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Random Play: Alt.Nation: Word . . . Up

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  • Marcus Neiman,

    I have to say that I do have a slight bit of sympathy for Labour given the state of the NZ media these days. While there is considerable anti-Labour bias (particuatly in reporting about the political economy), more generally there is simply very little serious coverage of current affairs in almost any media in terms of the length of reporting and the quality of the minds producing it.

    (Three year courses at AUT do not seem to produce sharp or courageous minds...)

    I actually have some sympathy with some remarks made by Lee Kwan Yew in his autobiography when he talked about the importance of governments being able to communicate with their citizens without having to go through the media barrons (or to extrapolate, the profit-making rationalities at work at TVNZ)

    Obviously though, critical and open debate does need to take place in parallell to such communication...

    Sydney • Since Feb 2007 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I have to say that I do have a slight bit of sympathy for Labour given the state of the NZ media these days.

    In this case a bit, yeah. Cullen wasn't voicing policy or anything like it. The mortgage levy was among ideas raised in a Treasury-Reserve Bank report (focusing on the ineffectiveness of interest rate shifts when everyone was on fixed-rate mortgages) and he said it was worth studying. The main media organisations went all front-page and generally carried on like there was going to be a levy by lunchtime.

    OTOH, as Graham points out, Herself does have a tendency to regard journalists being journalists as a personal affront.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22744 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Yeah, I think the "arrogant" meme has begun to stick- even to the point where labour supporters have started to use it.... I hope if Key's gonne be PM he has to earn it and doesn't get to just walk in with a smarmy grin and a fistful of "no-comment".
    Otoh- I still admire Cullen a lot and I think he pushed this forward because it's worth considering (and possibly he thought he had Key on record as agreeing) and (disclosure: my mortgage is not- at least by Auckland standards- large!) I reckon it IS worth considering. EVERYONE who's looking agrees the economy is unbalanced and the exchange rate too high for it to adjust. As we're visibly sliding slowly into the sh*t, we ought to be hunting around pretty franticly for some new hand-holds/leverage to shift the balance back towards exporting. I like the way Cullen brought this up, and I think Clarke made a big mistake squashing it the way she did- just looks cheap, short-sighted, and knee-jerk. And haven't we started to see quite a lot of that from the Govt?

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna,

    (Three year courses at AUT do not seem to produce sharp or courageous minds..

    In general or are you specifically talking about journalists who graduated from AUT?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 746 posts Report Reply

  • Marcus Neiman,

    Joanna: I am particuarly referring to Communications grads - but that said, my observation about three-year undergraduate programs could probably be applied to any tertiary institution and most courses. I guess I blamed AUT simply because that is where, from my personal experience, a lot of journalists come from.

    More generally, undergraduate tertiary education in NZ does not seem to produce sharp, errudite graduates.

    Russell: While there might be a few exceptions, I guess I am just saying that I enjoy seeing NZ journalists-qua-journalists, getting a good kicking now and then (almost regardless of the circumstances) - they have collectively earned it.

    Sydney • Since Feb 2007 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Savidge,

    I'm sure you meant erudite....heh.

    Somewhere near Wellington… • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    As we're visibly sliding slowly into the sh*t, we ought to be hunting around pretty franticly for some new hand-holds/leverage to shift the balance back towards exporting.

    So whacking a penalty on fixed mortgages to encourage people to leave their mortages floating, so that the Reserve Bank's rate changes will have more traction is one option to consider. Maybe a bit Heath Robinson, but it might work.
    Since the majority of commentators, including Mr Cullen, seem to think NZers have too much focus on home ownership at the expense of personal savings and investments, why not reduce or remove the tax on interest earned (earned on money that tax has already been paid on), and slap a capital gains tax on any property other than the primary dwelling? That reduces the level of investment property ownership, probably reducing overinflated house prices, while encouraging savings - giving the banks more to invest - and also encouraging middle NZ to invest in things other than bricks & mortar. Hopefully a fair chunk of that extra investment will go in the direction of NZ businesses, allowing them to expand and export more.
    Of course, I never took economics at high school, let alone varsity, so there's probably some gaping holes in there somewhere.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Felix Marwick,

    Help! Depending which forum I'm in I'm either liberally biased or a right wing stooge.

    I'm confuzzled.

    Perhaps I should blame it on the regular checks from the media baron who tells me what to write?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    (Three year courses at AUT do not seem to produce sharp or courageous minds...)

    Nor indeed are they likely to with the current management in place.

    It speaks volumes about AUT and education as a whole when it is pointed out that AUT is now AUT University.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Matt Jeffs,

    Having lived in the UK for nearly 10 years it is refreshing to live in a country where both sides of a political argument are widley reported. You have the Guardian and The Independant reporting on the left and The Times and The Telegrapgh for the right. They make no bones about their political opinions as they know that for every argument coming from the left there has to be an equally well thought out and well written argument from the right. Having returned to NZ on several occasions and reading what passes as media in our country it really is quite sad that daily broadsheets such as the Herald make its own right wing argument on a regular basis but there is no mainstream or credible outlet for the left at all.
    For nearly 20 years kiwi's have had to put up with the increasingly right wing Herald and it's virtual monopoly as the countries sole daily broadsheet. After listneing to the Herald's Fran O'Sullivan voicing her John Key fan club credentials on Richard Beniston's slot on BFM last week it is painfully obvious that there has to be a New Zealand answer to the Guardian to at least give kiwis the chance to get both sides of the argument. At the moment our media is in pretty sick state of affairs.

    UK - ex Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 36 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna,

    Joanna: I am particuarly referring to Communications grads

    You're right, my mind is not sharp at all. Actually, women only go to university to find husbands, so I suppose in that capacity AUT failed me.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 746 posts Report Reply

  • Marcus Neiman,

    Felix: You appear to work for Newstalk ZB are apparently unreflexive about what your station does and the wider political and social projects that it is engaged in. This is exactly why the NZ mass media is so contemptible.

    Sydney • Since Feb 2007 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Marcus Neiman,

    Joanna: Read the music reviews on your blog, then go read the music reviews at the Guardian Online by way of comparison - it is not cultural cringe driving me, or some desire to bait journalists for the sake of it. As the writing in (for example) the Guardian demonstrates, another world of public discourse is possible, above and beyond the right-wing hackneyed rubbish that you find on and in NZ TV, radio, and newspapers.

    I am sorry if you and the other journalists, spin doctors, and hacks are taking this personally, but I do consider the generally poor writing and analytical skills of NZ's journalists an issue of public concern.

    Sydney • Since Feb 2007 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I am sorry if you and the other journalists, spin doctors, and hacks are taking this personally, but I do consider the generally poor writing and analytical skills of NZ's journalists an issue of public concern.

    Okay. Britain has 15 times the population of New Zealand, the ability to attract talent from all over the world and a tradition that stretches back to the advent of newspapers.

    The Guardian website has lost/cost something approaching £100 million since it was launched, because it doesn't have to make a profit. It's owned by a non-profit trust that demands only a high standard and innovation.

    The BBC doesn't have to make a profit either, and The Independent soldiers on despite having been in the red for years - because Tony O'Reilly can keep it on as a vanity project while he sucks money out of the colonies. Fairfax props up the Australian Financial Review with money it sucks out of its New Zealand operations.

    Result? A stream of talented and experienced journalists who get to middle age and think, sod this, and take a tasty PR job. The standard freelance writing rate - 40 cents a word - hasn't changed in 12 years and is a fraction of that in other markets.

    It's a wonder, frankly, that the NZ press is as good as it is.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22744 posts Report Reply

  • Marcus Neiman,

    Russell: I am highly mindful of the impacts of market-rationalities and ownership plays on the NZ media - hence my comments above about the media barrons - I realise that journalists are compromised by the ownership and management strucutures that they operate within.

    As an aside, it seems that even the market rationality of reducing to the lowest common denominator is not working even in the crudest sense of public efficacy of increasing circulations and the spread of debate and information - as Graham Reid notes today, the Listener is continuing to lose readers. I suspect NZers are willing to pay for interesting content, they are clearly increasingly not willing to pay for drivel. While there is no centre-left national newspaper, weekly or monthly in NZ, there is clear case of politically-driven market failure.

    That said though, some blame for the current situation must rest with the journalists - for allowing themselves to be collectively bullied as professionals by their employers, and I genuinely believe, a fair amount of simple complacency in their recognising and supporting talent as a profession.

    Sydney • Since Feb 2007 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    I don't even get lunch money from my poetry and I've got 2 books with great reviews out there. But that's not the point, journalism straddles the line between love of writing and hard commerce...ah soddit, we've had this chat before.
    Do whatever it is that you need to do to put food on the table, God and the Devil can argue over your soul later.
    Sorry, bows out of another one...note to self, don't get involved in debates over selling out.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Marcus Neiman,

    Merc: Putting aside the question of your rather glib moralising - a good part of the issue is that, politics aside, even the art of journalism in terms of written experession is very poorly practiced in NZ. If we had right-wing arguments of the quality, of say, The Economist I would be somewhat happier.

    Sydney • Since Feb 2007 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Glib moralising, moi? Ouch! The fourth estate is dead because advertising is dead. It's like relying on billboards and RWC's and Merica's Cup (TM) to promote your local business by proxy.
    That's what thar Interweb is for!

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna,

    But I don't have a blog. Perhaps it is your reading that is at fault here, not the writing of other people...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 746 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Hey Marcus, I'll pit my NZ journo's against your Brit journos anytime! I jest, I jest, glib that's me.
    I'm with RB, we're bloody well served considering The Man is usually from offshore and likes his widdle Kiwi's to be warm, cuddly and strictly POCO, (post colonial).
    Besides in a place this small we just can't go too wide.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Marcus Neiman,

    Joanna: Blog/webpage... you could defensively quibble over definitions, or you could engage with the bigger issues...

    Sydney • Since Feb 2007 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna,

    I'm going to go with the defensive quibbles thanks. And the thing with big issues is that they're actually made up of the small stuff.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 746 posts Report Reply

  • Felix Marwick,

    Marcus,
    I assume you are referring to the US based activities of TRN shareholder Clear Channel and its policies for its US based networks with regard to the Iraq war. Policies incidentally which were criticised on air by ZB hosts.

    While there may be those that believe that the shareholders exert some sort of editorial control over on air product I can assure you it does not apply to the news TRN produces.

    I'll happily accept there are limitations on commercial radio news (but that's another debate) but to argue that there is some sort of corporate control over what news does, and what news doesn't, go to air is patently false.

    I'll even agree that the news service could be better. There is always room for improvement. (sorry to use a well worn line from Damien O'Connor) But given the resources it has, the difficulty in attracting people to journalism, and other factors, TRN does pretty well

    I suspect you and I will have to agree to disagree on this issue. That's fine with me. But having spent time living in the UK and reading such publications like The Sun I actually think things here in NZ aren't that bad.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    How ironic that Marcus should complain about poor journalism here of all places.

    PA - created by journalists. Producing an amazing assortment of lengthy, thoughtful, interesting pieces. For free. With comments from many thoughtful and intelligent people (and me as well).

    Right under your nose, Marcus.

    And specifically - the Economist has jumped off the deep end recently, as far as coverage of US politics goes at least. The UK papers are rabidly partisan, every one, to the extent that one can only infer facts by triangulation between papers. The American papers are anodyne. German ones are deadly dull. The Aussie ones are much like our own. Journalism is as subject to Sturgeon's Law as everything else, but I don't think we're any worse served here than elsewhere.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Marcus Neiman,

    Felix: I wasn't referring to the TRN/Clear Channel episode, and I do not believe that its shareholders routinely interfere in the development of particular stories. My point is though there are nonetheless, through its ownership and management certain constraints on what issues and stories can be run - particuarly in relation to the politics of the economy. In any case, my concern is with the national media more widely, not a single radio network.

    Stephen: One (relatively minor) website, does not a vibrant national media make.

    In any case I am interested in journalism in NZ more widely, across all media, not just the newspapers, and despite your rallying around the flag, it is clear that 1) we are more poorly served than elsewhere between radio, TV, and print, and more importantly 2) we could do much better.

    On TV, Eating Media Lunch shows that scale is not an outright bar in terms of talent and cost in producing usually thought-provoking (if sometimes just provocative) current affairs coverage. In any case, it could be bought in by editors or programmers. We live in an affluent society with people who want intelligent reporting from accross the political spectrum - with certain choices this could happen.

    Sydney • Since Feb 2007 • 107 posts Report Reply

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