Posts tagged ‘Radio New Zealand’


This government’s comedy of errors lately—and few to capitalize on them

07.05.2014

Polity has gone through the MFAT OIA documents relating to Judith Collins’s visit to China, where she met with Oravida thrice.
   I’ve been reading them but out of order (the second bunch only) and their summary of what I have read gels with my take on things.
   These matters have been covered better on political blogs, but I can’t but help drawing comparisons between the stubbornness of this government with the days of Neil Hamilton, Jonathan Aitken and others in the UK Conservatives in the 1990s.
   The Minister’s latest, that the Greens were quick to capitalize on (as they did with Simon Bridges—which begs the question of where Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition is), is this quotation: ‘Does that have anything to do with me? Am I the minister of wetlands? Go and find someone who actually cares about this, because I don’t. It’s not my issue … I don’t like wetlands—they’re swamps.’
   This Cabinet has opened itself up to media attacks because of the relatively large holes in its conduct, of which the above seems typical.
   The odd one, at least to 21st-century eyes, has to be the PM’s defence of Collins, as reported by Radio New Zealand: ‘Meanwhile, the Prime Minister blames Twitter for the stress Ms Collins has faced over her involvement with Oravida … Mr Key said Ms Collins had been under a lot of stress and much of that was driven by comments on Twitter.’
   One of my friends responded, ‘If he’d ever seen the abuse she dished out in her tweets, he’d know she was the instigator of most of it, not the victim.’
   And the PM makes one critical mistake here: he seems to portray social media as some sort of foreign world, where specialist knowledge is required. It’s certainly one that certain members of the old media fraternity love to use.
   The truth is social media aren’t that different: they are merely extensions of what one already knows. If you have been in business or in public service, you should know how to write and communicate. If you’re a reasonably competent writer in your everyday life, then it’s a cinch that you’ll be good at communicating with social media.
   I might get sucked in by the odd troll every now and then, but Twitter stress isn’t a valid enough excuse in my book.
   However, the PM is a smart guy. He knows that most of us will forget in a short space of time and there’ll be another scandal that will surface. So the disappearance of Collins through a time-out might be a good calculated move—at least that’s what he’s counting on.
   But the fourth estate might not be as forgiving this time. Duncan Garner wrote (also noting she needed a Twitter break): ‘The truth is, her story about what she was doing in China with Oravida has completely collapsed. She has lost all credibility. What started as a pop-in cup of milk and a private dinner turns out to be a turbo-blasted official dinner involving both Governments, their officials, a senior Minister (Collins) and a National party donor (Oravida).’
   The problem with all of this is: where’s Labour, in the midst of the greatest gift an opposition has been given for years?
   One friend of a friend noted that maybe Labour shouldn’t be attacking, because we Kiwis don’t like whingers. It is the charge I hear from friends on the right. Labour should, instead, be coming up with solid policies and leave the attacks to the Greens (which is doing a marvellous job) and Winston Peters (need I say more? He remains a great political wordsmith).
   For me, I’d like them to do both if they are to stand a chance. The job of the Opposition is to oppose.
   And failure to oppose strongly may suggest to the electorate that the same thing could happen under Labour.
   Six months out from the election I contested, I had my policies published—which one blog noted was unusual but welcome. That meant my policies were out for twice as long as my opponents’.
   We’re talking about a party that has been in opposition for a long time, long enough to know what it wishes to do should it be handed the reins of government.
   And yet, apart from a few policy announcements here and there, it has been silent. You’d think the names of the Shadow Cabinet would be in our consciousness by now. Embarrassingly, I even forgot David Cunliffe’s name recently in a conversation. I could only call him ‘not-Robertson’. (It is better than the PM calling Grant Robertson ‘Perry Mason’ today, I hasten to add.)
   It makes me wonder if Labour isn’t working and whether the anti-National vote will, indeed, head even more to the Greens this year.

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Posted in business, China, internet, media, New Zealand, politics | 3 Comments »


On Wellywood, Murdoch and English accents

31.03.2010

The good news today is that Wellington Airport is officially in two minds about what type of sign it will put up on the Miramar cutting, which means that the ‘Wellywood’ sign protest has had a victory of sorts.
   I’m thrilled at the news because it shows people power—especially people like Anthony Lander who set up the largest of the anti-sign Facebook groups, and the 15,000-plus who joined there—came through.
   The issue was always, and still is, transparency: how the council was prepared to say, ‘This is not our problem. It’s on airport land,’ without giving a toss about how the rest of us felt.
   The speed with which resource consent was granted was also questionable.
   But the people of Wellington showed that we still have what it takes to make politicians back down, even if it is to cement their own power base.
   This year, we’re discovering our own power and that we can keep politicians honest.
   Hopefully in the election this year Wellingtonians will decide that it should not be “politics as usual”. The important thing is that we vote, so we don’t have the usually pathetic 30-something per cent turnout. And let’s start talking about even bigger issues.

Of some interest this week is the media giving a tad more coverage to the Murdoch Press’s desire to charge for access in the UK. Websites for The Times, The Sun and News of the World will charge from June, something which was raised today on Radio New Zealand National.
   This is not new: I spoke out against it back in November during an address I gave at CPIT, because I could not see how it could be workable.
   According to the discussion on Afternoons with Jim Mora, the Murdoch Press is banking on its UK newspaper competitors following suit.
   No one doubts that a lot of the work being done by the press is valuable and deserves compensation. But this doesn’t ring true to me as a workable model.
   What it will initially do is drive people to non-Murdoch websites for UK news.
   Assuming other qualities and national tabloids follow suit, then we can watch the UK’s influence on global dialogue disappear. No one will care what the British people think on any issue, if their media are inaccessible.
   It won’t get that bad, because I believe The Daily Telegraph will always be around in a free format, since it was one of the internet pioneers—it celebrated its 15th anniversary online last year. Thanks to the website, its international influence has grown.
   The Murdoch plan also provides a wonderful opportunity for regional newspapers to become the national digital media of record if they are willing to provide their information freely.
   I am quite happy to pay for some news services. But it does not come from charging for the raw articles. It might come from a value-added service: who will be the first to lay out a PDFed newspaper that is automatically generated from international sources that I can read, whether on screen or on an Ipad? In 2010, there has to be something beyond the words and a low-res pic, because a lot of news has, predictably, become commodified. (An internal newsletter we had here in the early 1990s predicted as much; meanwhile, this is a good academic paper on the issues.)
   Some American publishers are getting the idea, and I have heard from an Australian company that is planning to do something similarly innovative. Therefore, I think Murdochs may have misread this one (as it has on climate change, according to one group): it is not akin to the BSkyB set-top box or other media it has encountered in the past.

Speaking of Brits, I have had three people this week say I have an English accent. One of them is Irish. Feel free to take a look at this old clip on Sunrise. I can’t hear it. I sound nothing like Leslie Grantham or Michael Parkinson.

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Posted in business, internet, media, New Zealand, politics, publishing, technology, UK, Wellington | 1 Comment »