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MSM's silence speaks volumes

Martyn Bradbury: Is the Public Interest Journalism Fund's strict editorial policy smothering focus on Nanaia's Three Waters nepotism criticism?
Martyn Bradbury
Contributing Writer
June 7th, 2022

OPINION: Let's be honest, we've all been surprised by the almost total silence from the mainstream media regarding accusations of nepotism based on the journalism at The Platform regarding Nanaia Mahuta's family members being consultants on reforms she has overseen.

Now.

Let me be very clear here.

I am a Nanaia fanboy, I think she's great. I think she is an excellent Minister who has led on water reforms and her connections with other Pacific Island Royal Families is a deeper connection than China can ever offer.

I agree with nationalising water, I agree with co-governance.

I point out that as far as the Cabinet Manual is concerned, Nanaia has done all she is required to do in order to highlight a conflict of interest.

I also note that within Māoridom, it's almost impossible to find people who aren't related.

However.

The Cabinet Manual isn't just about the technical requirements of excusing yourself over a conflict of interest, it is just as important to be seen to have no conflict of interest. 

The perception is as important as the technicalities and in this case, those perceptions are enormous.

So why such radio silence outside a paywalled story on the Herald and Karl's column in Stuff?

One could suggest that Sean's cancellation by the woke means The Platform has been deplatformed and anything published is avoided by the mainstream, but even those petty dictates by the woke don't explain the energy the mainstream media are spending to fastidiously ignore such enormous conflicts of interest, there is something deeper and I honestly wonder if it's the Editorial requirements of the NZ on Air Public Journalism Fund.

What few understand about the Public Journalism Fund is that there is a very clear editorial line that must be followed if you gain access to that money.

Here are examples of the 'guidance' NZ On Air directs people to read before submitting funding applications:

  • Māori have never ceded sovereignty to Britain or any other state.

  • …our society has a foundation of institutional racism.

  • For news media, it is not simply a matter of reporting ‘fairly’, but of constructively contributing to te Tiriti relations and social justice.

  • How does the [media] organisation cover the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and efforts to enact it such as He Puapua?… For publicly funded news media, He Puapua recommends ‘increasing the number of Māori governors, te reo and Māori cultural content.

  • Repeated references by the government to the English version [of the Treaty], in which Māori supposedly ceded sovereignty, have created systematic disinformation that protects the government’s assumption of sole parliamentary sovereignty.    

Any journalism which challenges that editorial line from NZ On Air won't get funded and the mainstream media's reliance on that fund means they are editorially beholden to NZ On Air.

What The Platform exposed was damaging enough, the mainstream media's refusal to follow up speaks even louder volumes. 


Martyn Bradbury is Editor of the Daily Blog, the largest Left Wing Blog in New Zealand and hosts The Working Group, the best weekly political podcast that isn't funded by NZ On Air.