Clark on Media

December 12th, 2007 at 7:20 am by David Farrar

I suggested a few days ago that if Clark suceeds in getting a 4th term despite the Electoral Finance Bill regulating lobby groups, then her logical next target will be regulation.  And keep that in mind when you look at her words on Monday:

She said there was little point complaining to the print media’s self-regulatory watchdog, the Press Council.

That just doesn’t get you anywhere.

Sounds like she would like a system where her complaints will get her somewhere and she doesn’t have to just “shrug and say, ‘Well, that’s life,’ and get on with it.” Her Foreign Minister has labelled journalists as traitors and rails against the media and their owners.  If he demanded media regulation as the price of support, do you think Helen would resist?

Anyway let’s look at her other views on the media:

“In the small political bubble that is Wellington, and particularly Parliament, people are far too close to each other, might establish habits of drinking far too much with each other, and getting too close.

” I don’t think that’s a good idea, and I make a habit of keeping professional boundaries myself.”

I don’t disagree with Clark here but no PM has ever been drinking buddies with the gallery – they’re far too busy generally. I actually don’t think there is any significant occurrence of MPs and journalists being drinking buddies – in fact I suspect Clark’s words were aimed at one particular journalist whom is out of favour with the 9th floor.

Helen Clark said “very few” journalists had a comprehensive knowledge of New Zealand’s international relations and few media outlets sent journalists to cover her international trips.

Here I very much agree. The gallery journalists themselves get pretty frustrated that their owners often won’t fork out for what should just be routine business – travelling with the PM.

Many journalists were young, and while this meant that they had “energy and a fresh perspective”, most of them had major gaps in their general knowledge.

Wow so the gallery are inexperienced and stupid! Colin Espiner counters this ageism rather grumpily for such a young fella :-)

Helen Clark said media also needed to consider blogging by senior political reporters on the websites of major news outlets.

“Of course, if you commit yourself to instant opinion, then when it comes time to putting in a considered piece, you might think, ‘Whoops, that was a rush of judgment,’ but it becomes hard to climb back from.”

Heh in my experience if you get something wrong on a blog, dozens of frenzied comments point this out to you in no small manner.

I love the fact some in the gallery are blogging.  Audrey Young’s blog helped bring down David Benson-Pope.  The gallery blogs all provide really useful commentary and perspective on how members of the gallery are seeing events.

I think Clark is wrong to link blogging to instant reaction.  Often a gallery blog touches on an event after it has been running for a few days.  The blog gives a more blunt appraisal often than a newspaper column, and allows for direct reader feedback.

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