Since the inexcusable axing of Campbell Live (and reinforced by the circumstances in which Mihingarangi Forbes left Maori TV) there has been lots of talk of boycotting TV3 – see for example the energetic Mr Bradbury at TDB.
The anger at TV3 is understandable, but like most angry campaigns it has in some ways gone too far – blaming poor Guy Williams for the demise of Campbell Live is obviously daft. This kind of overreaction, and perhaps the overuse of calls to boycott, has led to a bit of a backlash. Imperator Fish has a go in Please join my boycott, and The Herald’s Karl Puschmann in Why it’s nuts to think of boycotting the news.
The unsubtle subtext in Puschmann’s piece is that is that a successful news boycott would cost journalists (workers!) jobs and thus weaken the media. 3 News producer Angus Gyles makes the case against boycott straight up:
— New Zealand TV (@thetvnews) June 10, 2015
So there’s a dilemma.
Boycotts can work, they can change behaviour, they have: “a long and noble history of contributing to progressive social change”. Combined with social media as an organising tool they offer a powerful way for we the people to express our displeasure. In a capitalist world that reduces us all to the role of a “consumer” the right wing should have no complaint about boycotts – it’s just market forces – it’s the only power we have.
But boycotts are a two-edged sword. As well as sending a message to those in power they can also damage the innocent workers. Boycotts are on a spectrum that ends in “internet lynch mobs”.
Summing up. I think the boycott is a valid tool in general, though it is more effective if used sparingly, and the anger shouldn’t go too far. On the specific case of the TV3 boycott, the Mediaworks owners certainly deserve it, the news workers left behind trying to do a good job do not. I’m conflicted – typical dithering leftie.