* 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 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…)