Scooped: The politics and power of journalism in Aotearoa New Zealand

February 7, 2012

Hot off the press

Scooped is finally available. You can order online from Exisle Books

This book is the first new text on New Zealand journalism in ten years. Scooped is an edited collection of essays canvassing the politics and power of journalism and the news media in New Zealand today.

Scooped: The Politics and Power of Journalism in Aotearoa New Zealand critically examines some of the most pressing economic, political, social and cultural issues facing journalism in Aotearoa New Zealand. Approaching journalism as a field of cultural production, the book brings together contributions from a diverse list of academics and journalists, and interrogates the commonsense assumptions that typically structure public discussion of journalism in Aotearoa New Zealand. Rather than simply treating power as something others have, and politics as something that the media simply covers, the book situates journalism itself as a site of power and cultural politics. Lamenting the often antagonistic relationship between journalism and academia, the book offers a vision of a critically engaged journalism studies that should be of interest to academics, students, journalists and general readers.

 

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Where are the journalism jobs in 2010? An initial study

December 1, 2010

Aoraki Polytechnic - Timaru

I’m recently arrived in Timaru for the New Zealand Journalism Education Association (JEANZ) 2010 annual conference.

I’m giving a paper examining the job market for journalists in the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the UK. The bulk of this post is about that [and it's quite interesting].

The JEANZ agenda looks great and just enough speakers to fill one-and-a-half days. Our host is Peter O’Neill and the Aoraki journalism staff. The theme this year is “What editors want”. I’m sitting in the very pleasant Aspen on King motel and I have a half-smirk / half-grimace on the dial as I ponder this statement.

You see, there is no question-mark, but perhaps there should be. At a similar session at last week’s Australian JEA conference, there was a lively debate between the panel of editorial trainers and the assembled hackademics. I’ve got some notes here somewhere…I’ll dig them out and be right back. Read the rest of this entry »


With rich friends like these, who needs enemies?

May 23, 2010

We need the wealthy and the talented more than they need us. Their skills are international, their enterprise is universal. They can make more money, live better lifestyles and generally advance their family’s prospects better in countries more developed than our own. Australia, North America, the UK and even the new Asia. [Michael Laws, 23 May 2010]

What’s wrong with this statement? This wasn’t really going to be a post-budget post, but in a way it is. It has to be because this budget has been celebrated in some circles as somehow “fair” in terms of tax redistributions and certainly as being “good for business”. The implication there is that what’s good for business and business owners is good for all of us. In fact, that’s not the case. The budget favours the wealthy and as Michael Laws argues, so it should, because we must be grateful for any crumbs that drop from the top table.

But, how do the rich get that way? Is it really because of their talent? Am I, and are we, as Laws suggests, just envious of their elegant ways and clever business acumen? Or are these tall poppies actually gold-plated jerks in need of chopping down?

Do we really need wealthy people like Mark Bryers — a thief, liar and luxury rooter? Read the rest of this entry »


Journalism education ‘down under’: A tale of two paradigms

September 17, 2009

My article on similarities and differences in journalism education in Australia and New Zealand has been electronically published and is now available online.
The print version will be in Journalism Studies (11)1 published in January 2010. Here’s the published abstract and a link to the online version (I  think you have to pay for access, or go through a library)

AB – Journalism studies is currently undergoing one of the periodic renovations that is characteristic of an active and diverse community of scholars. This paper examines aspects of this renewal debate among journalism scholars by focusing on the situation in Australia and New Zealand. It argues that the debate “Down Under” mirrors global differences on the issues of “theory” and “practice” in journalism education and that an understanding of the key fault lines in this context can provide useful insights into the wider arguments. In Australia and New Zealand a key area of discussion is around attitudes towards the concept of professionalism in the practice, training and scholarship of journalism. These tensions are apparent in both the news media and in the academy. The contradictory positions of those who favour greater industry involvement in curriculum matters, including accreditation of courses, and those who are less sanguine a bout the normative influence of industry on critical scholarship are explored in relation to differing attitudes to professionalism and the political economy of news production. The paper concludes that rather than pegging the debate to an unstable definition of professionalism, journalism educators should instead focus more on journalism scholarship founded on a political economy approach.
UR – http://www.informaworld.com/10.1080/02615470903217345
TY – JOUR
JO – Journalism Studies
PB – Routledge
AU – Hirst, Martin
TI – JOURNALISM EDUCATION “DOWN UNDER” — A tale of two paradigms
SN – 1461-670X
PY – 2009 -


Big media threatens Kiwi blogger

May 8, 2009

One of my  journalism students has written a good little story on our Te Waha Nui online site about APN threatening to sue blogger James Coe for an alleged trademark infringement.

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I’m more popular than John Key – half-wishful thinking

April 21, 2009

Well, it’s something (shameless self-promotion to come).

According to the Halfdone blog stats for April 2009, I am at number 42 in the NZ blogosphere rankings. Your prime minister, the Right hon. John Key is number 43.

Ha, that’s great, but I won’t crow too loudly.

The Tumeke rankings, which as of today [21 April] are only up for February 2009, have EM at number 58 and JK at number 54. Though, if I could be indulged just another second or two, JK is dropping (down 2 places from January) and I’m rising (up 19 places from January).

So maybe I’ve over taken him, maybe not quite yet.

A giant hat tip to all my visitors. I hope you like it.


More re-heated neo-con policies from National – private prisons to profit from crime

March 10, 2009

In an exclusive story yesterday [Monday] the NZ Herald reported that the National government is looking to privatise jail management across New Zealand.

Where do the party hacks come up with these ideas?

Today there’s a follow-up by Simon Collins in which the union representing prison officers vowed to fight the privatisation plan and described it as “driven by ideology“. At the same time a Corrections plan to put two beds in every cell was also revealed. This move might be necessary because the prison population is anticipated to increase by close to 1000 inmates over the next 18 months. I wonder if this has something to do with the projected “Three strikes” policy that’s also on the cabinet agenda in Wellington.

Unfortunately for the government, the first step in their cunning plan to hand over the prison system to the profit system may derail them (or, at least slow down the plan). The Herald is also reporting that the State Services Commissioner has refused to offer up the beleaguered head of Corrections as a sacrificial lamb.

The State Services Commissioner said today that corrections chief Barry Matthews should not be sacked.

Corrections Minister Judith Collins received the report into accountability at her ministry from State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie this morning.

Mr Rennie said Mr Matthews’s “dismissal of the chief executive would not be justified”.

You can hear a mumbled “Bugger!” emanating from the Ministerial wing of the Beehive, right about now. However, I don’t expect this will slow down the government’s hasty desire to privatise prisons. Even though there are more pressing issues as outlined in the briefing given to the incoming Minister late last year.

Read the rest of this entry »


Fairfax cuts journalists’ jobs – global trend is down

August 28, 2008

The decision by Fairfax Media this week to cut another 100 jobs from its New Zealand news operations continues a downward trend in journalists jobs that’s worldwide.

One small bright spot though; Fairfax journalists in Australia are not lying down over this. They are organising union meetings and have a good website at Fair go, Fairfax.

Alan Kennedy, a long-time Fairfax employee who recently retired, is scathing of the company’s management and he’s right, of course:

[Fairfax journalists] are seeing an increasingly incompetent management team still paying themselves astonishing salaries, cutting and then cutting again as they pursue a model that is bringing diminishing returns. The one-trick ponies in management cannot see past making savings through retrenchment, non hiring and in their current manic campaign to slash the salaries and conditions of the most experienced staff.  [Alan Kennedy]

Newspapers like those owned by Fairfax are reacting to changing circumstances, but it is a short-term response. It is really a “cut nose,” “Take that face!” exercise. Profits are sliding so cost-cutting measures are put in place. This leads to a further decline in quality – despite what the company says – which can only mean further losses in sales and advertising and a bigger drop in profits.

Of course, Fairfax is not alone in going down this slippery slope. Last year New Zealand’s other large news media operation, APN, announced similar cuts to its newspaper staff and the outsourcing of most of its sub-editing operation to a company called Pagemasters. Ironically, Pagemasters major shareholders include APN and Fairfax Media.

Fairfax is hoping for $50 million in savings from its 5 per cent staffing cut. The news was reported in a very straightforward way in the Fairfax-owned Sydney Morning Herald, which concentrated on the share price bounce and finance market reactions.

The copy reads like a close cousin of a media release issued by Fairfax Media announcing a “business improvement plan”.

This is the third wave of business improvement initiatives we have undertaken over the past three years. Over the course of the 2006 and 2007 financial years we achieved $52 million in ongoing real cost reductions. Cost synergies associated with the merger of Fairfax Media and Rural Press and the acquisition of Southern Cross radio produced a further $53 million in savings ($45 million Rural Press, $8 million radio). All of these synergies will be realised by the end of this financial year.

With the new organisation structure in place and line management operating effectively, now is the time to launch a third wave of business improvement which will deliver benefits over the next two years.

Media companies fit for the modern media world need to be lean and agile. This far-reaching program will position us well for the next stage of our growth and development.” [Fairfax media release]

Journalists’ union leader, Andrew Little was less sanguine in his media comments:

“Fairfax’s proposed redundancies will be a huge blow to already strained newsrooms and to New Zealanders’ democratic right to be properly informed about their country’s major issues,” said Mr Little, national secretary of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union. [NZPA]

New Zealand and Australia now join the long list of countries in which newspaper companies are shedding staff. A recent post at Julie Starr’s Evolving Newsroom carries the bad news.


Morning Report – echo chamber for the opposition?

August 14, 2008

I like Morning Report, it’s my daily fix of news and current affairs. Occasionally I get annoyed with the focus on local crime stories, traffic and weather, but that’s cool; it’s just a morning heart-starter.

But in the last few days I have become more than annoyed, I’m totally jacked-off with Sean Plunkett in particular. I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that Morning Report is just an echo-chamber and amplifier for every piss-ant little claim made by the Nationals and now also the ACT Party.

It was double-barrel this morning and Sean really got on my goat.

First an uncritical acceptance of National claims that DOC is going to spend $2 million on a re-branding campaign; then ACT Party defence spokesbot, Heather Roy, (are they even big enough to have spokesbots?) banging on about some 40 year-old clapped out jets that the Government wants to sell.

Then the claims are rewritten and bundled up into the next news bulletin, making them ‘fact’.

Have the Morning Report presenters and producers left their critical faculties at the door? Read the rest of this entry »


This year, vote 1 Laura Norder

June 20, 2008

Anyone reading this on Mars might not know that it’s election season in New Zealand. According to some recent surveys here, there’s a fair bunch of Kiwis who don’t know either.

I’m not sure, myself, how you could miss it. The stink of hypocrisy is now stronger than the pong from Roto Vegas’ famed sulphur pools. There’s blood in the water too.

The political sharks are circling; any hint of weakness and they’ll surge in to bite you on the ass, or worse.

Perhaps like the feet washing up on the west coast of Canada, body parts will be floating in the Hauraki Gulf and Cook Strait before too long.

That’s why I’m voting for Laura Norder.

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