kim Dotcom
- Illegal downloads/Intellectual Property rights
- MPAA concerns
- Hollywood big business
- Trans Pacific Partnership
And as Key himself admitted, the issue of Kim Dotcom had been raised by Hollywood executive. Just what does our Prime Minister have to discuss with said executives? Who knows – it’s all done in secret, behind closed doors. We’re just expected to pay our taxes and shut up.
Conspiracy theories remain the subjects of idle parlour chit-chat and somewhat kooky websites… well, until charges are laid. Then a conspiracy theory becomes a conspiracy case in a Court of Law.
This affair should serve as a warning for the next in-coming Labour-Green government. National’s administration is a text-book case of how not to do things.
Every minister in the next Labour-Green government should be appointed a “minder” to ensure that they do things By The Book, and not to cut one single corner. Or at the very least, periodically re-read press reports and blogposts detailing every f**k-up by National over the last four years.
New Zealand is a small country. Secrets are notoriously difficult to keep. And even if the whole story behind the Fletcher-Dotcom-GCSB-TPPA thing has not been fully revealed – I think we’ve had a glimpse into the murky shadows of political perfidity to smell something rotten.
The issue has not only further dented Key’s credibility, but is starting to wear down his public persona of good natured, ‘blokeyness’,
Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – John Key calls media ‘Knuckleheads’
Abusing the media? Not a good look for Dear Leader. It appears that the stress of the job is getting to him. And he can’t handle it very well.
Key’s “blokeyness” morphes into bratty petulance when he further dictates the terms under which he will talk to the media and in Parliament,
Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – John Key changes tack over questioning
This is “seige mentality” stuff.
Key’s teflon coating wore away over a year ago. With no defensive cloak, the media recognise a government and it’s leader who are in dire trouble and on the defensive.
As Martyn ‘Bomber’ Bradbury wrote on “The Daily Blog”,
“John Key’s extraordinary appointment of his school-hood chum to be the new Director of our spy network could well be his ‘speeding in the Prime Ministerial Limo’ moment.”
And as Bryce Edwards noted in the NZ Herald on 4 April,
“As a barometer of the political media, John Armstrong is always useful, and it appears that he too ‘smells blood’.”
Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Political round-up: John Key’s precarious credibility
There are more headlines to come out of Key and National. It’s only a matter of time.
Fairfax Media: New Zealand’s new top spy boss revealed (8 Sept 2011)
The Listener: Kim Dotcom and Megaupload: a timeline (20 March 2013)
Scoop: Kim Dotcom Illegal Surveillance And Response: Timeline (28 March 2013)
Fairfax Media: Fletcher’s appointment defended by SSC boss (3 April 2013)
Radio NZ: State Services boss ‘surprised’ at PM’s phone call (4 April 2013)
NZ Herald: PM paints himself into another corner (4 April 2013)
NBR: Honesty bigger issue than cronyism (4 April 2013)
NZ Herald: PM put mate’s case for job in 2009 (5 April 2013)
Radio NZ: PM has no regrets about calling Fletcher (5 April 2013)
Fairfax Media: John Key changes tack over questioning (5 April 2013)
Scoop: Kim Dotcom Part Two (4 April 2013)
NZ Herald: PM put mate’s case for job in 2009 (5 April 2013)
Radiolive: Former GCSB boss intrigued by Ian Fletcher appointment – Audio (5 April 2013)
NZ Herald: Ian Fletcher appointment a ‘totally ethical process’ (5 April 2013)
NZ Herald: John Key calls media ‘Knuckleheads’ (6 April 2013)
The Standard: The CV of a spy-boss
The Standard: Fletcher GCSB Change manager – and QLD
The Daily Blog: John Key’s ‘speeding in the Prime Ministerial Limo’ moment
= fs =
Continued from: Nothing quite sez Rich Man’s Conference than this event
I’ve always believed that the Left’s ability for in-fighting and self-mutilation is without peer. Our ability to attack each other – whilst the barbarian hordes of neo-liberals run rampant through our societies – is without peer, I’ve thought. (The self-destruction of the Alliance Party, in 2001, was a recent example of this.)
I was wrong.
There are times when the Right can be equally adept when it comes to bouts of masocistic self-harm.
The recent ACT conference at Alan Gibbs’ farm-estate at Kaukapakapa, about 50kms north of Auckland, was an eye-opener.
First of all, the choice of holding a Party conference at an isolated Rich White Man’s farm-estate, complete with bizarre multi-million dollar “art” and a private zoo…
Pray tell, ACT Party – precisely what message were you thinking of sending to the public of New Zealand?
That ACT chooses to be isolated from the rest of society, and stand apart from other New Zealanders?
That ACT is a Rich White Man’s Party?
That ACT surrounds itself with the trappings of an eccentric millionaire (who is absent from New Zealand most of the year), whilst unemployment, child poverty, and growing wealth-income divide worsens?
If those were the messages – consider them received and understood.
Secondly – who let the clowns out, ha, ha-ha, ha!
Rodney Hides “performance” on Saturday, 23 February was gob-smacking.
It’s pretty fair to say that I am no friend of ACT or the Right Wing in general. But even I was embarressed at Hide’s weird behaviour in front of media cameras, and felt truly sorry for all those ACT Party activists who work their butts off at elections.
But don’t take my word for it – see for yourself. The ‘action’ rolls from 0:40 to 1:30 on TV3′s video,
That kind of bizarre, blokey ‘humour’ might be fine amongst friends and colleagues, away from the public eye. But televised to the entire nation, the message it sends me is,
- Rodney Hide doesn’t give a sh*t anymore
- Rodney Hide just gave the metaphorical “fingers” to the whole country
- Arrogance and inappropriate ‘humour’ is a bad mix – especially in public.
By the way. It may escape folks attention, but Hide’s outburst against TV3 was the height of irony.
ACT is a Party that supports free enterprise and business.
Mediaworks (TV3′s parent body) is privately owned business.
ACT supports businesses because they are supposedly more efficient than the State.
TV3′s journalists are highly effective at their profession.
So what’s the problem between ACT and a business such as TV3?
If TV3′s journos are doing well at investigating and probing politicians and their Parties – then that’s free enterprise doing what it ought to; providing a service to consumers; selling advertising; and returning a profit to shareholders.
Anyone would think that ACT is hostile to free enterprise.
= fs =
The State of Media
With so much happening in this country over the last thirty years, one would think that this should be the Golden Age for investigative journaliasm and documentary-making.
Sadly, this is not the case.
On the contrary, our print and electronic journalism have been relegated and turned into ‘McMedia ‘; quickly produced; lacking in any substance of value; and just as quickly (with some exceptions) forgotten.
In terms of documentary-making, what really stands out (confirmed by a ten second survey conducted in my household) is Bryan Bruce’s insightful and provocative doco, ‘Inside Child Poverty‘ (see: Inside Child Poverty – A Special Report).
No other single, one-off documentary came to mind.
In terms of television current affairs, the only recent stories that came to us were stories to do with Novopay and the Bronwyn Pullar-ACC story which saw a government Minister and several ACC executives lose their jobs. ‘Campbell Live‘ and several ex-TVNZ7 documentaries such as ‘The Court Report’ featured in our household discussion of what stuck in our minds.
Other current affairs such as ‘Q+A’, ‘The Nation’, and vastly under-rated ‘Think Tank’, were consigned to ghetto-times of Sunday mornings. TVNZ’s ‘Sunday‘ programme – on at a more watchable time-slot of 7pm – was cut from an hour to thirty minutes (less, once you excise advertisements for unfeasibly fast cars, personal hygiene products, and the latest Briscoes “sale”).
The print media is still reasonably diverse, though Wellington’s “Dominion Post” is fast losing circulation and becoming thinner and thinner. (Don’t think we haven’t noticed Mr Williams and Mr Thompson.) Constant reductions in staffing levels has resulted in a predictable down-turn in news stories – especially relevant news stories, which put issues and events into context.
For example, prior to the ‘Evening Post’ and ‘Dominion‘ being amalgamated, the ‘Post‘ employed two journalists to cover Wellington City Council issues on a full-time basis, and a third journalist, part-time. Former journalist, Lidia Zatorski, wrote some of the most insightful pieces on Council-related issues. (The mayor couldn’t sneeze without Ms Zatorski noting time, place, and potential effects on the capital city.)
As a result, Wellingtonians were well-served with an on-going stream of local body reports that not only informed readers – but also put events into context. Events weren’t isolated – they were linked, giving us an overall impression what was taking place in our city.
These days, Fairfax media has one journalist, working part time, covering City Council issues. There could be a mass shoot-out between Councillors, disagreeing on what colour to paint park-benchs, and we’d probably not know until a week later.
With TVNZ, a state-owned, supposed “public broadcaster”, dumbing-down has plumbed new depths in a stagnant pool of irrelevancy with it’s much-criticised, ‘Seven Sharp‘.
The replacement to ‘Close-up‘ (which, in itself was a replacement to ‘Holmes‘), ‘Seven Sharp’ may have met “demographic targets” and “consumer needs” – but fewer and fewer people are watching it. In fact, it’s turning viewers away in droves.
TVNZ’s descent into ‘Idiocracy‘ – like many things in the last 30 years – began with the corporatisation of state-owned bodies. Turning a profit was to be the number one goal – and television was no exception.
In 2003, the Labour Government attempted to mitigate the worst effects of commercialisation by implementing a Charter for TVNZ to follow. The Charter would supposedly direct TVNZ to offer quality programmes for viewers,
- Having the presence of a significant Maori voice, including programmes promoting the Maori language and programmes addressing Maori history, culture and current issues;
- Include the tastes and interests not generally catered for by other national television broadcasters;
- Provide independent, comprehensive, impartial, and in-depth coverage and analysis of news and current affairs;
- Promote understanding of the diversity of cultures making up the New Zealand population;
- Feature New Zealand films, drama, comedy and documentary programmes;
- Provide for the informational, entertainment and educational needs of children and young people;
- Observe a code of ethics that addresses the level and nature of advertising to which children are exposed.
“The removal of the Charter will have little impact on what is shown on the screen. TVNZ will still screen content of relevance to a broad cross section of New Zealanders, and they will still screen high levels of New Zealand content.”
- was a mealy mouthed, empty promise.
In fact, almost 16 months earlier, Coleman had told the public what he really wanted for TV 1 and TV2,
“Everyone … could be a lot happier if they had that clear view where you go in TVNZ to find public broadcasting content and where you can expect to find frankly nakedly commercial stuff.”
Coleman also made this extraordinary at the same time, in March 2010,
“My view was if we could get that demarcation … once everyone has got access to digital television, which isn’t too many years away, if you know that if you go to 7 or maybe 6 and 7 you can get what most people could describe as quality broadcasting content.
“Then if you flick to One and Two you get whatever they serve up … it would bring some more honesty and clarity to the situation,” Coleman said.
“The 7 schedule pretty much already fits that definition broadly.”
His reference to “going to [TVNZ]7 or maybe [TVNZ]6 and 7 you can get what most people could describe as quality broadcasting content” was the same TVNZ7 that National canned in July year, despite strong public opposition. (And politicians wonder why we distrust them?)
Parts of TVNZ6 was later leased to SkyTV for pay-viewing only.
In July 2011, Coleman stated as bluntly as he could, that removing the Charter and rejecting non-commercial public-service content, would give TVNZ,
“…the flexibility it needs to effectively pursue commercial objectives”.
Under National, TVNZ programming was pre-ordained to be 100% commercialised and ratings-driven. Much like giving children ice cream on demand, the viewing public got what they (supposedly) wanted; entertainment ‘lollies’.
In return, National would “milk” it as a cash-cow (as with Genesis, Mighty River Power, Meridian, Air New Zealand, and until lately, Solid Energy).
‘Seven Sharp‘ – or ‘Seven Shite‘ as one Facebook commentator labelled it – was simply the natural end-result of this process.
This was made no more clearer than when TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick admitted to a Parliamentary Select Committee that the broadcaster was now,
“... entirely driven by consumer behaviour”, and Seven Sharp was “absolutely in the right territory…”
“… And now there are so many more opportunities and places you can access the news and as a result of them I think that consumers are looking for short, sharp soundbites; they’re looking for a punchy delivery.”
Well, if viewers are “looking for short, sharp soundbites; they’re looking for a punchy delivery” – they are showing it in a strange way by deserting TVNZ and switching on to ‘Campbell Live‘ instead,
The ratings head-to-head between Seven Sharp and Campbell Live reveals TVNZ’s new offering outperforming TV3 in total audience terms all but twice in its first two weeks.
But over the same period, the TVNZ show lost the key demographic both channels are chasing, those aged between 25 to 54, eight times.
Figures supplied by Nielsen TAM show that apart from the first big bang on February 4 where 508,500 tuned into Seven Sharp compared to 246,300 on TV3, there have been plenty of nights where the two have been separated by barely a percentage point or two of the total television audience.
For Campbell Live, February 12 was historic. It was the first time the channel won the slot since TV3 began in November 1989, a win it repeated three days later by taking 7.2 per cent of the total audience aged five and over with 298,800 viewers to 242,300.
Perhaps TVNZ’s attitude toward public broadcasting and criticisms for a lack thereof, can be summed up by this comment by Kendrick,
“There has been a lot of commentary about Seven Sharp which has typically come from less than 12 commentators, and they tend to reinforce a more traditional perspective of what current affairs has been as opposed to a reflection of what it might be.”
There is an underlying arrogance in Kendrick’s remarks. It is a “We Know Best What You Want” conceit. Never mind if the public are craving intelligent, challenging TV content – we’ll get dumbed-down viewing because that’s what “We Really Want”.
Which is a self-fulfilling curse; the more crap broadcast, the more crap some viewers will watch, which then shows up in the Ratings…
Meanwhile, apart from the “12 commentators” that Kendrick dismisses in a cursory, derisory manner, what people are really expressing is just as critical of ‘Seven Sharp’.
As Facebook users have said to this blogger,
“Apparently it has the pollings. Sad reflection that NZ’ers prefer to be entertained than educated.
Loving Campbell taking on social issues now. But last Century, Sunday night was the time for hard political journalism – why are we being fed sop?”
“They assume the audience is stupid. They assume the ratings won’t be good enough, which in turn, won’t draw the advertisers. Which in turn, won’t pay for their prime time news slot. They apparently don’t think there’s enough local news around because everyone is watching garbage.
The so called mainstream media has been manipulated by other influences for years. I have sat and watched the quality of journalism rot like a gangrenous limb every night in TV. Watched objectivity, that grand bastion of true journalism vanish in favour of opinion pieces and puerile garbage about feuding families and neighbours and the bad natives who are too lazy to do anything worthwhile.”
“Advertisers react to raw data, and I’d be fairly sure the drive for less hard news content on TV is coming from the viewers, (us).. not any grand conspiracy…
As long as the value of a given programme is rated by viewer numbers, and nothing else, car crash footage will always beat political debate.”
“every body i know is crying out for decent news & political shows in prime time, instead of this diet of cooking shows & crap sitcoms, with all the political talk on a sunday morning… if, as he says, consumers are the ones who ask for this low-rent shit that claims to be ‘news’, then no bastard asked me”
“State television has been wallowing in the sewer for at least 15 years. Nothing has changed.
Their political independence has never been credible. You wouldn’t trust TV3 to report impartially on a corporate scandal involving Mediaworks and you wouldn’t trust The Press to report impartially on a scandal involving Fairfax, so why would you trust state television to duly criticise its owner?”
“I didn’t think it was possible to get worse… but it has.”
“TVNZ news and current affairs seem to be following an agenda of ‘keep ‘em dumb.’ Looking at comparisons between SevenSharp and Campbell this is plainly obvious, but the the same is true between Breakfast and Firstline, and increasingly so in the 6pm slot.
Here’s a question, as state broadcaster how much influence is placed on their independence and impartiality. Can we truly believe that at a time when John Key is singing the ‘nothing to see here’ tune that the state owned and operated news service are singing along.”
“Is it for education or entertainment ?”
“Given Kiwi’s television addiction, you could put any crap on TV and it will find an audience, so ratings don’t really come into it. Television is the cheapest form of entertainment available, so not hard to understand our love affair with the box.
However, I cannot accept New Zealanders are so intellectually deficient they can’t handle cerebral programming. Natural history and science programs rate very well in this country, so the problem is not what Kiwi’s choose to watch, it is simply that what is offered up is mindless rubbish. Is Kevin Kenrick cerebral enough to understand this? Now there’s a question.”
“Some harder journalism asking questions about things like the obscene prices expected of us by oil companies, the Sky City Casino deal, a constitution for New Zealand among other things, would be better.”
“Feel free to include my thought that Kevin Kenrick is an idiot.”
“I’ve switched to 3 and Campbell after years of sticking with TV One”
“I do not believe the content that 7 sharp even hits it with the under 35 year olds after all they have SKY television and reality shows and Seven sharp is hideous of course the people that are over 20 tend to be with Campbell Live, I have moved to Campbell being in my 50!!! I am embarrassed by TV ONE in every journalism respect. Campbell Team are on the pulse night after night.”
“The mainstream media generally get their tips and news from Tweets, Facebook posts and freelance bloggers. I would rather read and view the news of intelligent, articulate, investigative, freelance bloggers and journos, than have my mind dumbed down and filled with the biased agendas of a right wing, Fairfax driven media. That being said, Campbell Live does at least demonstrate a social conscience, and I made the switch to watching that over a year ago now. Seven Sharp is Seven Dull.”
“The so called mainstream media has been manipulated by other influences for years. I have sat and watched the quality of journalism rot like a gangrenous limb every night in TV. Watched objectivity, that grand bastion of true journalism vanish in favour of opinion pieces and puerile garbage about feuding families and neighbours and the bad natives who are too lazy to do anything worthwhile.”
“NZ tv show’s are alright! It’s when the MP’s start adding their bits in that the flavour become’s kawa (sour). If MP’s, had real job’s, instead of being in a studio for picking on somebody about their job,.. then,it’s time to GO!!! Leave the real worker’s to do their own job’s….KEEP YOUR NOSE, OUT!!!”
“I no longer watch what passes for news generated by any teevy broadcaster in NZ – I turn to Triangle/Face for Al Jazeera and DWTV, and occasionally, if I can stop my soul from rising up and strangling my moral conscience, Voice of America.
News on NZ teevy is dominated by road accidents, boozy teenagers, sport and scandal – as for expecting any in-depth analysis or anything remotely resembling investigative or critical journalism, well, we’re screwed, unless you happen to be one the unlobotomised, multi-tasking few who can listen to the radio (and I’m refering exclusively to the National Programme here) at the same time as they walk and chew gum.
I’m ashamed, sometimes, to be part of the institution which churns out the next-generation of wannabe journalists whose sole ambitions seem to be getting a job with a corporation and their grinning mugs on the small screen.”
Writing for the Herald on 8 February (see: Perhaps now’s a good time to sell off TVNZ), columnist Toby Manhire suggested that TVNZ was so far gone in terms of quality that it was irredeemable and fit only to be hocked of. He said, in part,
“ So sell TVNZ. It would end any residual confusion within the organisation about their purpose. It would end any misplaced vestigial attachment by audiences who still dream of the Goodnight Kiwi. Paradoxically, it might encourage TVNZ to pursue more public-interest journalism to retain a “national voice” reputation. For anyone who believes, as I do, that New Zealand should have a mainstream public TV broadcaster, it would blow away any fog around the question of whether we currently have one. We do not.”
In case Toby Manhire is being dead serious and not indulging in wry tongue-firmly-in-cheek black humour, any suggestion to sell TVNZ because it has been dumbed down, is simply rewarding National for deliberately undermining our State broadcaster.
It is not a solution. It is a reward for bad behaviour.
Not only would it fulfill what might be a deliberate agenda to alienate public support for TVNZ – but it closes of future avenues to bring the broadcaster back from the brink.
A future progressive government would have a massive task on it’s hands; to effectively undo decades of commercialisation and bring back a true public service.
But it’s not impossible.
If free-marketeers can wreck it – we should be able to repair or replace it.
One classic suggestion is to make TV1 a non-commercial station, funded by a fully commercial, go-for-trash, TV2 broadcaster.
Or to fund public television through a small levy on pay-to-view broadcasters, such as SkyTV.
More importantly, any such progressive reform would have to be entrenched in legislation and tied up in so many safe-guards that it would take years for any future National government to undo and wrecking it all over again. (See upcoming blogpost, ‘Talkback Radio, Public Radio, and related matters’, on ‘The Daily Blog‘, on 1 March.)
One-stop shop or multiple platforms?
An argument has been made that public-service programming should be left to NZ on Air, which would be responsible for dispensing contestable funding for documentaries, current affairs, and other public interest programmes.
So programmes like ’Inside Child Poverty‘ and ‘The Nation‘ could be funded by ‘NZ on Air‘, and broadcast by any number of electronic media, irrespective of whether of who owns said broadcaster. As it’s curreently mandated to do.
To a degree that has some validity.
Unfortunately, at least two cases point against ‘NZ on Air‘ as the sole agency for intelligent tv viewing,
- ‘The GC’ recieved $420,000 of taxpayer funding from ‘NZ on Air‘ (see: John Key Defends NZ On Air Funding For The GC . see previous blogpost: NZ on Air funding soft-core porn garbage? Since when? Since now!!)
- ‘New Zealand’s Got Talent‘ was given $1.6 million of taxpayer’s money by ‘NZ on Air‘, despite being a commercial venture (see: Who owns New Zealand’s Got Talent?)
Key defended ‘NZ on Air‘s‘ public funding for ‘The GC’ by claiming,
“ They make their decisions completely independently. Our board is to appoint the board, and their job is to make the funding calls.”
“Independent”, Mr Key?
I don’t think so.
Not when your own Electorate Chairman and National Party Regional Deputy, Stephen McElrea, sits on ‘NZ on Air‘s‘ Board – which is responsible for funding decision-making. (see: Call for McElrea to resign from NZ On Air)
Only a politician might think that is “independepent” and “non-partisan”.
Secondly, there are two other reasons why this country needs a committed non-commercial; fully funded; dedicated public service broadcaster.
It is the same reasons why we have a committed non-commercial; fully funded; dedicated public service radio station, Radio New Zealand. Namely;
Much like going to a supermarket which retails a wide range of goods, and saves us the effort of going to separate retailers for fruit & veg; meat; fish; hardware, the supermnarket is a convenient one-stop shop.
It’s what consumers want. And in a market-driven society, what consumers want, consumers get.
Why should it be any different for a one-stop broadcaster/shop?
In fact, we already have racing channels; religious channels; shopping channels; cartoon channels; etc, etc, etc.
So why not a committed non-commercial; fully funded; dedicated public service television station?
- A sense of purpose
TV3 did well to broadcast ’Inside Child Poverty‘ and it’s ‘Campbell Live‘ programme is to be commended for it’s investigate and advocacy journalism. Long may TV3 survive and return good dividends to it’s shareholder(s).
But we also need a dedicated public service television station that has a sense of purpose that is different to commercial TV.
We need a sense of purpose that is not controlled by ratings; has public service as it’s #1 goal; and broadcasts programmes that are challenging as well as informative. Programmes that might not be commercially successful, but nevertheless spark public debate on isues.
Such as ‘Inside Child Poverty‘ did, in November 2011.
Unfortunately, programming such as ‘Inside Child Poverty‘ by commercial broadcasters is a rarity, and TV3 received much flak for the courage they displayed that day.
It is a fact that almost every OECD nation, as well as Russia, has a public service tv broadcaster. Australia has seven; ABC1, ABC2, ABC3, ABC News 24, SBS1, SBS2, and NITV (National Indigenous TV).
It is depressing to realise that this National government refuses to give New Zealanders what other countries already have.
There is no arguing with the simple fact that Nationaland ACT have zero interest in public service broadcast.
In fact, if anything, the dumbing down or ghottoisation of public broadcasting serves their political interests. After all, a commercialised broadcaster will most often choose to focus their News stories around crime/police/court reporting – which is cheaper than investigative journalism, as police feed information directly to journalists in News Rooms.
Investigative reporting – such as “Campbell Live“ – is much rarer.
Documentaries that look behind the superficialities of our society – such as Bryan Bruce’s ‘Inside Child Poverty‘ – is rarer still.
Which is probably why right wing governments love the commercialisation of our broadcasting.
Evidence for this is on TV1, 7pm, week nights.
I rest my case.
Previous related blogposts
Fairfax media: Government signals big changes for TVNZ (13 March 2010)
TV3: TVNZ Charter abolished (13 July 2011)
NZ Herald: Perhaps now’s a good time to sell off TVNZ (8 Feb 2013)
NZ Herald: Susan Wood new host of TVNZ’s Q+A (21 Feb 2013)
NZ Herald: Seven Sharp staff in talks on show (22 Feb 2013)
NZ Herald: Seven Sharp vs Campbell Live – who’s winning? (22 Feb 2013)
= fs =
Coming to “The Daily Blog” on 1 March…
= fs =
Whaleoil – a rightwing blog by right wing extremist, Cameron Slater, has always had something of a dubious reputation. Terms such as “sleaze” and “gutter politics” are often associated with, and used in the same sentence as, Whaleoil.
Slater’s dirty tricks reached a nadir last year when on 13 March 2012, he wrote this blogpost revealing and detailing the private tragedy of a Ports of Auckland (POAL) worker, Mr Cecil Walker,
POAL was, at the time, engaged in a bitter industrial dispute with maritime workers, and had reached depths of enmity and dirty tricks by Port management unseen since the 1951 Waterside Lockout. It was also later established that the information regarding the POAL worker had been illegally leaked by a POAL company staffmember, for Slater to publish (see: Port admits leaking worker’s details – union).
Whaleoil not only actively championed the Board and management of POAL in an industrial dispute, and recklessly mis-used personal information that had been illegally provided – but it turns out that Slater was being paid to run blogposts, without declaring a pecuniary interest to his readers.
[Blogger's note: To clear up any mis-understanding (and deliberate deflection from Slater) there is no evidence (yet) that POAL was one of Slater's clients. His anti-worker/union hate-posts may've been a "freebie". ]
As Martyn Bradbury reported on his blogsite, Tumeke,
Which brings us to todays extraordinary confession on Media 3 this morning by Cameron Slater. Russell Brown landed a square blow to Slater’s jaw by asking him directly if he took money to write blogs, Slater’s response that he did and his puerile justification that spin drs want attention so he gives it to them for a fee was possibly the new gutter low for the NZ blogosphere.
… yet he has the audacity to try and defend his actions by saying to people (and I’m paraphrasing the defense he has given to others) ‘his audience values him not for journalism, but for saying things they agree with, and therefore there’s no conflict between taking a slice of a PR or spin agency’s fee to do part of their job for them’.
This is pure sophistry.
Shouldn’t Slater’s readers know when Slater is offering his opinion and when he’s being paid to spin? To claim they are coming to him not because he tells the truth but because he tells them what they want to hear and offer that as a justification is about as deceptive as you can get.
Now we know he takes PR money to spin, shouldn’t Cam be honest with his readers and identify the issues he’s purposely manipulated?
Now for the latest installment from Cameron Slater – porn merchant. As posted yesterday (2 Feb),
Sourse: Whaleoil -Ink or No Ink
And this is the same Cameron Slater who derides Opposition MPs; left wing activists; workers; Unionists, etc, for alleged lack of ethics?
Being slated by an extremist right wing blogger and porn-merchant just invites scorn and mirthful derision.
Mind you, along with being the new editor of ‘The Truth‘…
… I guess it completes his CV.
*Updated 4 February*
This blogger receives no funding of any description for writing this blog. (If, however, there are any rich Warren Buffet-types out there – let’s talk.)
= fs =
“A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” – Oscar Wilde
It’s no great secret that the news media in this country – with perhaps one or two exceptions - has been going downhill in the last three decades.
As an example, the previous entities, the ‘Evening Post‘ and ‘Dominion‘ in Wellington, once employed three reporters – two full time and one part-time – to cover local body politics and events in the city. No councillor or mayor could pass wind without one of the journos picking it up. If something smelled rotten, the journos would sniff it out fairly smartly.
Now, with continuing cutbacks at Fairfax media, and most sub-editors gone, the combined entity known as the ‘Dominion Post‘ has one journalist covering City Council activities on a part-time basis. Coverage has becomes sporadic, disjointed, and out of context.
Which is why Wellingtonians now have little idea what’s happening at their Council.
TVNZ and TV3 once had current affairs programmes, at prime time, conducting in depth investigations into government activities and dubious behaviour from dodgy politicians.
Many of those programmes, ‘Holmes‘, ‘Assignment‘, have gone. ‘Sunday” was an hour long on Sunday nights – that’s been cut to thirty minutes.
The main current affairs prpgrammes – TVNZ’s ‘Q+A‘ and TV3′s ‘The Nation‘ – have been relegated to Sunday mornings at 8am and 9am. Hardly conducive to encouraging the public to be aware of political issues in our country. Only insomniacs and the most committed political junkie would be willing to forego a Sunday morning lie-in to watch TV journos in action with our elected representatives.
Private and State radio is perhaps the only part of the industry that has remained consistent.
Talkback Radio – idiot voices screaming at other idiot voices on issues that idiots know little about.
It is the realm where superficial “knowledge” is the main currency and shrill prejudice holds sway over calm reasoned analysis on issues. Imagine allotting a bunch of bigoted, ill-informed rednecks equal speaking time at the Oxford debates, shouting down their more knowledgeable and wiser debating opponants, and that gives an insight into talkback radio.
Even the talkback “hosts” are not ones to rise above the common, noisome mud of prejudice and wilful ignorance, as happened last week,
But hardly surprising.
It’s all part of the commercial radio game; win as many listeners as you can by being as offensive and outrageous as you can. That wins ratings, which in turn let’s you sell more advertising, leading to higher profits, which results in increasing dividends to ever more demanding shareholders.
Ever wondered why radio stations and newspapers “love” Michael Laws so much? Wonder no more. He sells advertising.
Ironically, when radio stations like NewstalkZB are then held to account for offensive behaviour, the additional publicity they gain – as in the case of the subsequent NZ Herald story above – gives them even more public attention. And higher ratings. And sell more advertising… It’s a win/win for them.
Radio NZ – after the political assassination of TVNZ7 – the last remaining non-commercial, public service media in this country.
And National is gunning for it,
It’s fairly obvious why Peter Cavanagh is resigning as Chief Executive: National has plans to commercialise Radio NZ.
This will no doubt be aided and abetted by Radio NZ board chairman, Richard Griffin. As well as having been a former Radio NZ political editor, Griffin took the job of press secretary to former National, prime minister, Jim Bolger (See: Richard Griffin to chair Radio NZ board).
The stage is set…
For National, non-commercial SOEs such as Radio NZ and TVNZ are anathema to their free market ideology – the very same ideology that saw the closure of TVNZ7 by deliberate political design, despite public support for the channel,
The commercialisation of media such as TVNZ is of considerable benefit to National Party (and perhaps Labour?) politicians, for two very good reasons,
- They yield a profit to the State, thereby making government’s job much easier to balance The Books.
- Commercialisation encourages ratings-driven programming. Hence the preponderence of crime ‘drama’, reality TV shows of every description, cheap US sitcoms, home improvement shows, and more cooking programmes than you can shake a wooden spatula at.
The second rationale has a by-product that governing politicians welcome with cunningly-disguised glee; ratings driven programming does not include current affairs shows and documentary making. These are now funded by NZ on Air – and even NZOA has been captured by National’s party apparatchiks,
… to fund brain-deadening crap like this,
See previous blogpost: NZ on Air funding soft-core porn garbage? Since when? Since now!!
It is no coincidence that the gradual demise of intelligent programmes that inform and challenge the viewer has been consistant with the rise and rise of commercialisation of the media – especially the state owned “public broadcaster”, TVNZ.
Quite simply, junk programmes such as cooking porn; MaF officials measuring the size of fish in someone’s bucket; and crime ‘dramas’ depicting the latest grisly murder (usually a female victim) in ghoulish detail, is what sells advertising.
And it should be no surprise that as the media shies away from serious reporting of current affairs, we had the lowest voter turnout last year since 1887 (see: Steve Liddle: Election apathy shows need for civics at school).
The Americanisation of our media (“if it bleeds, it leads”) is creating the Americanisation of our electoral process (apathy and low voter turnout – see: Voter turnout in 2012 US presidential elections 9% lower than 2008 ).
Major political parties – especially those on the Right, such as National – love this kind of thing. An unsophisticated public results in low-information voters. Low information voters allow governments to get way with all manner of dubious policies such as cuts to services; more user pays; environmentally-damaging activities, and further implementation of neo-liberal ideology.
It literally encourages the dumbing-down of society until the consequences are satirised in movies like this,
“Idiocracy” was produced as a speculative “what if” sf movie. It’s now more like a documentary. If you haven’t see it – this blogger strongly recommends that you do. You’ll be feeling a creepy sense of deja vu throughout it (and you’ll never look at ‘power drinks’ in quite the same way again).
It now appears that we, the New Zealand public, have till the end of the year to mobilise to pressure National not to interfere with the running of Radio NZ.
A statement from the Coalition for Better Broadcasting on 16 January, said,
The real story here is that the National Government – having fully commercialised TVNZ and done away with non-commercial TV channels Stratos, TV6 & 7 – is also slowly strangling RNZ to the point that it cannot survive. In 2007 a KPMG report to the Ministry of Culture and Heritage found that RNZ was already running as efficiently as possible. It recommended a funding increase to allow RNZ to continue its high standards. But the following year, the National Government froze the RNZ budget and that freeze still exists with RNZ operating on the same budget as 5 years ago.
The CBB believes this is a shockingly poor way to treat our national radio broadcaster: the station we rely on in times of emergency, disaster and crisis. We note the repeated absence on RNZ of our Prime Minister (who prefers to goof around on commercial stations) and many of his Cabinet colleagues. This fact and frequent remarks made by Ministers, makes it clear that the decision to freeze funding to RNZ is an attempt to influence the station’s ability to present in-depth news and current affairs. This contradicts statutory requirements that the government does not influence RNZ editorial stance and may even be illegal.
The under-funding of Radio NZ has been abysmal, with National wilfully attempting to strangle the broadcaster by a lack of money.
The situation for Radio NZ has become so dire that in late 2011, the Crown Entity registered itself as a charity,
The state-owned broadcaster registered itself as the Radio New Zealand Charitable Trust with the Charities Commission last month.
Some of its charitable purposes, which were listed on the commission’s website, included education, research, fundraising and providing grants to a number of individuals and groups.
A spokesperson for Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman said the broadcaster still received $34 million a year but couldn’t say how long it had been receiving that amount.
A financial review of Radio NZ for the 2009/10 financial year showed it had a net deficit of $498,000 after tax, compared to a surplus of $13,000 the year before.
The review said RNZ had been too cash-strapped to participate in the 2010 New Zealand Radio Awards or put in a bid for the Rugby World Cup 2011 coverage.
This is a deliberate campaign against Radio NZ and constitutes political interference – something that is strictly forbidden by law. National has found a way to circumvent that law.
Make no mistake, the dumbing down of Radio NZ is National’s final mission-plan to eliminate all critical, in-depth media analysis and reporting in this country. Turning Radio NZ in a radio-version of TVNZ would destroy any remaining semblance of serious current affairs programming, resulting in another medium for mindless, unquestioning, consumerism.
This is the neo-liberal agenda at it’s nastiest. To be successful in re-shaping a society into a “free market”, the new right must first remove all critical elements in society and either destroy it or marginalise it.
The commercialisation of Radio NZ would be the beginning of that marginalisation. Next would be a partial privatisation, followed by a full-scale sell-off.
This blogger encourages the reader to;
Join Save Radio New Zealand on Facebook. Get your friends and family to “Like” the facebook page – the more the better! Support a replacement for Peter Cavanagh who will maintain the non-commercialised status of Radio NZ.
If you have a National MP as your electorate MP, let him/her know your your vote in 2014 will depend on what happens to Radio NZ. Tell your National MP that not only will you vote for another Party, but you’ll be making a donation to them as well! Demand that Peter Cavanagh’s replacement support and maintain the non-commercialised status of Radio NZ.
Write a short letter to your local newspaper and voice your feelings on this issue. The deliberate demise of TVNZ7 was bad enough – but attacking Radio NZ is the final straw. Demand that Peter Cavanagh’s replacement support and maintain the non-commercialised status of Radio NZ.
Write to Labour Leader David Shearer and demand that, if he expects voter support, that Labour reverse National’s policies and undoes any commercialisation of Radio New Zealand.
On Point #4, the demise of TVNZ7 and impending commercialisation of Radio NZ underscores one very critical issue: that important services such as Radio NZ must be protected by entrenched legislation that makes it difficult – if not impossible – for incoming National regimes to to undermine such Crown entities.
It is unbelievable that an organisation such as Radio NZ – which has been operating in one form or another since 1925 – is vulnerable to the ideological machinations of a “government” that has been in office for only the last four years. In existence for 88 years – vulnerable to attack in four?!
A new Labour-led government’s Broadcasting Minister’s first task must be to enact legislation that;
- entrenches protection for Radio NZ,
- denies right governments any opportunity to commercialise the broadcaster,
- ring-fenches funding and ties it to the rate of inflation – perhaps by the Remuneration Authority which also sets MP’s salaries and perks.
The same protections must be in place for any new non-commercial public TV broadcaster that is set up by an incoming Labour-led government. Crown Entities must be free of covert political interference by the likes of Key, English, Joyce, et al, who cannot resist sticking their grubby fingers into places they shouldn’t.
At the risk of sounding overly-dramatic, this issue is not just about saving Radio NZ from commercialisation. This is a battle for the minds and souls of New Zealanders.
As Dave Armstrong wrote in August 2011,
“Despite its budget freeze, National Radio continues to do an excellent job. Its current affairs programmes are intelligent and objective. That’s why you rarely hear the prime minister on Morning Report or Checkpoint. As the recent BBC Hardtalk episode showed, Mr Key becomes dangerously exposed when interviewed by a tough, intelligent journalist. He tends to send in street-smart Gerry Brownlee to take one for the team on Radio New Zealand, while he has a cosy yet inane chat with ex-children’s presenter Petra Bagust on Breakfast or talks to Veitchy on sports radio about hot chicks. That’s far more fun than explaining to Mary Wilson why parents are going to have to pay more for childcare.”
In countries ruled by totalitarian regimes (late Soviet Union, North Korea, Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Syria, United States, etc), despots control the media with an iron fist. Members of the state security apparatus watch every word printed; every word uttered; every picture or video screened.
In the West, we do despotic control of the media in more subtle ways. We use “market forces” instead of secret police forces.
The Western model is far more successful because the general populace doesn’t realise it’s happening. In fact, the general populace rather like “Master Chef Albania” or “CSI Timbuktu” or “Mumbai Squalid Home Improvement”. Unfortunately, watching such drivel doesn’t make the populace any smarter or informed. It simply prepares them for Talkback radio.
It’s up to the rest of us to lead the fight and stop National in it’s tracks.
Spread the word, people.
Previous related blogposts
Scoop.co.nz: PM has questions to answer over NZ on Air link
NZ Herald: TVNZ reveals Seven Sharp presenting team
Tom Frewen: GC In Breach Of Funding Agreement?
Tumeke: Seven Sharp already looks blunt
Brian Edwards: TVNZ exchanges current-affairs for a mess of pottage at 7pm
Tumeke: The future of RNZ
= fs =