Thursday, December 7, 2023

Graeme Reeves: Public Interest Journalism Fund (PIJF)

It has been fascinating witnessing the indignant outrage of the MSM media to the Deputy Prime Minister's comments condemning those media organisations that applied for and received the government PIJF hand out.

Surprising to me was Mike Hosking’s rant which descended into an ad hominem attack on Winston Peters.

When one sees such a vitriolic and defensive reaction one wonders why the allegedly objective media has reacted so badly.

I took Hosking’s advice and did some research.

I started with the “Public Interest Journalism Fund: General Guidelines” dated 17 March 2022.

Section 3 sets out the, “Goals of the Public Interest Journalism Fund”.

The first part of the section sets out five things that must be achieved.

The first two are innocuous enough they refer to informing and engaging the public about issues that affect a person’s right to flourish within our society and impact on society’s ability to fully support its citizens and to provide accurate, accountable, and fair coverage that reflects and empowers all sectors of the community upholding the public’s right to know.

The fourth and fifth are in a similar vein requiring that the media must reflect the cultural diversity of New Zealand and to encourage a robust and sustainable media sector.

The third mandatory requirement though is, in my view, problematic.

It states, “Actively promote the principles of partnership, Participation and Active Protection under Te Tiriti o Waitangi acknowledging Maori as a Te Tiriti partner.”

That prescription of the Treaty principles is presented as the authoritative, no debate to be entered into.

And that was (is) how the recipients of the PIJF have approached the reporting of Treaty issues.

The PIJF was administered and funded through NZ On Air.

At the same time, 22 March 2022 New Zealand on Air Commissioned and published the TE TIRITI FRAMEWORK FOR NEWS MEDIA document authored by Jenny Rankin, Angela Moewaka Barnes, Belinda Borell, Tim Mc Creanor & Raymond Nairn.

The document is 29 pages long.

It starts with the statement that, “Mass news media organisations need to consider, explore, build  on and implement the framework in ways that show commitment to te Tiriti o Waitangi.”

One cannot understand the significance of the third mandatory condition for eligibility for funding under the PIJF without having an understanding of the directives emanating from the Framework document. The third mandatory requirement takes its meaning from the Framework which starts by setting out the rationale for its expressed view which is to be adopted by the recipients of the PIJF money.

It starts thus, “As tangata whenua o Aotearoa , Maori have never ceded sovereignty to Britain or any other state. He Whakaputanga /Declaration of Independence (1835) and te Tiriti 0 Waitangi (1840) asserted and continue to assert Maori sovereignty, and were signed by hapu and the Crown. Te Tiriti carries rights and obligations for both parties, with implications for social justice. Despite te Tiriti, colonial constitutional practices have entrenched Pakeha systems of governance that continue today. This means our society has a foundation of institutional racism, where organisations, agencies and institutions continue to benefit Pakeha, and routinely produce policies and practices that result in avoidable inequalities between Pakeha and Maori.

“As a social institution, news media play a major role. News is much more than some truth out there waiting to be reported; news organisations often choose what counts as news and construct news through their cultural lenses of representation and silences…

“News Media organisations have an obligation to be accountable and responsible in the ways they represent Maori and decide what is newsworthy, as well as how they organise their own structures and processes to align with Te Tiriti Waitangi.

To me this all smacks of the implementation of an ideology which has been sold by the promoters of a singular view of New Zealand’s history and swallowed hook line and sinker without demur by the recipient media organisations when accepting the PIJF funds.

The fact of the matter is that there are contrary views on this matter which should have been and now will be debated by our society no thanks to the fourth estate which has been derelict in its function to question, to be curious and to encourage debate on such fundamental issues.

The MSM media seem to have been seduced by the proponents of Critical Race Theory where the dialectic of oppressed (Maori) and oppressor (the rest) have supplanted the proletariat and the bourgeoisie of Marxism.

Let me finish with a quote from our former Prime Minister David Lange when he delivered the Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture in November 2000.

“Democratic government can accommodate Maori political aspiration in many ways. It can allocate resources in ways which reflect the particular interests of Maori people. It can delegate authority, and allow the exercise of degrees of Maori autonomy. What it cannot do is acknowledge the existence of separate sovereignty. As soon as it does that, it isn’t democracy. We can have a democratic form of government or we can have indigenous sovereignty. They can’t coexist and we can’t have them both.”

He also said, “The Treaty cannot be any kind of founding document, as it is sometimes said to be. It does not resolve the question of sovereignty, if only because one version of it claims one form of sovereignty and the other version claims the opposite. The court of appeal once, absurdly, described it as a partnership between races, but it obviously is not. The signatories are, on one side, a distinctive group of people, and on the other, a government which established itself in New Zealand and whose successors represent all of us, whether we are descendants of the signatories or not. The Treaty cannot even resolve the argument among Maori themselves in which one side maintains that you’re a Maori if you identify as such, and the other claims that it’s your links to traditional forms of association which define you as Maori.”

It won’t be lost on you that the News Media Framework which underpinned the conditions of the PIJF is founded on the false premise that, “Maori never ceded sovereignty”.

The MSM took the money and accepted that condition.

It’s no wonder  that the population at large has lost trust and confidence in the MSM.

Graeme Reeves is a lawyer and former National MP.


Allan said...

Maybe the PIJF was not the biggest bribe. What about all of the expensive Prime-Time Govt. advertising for everything from "Covid for Morons" to totally pointless adverts telling us that NZTA was going to look at changing some speed limits. Both a total waste of Taxpayers money to boost MSM profits.

Robert Arthur said...

From snippets from the msm over time and even the latest it would appear many commentators have not read the guidelines and certainly not the framework. If thy were not so complicit the msm should be having a field day on the topic. it is prposterous that a larg group of peolple whiled away hours compiling such an absurd documenta s the Framewrk. The nation needs a whole new Churchillian response to communication method. The word processor has spawned such floods of words all counter productive.

Anonymous said...

Excellent! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Excellent article that is right on point. The MSM under Ardern was purchased and repurposed as the propaganda arm of the Labour government

Baden said...

If a mandatory requirement of the PIJF is to provide ‘…accurate, accountable and fair…’ (coverage) then perhaps an audit of the money paid out and the behaviour of the media recipients might be an appropriate mechanism for the government to require of its agent -
NZOA? With a report to the house per the auditor general perhaps? And to require repayment of grants where coverage hasn’t met this mandatory requirement. Just apply the standard rules of contract.

Dave Hill said...

Stuff commissioned a recent survey of NZ journalists asking if they were "right of left leaning" 87% said they were centre left or left leaning as apposed to only 11% who aiad they were centre right or right leaning. Over 300 journalists took part. No surprise really.
Just look at nzme and stuff reporting since before and now accelerated since the election.
It's an utter embarrassment to that profession and those who work in it.
How do we fix it
For a start sell off TVNZ and Radio Nz then stop or severely cut back NZ on Air and funding for Maori Radio and TV