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.