- Date published:
11:50 am, August 22nd, 2021 - 130 comments
Categories: covid-19, health, jacinda ardern, Judith Collins, labour, Media, national, same old national, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, uncategorized - Tags:
There has been this escalating drum beat about the PM’s regular press conferences.
It started off last lockdown with National. They claimed that Jacinda Ardern was getting an unfair advantage because she was getting the opportunity to speak to us most days. If communicating effectively and displaying true leadership is considered unfair then they have a point.
The absurdness of their position reached new depths yesterday with Judith Collins complaining about the conferences and suggesting that the news should just be released whenever.
From Dan Satherley at Newshub:
[Collins] also took a swipe at the Government’s reluctance to release details of new cases and information outside of daily 1pm briefing, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the “single source of truth” when it came to information on the response to COVID-19.
“Certainty is really helpful for people – not only people in business and small businesses but also for people just trying to go about their lives,” said Collins. “A lack of certainty, waiting for a one o’clock announcement every day, this actually adds to the anxiety – it doesn’t actually help people that much.”
I have heard regular morning updates of information being given each morning when I wake up. Maybe Judith needs to check her sources of information.
Some elements of the media have picked up on criticisms of the press conference. Indeed it could be said that parts of the media have got themselves into a funk about it.
For instance Fran O’Sullivan:
I’ve written before about Ardern’s irritating habit of failing to “just get to the point, Prime Minister” when she indulges in lengthy preambles prior to making the only announcement that the country really wants to hear in these Covid press conferences: “What level of lockdown are we in and for how long?” and “how many cases are we today?” etc.
I tried, I really did, but I wanted to stick needles in my eyes by about 4 minutes in.
I’d forgotten how soul destroying it is to be spoken to like a 3-year-old.
I also felt exasperated that the press gallery seem to have all had lobotomies and are unable to ask a single probing question. Not one.
I understand this has come from the top down. The PM apparently has issued instructions on how these 1pm pressers are to go, they have to play by the rules, and the rules appear to include only getting your question answered if your question is an easy one.
Like, ‘remind us again Prime Minister of what people should be doing in their bubbles? Or, ‘could you tell the NZ public again Prime Minister what you’d like them to do?’
I mean, come on. Are they handing out sleeping pills before these start? Who, apart from the Labour party, are these press conferences serving?
And there was this tweet from Jason Walls which was representative:
This amount of detail so early on in the press conference, when the entire country waits for the massive level announcement, is frustrating.
It's not most of this is new – we had the update at 1:40pm.
— Jason Walls (@Jasonwalls92) August 20, 2021
There have been other similar comments. Reporters just want the data and not the introduction, presumably so that they can shape the narrative.
What sorts of things is Jacinda saying?
Like most of the country I have been tuning into these conferences to see what is happening.
I rewatched the video yesterday. I thought this was an extraordinary good example of how leaders should communicate in a crisis.
I also discovered that Jacinda’s speech notes are on the Beehive website. Her comments from yesterday included these:
I can understand why National is so upset. Ardern’s introductory comments were jam packed with relevant information that provided overall context to the response and contradicted the doomsayers. There was nothing overtly political about it. The only aspect that was not factual was thanks being given to our health workers.
And Jacinda is sidestepping the media and presenting her own take to the team of 5 million. And for a blessed 5 minutes her comments are not subject to media spin.
The whole exercise is masterful leadership. Explaining what our situation is, what the plan is and why we have to be doing what we are doing. And it is working. This time around in my home area not only are people doing what they did last time but a significant number of them are masking whenever they go out into the public domain.
I will continue to tune in to the 1 pm briefings. They are a wonderful examples of clear and precise communication of our current situation. And they show something that too many countries have lacked. Real leadership.