Refreshingly honest comments by John Drinnan in Tuesday’s NZ Herald in his A – Z of a challenging year in the media:
“Acting Up – Talk about Fantasyland. Sir Peter Jackson depicted the Hobbit dispute as a passionate quest to defy the evil unions and keep the movie in New Zealand. It was of course, about money, power and keeping unions out. For producers and actors it was business – part of the old battle for power between capital and labour. But the media have a role in reporting that battle – and their one sided, naive and simplistic coverage of the dispute was shameful. With a few honourable exceptions – notably this paper – many in the media unquestioningly backed producers’ versions of events and whipped up hysteria in a manner reminiscent of the 1951 waterfront dispute. Not the media’s finest hour.”
I absolutely agree with the comments about the coverage being shameful. Many in the media facilitated the vilification of people who were trying to protect the interests of those working in the industry – Jennifer Ward- Lealand, Robyn Malcolm and Helen Kelly. There was the deliberate union bashing, which sadly many seem to accept without question, and the failure to indentify and highlight the inconsistencies and omissions in what the Government and Peter Jackson were saying (for example Peter Jackson said in 2009 that the Hobbit was likely to be lost to NZ because the financial incentives were insufficient).
I am glad that someone in the media is recognising these facts. I am glad too that the material released under the Official Information Act just before Xmas shows what information was available to John Key and other National MPs (and when it was available). It will be interesting to see what role they played in misleading the media and the response of the Speaker to Trevor Mallard’s questions about Gerry Brownlee misleading the House .