Terrorism, the media, and an awful dilemma

While you read this, I will be enjoying my first holiday since Covid hit our shores. So I have cheated…just a little. In place of the Tuesday Commentary, here is a speech I gave last week to combined North Shore Rotary clubs.

No matter where you were, the horrendous attacks on innocent worshippers at two Christchurch mosques in March 2019 made the front page of newspapers and led television and radio bulletins.

Those acts and others like them have affected our journalism but, before I get into the detail of those events, I want to talk about motivation, and the awful dilemma that terrorism presents for journalists.

Horrifying though it may sound, the victims of acts of terrorism such as that carried out in Christchurch are no more than a means to an end. They are the currency used to pay for the world’s attention. Continue reading “Terrorism, the media, and an awful dilemma”

The media’s role in reporting on terrorism – Dr Gavin Ellis

Paper presented at the Australia & New Zealand

Supreme & Federal Court Judges’ Conference

Christchurch 23 January 2023


The actions and reactions of the New Zealand media in the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks and subsequent court proceedings demonstrate the value of institutional cooperation and mutual trust.

 That conclusion is drawn from two papers written in conjunction with my colleague, Dr Denis Muller of Melbourne University.  The first examined New Zealand and overseas coverage of the attacks themselves in 2019.[1] The second, published in the New Zealand Law Journal over the latter part of last year, related to the sentencing of Brenton Harrison Tarrant in 2020.[2] There may be a third paper following a coronial hearing and Tarrant’s appeal against conviction and sentence.[3]

However, I need to start by briefly discussing the nature of terrorism itself. It is a violent crime where the victims are not the end, but the means to an end. They are the means by which a message can be sent to the public in a way that cannot be ignored. French journalist Paul Brousse in 1877 coined the phrase Propaganda par le fait – propaganda by the deed. Continue reading “The media’s role in reporting on terrorism – Dr Gavin Ellis”


This presentation was delivered at the Auckland City Art Gallery on 12 May 2021 by my wife, Jenny Lynch, as a tribute to her mentor – fellow New Zealand Woman’s Weekly editor Jean Wishart

 She was a publishing icon. An editor whose magazine became the top selling womens publication per head of population in the world.

 She was also an astute businesswoman. She became the first woman in the country to sit on the board of a listed company– NZ News. And the first woman in its 124-year history to be elected to the council of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce.

 Above all she was someone who became a valued friend — I use that word advisably — to thousands upon thousands of New Zealand magazine readers during much of the latter part of last century.

Im talking about Miss Jean Wishart, New Zealand Womans Weekly editor from 1952 to 1985.