There is an obvious and major current example of media and journalism working with and enabling established power, in the US election.
It’s nothing new that media both had close connections with the Hillary Clinton campaign, and tried to influence the outcome. Or that other media had close connections with the Donald Trump campaign and tried to influence the outcome.
What is unusual and more complicated is that media, including those who promoted Clinton’s interests, also gifted exposure to Trump, and enabled his rise and his momentum, and ultimately his success.
There was a clear conflict between what the media wanted – their choice of candidate as president, but they also wanted the headlines and clicks that Trump kept giving them.
A lot of the time it was difficult to separate Clinton’s and Trump’s campaigns from the media coverage.
The US presidential election was a big event, but on a smaller scale the New Zealand media also works hand in hand with established power, and actively excludes those who challenge established power.
I’ve experienced this myself, and it was a public broadcaster that was involved. In the 2013 Dunedin mayoral campaign Radio New Zealand profiled just four of the nine candidates – that is. gave exposure and publicity to less than half the candidates.
I complained to RNZ in Dunedin and was told they selected the candidates they thought had the most chance of success. Of course this favouritism reinforces the advantages of established power, and makes it virtually impossible for challengers of that power. Ironically I was campaigning for better democratic processes.
I also complained to RNZ in Wellington. They were very dismissive, when pushed said that more candidates “didn’t fit their format” and effectively told me to get stuffed, they weren’t interested in fair democracy.
Similar things happen in every general election, where big media give big exposure to big power, and exclude others. This is common with leaders’ debates.
And the same thing is happening in the Mt Roskill by-election right now. Fairfax has already run a candidate debate that only includes established power, the Labour and National candidates.
The newly formed People’s Party is considering taking legal action because it’s been excluded from a Mt Roskill by-election debate on Wednesday night.
It’s being hosted by the Central Leader, which has only invited the candidates from National and Labour.
People’s Party leader Roshan Nauhria says he’s not being petty; he just wants a fair go.
“We were trying to talk to them and convince them that you need to give us equal opportunity,” he says.
Fairfax Media brand and communications manager Phillipa Cameron told Newshub that “Fairfax is comfortable that the Central Leader will provide appropriate coverage of parties involved in the Mt Roskill by-election”.
“This particular event is a one-off live stream involving the two major political parties, which is typical of a debate style event,” she said.
Typical of a debate style event where Fairfax are favouring established power. It is a corruption of fair democratic practice.
There was a follow up – Fairfax apologises for Mt Roskill debate snub
Fairfax has apologised to New Zealand People’s Party candidate Roshan Nauhria for excluding him from a by-election debate it is hosting in Mt Roskill on Wednesday.
But he’s still not invited.
Mr Nauhria says Fairfax told him it made the call to only include the candidates from Labour and National because both had polled above 10 percent at the last election.
A very hollow apology – effectively ‘we are sorry, we set the ten percent bar to favour established power and if you challenge that power and our power you can get stuffed’.
All candidates are equal, but some candidates are made far more equal than others.
Newshub points out:
The People’s Party held its official campaign launch on Saturday night drawing a crowd of around 300 people. In comparison, the National Party candidate’s campaign launch held on the same day, with the Prime Minister in attendance, attracted a crowd of just over 200.
That’s an impressive crowd for the People’s Party, but even that shouldn’t matter. What if a candidate does most of their campaigning online?
On a smaller scale than in the US, but this is exposure of New Zealand media being a corrupt extension of established power.