Yesterday, Tracy Watkins wrote something I found a little confusing – “National is winning the war over wages and the price of cheese”. I’m wondering in what way National is winning on wages and food prices.
It’s not in terms of policy. National doesn’t have a policy on raising wages or lowering food prices. Indeed, its only labour policy is the 90 day no rights policy which will, at best, help some bad employers keep down the cost of hiring vulnerable workers.
Probably, Watkins means National is winning in public perception on wages and the price of cheese. I would be fascinated to see the evidence, the survey question or whatever. I suspect, actually, that this is a case of a journalist deciding what the public perception is based on their own feelings and then telling the public ‘this is what everyone thinks’.
Journos have a lot of power, they decide what stories get covered and what angles are taken. They need to be conscious of the fact that they are the public debate on issues – when a journo on Sunrise recently exclaimed ‘nobody’s interested in policy anymore!’ she was really saying ‘very little political coverage deals in policy’. Journos need to be careful that they don’t slip from explaining politics to people into telling people how they feel about politics and leaving the substantive information out. Not only does it not help people understand the major issues of the day but people are turned off by this ‘politics of politics’ coverage where journalists’ assumptions of public perception are all that matters.
We’ve had two really important policy announcements in the last couple of weeks – the privatisation of ACC and the 90 day no rights policy. Both would affect hundreds of thousands of Kiwis each year if they became reality. Perhaps we could see some real analysis of what they would mean for Kiwis so we can make an informed decision on whether to support them or not.