Edwards on politics and the media

Written By: - Date published: 9:36 am, June 20th, 2015 - 21 comments
Categories: accountability, Deep stuff, journalism, Media - Tags: , , ,

It won’t come as a surprise to any Standardista, but it’s good to see Brent Edwards being up front about some of the systemic problems in politics and the media.

What’s wrong with the way politics are practised in NZ?
Brent Edwards, Political Editor

Politics in this country is hard on people but soft on issues. As a result what should be serious policy debates often denigrate into political and personal points scoring. That often deters or alienates people who would, but for the “hard on people” approach to politics, have significant contribution to make to Parliament.

But while [CTU secretary] Mr Conway engaged unfailingly in reasoned debate about issues he believed important to the wellbeing of working people and others, too often in Parliament the debate is all about scoring points and attacking political opponents.

In the atmosphere which exists at 1 Bowen St the political game and how it is played becomes all important. It is exemplified in how political leaders are judged. Most leaders are not judged on the substance of what they say but how they say it. Perversely for politicians honesty and openness to new ideas are often weaknesses to be exploited by their political opponents.

Sticking to a consistent line is all important even if it is not in the long-term interests of the very voters politicians represent. And being truthful will often get politicians into difficulty. This is not to say politicians are all liars as regularly portrayed in the news media. But the political system does not encourage truthfulness.

Nor is the news media free of blame. Politics is too often reported as sport where winning or losing is the most important aspect. The tactics of the teams, read parties, are analysed but the substance of the debate often overlooked.
Reporters love to catch out politicians on a lie. Yet when they are truthful they are more often than not depicted as naive in the news media.

It is an approach to politics which does not necessarily promote reasoned debate.

It’s a must read piece, see the full article on RNZ.

21 comments on “Edwards on politics and the media”

  1. ianmac 1

    When Brent Edwards speaks on National Radio I listen carefully. No bullshit.

    • Morrissey 1.1

      Agreed. He’s the opposite of Brian Edwards.

    • D'Esterre 1.2

      @ Ianmac: “When Brent Edwards speaks on National Radio I listen carefully.”

      As do I. Edwards is one of NatRad’s treasures.

  2. Kiwiri 2

    Grateful to Brent who maintains the high standards of broadcasting.

  3. Tracey 3

    Many of you might alreayd read this but it is new to me


    “Real Media is a cooperative of journalists dedicated to public interest journalism and challenging mass media distortion.

    We believe the large media organisations, as they currently exist, are set up to serve the interest of a small establishment – their owners, their advertisers and the governments that they get most of their information from.


    We intend to stand up for public interest journalism in as many ways we can. As an organisation we intend to grow and adapt as we try and meet these objectives.

    We are starting with our online presence, specifically this website.”

    • ianmac 3.1

      Great plan from Real Media. British isn’t it? SCOOP here in NZ has similar aims.

      • tracey 3.1.1

        it is British. Scoop is underway in its donorship drive


        “You are invited to help change the course of #FutureOfNews in NZ

        At a time when the institution of the Fourth Estate and public broadcasting are both under dire threat, Scoop has developed a funding model that could save the news industry. By charging a license fee for commercial use of news content, Scoop can maintain free public free access to its news – and help inform NZ’s democracy.

        NZ’s much loved, and widely used independent online news service Scoop has discovered a solution to funding the provision of public good news services in NZ. Scoop’s solution isn’t primarily driven by the interests of advertisers or massive media corporations.”

  4. Tracey 4

    What happens when people lose faith in the media? Do they become more questioning, or less? According to the Washington Post

    “The natural result of that loss of faith in the news media is for people to seek out more partisan sources of information which they can “trust” because the information being put out by those sites jibes with their particular point of view. That is, of course, is exactly what’s happened in recent years as partisans shows, news sites and radio programs have boomed even as more traditional, non-partisan media outlets have struggled. That means people are faced with information that doesn’t perfectly fit their world view less and less of the time — leading to the idea that people with whom you disagree are not simply looking at the world differently but rather are, at best, stupid, at worst, and evil.”


  5. dukeofurl 5

    Oh no , not another restaurant critic who doesnt like food?

    Its not enough to say politics is show business for unattractive people, he wants us to consider the politicians with poor skills but ‘openess to new ideas’

    Sound like he angling for a job as a political studies academic.!

  6. Brillo 6

    He’s got it about right, it seems to me.

    Too much playing the man, not the ball. No wonder our goals are so hard to achieve.

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    His [Conway’s] approach to economics differed markedly from that of the bank economists who tend to hog most headlines in this country.

    He believed the economy was meant to work for people, not the other way around.

    The former is as economics should be, the latter is how it is especially under RWNJ governments such as we’ve had over the last 30 years. The people are driven (yes, driven, as the attacks on beneficiaries proves) to produce ever more with the gains of that going to the rich rather than the people who actually produced it. If the gains went to those produced it then we’d probably require far less and we could have a far more diverse economy.

    • tracey 7.1

      “He believed the economy was meant to work for people, not the other way around.”

      It’s also how the priorities sit for the Green Party.

      people first
      environment first

      in that order

  8. Save NZ 8

    All true especially honesty is something to be treated as a weakness.

    Grow up NZ politics.

    Our country is being sold off to enrich already extremely wealthy individuals.

    Even some Nats must be wondering what happening.

    • Sacha 8.1

      I’m surprised we do not hear more public grumbling by genuine old-style conservatives. Not as if the current mob represent them either.

      • tc 8.1.1

        The Nats keep that under control by suppression, not allowing MSM into feisty conferences, them turfing them out.

        How many electoral selections are stacked and look how many they were able to allegedly pay off and replace last election.

        Money talks very loudly in NACT land.

  9. maui 9

    Too many people named Br… Edwards involved in political commentary if you ask me.

  10. whateva next? 10

    “Politics is too often reported as sport where winning or losing is the most important aspect.”
    Says it all, playground politics is winning and governing our country.(and John Key’s dad has got the biggest car)
    Really enjoyed reading this, as I usually enjoy reading/listening to Brent , thankyou

  11. AmaKiwi 11

    NO ONE except the PM has a say on the issues. No one can modify what Big Brother demands. GCSB. Asset sales referendum. Etc., etc. etc. He/She is our elected dictator.

    How often do majority party MPs vote to pass laws they disagree with? I’ll bet it’s more often than any of us imagine.

    If we can’t break the whipping system we have no choice except to try to topple the rider who’s leading the charge (the PM).

    Your “Representative” in Parliament does NOT represent YOU. She/He represents one person: the leader (dictator) of her/his party.

    Until we can break that we’ll just keep beating up the dictator and his/her court of slavish attendants. We have no alternative.

  12. AmaKiwi 12

    I liked the title of this story in the Guardian and wonder how it might apply to NZ:

    “We can pay £7bn to fix parliament, or much less to an arsonist. You choose.”
    (Marina Hyde)

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