19th century bigotry bad look for 21st century journalist

20/07/2008

Chirs Trotter spent some of his chidlhood in North Otago which has made a virtue of its Victorian origins.

But I don’t think we can blame that for the 19th century bigotry which he spewed into his Sunday Star Times column.

Headlined Don’t ever forget who the Nats are he lumps the members of the biggest party in the country into three groups: the cockies, the rich and the reactionaries and paints them with his sterotypical bile.

As the Party’s Waitaki electorate chair I know a fair bit about its members and hand on heart can say I’ve nevery met any with the arrogance and ignorance Trotter describes, and is guilty of himself in this column. We’re just people who care about other people and our country and see politics as one of the ways we can help both.

In my role I also meet people from other parties – I’m even related to some 🙂 – and regularly buy acid drops for my aunt from another with whom I enjoy a chat. We have a lot in common – a desire for a happier, healthier, better educated, safer and more prosperous country. The major differences are not in where we want to go but in how we want to get there.

Stereotyping any party’s supporters as Trotter has done is ridiculous, as Tumeke shows by turning the tables:

Don’t ever forget who the Nats Labourites are

THE COCKIES THE SUBURBANITES: Backbone of the nation; earners borrowers of our overseas funds debts; selfish; insular smug; and possessed of an indefatigable sense of moral superiority over everyone whose front door looks out upon a street McDonalds instead of a paddock vegan wholefoods co-op.

THE RICH THE POOR: Creators of wealth (for others!); makers doers of jobs; robbers of rights tax; bastardisers of culture; selfish; arrogant ignorant; and possessed of an indefatigable sense of moral superiority over everyone whose income is less more than $100,000 per annum.

THE REACTIONARIES Defenders of the faith; upholders of decent family socialist values; sadistic; bigoted; deranged hankerers after a world that – thankfully – has long since passed away.

That list is just as polarisingly thoughtless as Trotter’s.

Quite. Trotter’s 19th century bigotry ill becomes a 21st century journalist.

No Minister is a little blunter with the rebuttal, NZ Conservative says  it’s hate speech, and Jafapete  reckons it’s a slightly OTT but timely warning.


Clark Shoots Messenger

30/06/2008

A tape of Helen Clark’s speech to a journalism conference in which she criticised the media has been released after an Official Information Act request by a member of the public and the intervention of the ombudsman.

On the tape, Clark is severely critical of journalists for their alleged lack of knowledge of world events, historical context, and “letting the facts get in the way of the story.”

Shouldn’t the criticism be for not  letting the facts get in the way of the story?

She claims TV3 political editor Duncan Garner had told a seminar that “politicians always lie”.

“I’m sorry, politicians don’t always lie. I’m quite appalled by that statement. I think it’s important that scrutiny is not confused with cynicism,” Clark said.

Of course politicians don’t always lie, but Garner says what he actually said was that the first instinct of politicians when cornered was to lie.

Clark says there are large gaps in journalists’ general knowledge, and in geography, sociology, and economic matters.

“Very few journalists have any comprehension of the range of relations New Zealand has, the range of issues New Zealand is involved in.”

Most journalists were too young to remember seminal events in the country’s history, she says.

“Today’s political editors of the two main TV channels were barely in their infancy, if born, when Norman Kirk brought the troops back from Vietnam, the Springbok tour, sent the frigate to Mururoa – events that to many of our age group were seminal events,” Clark said.

“Muldoon and David Lange are basically ancient history too and world war one and two are antedivulian.”

Lack of institutional knowledge in newsrooms is a concern but she’s got to remember that it’s not only young people who don’t share her memories of what she considers important. It’s 27 years since I started journalism and I don’t remember Kirk bringing the troops back from Vietnam – I would have been at high school at the time.  The Springbok tour happened a few months after I started work and I remember reporting on it, but it isn’t nearly as important to me as it obviously is to her.

Clark said trends in journalism included “making the story all about them”, a “rush to judgment” on blogging, a refusal to send journalists on overseas trips, and competition that was leading to inaccuracies.

“There wouldn’t be a day go by when something isn’t just plain wrong,” she said.

There are journalists who blog but not all blogs are journalism and not all rush – some of us take a carefully considered path to judgement 😉

I’ll concede that mistakes happen too often and it must be frustrating – but sometimes it’s not the reporting that’s wrong when it doesn’t reflect your own view.

Clark said New Zealand was fortunate to have a free media, however, and politicians still needed journalists as much as the media needed political news.  

Clark courted journalists when she became Prime Minister, and she got a pretty gentle run for a time. Now they’re reporting a different view of the world from hers and she’s taking it personally.

[Update: Karl du Fresne has another view on the media here]


Would You Trust This Survey?

23/06/2008

I was wondering how some of the people even made it to the list of most trusted New Zealanders when I read the fine print – respondents were asked to rate 85 well know people on a scale of 1 to 10 as to how much they trusted them.

The ranking which put VC winner Corporal Willie Apiata at number one (replacing the late Sir Ed Hillary) is here. Peter Snell, Colin Meads, Margaret Mahy and Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell follow him.

 The list of most trusted professions is here.

Farmers are the 13th most trusted occupation, between dentists and police officers in 11th equal place and scientists and chidlcare providers in 14th and 15th.

Journalists, sigh, are at 34; between taxi drivers and psychics/astrologers.  I’m not sure there is any comfort in ranking just above real estate agents, sex workers, car salesmen, politicians and telemarketers who take the 36th to 40th slots.


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