Gavin Ellis is a media consultant, commentator and researcher. He holds a doctorate in political studies. A former editor-in-chief of the New Zealand Herald, he is the author of Trust Ownership and the Future of News: Media Moguls and White Knights (London, Palgrave) and Complacent Nation (Wellington, BWB Texts). His consultancy clients include media organisations and government ministries. His Tuesday Commentary on media matters appears weekly on his site www.whiteknightnews.com
The New Zealand High Court has confirmed what was long suspected. An Australian media company was within days of closing vital sections of our news media – an action it would never have dared to take on its home turf.
The release of redacted material in a judgement over the Nine Entertainment Company’s sale of Stuff is further proof of the fact that foreign ownership of news media is contrary to the public interest.
I’m not one to rubberneck at traffic accidents, but I am fascinated watching the wheels fall off social media.
First Facebook and Twitter scored an own-goal by banning Donald Trump in acts that demonstrated beyond a shadow of doubt what everyone (except Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey) knew already – they are publishers. We’ll return to the implications of that shortly.
Then Google strong-armed the Australian government over impending legislation and, by threatening to turn off its search engine, acknowledged what everyone (except Larry Page and Sergey Brin) knew already – it is a monopoly. We’ll come back to that, too.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought much-needed and urgent changes in journalism around the world, with more to come. New Zealand has so far been shielded from the worst effects of the contagion and this year will determine whether our media have been lulled into the same dangerous complacency that stopped the country’s shoppers from using contact-tracing scanners while infection rates skyrocket overseas.