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Media and our National Day

Written By: - Date published: 7:56 pm, February 10th, 2008 - 17 comments
Categories: john key, Media - Tags: ,


The decision of TVNZ’s CloseUp to pay to assist Tame Iti to travel to Waitangi this year was the focus of Media Watch this morning. Ever ready to offer an opinion the PM stepped in with her view that:

“I think it is a waste of public money.” (Dom Post, 7 Feb 2008)

And the Dominion Post also raised criticism, saying:

No amount of huffing and puffing from the state broadcaster will obscure the fact that it has been caught trying to manufacture sensation.” (8 Feb 2008)

But what i find interesting is the suggestion that, as Tracey Watkins suggests in her blog, will Key regret those cosy and comfortable images in the future?

Tracey Watkins: “What message does a picture of a hongi between himself and a man facing arms act charges project to the nation? Imagine the controversy if Clark had shown Iti similar warmth.” (7 Feb 2008)

And imagine the reaction to TVNZ’s generosity should Clark have attended and been snapped in a similar pose! The cries of political interference would be deafening!

17 comments on “Media and our National Day ”

  1. Tane 1

    Good point there from Tracy Watkins – it’s something I’d been wondering myself. I also find it amazing how easy it is to engineer a photo opportunity, and how easily led the media are on these things.

    I do think the PM’s comments were unwise – as much as it may have been politically necessary to criticise TVNZ she should have steered clear of commenting on how it spends its budget. Strangely enough I agree with the Dom Post on this one – the real issue here is one common to all media, and that’s the worrying tendency to manufacture the news rather than just reporting it.

  2. I left a comment on Watkins’ article mentioning the fact that in 2004 MPs were sprayed with bottles of urine and remarking that after that you couldn’t really blame them for staying away. It was very telling to see the kiwiblog right’s response. Including that of “moderate” rightie Craig Ranapia.

    Closer to topic though, the issue of manufacturing the news is not a new one and I’m surprised people found it worthy of passing judgment on. After all a quick comparison of media releases with newspaper stories shows the bulk of our news is manufactured by vested interests anyway.

  3. The Double Standard 3

    Can an opposition politician be sensibly accused of political interference? Surely it is only those in power who can do such a thing.

    As far as Key and Iti goes, I guess just walking away wouldn’t be a good look either. After all he didn’t promise the guy a pardon did he?

    It’s very likely to be less damaging than this picture


    cap: my recovery

  4. AncientGeek 4

    TDS: I don’t know. There are a pile of people I can think of who would view that as being some kind of cool. One of the boys. Redbaiter seems like enough of a …. to thing that way. From your comments, yourself perhaps?

  5. r0b 5

    Can an opposition politician be sensibly accused of political interference? Surely it is only those in power who can do such a thing.

    There are degrees of power, and opposition members certainly have some. Off hand I didn’t find an NZ reference, but here’s one from transcripts of the New South Wales parliament. “The Government sees no reason why that inquiry should be open to political interference by the Opposition.”


    In general I think the American system shows us that no matter which party is nominally in control of senate / congress, individuals from either party can wield enormous influence in some areas.

  6. Having a photo op of a Hongi with Tama Iti is certainly a risk. Ultimately it could go either way and it’s hard to judge right now whether or not it will prove to be embarrassing or not.

    It is clear that Key wants to have a coalition option with the Maori in the bag and taking opportunities like this is one way to achieve it.

    CAPTCHA: grander leaders

  7. Eddie 7

    I remember a similar photo op from Waitangi 2005. Don Brash wedged between and looking very cosy with Tama Iti and Hone Harawera. It’s just what they do.

  8. I do think the PM’s comments were unwise – as much as it may have been politically necessary to criticise TVNZ she should have steered clear of commenting on how it spends its budget.

    More to the point, the news and current affairs budget is meant to be self-sustaining — ie, funded from TVNZ’s commercial revenue — to emphasise editorial independence. So the “public money” thing wasn’t relevant. (Although TVNZ has pooed in the pool a bit now by dipping into charter money for Sunday.)

    The issue was more one of manufacturing the news. To be fair, apparently TV3 was prepared to make a similar offer. And it’s not the first time Iti has demanded a fee of some sort to go on camera.

    The thing about the Key-Iti hongi is that it wasn’t a photo-op for John Key — it was a photo-op for Tame Iti that Key stumbled into. And yes, it might be looking unwise in a few months’ time. The cops will throw every bit of admissable evidence at these arms charges, whether or not it’s very relevant. My sense is that vindication is more important to them than a conviction.

  9. ziuzou 9

    AncientGreek: There are a pile of people I can think of who would view that as being some kind of cool.

    Like who? Adolescent teenagers, immature recidivists, impressionalbe fools or photo oppurtunists? Defending the picture by stating is ‘cool’ is a lame defence.

  10. RANDAL 10

    I think the PM can say and do what she likes without all the fleas jumping on her. When I see some substance in here then I might take notice..otherwise just a pack of undergraduates drinking beer in the union hall…I cant get over all these experts saying she should do this and she should do that as if what they thought mattered… “YOU” should go and jump in the lake!

  11. Billy 11

    Randal. Well done. You found that pesky “caps lock” key. Makes you sound more human. Until, of course, you read what you’ve written.

  12. Billy, for a person who has added nothing but a few snide remarks lately you’ve got some gall.

  13. Billy 13

    What can I say? I’ve been busy. Plus, I happen to think I do snide well.

  14. RANDAL 14


  15. AncientGeek 15

    ziuzou: I was being ironic.

    If you read the comments in Kiwiblog (and others), you will see some people that regularly say what they’d like to do to other people – ie assaulting them. Redbaiter seems to do it an awful lot.

    As a side comment, as far as I can tell, the only person he seems to like is himself. Must have a very lonely life.

    cap: about policies
    who programs that thing anyway.

  16. Billy – yeah, I’ll give you that. I much prefer it when you do funny though…

  17. ziuzou 17

    AncientGreek: Don’t you mean sarcastic? The term irony is misused and misinterpreted in popular culture. In this case, the use of irony is incorrect.

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