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Media Matters

Written By: - Date published: 3:30 pm, November 3rd, 2010 - 9 comments
Categories: broadcasting, john key, Media - Tags: , ,

* The Shonkey Donkey has suddenly started to be heard on Morning Report in the last 2 weeks.  Is it because he’s suddenly realised that Sean Plunket has left and he’ll get a soft pre-record with Geoff, who last asked a harsh question back in the 90s?  If so, will he continue this trend when the new guy starts?

If not, was it pressure from such as us?  If so, we need to keep up the pressure, so that maybe we can even get a live interview.  And maybe we can focus on a few other targets who need to front up more.  Apparently Paula Bennett refuses to be on the same platform as Carmel Sepuloni, scared that she’ll come off worse.  She forced Tangata Pasika to chose between them when she discovered they were both to appear – Tangata were torn, but eventually chose the minister, as they’d never managed to get her on before.  Eventually Paula will have to front up – they’re both candidates for Waitakere after all – but maybe we could organise it to be sooner rather than later?

* Paul Holmes’ shocking performance ganging up with John Barnett to attack Helen Kelly received formal complaints, and he backed it up this week by being the National Party candidate for Mana in the Q&A debate.  How long can we put up with a National Party Media Trainer being the host of what aims to be New Zealand’s top politics show?  Someone who shows clear bias in on his Newstalk show (calling Simon Whipp “a dick”, “filth” and worse, whilst implying various conspiracies against New Zealand) on a Saturday, runs a Herald on Sunday column like this, before predictably failing to be neutral on Q&A?  Tim Watkin obviously cannot get his “star” to pull his head in, so there’s only one way forward – we need rid of him.

(There’s a good review of media coverage on the Hobbit in RNZ’s Mediawatch.  And if you think I’m harsh on Holmes – there’s this.)

* There was great irritation in media circles a week or 2 ago when Hone Harawira would only speak in Maori to the media.  I couldn’t see a problem with this – surely our political reporters must speak Maori to be able to cover the House competently?  It is one of the official languages, and they risk not being able to report what is going on in Parliament if they cannot understand it.  Surely at least our State broadcaster should have that covered and in their political reporter job description?  And then be able to translate Maori as well as they can translate politicians…

* For watchers of Parliament TV, they’ll know that when a serious question is asked of John Key he cracks a joke and looks up with his laugh.  That’s the media gallery he’s looking up to, to check the reaction.  Not that this is government by photo opportunity or anything.  How long until the reaction is not to his liking, and what will he do when the media refuse to laugh at his jokes?

* Which brings me onto a more serious thought: JK schmoozed the media in opposition, taking Garner et al out drinking, and forming relationships.  Have the other parties learnt to do this now? Do the broadcasters have rules in place to govern any unintended bias by their reporters?  I know I’d be more inclined to the guy who bought me drinks, be more inclined to think they’ve at least got good intentions etc, despite an overt attempt to be neutral.  The BBC has strict rules that you can’t be bought anything whilst in a work capacity (and from potential interview subjects etc) and strict disclosure of any connections (friendships, relatives, past affiliations etc) and thus they can be, and are, much more trusted than private media that don’t have such rules.  It doesn’t stop them having journalists with a past – Nick Robinson, their TV political editor, is a former head of the Young Conservatives (it was always amusing to hear him being accused of pro-Labour bias by RWNJs when Labour had power there) – but it is all declared and they manage to give very balanced coverage.  I would be interested in what rules various media have here.  Such policies should be published to give citizens more confidence in their media – transparency is generally a good thing.

(To those who laugh at a nameless blogger advocating transparency, my anonymity is because I want my arguments to persuade you and see my name as irrelevant – I wouldn’t mind if the reporters in the media got out of the picture and stopped name-checking themselves a little more often too…)

9 comments on “Media Matters”

  1. surely our political reporters must speak Maori to be able to cover the House competently?

    Nice to think that they ought, but impractical and unfair when it’s not taught compulsorily in our schools.

    Having said that, I’m in favour of some basic Maori being compulsory – correct pronunciation, rudimentary spoken language, marae protocol etc. But to bring someone to full fluency in a language they were not born into take s a considerable amount of time. And – like most subjects – some people are better studies than others.

    I’ve tried to learn two languages now; Maori and my partner’s native language. I can (or could, I’m out of practice) get by on a marae because I could process enough to understand the broad thrust of a speaker’s oratory and could double-check my interpretation with someone else afterwards. And that’s after a couple of years studying it at secondary school and a crash course as part of RNZ announcer training, overlaid by hundreds of hours listening to my Maori former partner’s family speak it and sitting on their marae. My second attempt at a language – albeit a European one – was a failure.

    So I can’t really agree that fluency ought to be a prerequisite for employment as a Gallery journo. There are other things I’d place a higher premium on… a bit of cynicism and a desire to break news rather than repeat soundbites would be nice for a start.

    Further, from a political communications perspective, unless you only want to address Maori-speaking Maori (and if that’s the case, then go for it) then delivering your media comments in Maori might be qonderfully symbolic but is highly ineffective.

    Let’s say the journo could speak fluent te reo. What are we going to get on radio, the fade down of the original language and the passionless, flat translation in English over the top, as we do with some reportes of French, German and other speakers? Or a dry “Mr Hawawira said… and then he said…”?

  2. ianmac 2

    It puzzles and amazes me that the PM refuses to front up for an interview on National Radio. We care but does anyone else notice or care? That girl Suzie (?) who has been filling in for Morning Report showed promise but I guess she will be gone soon.

    Surely MSM should be able to highlight this lack of Ministers to front up. John Campbell was horrified at the evasions of the Samoan PM, who dodges interview over non-accounting of millions of dollars. The Samoan PM will only answer if at all, from written questions.

    Our PM on the other hand fronts up for interviews, NOT !, and answers questions freely, NOT!, and though not demanding written questions does the next best thing of just handing out or reading from prepared statements. Which we just accept!

    • Well when every other leader but the then PM agreed to a morning spot on my program I’d always announce at 7.10 on a Thursday (the day we set aside for him) something along the lines of “the next ten minutes were to be set aside for me to ask questions on your behalf of the Prime Minister. However unlike Jim Anderton, Mike Moore and Winston Peters [leaders of the other parties at that time in Parliament] he considers himself unaccountable to you, to me or to anyone else. So instead we have…”

      Week in, week out. It never did change Bolger’s mind (a term I consider to be an oxymoron) but it got the point across…

  3. tc 3

    No ianmac we don’t accept it however the lapdog MSM do accept it and even celebrate it as being tough and committed.

    Sideshow wouldn’t last 6 months against the OZ msm by way of comparisons….it’s classic crosby textor….control the media and you control a large and mostly uninformed section of the swinging voters.

    We don’t have a media in NZ just mediums i.e. methods of delivering their masters message.

  4. Jared 4

    Since when does anti unionism = not caring about workers? are NZ actors getting a rough deal? last I heard they were doing better than their international counterparts…

    • Bunji 4.1

      If you’re in favour of workers rights etc, it makes sense to support the one thing that has actually achieved results over the last century. Unions’ very existence is to improve workers pay and conditions, so it’s pretty odd to be pro-worker and anti-union. Something along the lines of “I would like them to have better pay and conditions, but they should never organise themselves to actually achieve that goal,” or praying that the benevolent capitalist will somehow grant them better from the goodness of his own heart.

      NZ actors do significantly worse than international counterparts – we get to film a lot of commercials here precisely because wages and prices are so much lower. There’s a reason the US crews call us “Mexicans with cell-phones”,

      • pollywog 4.1.1

        There’s a reason the US crews call us “Mexicans with cell-phones”

        yeah ‘cos with one phonecall from anywhere, we could hook them up with the baddest weed and whatever else they fancied while not taxing the fuck out of it…

    • Colonial Viper 4.2

      last I heard they were doing better than their international counterparts…

      Maybe the pet animals on set do better. 🙄

      However, our workers definitely do worse than the unionised workers in major film making countries like Australia, US, Canada, UK and Ireland.

  5. randal 5

    why doesnt someone tell hillary clinton that national is kwiwi equivalent of the tea party.
    and bunji dont tell \’em nothing.
    the slime will out you allover twide me opnions and any other forum they can.
    play it cool dude.

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