The arguments are pretty stock standard complaints about the deteriorating quality of journalism and the economic pressures that are confronting journalists. It’s nothing that none of us haven’t been saying for years, and there aren’t any new angles explored, which I think is a missed opportunity.
Holding up The Spinoff as a way forward as Brown does in his show is concerning, especially because the Spinoff is a paid content provider for American Culture. I’m not sure what we need right now is more cultural colonialism promoting a mono-culture of unbelievable narcissism and hyper individualism from a wealth bubble 99% can’t attain.
Personally I consider watching the Real Housewives of Auckland as the intellectual equivalence to burning a library.
That said, watching some of the most divisive voices on Twitter calling for solidarity is as amusing as getting a Trolls Troll like Ruminator to be the head of your communications as a political party.
Barking dogs chasing empty cars.
The two unspoken issues inside NZ Journalism that need and require examination for a new way forward are the rose tinted false history of Journalism we never challenge and the word ideology.
ISSUE 1: NZ Journalism was never particularly great
The very first editorial in the NZ Herald was calling for white NZers to rise up and fight Maori. This was followed by decades worth of disgusting attacks on women, homosexuals and trade unionists.
Sure we had Brian Edwards for a bit, and more recently John Campbell, but Paul Holmes was a right wing arsehole and being interviewed by Mark Sainsbury on Close Up was like being hugged to death by the family labrador.
There’s some sort of collective amnesia about the way we have all forgotten that every major Journalism outlet was involved in enabling Cameron Slater to do this…
…it’s like this never happened…
…we never had strong progressive Journalism. Nicky Hager does it, Jon Stephenson does it, Dita De Boni does it, Andrea Vance does it, The Hui does it, but bugger all anyone else does or has.
Reminiscing about some golden age of Journalism that never existed in NZ and having to put up with the whining of those mainstream media outlets now they’ve finally had their gatekeeping power robbed from them is tedious.
ISSUE 2: Ideology
The 30 years of neoliberal myth making has seeped into every facet of our culture and has been fuelled by a media far more interested in promoting free market propaganda than public service broadcasting. Look at the way media in this country have used crime hysteria to manipulate viewers emotion and gain ratings. Despite our murder rates plummeting over the last 50 years, most NZers still believe the country has deteriorated into a mad max post apocalyptic war zone where gang lords plot to destroy the middle classes.
Under this ideology, Maori are bludgers, bludgers are to blame for their own poverty and success is an individual pursuit. The media have played their role in promoting these stereotypes and this myth making without question.
This ideology has seen an explosion of American Cultural imperialism masquerading as entertainment and a fracturing of the media spectrum so that unity and solidarity become lost to individualism.
There are solutions however.
1: The amount of money the Unions pour into coms could fund an online TV station and newspaper site all on their own. Instead of a co-ordinated approach, they blow money on pointless and totally ineffectual media.
2: TVNZ needs a total reform and the public spheres of debate need to be re-established, simply putting things up on line and suggesting that’s enough is only helping create the splintering of the media spectrum.
3: Tax Sky a special NZ content tax and put a small levy on all communication devices including TVs to fund public broadcasting.
4: Buy the NZ Herald – and run it via NZ on Air.
As someone who puts together a weeknightly current affairs show, I’m far less pessimistic that we can’t find solutions, because there are ways to do public broadcasting. What is missing is the will to do it.