Deconstructing the media metanarrative

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Gower-and-Smith

The mainstream media are good at letting us know their politics, because their preferences and positions haven’t shifted in decades. The media support big business, racist, stereotypical ideas that successfully helped disengage 800,000 eligible voters last time around. At present, they’re doing a mighty fine job of setting and massaging the current political discourse with their “we’ll just ring middle-class, wealthy voter” polls which show National governing alone. In the meantime thousands of children are living in poverty; numerous families are facing the prospect of another freezing winter unable to meet power bills; our children will still go to school hungry and yet many more will stress and struggle with the choice of either paying rent or getting an extra bag of rice to feed the family.

The strategy for the Left seems pretty simple to me: Share a flat white or apple juice – privately or publicly, say at Fresh Café in Otara – and work out a plan to win this election, together. I repeat. Win this election together. Coming out with broad statements agreeing on general policy platforms is desperately needed to at least challenge the narrative being set by the media. Have some robust discussions on electorate seats that need to be won by one of the Parties and not split – Auckland Central, Ohariu, Te Tai Tokerau are a few that come to mind. And for the life of me, stop slagging people off in public… just a small perception of Left-Party unity will go some distance to offering a real alternative to voters, especially the 800,000 who didn’t feel their vote would make a difference last election.

Over the past few of months I’ve spoken with many young people in west and south Auckland asking me why I’m involved in politics. Over the past days these conversations have become more intense with the election date being announced. Many of the youth I speak with are Pasifika and will be voting for the first, second or third time in the upcoming election. In almost all my discussions with them, they’ve decided who to give their candidate vote to and are weighing up whether to go Labour, Green or Mana with the Party vote. I should note that a few are toying with the idea of voting NZ First. In any case, the most fascinating part of the discussion for me is when they ask nearly every time in the context of the Left winning the election: is the strategy to win? My sense from speaking to these voters is that they understand MMP really well. Their world is built around collaboration, compromise and negotiation. And I’m pretty sure that when they ask me about whether the Left is seriously trying to win the election, it’s within the context of how prepared they are, in their worlds to collaborate, compromise and negotiate.

The media’s metanarrative is that National will govern alone. The hope is that our voters will stay home on Election Day and relinquish their hopes to a market-driven government that has no regard for them whatsoever. The sub-narrative is a deliberate attempt to keep people thinking in terms of first past the post when we are well and truly living in MMP times. We must zealously deconstruct the metanarrative being set by the media and pull together people, policies and Parties, that will win the next election. That will mean terms such as refrain, trust, collaboration and accommodation will need to enter the dialogue… and on current performance, that will be our greatest challenge.

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8 COMMENTS

    • Team building is not a competitive exercise.

      Winston’s Gold Card has done more for the oldies than anything John Key has talked about. No contest.

      Labour / Greens / Mana need to get a few things right and competition between them can be destructive.

      If Labour must play with raising retirement age then leave them to that.

      Acknowledging distinctive thrusts in party policy is helpful but a core of agreement is fundamental.

      The more division evident the faster the conquest. That is not what the people want.

  1. Quote from above:
    “At present, they’re doing a mighty fine job of setting and massaging the current political discourse with their “we’ll just ring middle-class, wealthy voter” polls which show National governing alone. In the meantime thousands of children are living in poverty; numerous families are facing the prospect of another freezing winter unable to meet power bills; our children will still go to school hungry and yet many more will stress and struggle with the choice of either paying rent or getting an extra bag of rice to feed the family.”

    Yes, sigh, it is a disgrace what “the media” – being the MSM – are doing. “The media” is not quite the same though as it was a few decades ago. Yes, there was always some bias that certain reporters and so had, but these days, they do not even attempt to be “neutral” anymore, the state their personal views and opinions bluntly, every day. These “media personalities” we now have, they are not “journalists” anymore, they are nothing but opinionated opinion shapers. They are telling the listeners, the readers and viewers to think the way they think.

    Most “media” persons are white, middle or even upper middle class, they do a one- or now two-year “graudate” diploma course in “media studies”, get their “internships” with some corporate or established other (mostly private media) player, and get trained from day one, what to do, what to chase after, and what not to do.

    It is all ratings driven, even the news, and so they chase for scandal, for headline hitting stuff, and not much of substance. As they also get drummed into their brains that their life is all about “career”, they adjust to that and aspire to do the same like the baby boomer or other “media stars” there are now, and try all to get top ratings, high salaries and front-line jobs, where they can then spout off the same that they have been drilled to do and think.

    They want to also maintain their career security and privileges, and not pay more taxes. They hate having to perhaps compete with public broadcasting that may offer more quality, so they attack the remnants of that media all the time, to make sure it will never rise again.

    They have little interest in the ones living on the other side of town, as they would usually never go there themselves. So they love the cafes in High Street and Newmarket, in Ponsonby and Parnell, rather than share a latte or other drink at a cafe in Otara or Manurewa.

    Today is another example of how damned biased the lot are. I heard that David Cunliffe gave a speech at the NZ Institute, or whatever it is called now, a speech on Labour’s plans for the economy, and how we need to upgrade the economy. It is available online somewhere, possibly on The Standard too.

    Did anybody hear any media, that is apart from Radio NZ National, mention anything about this? I have not heard it being mentioned anywhere else. So the ideas and plans that the leader of the opposition presents in an election year on the economy seem to be totally irrelevant to the debate and discussion.

    Instead we get stories about “Crusher Collins” having had a “tough week”, about Key announcing the election date, and also a flag referendum some time if National wins again, and we get a brief discussion about so far moderate interest rises.

    As for polls, they are like self fulfilling prophecy, nothing else. They are tilted to favour the Nats, and the more polls of such type, taken on a poorly and one-lopsidedly informed voting public, are repeated, the more of those 800 thousand to a million of non motivated voters will again decide to not bother and stay at home.

    And then, hey, bingo, surprise, surprise, National will “win” with a “landslide”.

    Welcome to “the-mockeracy” in New Zealand!

  2. I vaguely remember that Gower did tweet – or comment in another way, stating that the beer was crap, and that was at least one honest comment he made on Nick (the Dick) Smith and his “brew” at that Nat Party meeting they had in Nelson.

  3. You’ve hit it right on the head Efeso. The last two elections were won by the media, and it looks like the left has the media to confront in this election too.
    Our mate Cunliffe is not saying anything about Pacific peoples either..
    We definitely need an alternative media..

  4. Im not so sure the labour party (orthodoxy) can move from the ideals of a two party campaign, its evident of their conduct in the house; consumed by outdated traditions of parliament, [knowingly?] refuting the intent & value of MMP that we voted for.

    Efeso rightly points out the the voter understands MMP. In my view, the longer the labour party participates in nationals preference for a two party debate, the longer voters will remain deterred by a shallow personality contest. Labours collectively flailing bi-polar identity & personality disorder will not win this contest & CANNOT serve our future.

    We need to break-through the theatrics & point scoring, which continuously dominates our political discourse. And sure, we can blame National as the instigator & question their motives, but ultimately what validates Nationals success in that area, are those within Labour unwilling to break that mould.

    A collaborative & more proportional decision making government is what we asked for. How did we allow the media to build a narrative of fear around that which we decided was good for our future?

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