Cartoons: High octane humour politicians love to hate

Works by four cartoonists hang on my study walls: Hogarth, Rowlandson, Minhinnick, and Emmerson.

Rod Emmerson has just marked twenty years on the New Zealand Herald, and he deserves his place in my mini gallery. He may be an adoptee from across the Tasman, but he ranks as one of the finest cartoonists this country has called its own. He has won awards internationally and in New Zealand and Australia, and his work has been published globally through the New York Times Syndicate.

He certainly deserved the double-page spread that the Weekend Herald devoted to his two decades of drawing for the newspaper. His work embodies in abundance the three attributes of an outstanding political cartoonist: graphic talent, keen perception, and wicked wit.

The English writer and philosopher Aldous Huxley described caricatures as the most penetrating of criticisms. That is because they give the cartoonist multiple shots at the target. Continue reading “Cartoons: High octane humour politicians love to hate”

There’s a kind of hush all over the Digital News Bargaining Bill

New Zealanders can be forgiven for being unaware that their government had made good on its plan to make social media and search platforms pay for the news they use. The proposed legislation caused hardly a stir when broadcasting minister Willie Jackson introduced it to Parliament last Thursday.

Only Businessdesk’s media writer, Daniel Dunkley, provided a summary of the Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill. His story rated a brief in Shayne Currie’s Media Insider column in the Weekend Herald and the same day The Post acknowledged the Bill with a highly critical commentary by Dr Eric Crampton, chief economist at the free-market thinktank The New Zealand Initiative, who called it a “shakedown racket”.

The subdued reaction may reflect a view that the Bill will die with the current Labour-led government. That was the view of Newsroom co-founder Tim Murphy when I polled media leaders on the introduction of the proposed legislation. The only other media boss to respond was Radio New Zealand CEO Paul Thompson, who sees the Bill as a sound approach that will benefit a number of outlets. However, he doesn’t see it becoming law “any time soon”, nor as a panacea for all the news industry’s problems.

For all that, the Bill deserved a far better public airing than it has so far received, not least because it also announced an end to direct public funding of private sector news operations. Continue reading “There’s a kind of hush all over the Digital News Bargaining Bill”

Feathers will fly as Willie puts the cat among the kiwis

Some time this week Broadcasting Minister Willie Jackson will set the cat among the kiwis. He will introduce the Digital Bargaining Bill to Parliament.

The Bill is expected to mirror legislation passed in Australia and Canada that forces digital platforms to negotiate fairly, and in good faith, with news organisations for the use of their news content.

The passage of legislation in those countries prompted immediate strong-arm reactions from Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, and ominous rumblings from Alphabet, the owner of Google.

Days before Australia’s News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code came into force in 2021, Facebook cut access to all news content for Australian users. It flailed around and banned everything it thought was Australian news. That included some government pages and even a page of advice on bike trails.

The total news ban lasted only a few days. It was lifted after a sizeable negative worldwide public reaction and assurances to Meta that the code would not be invoked by the Australian Government if the platform owners negotiated in good faith. Google had already blinked and had done deals with Australian media companies.

Canada’s Online News Act was given the Royal Assent in July and at the beginning of August Meta blocked Canadians’ access to news on Facebook and Instagram. Google has warned it could remove Canadian news from its platforms in Canada when the law takes effect (up to 180 days from the Royal Assent). However, Google’s owner is still negotiating with the Canadian Government over the regulations that would flow from the law. Meta has not joined those discussions.

A coalition of the country’s broadcasters and publishers last week asked the Competition Bureau to investigate the ban and use its powers to force Meta to reverse course. Continue reading “Feathers will fly as Willie puts the cat among the kiwis”