Does mainstream media help or hinder farming?

January 23, 2018

Key findings from Nuffield Scholar, Anna Jones’ report Help or Hinder?  How the Mainstream Media Portrays Farming to the Public were:

The urban/rural disconnect is real, more so in Western and urbanised societies, and both the media and farming industry are contributing to it.

Some mainstream media coverage is clouded by urban bias, knee-jerk distrust of agribusiness, failing to differentiate between campaigners and informers and an over-reliance on too few sources with an overt political agenda. There is a severe lack of agricultural specialism among general news journalists.

Farmers and industry are fuelling the disconnect through a lack of openness and transparency, disproportionate defensiveness in the face of legitimate challenge, disunity among farming sectors and a sense of ‘exceptionalism’ or entitlement to positive coverage.

The public debate and narrative around agriculture is being dominated by farming unions and lobbyists. Politics at an industry level is drowning out individuals at a farm level, contributing to more distrust.

Her full report is here.

Jones visited USA, Kenya, Denmark, Ireland, France and Belgium. Would her findings be very  different here?

New Zealand has some very good rural journalists in the print media including the Otago Daily Times’ Sally Rae; Stuff’s  Kate Taylor, Gerald  Piddock and Gerard Hutching; NZ Farming Weekly’s Neal Wallace, Annette Scott, Richard Rennie, Tim Fulton, Alan Williams; Pam Tipa and Nigel Malthus at Rural News and RNZ’s  Alexa Cook.

We also have a good variety of rural shows on radio and television.

Jamie Mackay does an excellent job of covering farming and wider rural issues on The Country as does Andy Thompson on The Muster.

Country Calendar seems to cover more lifestyle and alternative farmers now but still does very good work. Rural Delivery was always interesting but now it’s failed to get NZ on AIr funding probably won’t be back.

RNZ  has Country Life and its Friday night and early Saturday morning slots don’t matter so much when it’s easy to listen online at a time that suits better.

We are generally well served by rural media and rural journalists in general media.

The problem is other journalists outside rural media who don’t understand farming and wider rural issues.

They’re the ones who buy the anti-farming propaganda often wrapped in faux-green wrapping; the ones who pedal the emotion and don’t have the inclination or time to check the facts.

They’re the ones who serve farming and the wider rural community badly and undo much of the good rural media and journalists do.

 


The other David Shearer interview

February 5, 2012

Live radio doesn’t always go as planned and on Wednesday Jamie Mackay couldn’t get hold of two of his interviewees.

One was me. I was at a meeting in Wellington, turned  on my phone at the start of the lunch break but forgot it was on silent and missed Jamie’s call.

The second was  Labour leader David Shearer. When Jamie couldn’t get hold of him he invited West Coast dairy farmer and National’s West Coast-Tasman electorate chair to take off his right-wing hat and put a red cloth cap on instead.

You can hear Andy as himself and as David Shearer here.

Highlights from the latter include an attempt to explain Labour’s policy on no land sales to foreigners:

“We think the Chinese are left, a little bit red like us so I think we’ll be able to sit down and explain this to them. I think they’ll understand our position nicely I mean we’re all on the left hand side of the fence here so I don’t think there’s any problem with that, Jamie . . . “

And in answer to Jamie’s question about media training:

“. . . but I think the best media training I could probably get would be Trevor Mallard, definitely.”

If you want to hear Jamie’s interview with the real Shearer, he caught up with him on Thursday and the interview is here.


Goff sticks gumbooted foot in mouth

June 17, 2011

Jamie Mackay dubbed West Coast dairy farmer Andy Thompson a National Party lackey on the farming Show on Wednesday.

But he later went on to speak about Andy’s quest to find a Labour voter at the Fieldays and said it would be difficult.

He was joking but if ever there was a time for farmers and the wider rural community to support the National Party it is now both because of what it has done in government and what Labour is threatening to do should it win the election.

Sadly, from my point of view, not all farmers understand that. Although many are more likely to support National than members of some other groups, not all of them do.

However, Phil Goff would have helped National’s cause and harmed his own when he stuck his gumbooted-foot in his mouth :

Labour leader Phil Goff has angered industry leaders at the National Agricultural Fieldays by suggesting that Federated Farmers were considered the National Party in gumboots.

The comment was in response to being asked how important the agricultural vote was to Labour, in election year, during his Fieldays visit yesterday.

“In financial terms agriculture is hugely important, in political terms someone once said that Federated Farmers is the National Party in gumboots, it’s always been that way and we have to accept that,” Mr Goff told Waikato Times.

Feds took understandable exception to that:

However that comment hasn’t gone down well with Federated Farmers dairy chairman Lachlan McKenzie who said the organisation was staunchly apolitical.

“We have always said that we will work with whoever is in power it’s very simple,” Mr McKenzie said. “I spoke at a Labour Party conference two years ago and held two workshops which were both full.”

Unlike some unions which are affiliated to and have special, undemocratic privileges in, the Labour Party, Feds is an advocacy group which keeps a respectable distance from party politics.

It works to advance the interests of its members in the knowledge that governments come and governments go and its voice is stronger for not favouring or attaching itself to any party.

Goff could have mended a bridge or two with farmers and got some positive publicity at the Fieldays. Instead he gaffed again with a defensive, and ill-judged quip.


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