Sunday, September 5, 2021

Hugh Perrett: A State-Controlled Press?

Over recent weeks It has been brought to my attention that newspapers now generally seem very hesitant/ reluctant to publish “letters to the editor” that they consider too confronting, critical or overly judgemental of Government‘s policies, practices, procedures or actions.

Recently a politically concerned member of my coffee club, submitted and then re-submitted 4 or 5 separate letters to the newspaper for consideration for publication as “letters to the editor,” all of which were rejected for publication. 

He claimed each letter covered a distinct, separate, political issue of significant interest to the community and more particularly, of very serious concern to many people in the community.

I saw these letters and can confirm his claim. 

Other similar experiences were related to us by other members of the club. 

In defence of the publishers and the newspaper industry in general, I fully understand and accept that they get a large number of submissions and are under no obligation to publish any particular letter(s) simply because it/they have been submitted. 

However, most of the published letters I have read in my local newspaper are relatively innocuous/mundane in themselves or are about relatively innocuous or mundane topics. 

With the exception of Covid, which is obviously currently very topical, there seem to be no letters published which put Government’s other very controversial, discriminatory and threatening policies, procedures, practices and actions under serious examination or scrutiny, particularly when it is considered that NONE of them were disclosed, discussed or mandated during the election process. 

Such letters just do not seem to get published. 

I would have thought that traditionally, one of the central purposes/functions of a newspaper in a democracy, would be to provide a platform to facilitate such public scrutiny and examination. 

I am sure newspapers in general are aware that rumours are at large in the community that Government has in effect “bought/suborned” the press and perverted them from this role, ie one of their basic traditional purposes/roles - of providing a platform for scrutinising Government policies and actions and putting them under the spotlight. 

This is a very serious allegation of course, because it implies the press has surrendered its soul and its integrity to the Government and, further, and most importantly, has abdicated from a traditional and very important part of its purpose/role. 

In my opinion/experience, maintaining a proper customer-focus, usually a central feature of a top, well run business, would almost certainly have precluded this from even being considered, let alone happening. 

The public NEEDS a vehicle which provides them with the ability to question and scrutinise Government policies, practices, procedures and actions. 

Is the press able to honestly and unequivocally, completely reassure us, the public, that it has NOT SURRENDERED ITS INDEPENDENCE - that the above allegations have no substance?

The casual evidence, aside from the rumours, based on personal observation, and received comment from the observations and experiences of others, is that the allegations may have substance. 

It certainly raises a concern as to whether we in effect have a State-controlled press?

Hugh Perrett, a member of the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame, is the former managing director of Foodstuffs and founder of the Pak n' Save discount grocery chain.


DeeM said...

Welcome to the real world Hugh. Most contributors to this site have been well aware of this problem for years now.
Stuff are a lost cause, supporting and publishing only woke, left-wing issues, and never seriously questioning or criticising our wonderful PM and Labour government.
NZME are a bit better but not much.
TV1 news leans to the left but not as far as TV3 which has gone so far left as to be off the road and in the bushes.

What we really need is an alternative TV news outlet (like GB News) but I realise the cost of that would likely be beyond most private individuals or groups.
Until then, anyone wanting a balanced approach comes to Breaking Views or a couple of other websites.

Janine said...

Even worse in my opinion is the complete lack of debate allowed on the serious issues facing New Zealand. I hope you don't give up Hugh, as I have, after a couple of years naively thinking that by discussing things openly we could reach a consensus. Not so, if you stray from the perceived status quo the tribe seem to target you with idiocy.
I suggested an independent media site about five months ago on a blog site. Most people agreed but nothing has happened since. I suggested many things but it seems people just want to moan and wring their hands.A new political party is required that supports all New Zealanders equally. That seems to be the missing link.

Phil said...

I note several days of various media vigorously attacking Judith Collins for standing up for herself when confronted by a breakfast TV reporter about attending parliament.

I think Don Brash penned an article about various media turning down his attempts to buy advertising space concerning projects politically offside with current Government thinking. Family First are also hitting a brick wall on advertising. What back room discussions have taken place that lead to media organisations turning down adverting revenue?

Jigsaw said...

In our town we have two community newspapers-one owned and controlled by NZME and the other owned and controlled by STUFF.
We also have a local iwi road blockage and all of the angst not to say abuse etc. that goes with that. This iwi access blockage has existed since June 2020 and yet both papers have printed at most two uncritical articles on the fact and won't print any letters about it.
The local council seem unable to do anything - but naturally are endlessly consulting with the iwi on other things. The police say its none of their business- and in fact no one with do anything even in face of threats of violence.
The state controlled media make sure that this whole disgusting situation is kept quiet at all levels.
Welcome to state censorship.

Peter Bacos said...

The Public Interest Journalism Fund of $55,000,000 to promote treaty partnership and support all things Maori has bought off the press. I'm surprised Hugh to see you threshing around when the culprit is so obvious. Propaganda has replaced free enquiry.

Russ said...

Golly Hugh, you've noticed over the last couple of weeks, well good on you. I appreciate that citizens of your caliber are finally starting to wake up to the corruption that has been patently obvious to most of us for years.

Calvin said...

I agree with Peter that the Journalism Fund wit it’s attached strings has silenced the media on any anti government perspective. It is hard to win an election with the mainstream media singing from the same songsheet!

Tony Orman said...

Great article Hugh. As a former editor with an eye to layout, I'm noticing that Stuff newspapers are now placing half page ads on "letters to the editor" pages, thus lashing the space for reader's letters being published. On various environmental issues I've been involved with over a period of 40 plus years, I've noticed a decline in investigative journalism to a point now where balanced journalism is virtually non-existent.

Allan said...

Not only has the 'press' been bought & payed for, using tax payers money, but now the 'moronials' who have been indoctrinated, where they once would have been educated, are leaving 'school' & being given employment as news reporters & presenters, so this is adding to the slanted view that the gullible public receive & believe to be true. When NEWS-papers were individually owned by private enterprise companies, communities were well served & received factual items of local & national concern. Now we have corporate owned papers, who in many cases no longer have a letter to the editor section and only present one side of the story. As for TV; we desperately need a New Zealand version of
SKY NEWS AUSTRALIA for example..

Don said...

This is hardly new. Way back when "The Power of the Press" was a byword and to counteract the right wing bias of the newspapers donations were accepted from people who could barely afford them to establish "The Southern Cross" which had a short and struggling existence.
Once a regular contributor to "Letters" I seldom bother now since so many of my efforts do not fall into line with established propaganda policy. I even wonder if there is a "black list" of contributors whose contributions are binned. The Orewa speech is a good example of how the press can create false opinion because instead of reading the actual speech most readers just read the journalists opinions on it and are manipulated into developing false impressions.
Most of the people are being fooled most of the time but let us hope they will not remain fooled all of the time.

Robert Arthur said...

In effect we no longer have newspapers of the traditional type. Even matters of great interest , such as the current state of Covid around the world, are not reported daily or weekly but only when some major event appears in overseas headlines.
Local reporting has been effectively bought by the government. Whilst newspapers may not yet have extensively used the Public Interest Journalism Fund directly, the intent to utilise it sometime is forever there. If the bulk of other reporting is not consistently in close abeyance of the same rules, chances of ever qualifying for the PIJF when desired would seem slim. So in effect the same rules apply to all material.
Along with a wealth of other subjects, topics of considerable interest to many of the public are the proposed schools History curriculum, and the review of the RNZ Charter. Instead of waiting for the summary by interested parties and associated tailored press handout, it would be informative if some newspaper did its own research into the submissions received. The topic would seem made for the PIJF. But because some submitters will be critical of the treaty equal partnership concept and other pro maori aspects, the requirements for any PIJFunding would not be met. So the same constraint in effect spills over to all reporting. The tone of the newspapers (and other media) has effectively been bought just as effectively as in direct state controlled countries. It seems Ardern learned a lot from her Communications course.
If researched meticulously, when the next survey of world corruption country by country is done we should slip well down the list.

Geoff. said...

The Daily Mail (New Zealand) edited in Australia seems to be ready to print articles critical of our dear leader. They also print comments submitted on line. Maybe NZ democracy can be saved by using the international press to air our concerns, certainly, bad international press will not help her get a job in the UN.

Unknown said...

Ian Read
I agree. The press ie NZ Herald, is not publishing any letters that don't agree with the narrative. I have had 2 expressions on climate change not printed. This is similar to what is happening in the USA. This should not be happening in our society. It is very unhealthy.