Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Political Opinion Masquerading as News

Over the Easter break I made the mistake of listening to a news bulletin on Radio New Zealand. I always find listening to the news or current affairs on RNZ to be a mistake because what RNZ thinks is news, and what I think is news, are two very different things. The first three or four articles in the bulletin followed the same formula - the presentation of what is in fact a political viewpoint as a news story, interviews with sympathetic so-called experts without resort to any facts or objective assessment and, inevitably, a call for the government to spend more money to address the issue.

An example was an article on the number of homeless people on the streets of Auckland. The article presented this issue as if it was something new and pressing, but it contained no facts about whether the number of homeless people in Auckland is actually increasing, who these people typically are, and what might be the reasons for their homelessness and therefore the most appropriate solutions to the problem. Instead, the purpose of the report was revealed as a call for the government to build more state houses.

Auckland does, in fact, have a housing shortage but the reason people are sleeping rough on the streets may have little to do with the availability of housing or even much to do with the amount of financial or accommodation assistance that is available to them. Often, in my experience, such people choose to sleep rough for various reasons unrelated to pure financial issues and their numbers tend to peak in the summer months and go down in winter due to the obvious climatic factors.

Much of what passes for news in New Zealand, particularly from our state-owned media, is of this nature. It is not news at all but rather a thinly-disguised presentation of the station's editorial position, which is invariably left wing, under the guise of a news story. 

There is something unhealthy and inevitable about a state-funded media organisation calling for more government spending, but it becomes a particularly pernicious practice when it replaces that organisation’s proper function, which has become the case in regards to RNZ. It is a gross abuse of taxpayers funds.

I reiterate the call I have made previously that there is no point in the New Zealand taxpayer owning an organization like RNZ, particularly when it seems to regard its role as being the promotion of a particular political point of view. Radio New Zealand should be sold, preferably to Rupert Murdoch.

1 comment:

Lindsay Mitchell said...

I can just hear it. They'll be some street sounds for effect before the reporter backgrounds his bench sleeper followed by a soundbite from the homeless soul, followed by a soundbite from a sympathetic passerby or two.

It is formulaic on steroids.

And you make the most important point - that rough sleepers dissipate in the winter months. Where do they go? Couldn't they go there in summer?

(Wish you would blog more often.)