Where has all the policy gone?

Within the term of the next government our news media will, for good or ill, fundamentally change. Yet where are the major parties’ policies to anticipate, influence and ameliorate the effects of that change?

Only the Green Party has posted a media policy statement for the October election. It contains useful proposals such as the Public Interest Journalism Fund (which also featured in its 2017 manifesto) and a tax on digital advertising to claw back money from Google and Facebook, but it is predicated on the status quo.

Labour, National, New Zealand First and ACT have yet to announce their media policies – if they have any – and voting starts only 33 days from now. Interest.co.nz has been tracking party policies and its section on media policy is peppered with the phrase “Not yet available on their website”.

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The merits of honest work

A friend this week sent me a link to a TED talk by a very wise man. Michael Sandel is Professor of Government at Harvard University, where he teaches political philosophy. His TED talk focused on the increasing failure to recognise the worth of honest work. Here is a link to the talk:

https://www.ted.com/talks/michael_sandel_the_tyranny_of_merit?utm_content=2020-8-25&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=social&utm_source=facebook.com&fbclid=IwAR1KdQTo6_jfAQTPHgoppNvesMegUudQD6ur728SsGmO1H-HLc2EmMIsJoI

It brought to mind a graduation address I gave at the Auckland University of Technology 15 years ago. It is on a similar theme, although not expressed with Sandel’s eloquence. Nonetheless, I thought I would dust it off and share it with you.

Here it is: 

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Trolling through the news media

On Sunday Health Minister Chris Hipkins issued a stern warning about spreading disinformation: “At a time we are fighting a pandemic, this sort of behaviour is designed to create panic … and is completely unacceptable.” 

He highlighted a dilemma in which New Zealand’s news media now find themselves. They have a duty to inform the public about what our politicians are saying even when, to draw on the cartoon above by my old friend Rod Emmerson, it is bullshit.

In the past week there have been a succession of comments by politicians on both sides of the soon-to-be dissolved House that both fit the definition of disinformation and have the potential to cause panic.

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