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”

Parting shots at the messenger

Quite frankly, New Zealand politicians don’t know how lucky they are.

Last week several of them wasted part of their valedictory speeches lambasting the news media. All had been the authors of their own fall from the political pedestal. Yet they saw fit to paint themselves as victims of journalists – a profession they characterised as lacking in ethics, scruples and plain common decency.

New Zealand media are, in fact, more restrained than their counterparts in countries where tabloid press and tabloid television run roughshod over the personal lives of politicians and have done so for a very long time. Continue reading “Parting shots at the messenger”

Let’s hit Cyber-barons with Australia’s big stick.

Photo: AP

Andrea Vance is right. The Prime Minister won’t be ditching her Facebook account any time soon.

Writing in the Sunday Star Times, Vance noted that Facebook is her medium of choice “because it allows her to directly engage with a precise and captive audience [where] she is not constrained by troublesome questions from traditional media.” She went on to say Jacinda Ardern won’t be deleting her account “because it wouldn’t be expedient, especially in an election year.”

It is also odds-on that, for the same reason, the Government will not be joining its Australian counterpart in finally coming down hard on the unrecompensed appropriation of news content that attracts billions of dollars in advertising revenue to Facebook and Google.

On Friday, the Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the much-anticipated mandatory code that will make the social media giants pay for news. Legislation to enact the code will pass through the federal Parliament before the end of the year. Continue reading “Let’s hit Cyber-barons with Australia’s big stick.”

Trolls and fellow travellers in the general election

It’s a fair bet that the New Zealand general election will not cause much of a ripple inside 55 Savushkina Street.

That is the St Petersburg address of the headquarters of the Russian Internet Research Agency (pictured above), which played havoc with the Brexit vote and the US Presidential election.

It may well be gearing up for another campaign among the all-too-susceptible voters of the United States, but we can be reasonably certain that the only danger we face is a bit of mischief during a troll’s lunch break. Continue reading “Trolls and fellow travellers in the general election”