The Government announced:
- The current focus for government and all New Zealanders must be on minimising the movement of people to stop the transmission of Covid-19
- In relation to news and media this applies both to the movement of staff of media organisations and their supply and distribution lines
- The focus for news and media as an essential service has to be on the provision of timely news and current affairs
- Daily newspapers are currently included in the definition and are expected to take strong measures to ensure safety of staff and the public; combined with their digital reach, they remain essential at this stage for the timely dissemination of news to the majority of New Zealanders
- Printed periodical and non-daily publications are not considered essential under the news and media designation
- This assessment is based on the requirement to minimise the movement of people, reduce the potential for transmission via delivery of physical objects, and reduce strain on supply and delivery industries that may be expected to play a significant role in supporting other essential services (eg, health and food supply)
This is a terrible decision.
The media pay an essential role in society, and this extends beyond the daily media. Some of the best investigative reporting can be done by non daily media.
The role of the media is not just to disseminate news. It is to hold the Government to account. It is to scrutinise. And while daily media do this also, they are sometimes so caught up in the day to day, you need non daily media also.
If the media companies affected had any fortitude they’d take this to court for judicial review. I do not believe any court would find such a narrow definition of media as an essential service to be acceptable.