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Sloppy Journalism 101

How to be a sloppy journalist…

NZ Herald journalist Derek Cheng writes about National’s planned “welfare reforms” on 14 August. Mr Cheng writes,

“The Government will limit how 16 and 17-year-old beneficiaries and 18-year-old teen parents can spend the state’s money to ensure they are not buying items such as alcohol or cigarettes…”

Mr Cheng continues in the same vein, a little later on,

“* money for basic living costs like food and groceries will be loaded onto a payment card that can only be used to buy certain goods and cannot be used to buy things like alcohol and cigarettes…”

That’s all very well and good… but it’s already illegal for 16 and 17 year olds to purchase alcohol and tobacco products.

Why has Mr Cheng not pointed this out in his article?

National’s policy release has been barely challenged by the mainstream media (MSS) and sounds as if 16 and 17 year olds are freely  purchasing tobacco and liquor in this country. They may well be.  But it is not dependent on whether or not under 18s are beneficiaries.

In fact, it could be argued that 16 and 17 year olds on a Living Alone Allowance are less likely to be able to afford expensive cigarettes and booze.

The Independent Youth Benefit rate (as at 1 April 2011) is $167.83 per week – NETT.

That’s right folks, that’s what this is all about: $167.83 a week. Out of that, a young person living independently has to pay board, food, clothing, transport, power, phone, and other outgoings.

That doesn’t leave much for boozing and fagging much, does it?

Yet, Mr Cheng ignores all this and simply parrots National Party policy, without any critical analysis whatsoever.

This is simply unacceptable. It brings to mind government-owned newspapers such as “Pravda” and “Izveztia” from the now-defunct Soviet Union. These newspapers were nothing more than mouthpieces for the Soviet Communist Party. they had as much to do with critical, investigative reporting – as Vegans have to raising cattle and lamb for supermarkets.

Perhaps the Herald should re-brand as “The New Zealand Government Herald“? Or simply, “The State Mouthpiece“?

Because that is what it seems to be evolving into.

As usual, the three Golden Rules to apply to the MSS are,

  1. Don’t believe everything you read, see, and hear.
  2. What am I not being told?
  3. Will it sell advertising?

  1. Deborah Kean
    31 August 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Exactly true! All Cheng seems to have done, is regurgitate the press release. An important point is that once a benefit has been paid it is no longer the ‘state’s’ money, and even less is it ‘the taxpayer’s money’ (as if there’s only one of them!
    What next? Will Key and co follow Jenny Shipley’s idea of the 90s. and insist that benefit money must not be spent on donations, raffles etc? Sorry Unicef and WSPA, that 18 year old DPB recipient can’t give you $2.00 from her benefit – and when they roll it out to all of us, well sorry Plunket, Surf Lifesaving or Red Cross…

    • 31 August 2011 at 10:01 pm

      Indeed, Debbie…

      And of course, if the State has a right to control the spending habits of 16, 17, and some 18 year old welfare recipients – then who next? All welfare recipients?

      Does that include solo-mothers/dads? With solo-parents, some are paid by the contributing other parent. So does the State have a right to tell Mr Smith how to spend his money, when it came from Mrs Smith?

      Or what if Mrs Smith contributes only 50%, because she is a low-income earner? In that case the State picks up the remaining 50% of the DPB. Does that mean the State can dictate how the 50% “top up” is spent – but not the 50% parent-contributory payment?

      Now we’re getting into silly La La Land stuff…

      Then of course, what about superannuitants who spend much of their pension on booze and ciggies? Or those who like to blow it on the ‘pokies’?! Is Daddy State going to interfere here?

      What about ACC clients? Working for Families recipients?

      Or anyone else receiving money from the State; nurses, police, teachers, doctors, civil servants, etc?

      Ironically, the State pays one group from this Sector special benefits – and those extras are controlled where they can/can’t be spent.

      This special group is known as Members of Parliament.

      And like Phil Heatley, Roger Douglas, or Bill English, they certainly do rort the system.

      It’s a shame Mr Cheng never picked up on any of these issues, Debbie… 😉

  2. Deborah Kean
    1 September 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Exactly true! Bennett has certainly hinted that the ideas that are proposed for 16-17 year olds will be extended to us all – happy days! Yeah. Right.

    • 1 September 2011 at 8:32 pm

      And funnily enough, no shrill cries of “nanny statism” or “PC gone mad” from the Right…?

      Funny that, eh?

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