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.

Continue reading “Trolling through the news media”

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.”