Awards bring out the pettiness in NZ media

There something unsavoury about self-congratulation and New Zealand media organisations are particularly prone to it.

Last week there were two significant award ceremonies, one in New York and the other in Auckland, that should have been celebrations of this country’s prowess in journalism and other media crafts.

Instead, media outlets largely celebrated their own achievements and ignored the noteworthy endeavours of others. There were exceptions and we’ll come back to those. Continue reading “Awards bring out the pettiness in NZ media”

News deserts and how New Zealand can avoid them

I felt like the Grim Reaper when I was talking to community newspaper folk last week about news deserts.

News deserts are communities lacking a news source that provides meaningful and trustworthy local reporting on issues such as health, government and the environment. Their communities were once served by local news outlets but these have died.

The term emerged more than a decade ago and I showed the attendees at the Community Newspapers Association conference in Auckland a map of the United States where it had first been encountered. In the US, traditional owners have closed a quarter of the country’s titles – more than 2500 mastheads – since 2005. They have also divested themselves of large numbers of their regional and local titles, and new owners have undertaken massive consolidation, hollowing out local news production in the process.

The map, contained in a report last year by the Medill School of Journalism, showed that 200 counties have no local newspaper and more than 1500 have only one paper, usually a weekly and often an emaciated one. Those 1700 territories represented more than half the counties in the country. And within those counties live 70 million people. Continue reading “News deserts and how New Zealand can avoid them”

TVNZ board needs expertise, not ideology

I am hoping beyond hope that speculation over changes to the Television New Zealand board are wide of the mark. I’m banking on the conjecture being a product of the mischievous side of Willie Jackson’s personality that keeps people guessing.

The Minister of Broadcasting and Media, in a recent interview with the New Zealand Herald’s editor-at-large Shayne Currie, made it clear he wants to see change and a much stronger commitment by the state-owned broadcaster to a “New Zealand identity”.

His interview with Currie left no doubt that changes to the TVNZ board, whose members come up for re-appointment or replacement on June 30, will be political appointments. Unlike commercial boards, where replacements are usually sought out by existing directors and confirmed (or rejected) by shareholders, it is Jackson’s office that is managing the process with both TVNZ and replacement directors at Radio New Zealand. Continue reading “TVNZ board needs expertise, not ideology”

World Press freedom Index: Did well but could do better

Once again New Zealand has received the tick of approval in the latest World Press Freedom Index. Reporters Without Borders describes the country as perfecting its role as a regional press freedom model.

We sit at 13th out of 180 in the 2023 index. That is down two places on last year but is still well ahead of countries with which we are regularly compared – Canada (15), the United Kingdom (26) and Australia (27). In fairness, however, we should acknowledge that our cousins across the Tasman have gained 12 places.

The index scores countries on five distinct indicators: political context, legal framework, economic context, sociocultural context, and safety. The surveys are exhaustive. I know, because I was one of the New Zealanders surveyed. Country participants are asked between 12 and 33 questions in respective categories, and they are probing. Continue reading “World Press freedom Index: Did well but could do better”