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Political journalist of the year

Written By: - Date published: 7:23 pm, January 23rd, 2011 - 8 comments
Categories: Economy, leadership, Media - Tags:

It’s a bit late, but this post is in response partly to John Armstrong’s bouquet piece at the end of 2010 headlined “Forget the economy, watch the lemmings”, and partly to Fran O’Sullivan’s latest piece in yesterday’s Herald about Hone Harawira.

Fran O’Sullivan was my political journalist of 2010, for one simple reason. She’s a pro, and she’d never forget the economy. I don’t agree with a lot of her analysis or all her answers, but at least she gets the problem. The New Zealand economy has big problems, and the Government’s got no answers.

Armstrong showed he  too knew the problem:

The scandals involving these minor players certainly fed the media’s increasing appetite for personality-based politics at the expense of more serious discussion about policy.

It meant the real story of 2010 – an under-performing economy and what on earth to do about it – was obscured by politics akin to soap-opera story-lines.

But then he proceeded to run the soap-opera lines; “foot-in-mouth award” and “stunned mullet award” and so on.

Fran’s challenge is as much as to her colleagues and her bosses as it is about Hone Harawira.

But there has also been a sea change, which I put down to the journalistic tendency to quickly put any backbench MP on to the “must be dumped from caucus’ slipway” when they call their own party to account.

Instead of greasing the ramp, why don’t journalists simply challenge the leadership to respond to the valid points Harawira has made?

The Herald’s editorial yesterday ran the corporatist line – Hone doesn’t fit the Parliamentary club so should go. Fran, by contrast, spoke truth to her own power. That takes courage.

The under-performing economy and what to do about it will be the story of 2011 as well as 2010. Bill Clinton’s famous  line summed it up “It’s the economy, stupid”. John Armstrong certainly got that right.

David Lange famously characterised gallery journalists as “reef fish”. While not as self-destructive, reef fish have the same follow-the-leader characteristic as lemmings. Instead of “greasing the ramp”, which they are already doing for everybody but the National party, it would be good if  Armstrong and the gallery challenged the leadership – all of them – to tell us what they will do to improve the economy’s performance.


8 comments on “Political journalist of the year”

  1. vto 1

    The ‘economy’ is simply what everyone does every day. To increase it we simply need to do more every day.

    Hup to it.

    • VTO – We already do plenty of ‘it’. We need to be doing the right ‘it’.

      The lack of plan is the big story. Labour, capital and ‘productivity’ are the three factors that affect an economy’s performance.

      We’ve got people working long hours and some unemployed people who’d like to be working. We’ve used our capital effectively in the past.

      But the Nats don’t seem to be able to tell us how we’re going to apply our labour and capital to get the ‘productivity’ that drives an economy. They don’t have a plan.

      There’s a reason NZ has been placed on negative credit watch.

      • vto 1.1.1

        No not convinced. I stand by my original statements.

        • Rosy

          we need to do it better every day and sometimes that means more capital and better plant for the same hours of labour everyday

        • ZeeBop

          Its quality and quantity. National are a party of the agrain and international sectors, they either do quantity or quality, never both across the economy – its either vertically or horitzonal, never mixed economy. And the difficult stuff is always the networked, positive and negative feedback systems, that are NOT easily locked down by some simpliest market fundamentalist ideology modeling.

          We will always be assessing value in some way, counting plastic containers on the local rubbish dump!
          But we won’t always be able to! And that’s where the quality+quantity factor is missing. We need to have
          consumers with market buying power, certainty of supply of energy and predictable legislation, and National
          worry only about farmers (dig up up) and finance.

          Yet National gives us dithering and uncertainty over a whole range of issues from food spikes, to climate change, to oil price rises, never having to explain the effects on the dirty economy that breeds the huge windfall profits like Nokia for Finland. In fact National politics shutdown the dirty economy, what was leaky homes but National lowing the standards and letting rip a huge billion dollar cost on the economy!

    • Cnr Joe 1.2

      goodoh vto, lets get our shovels out and build a cycleway!
      lets get our shovels out and build a broadband network!
      lets get our shovels out and build a nationwide horsetrail , a cesspit for MACTional stimulus ideas, a slipway to stick these governing mutts on to sail their asses closer to Australia, lets build a vain bonfire to dance around whilst the poor burn and the rich yearn for greenback pastures.

      • jcuknz 1.2.1

        The thing is that somehow we have to work out a system which does not produce more, because producing more uses up scarce earth resources. It seems to me that both National and Labour are on this unwise bandwagon to ‘recovery’. I’m sure it is pragmatic but still it is foolish. Having more people in employment using resources is wrong so for the good of those unemployed we need to find apparently meaningful employment, perhaps a twenty hour or less working week, two ten hour days and five off, which doesn’t use resources and a way to fund their wages. But at the same time more money circulating in the economy will lead to greater demand It seems a contradiction to me … except it is obvious there are too many people on earth for our own good and that of the planet. It doesn’t unduely worry me but I wonder for my grand-daughter.

  2. Tracey 2

    sharks dont eat sharks, they look for fish.

    I too dont always agree with Ms O’Sullivan but I constantly read her. She writes with an air of authority as though if you asked her to back it up, she would pull out a notebook and there it would be.

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