Sorry, I’ve been a bit busy to post. Over the weekend, on Saturday I covered the Mana Party campaign launch at Otara — an upbeat, good-humoured event which spouted talk of revolution and smashing/overthrowing the system. Invigorating rap songs and anthems bookended passionate speeches from this country’s radical literati — living treasures of the left-wing and Maori ‘radical’ movement.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Annette Sykes and Matt McCarten and attended a post-launch media conference with the ‘top table’ and then Hone Harawira. All good stuff.
Then yesterday, Sunday, I covered a NZ First meeting in Kelston — about half the number of people and a very different demographic — where Winston Peters announced NZ First’s post election position that they will NOT go into coalition with any other party, but would aim to be an ‘effective Opposition’ … if they get back into Parliament. (ahem)
Take that as preamble. Here’s what I wanted to share:
Winston Peters’ speech yesterday ranged over three key issues he says are of grave and historic concern to all New Zealanders. For the purposes of this conversation it doesn’t actually matter what they are but they are these: The Treaty of Waitangi (secretly) being used as the basis of our constitution in behind-closed-doors discussion, the Foreshore & Seabed legislaton (race-based) and state asset sales.
So, that was his “unholy trinity” and after railing against them, he effectively ruled out working with any other party, and said no party should rule alone.
After his speech, and Q&A, we (the media) approached Peters at the back of the stage for a ‘stand up’… that’s an impromptu media conference where we each ask him questions and listen to each other’s questions and the newsmaker’s answers.
And here’s my point:
The delightful Rebecca Wright (right) from 3 News asked Peters if the issues he raised (constitutional issues, the treaty and asset sales) weren’t ‘yesterday’s issues‘ … sparking this very interesting interchange about the role of the news media, listen: (mp3 1min 45 secs)
Link to the MP3 file here
What I ask you to do is allow the public to know what we’re saying …
You’re entitled to your view, but please don’t present your view to the public. We’re a political party, I’d like you to present our views to it. That’s what is called ‘being the medium’. — Winston Peters speaking to reporter Rebecca Wright of 3 News.
I strongly believe there are times when the media just has to get out of the way, and serve as an as-neutral-as-possible soapbox or a noticeboard, amplifier or megaphone for the views of those upon whom we are reporting. Providing a clear channel, not editorializing. No matter what our own opinions.
What do you think?