Christchurch mosque attacks:The media’s proximity filter


Research into trans-Tasman media coverage of the Christchurch mosque attacks has raised questions about how, in the internet age, editors need to take account of the fact that their content can be seen by those most closely affected by a horrifying event, and that distance no longer provides the licence it once did to publish material that is distressing to those directly involved.

Almost 300 stories published by New Zealand and Australian metropolitan newspapers in the days following the attacks, together with web-based content by television broadcasters, were analysed by Dr Gavin Ellis, an Auckland media consultant and former editor-in-chief of the New Zealand Herald, and Dr Denis Muller, a Melbourne University researcher and former associate editor of The Age. They also interviewed news executives in both countries. Continue reading “Christchurch mosque attacks:The media’s proximity filter”

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel: Magazine idea-sharing in the 1960s.

Republished from Back Story

In the 1960s the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly was the most-read women’s magazine in the world per head of population.[1] And its editor travelled the world in search of ideas to keep it there. 

Jean Wishart put an indelible stamp on the magazine she edited from 1952 to 1985 and had firm views on what it should deliver to its readers each week. She saw the magazine’s relationship with readers as a partnership between friends and it had to contain something for everyone (Lynch 2002). Over the course of her long editorship the magazine was in a regular cycle of change that Wishart skilfully managed to avoid alienating what she regarded as a loyal audience. Continue reading “Don’t Reinvent the Wheel: Magazine idea-sharing in the 1960s.”

No such thing as free speech

Published in The New Zealand Herald 30 April 2018

There’s no such thing as free speech, and it’s a good thing too.

There is nothing original about that sentence. It was the title of an essay by an American legal scholar named Stanley Fish. In it he argued that speech cannot be free because it is never free of consequences and responsibilities.

He is right. For several decades, as a journalist and editor on this newspaper and later as an academic, I have championed free expression. At no stage, however, was I under any illusion that speech was entirely free of consequence and responsibility. I knew that it had limits. Continue reading “No such thing as free speech”