A change in approach by political media?

Here’s a sign of at least recognition that political media coverage should improve.

Tracy Watkins (Stuff): The election is nearly here – let’s strip it back to what really matters

So what’s the moral of the story? That so much of the political discourse these days is seen to be more focused on the game playing and the sport of politics, rather than the substance. And that is contributing to the sense that politicians are increasingly out of touch with voters.

We in the media can cop some of the blame. In our drive to explain the “why” and “how” of politics it can look like we’re focusing on personalities rather than policies.

It’s also no secret that there is a voracious appetite for personality-driven political coverage, while the appetite for policy-driven stories is more niche.

Is there really a “voracious appetite” for personality-driven political coverage? It is very click driven, but that is often through misleading and inaccurate headlines.

I don’t condemn that; to an extent, I’ve always believed that we vote for our politicians as much on character or judgement as the policies they hawk.

Their credibility is central to whether we believe in their promises.

But in the hot house of Parliament – where politicians and the media collide regularly on the chaotic weekly caucus run, or “on the tiles”, which is where MPs stop for journalists on their way into the House – it’s all too easy to lose perspective.

It’s also a chicken and egg thing. Politicians pay armies of spin doctors to churn out policy positions in soundbites, and the leaders spend hours being coached by their media minders on how to answer questions.

If this was all about enabling a substantive policy debate, or holding their opponents to account, fair enough.

But that’s not it, of course. It’s mostly about framing the narrative, and staying on message. It’s about winning the game in other words.

But does it win the game? I think that many people are unimpressed by PR framing and words that don’t match action s and behaviour, some to the extent of being turned off the politician, party or politics in general.

The stakes are high so it’s not surprising they play the game this way.

It surprises me. I think that substance and delivering is far more important than PR claptrap that may be perceived by analysts to win small battles of words, but loses the war of credibility and leadership.

Winning power means getting to bend an economy and a people to suit their vision.

But that’s also why we deserve much better.

So once Ardern names the date, let’s all pledge to strip this election back to its essentials, and focus on he story behind the personalities and the soundbites.

We do deserve better, from politicians and from media. Tracy Watkins has at least started the year recognising they need to do better, but once the playground begins will anything change? It’s very easy to get dragged into the PR game playing.

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20 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  14th January 2020

    National have assiduously utilised ‘dirty politics’ as the lynchpin of their electioneering.

    I doubt they will be making any…u turns.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  14th January 2020

      Yes. Grip and grin photo of Robertson with a dodgy car dealer, taken at those pay to eat breakfast /lunch whatever things pollies attend, on his blog along with some arch comments. Its back to his starring role in dirty politics where the then PMs office had a dedicated taxpyer funded PR operation for Farrar , Slater and others. Eade is likely working outside Bridges office this time , as a ‘contractor’ or something

      Reply
    • artcroft

       /  14th January 2020

      I hope you’re right. I expect Simon to squash lefties wherever they appear and with whatever resources come to hand. The fate of the nation is at stake.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  14th January 2020

        I’m sure that between Simon and Dr Jiang there will be plenty of ‘resources’ available.

        Reply
      • Corky

         /  14th January 2020

        Truer words have not been spoken, Arty. Simon needs to be as smooth as a well oiled iron coming out of a finely sandered holster. Utu should be served hot..not cold! I want to see these feral hombres pay for their wilful indiscretions and vile actions.

        Reply
  2. Zedd

     /  14th January 2020

    After the news about the actions of ‘Cambridge Analytica’ to post ads. on F-bk etc. directed at a small number of voters in ‘critical swing states’ that reportedly pushed MrT over the line in 2016.. methinks the whole political ‘spin-doctoring’ landscape has changed. This is also probable here in ‘Lil ol’ Aotearoa’ now.

    Whilst it is clear that certain members of the NZ media, do push their political choice/agenda (eg Mikey) to bolster their side of the fence.. this could well be surpassed by the effect of internet coercion ? :/

    Reply
    • Cordy

       /  14th January 2020

      Johnny. Paddy. Katie. TV1. TV3. National Socialist Radio. Bomber. Jack Tame. Seven Sharp.
      The Project. Mihi. Willie. Hillary. My cuzzy Mikey McRoberts. Emmerson. The Dom. Tom Scot. Taika Waititi. Sam Neil. Sam Hunt.

      Doesn’t leave much for the RIGHT, does it Zedd? 😃

      Reply
      • Zedd

         /  14th January 2020

        just showing a ‘one eyed view’ again.. corky ? :/ 😀

        try listening to ZB : full of right-wingers, most are pro-Natl-act !

        Reply
        • Corky

           /  14th January 2020

          Quite true. Let’s add Magic Radio. NBR… Mikey , Sean and Peter Williams. Lean pickings if you ask me.

          Just listening to talkback go off over the teaching of this Climate Change Scam in schools. Teachers, Federated Farmers and David Seymour are weighing in. This is gonna blow up in the governments fascist face. Great fodder for the election. Talkback has a copy of what will be taught. Amongst this august socialist brief is ”how to handle climate sceptics.” Words to that affect.

          The thing is: why isn’t mainstream media covering this issue in fine detail? We are talking about the indoctrination of school children.

          So enough of this media bias for the RIGHT. The majority of bias points left.

          Reply
  3. duperez

     /  14th January 2020

    Getting dragged into the PR game playing is easy because it has become the essence of the game of politics and the game of life. Tracy Watkins recognising a need for better is the momentary hiatus while the dial is turning to the next station on the dial. Normal transmission will resume immediately.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  14th January 2020

      Yes. So much of the ‘old media’ is now designed to get traffic from facebook feeds, they still have to follow religiously the manual ‘ 50 shades of clickbait’
      However Nationals policy proposals will still be presented as though the previous 9 years of government for them didnt exist. For example that Simon Bridges cancelled some of their own ‘new highways’ when he was Transport Minister to make sure the RoNS were funded, and others like Manawatu Gorge bypass were instead changed to ‘make do’ through the Gorge

      Reply
  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  14th January 2020

    Pigs might fly but probably won’t. Most journalism is just politics by other means. The agenda won’t change so neither will the means judged most effective.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  14th January 2020

      I thought that much of what she said had little meaning and was backed up by nothing. It’s an opinion piece; a filler, really. Count the cliches and weasel words. Three in the last two sentences alone.

      Reply
  5. Duker

     /  14th January 2020

    That didnt last long on Stuff.
    This mornings story – I knew it would be Nikki Kaye when first saw the summary without the name
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/118779628/national-mp-nikki-kaye-reveals-pet-cats-scary-accident

    Its what women in that age group do when they dont have kids !

    Reply
    • Pink David

       /  14th January 2020

      “Its what women in that age group do when they dont have kids !”

      They dye their hair purple.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  14th January 2020

        Shes thirty something, does ‘multisports’ and has a housemate…thats how these things are described if you are a national MP.

        Reply
  1. A change in approach by political media? — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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