An open letter to the incoming media minister

Dear Minister,

Congratulations on assuming the Broadcasting and Media role.

The announcement of your new portfolio put me in mind of Hercules as King Eurystheus told him there were a dozen small jobs he would like done.

Like Hercules, you will find that the tasks ahead are challenging. Some will seem insurmountable. Yet, the underlying message of that particular piece of Greek mythology is that nothing is impossible.

I would hesitate to suggest that success will lead to immortality, but you will certainly make an enduring name for yourself if you are able to ensure that New Zealand’s media ecosystem is fit for purpose.

In order for that to happen you must undertake, if I may be so bold, the Twelve Labours of Willie Jackson. Continue reading “An open letter to the incoming media minister”

Why a would-be journalist should follow her dream

Why on Earth would anyone want to become a journalist? The gauge on the government’s careers website rates the chances of landing a job in journalism as ‘poor’.

After all, census data tells us the number of journalists in New Zealand fell by 52 per cent between 2000 and 2018. There are now, I would estimate, only about 1600 of them employed in mainstream media. And the starting wage of $42,000 a year is not exactly enticing.

I began to consider the issue of careers in the profession after I opened my email one morning last week to find what was described as “a fan letter”.

It was written by a recent graduate who, browsing the university library several months ago, had chanced upon a small book I wrote in 2016 titled Complacent Nation. It was a welcome early-morning  cheer up to learn that she was “beyond grateful that you wrote it”.

She now has a BA in politics & international relations and philosophy. She is working in the media but not as a journalist. Clearly, she has set her sights on a career in journalism but, justifiably, she is confronted by uncertainty. Continue reading “Why a would-be journalist should follow her dream”

Unashamed monarchist revels in Queen’s jubilee

I am a monarchist.

It is a reflection of my English heritage, which sits alongside Māoritanga in defining me as a New Zealander.

On my mother’s side I am a first-generation Kiwi. Along with her migrant parents and four sisters, she referred to Britain as ‘home’ until the day she died despite having left the grimy streets of Newcastle as a two-year-old.

My paternal heritage has longer ties with this country, which makes me a third-generation New Zealander. My great-grandfather was Devon born but Canadian-raised and came to New Zealand in the 1870s. His grandfather fought in the American War of Independence – as a British Army scout. My grandmother’s family were from Scotland and Ireland and settled in Central Otago in the 1860s.

I claim no Māori whakapapa, but I recognise that the Treaty of Waitangi binds me to rangatiratanga and tikanga Māori.

I also believe that Māoridom’s partnership with the Crown binds me to my forebears and is a valid and valuable component of my identity as a New Zealander. Continue reading “Unashamed monarchist revels in Queen’s jubilee”

In praise of the unsung

Journalism is a name game of picture by-lines, personal radio sign-offs, and the on-screen presence of television reporters. Yet behind them are legions of people without whom those names would not see the light of day.

They are nameless, as far as the public is concerned, and their efforts seldom if ever get the public recognition they deserve.

This column is for those unnamed heroes and heroines of the news game.

I am writing it because last week a woman named Lauri Tapsell died in Auckland at the age of 70.  That is her pictured above. Continue reading “In praise of the unsung”