The Voyager Media Awards, being presented tonight at a glitzy affair held in the Auckland town hall, are as much about controlling the narrative as encouraging excellence in journalism. Whoever gets gonged tonight, it’s a sure bet that, he or she, won’t be someone whose work threatens the machinery that manufactures our consent to a perpetuation of the status quo.
There will be no awards for anyone like Julian Assange or Edward Snowden, but none either for our own Nicki Hager or John Stephenson, who exposed war crimes committed in Afghanistan by New Zealanders, and none for Chris Trotter, Bryan Bruce or Susan St John whose writings have consistently exposed the criminal outcomes wrought on New Zealanders by neo-liberalism.
And there will certainly be no awards for Martyn Bradbury whose website, The Daily Blog, is the only real media outlet available to New Zealand’s dissenting voices, much less any award for his journalism or his broadcasting.
Nor will there be any awards for the likes of Maire Leadbetter, for her determined efforts to expose New Zealand’s duplicity and connivance in Indonesia’s rape of West Papua and East Timor, nor for Janfrie Wakim or her associates, who have for years advocated for Palestinian Human rights and for child welfare, or for a host others.
But what I’m most concerned about is the award for arguably the media’s most potent craft – best political cartoonist. I’ve won it twice and several times been a runner up. But that was before I was sacked for refusing to stop drawing cartoons damning Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
Since then, although I’ve entered many times, I’ve never even been placed, and I wonder how can that be? How can an experienced professional in a craft that employs perhaps ten people across the country, go from being consistently judged in the top two or three, and then, year after year, not a dickie-bird?
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t give a damn about the prize, but to be so consistently placed and then consistently not-placed, from such a small group, and especially when the overall standard of political cartooning right now is pretty bloody awful, something smells.
Maybe I’ve just lost it, don’t realize it, and should just get over myself. Maybe the craft I’ve been a part of and studied for the past fifty years has moved on and I’m simply not “with it” anymore.
Maybe – but here’s the thing: – Of all those who have been judged “NZ Political Cartoonist of the Year” since I held the title, (the same year I was sacked for refusing to stop drawing cartoons damning Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians) none have produced a cartoon damning Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, and I wonder if there’s a link.