Show us the full horror of war in Ukraine

Atrocities and total war are not pixilated or sanitised. They bring death with unimaginable brutality and obliterate lives with indifference. It is time to stop protecting the New Zealand public from these grim realities of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Our news media post warnings about disturbing images and then obscure them out of a long-held regard for the sensibilities of readers and viewers over portrayal of death. We see shapeless body bags while those lying in the street are given a dignified digital shroud.

Yes, we read and hear descriptions of what the innocent citizens of Ukraine have had to endure at the hands of Russian invaders. However, we are shielded from most graphic detail of what is being done in a mission to “demilitarize and de-Nazify” a democratic nation that posed no defence threat to its neighbour.

How often do we see and hear the phrase “Warning: The following item includes disturbing images including dead bodies” when, in fact, we are left to imagine what the body looks like under its obscuring mantle? Continue reading “Show us the full horror of war in Ukraine”

Media report keeps red flags flying

The government should thank its consultants for producing a report on whether media need support. Then it should file it away somewhere where it will quietly gather dust.

The conclusions drawn by Sapere Research’s report “The implications of competition and market trends for media plurality in New Zealand” pay scant regard to the fact that it raises more red flags than a Communist rally. Continue reading “Media report keeps red flags flying”

Media should be careful where they tread in 2022

An iconic photograph of Diana Princess of Wales came to mind as I contemplated the year ahead. It shows her on a dusty Angolan track, dressed in blast vest and visor, flanked by signs with skull-and-crossbones and a stark warning. I recalled the image because media this year will need to be very careful where they tread.

Care, of course, comes with the territory but the figurative landmines that media could face this year go beyond the usual hazards. Some will be sown by the Covid pandemic while others will take advantage of the frayed tempers that result of seemingly endless restrictions. Some will be planted by groups marching to the drumbeat of polarised opinion while others will result from the mistaken placement of measures to protect New Zealanders. And a few will be ‘own goals’, where the media step backwards onto their own devices. Continue reading “Media should be careful where they tread in 2022”

Beware of Geeks bearing gifts (again)

Donald Trump and Mark Zuckerberg share an unfortunate character trait: An inability to accept the truth.

The former U.S. president’s response to being confronted by unpalatable reality is to fabricate large and elaborate lies. Facebook’s founder indulges in cynical diversion.

The scale and depth of Trump’s deceptions over the 2020 election was well-canvassed at the weekend in a two-hour special by CNN’s Jake Tapper titled Trumping Democracy: An American Coup.

Zuckerberg indulged in a massive rebranding exercise to divert attention from the revelations to both the U.S. Congress and British Parliament by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen that screamed out the need for regulation. The corporate Facebook has transmogrified into Meta, short for Metaverse – a vast expanse that threatens to take the world beyond post-truth to post-reality.

His abiding denial of truth, however, lies in diverting attention from Facebook’s appropriation without payment of media content for commercial gain. The company only faces up to that reality when it is forced to do so by governments (such as Australia) whose patience with the social media giant has run out.

Such setbacks have not diminished Facebook’s preferred narrative and last week the diversion tactic reared its head here in New Zealand with an announcement by Meta of “a four-part investment to help New Zealand’s news industry to thrive in a changing digital world”. Continue reading “Beware of Geeks bearing gifts (again)”