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The NZ on Air funded documentary about Chloe Swarbrick is outrageous

Martyn Bradbury: when it comes to political documentaries, you don't do documentaries on MPs of the block in power, you do it for opposition because no bias can be construed via the funding process.
Martyn Bradbury
Contributing Writer
May 23rd, 2022

OPINION: I like Chloe.

I think she is a unique politician with an incredible intellect who has an authentic and genuine empathy that marks her out as a future Prime Minister.

She has that combination of raw vision and true courage.

I've been a fan since her run for the Auckland mayoralty and I am absolutely someone who would go and see a documentary about her.


The bewildering decision for NZ on Air to fork out almost a quarter of a million dollars for a documentary on her is just so unbelievable in its audacity you just can't stop shaking your head.

There are two reasons why this is an appalling decision.

The first is that public broadcasting right now is struggling to show true independence after most mainstream media in New Zealand took funding from their Public Interest Journalism Fund alongside a heavily dictated editorial policy.

The NZ on Air fund pretends to be for investigative journalism when really it's a social engineering manual and they are very clear in the funding applications how far NZ on Air intends to enforce this editorial policy.

• 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.

NONE of that has ANYTHING to do with journalism, the craft of journalism nor the values of journalism, it's an editorial policy in return for state funding.

Now I happen to agree with much of NZ on Air's editorial policy regarding historic issues with Māori, but to call that a journalism fund and pretend this is journalism and not an editorial policy is rank hypocrisy. 

When you have polling showing 59% of New Zealanders believing Government funding of private media undermines the ability of that media to hold the Government to account, forking out $220,000 for a fanfiction cinematic portrayal of a prominent Green Party MP is about as wise a decision as Trump giving a guest speech at a Feminist Folk Festival.

The second reason this is a terrible decision by NZ on Air is the basic rule of thumb when it comes to political documentaries, you don't do documentaries on the MPs of the block in power, you do it for the opposition because no bias can be construed via the funding process.

Don't get me wrong, we need far more political documentaries funded by NZ on Air, but woke fan faction with all its tedious identity politics virtue-signalling is not an exploration of political issues or philosophies, it's the latest shallow me me me culture which comes across like a group therapy session for the person being focused on and the audience. 

This was a terrible decision by NZ on Air. I look forward to reviewing it.


DISCLOSURE: I host The Working Group, New Zealand's best weekly political podcast and we rate number 1 in New Zealand with no funding from NZ on Air at all.

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.