As if the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh wasn’t enough…

Nothing justifies the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and the wounding of her colleague Ali al-Samoudi during an Israeli raid on Jenin in the Occupied West Bank. Nothing.

I believe the renowned reporter died at the hands of Israeli armed forces and that she was deliberately targeted because she was a journalist, easily identified by the word PRESS on the flak jacket and helmet that did not protect her from the shot that killed her. Her wounded colleague was identically dressed.

I am left in no doubt about the culpability of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on a number of grounds. Continue reading “As if the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh wasn’t enough…”

Radio ratings: Finely chopped, stirred and spun

Radio audience figures can be sliced and diced. Last week’s release of the first quarter’s ratings was cut so many ways that even the bobby dazzler of the chopping board Jamie Oliver would have been impressed.

NewstalkZB could afford to play it straight (almost) with figures that showed breakfast host Mike Hosking has well-and-truly eclipsed RNZ’s Morning Report as the most-listened-to programme. It stated on its website that “already king of the airwaves” Hosking has “surged to a new record of more than half a million listeners”. His 511,700 listeners – compared to Morning Report’s 429,100 – was certainly worth crowing about.

So, too, was ZB’s place as the top commercial station in the GfK commercial survey with a cumulative weekly audience of 744,000 people. That, too, topped RNZ National’s weekly audience by 117,000 listeners, although ZB wouldn’t draw the parallel because the commercial broadcasters have assiduously avoided a single radio market survey where non-commercial audiences are included in the comparisons.

However, what ZB and its sister, the New Zealand Herald, didn’t tell us was that in its biggest market – Auckland – both Hosking and the station’s overall audience  have come off the boil. The breakfast host’s share of audience in that market has dropped 4.6 percentage points to 30.3 per cent and his weekly cumulative audience is down by almost 6000 to 217,800. The station’s overall share in Auckland is down from 24.3 per cent to 21.5 per cent. Continue reading “Radio ratings: Finely chopped, stirred and spun”

The tweet that could cook Twitter’s goose

Perversity being what it is, I think Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter could be the best thing that could happen to the Christchurch Call.

Remember the Christchurch Call, the international effort to curb online hate speech led by Jacinda Ardern after the mosque attacks? Do you recall the enthusiasm with which social media platforms joined international leaders to commit to a better tomorrow and Facebook, Twitter and Google collectively stating they were “resolute in our commitment to ensure we are doing all we can to fight the hatred and extremism that lead to terrorist violence”?

Last Thursday we had confirmation of what we already knew: The social media platforms were either inept or liars. The Washington-based Center for Countering Digital Hate produced a report showing the platforms had failed to act on Anti-Muslim hate 89 per cent of the time. We can only imagine their failure rate on other forms of hate speech, to say nothing of dangerous disinformation, although the centre has previously identified failures to deal with antisemitism, anti-black racism, misogyny, and anti-vax disinformation.

The centre, using the platforms’ own search tools, identified 530 anti-Muslim posts that had been viewed at least 25 million times and much of the abusive content was easily identifiable. Users were able to adopt hashtags that were overtly anti-Muslim. Posts supporting the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory that formed the basis of Christchurch terrorist Brenton Tarrant’s ‘manifesto’ continue to be carried on the platforms.

So how does Musk’s purchase of Twitter potentially help to rid the world of such poison? Continue reading “The tweet that could cook Twitter’s goose”

A new suit cut from old cloth

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The public media entity Establishment Board announced last week by broadcasting minister Kris Faafoi is well placed to successfully amalgamate Television New Zealand and RNZ. Sadly, that is all it will do.

The board has a full complement of experienced broadcasters, broadcasting executives, and board members from both existing organisations. It will be chaired by former New Zealand First MP Tracey Martin, who ably led the body that examined a business case for the new entity.

Faafoi says their job will be to “oversee the detailed design of the new entity and the change required to create it”. He also states that the new entity would be built on “the best of Television NZ and Radio NZ” but would be future-focused to meet the challenges of technology changes and global competition.

While they are beavering away, the government will be introducing the legislation that will govern the future organisation. I have no doubt that a draft already exists, given the timetable to have the Bill introduced by mid-year and through all its readings before the end of the year.

This suggests that much of the form of the new organisation will be pre-determined and the Establishment Board will be dealing with internal structures and functional issues. It will be watched over by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage which is charged with providing assistance, and with reporting independently to the minister.

We are witnessing a mechanical process – the merging of two Crown agencies, no more than that. The only unique aspect is an imperative that the public service broadcasting mandate of RNZ is not lost in the re-organisation. The Establishment Board has all the necessary credentials to successfully see through that process.

There is no real aspiration in the announcement and, indeed, in anything we have seen recently on the proposal. There is no sense that the new entity will usher in paradigm change and realise untapped opportunities. Continue reading “A new suit cut from old cloth”