Saturday 20 February 2021

The Strange (And Sad) Demise of Radio New Zealand.

A Friend In Need: I have grown up, and grown old, within earshot of New Zealand’s public broadcaster. Through times of peace and plenty, through days of tumult and recrimination, it has been a constant and reliable presence. The calm and authoritative voices of Radio New Zealand kept their fellow citizens up to speed: the nearest approximation of the truth they could hope to hear. Trustworthy. Indispensable. No more.

IT WAS THERE in the darkness, more reassuring than a loaded gun, my old Philips portable radio. Three o’clock in the morning on Spaxington Landing, 500 miles from home, with no one beside me. Lonely? Not at all. Through that old radio came the reassuring voices of National Radio and the timeless music of the Concert Programme. The public broadcaster as friend and comforter: informative, uplifting, entertaining and – just often enough – challenging.

If asked to choose between a good book and a good radio station, I’d be stumped. A book can transport you magically through time and space – but it can’t play your favourite song. Nor can it bring you the news.

I have grown up, and grown old, within earshot of New Zealand’s public broadcaster. Through times of peace and plenty, through days of tumult and recrimination, it has been a constant and reliable presence. The calm and authoritative voices of Radio New Zealand kept their fellow citizens up to speed: the nearest approximation of the truth they could hope to hear. Trustworthy. Indispensable.

No more.

About the best you can say for the RNZ network today is that it’s better than all the others. When you consider the quality of all the others, however, that’s not saying very much. Moreover, when the clear objective of the public broadcaster’s management is to make its “product” as much like all the others as possible, then the days of RNZ’s journalistic and cultural superiority would appear to be numbered.

What we’re witnessing is a work of destruction in progress. Like the proverbial oil tanker, however, a public broadcaster of RNZ’s quality takes a great deal of energy and a surprising amount of time to turn around. There are traditions that have to be denigrated and dispensed with; experienced professionals who have to be eased out; a multitude of distinctive voices that has to be reduced to a single, overpowering chorus. Turns out you can’t wreck a world-renowned radio network overnight – it takes a while.

Those responsible for the steady deterioration of RNZ will, naturally, object that they have no such intentions. They will point to the network’s ageing audience; to its narrow social base; and to the younger generation’s general unwillingness to tune their dials to anything as stodgy and old-fashioned as “boomer radio”. They will demand to know what’s likely to happen two or three decades hence, when RNZ’s current audience of over-55s begins to die out in large numbers. A public broadcaster incapable of attracting and holding Generations X, Y and Z, is, surely, a public broadcaster without a future.

All of which is true. The argument is not about the need to attract the loyalty of a new generation of listeners, but how that might best be done. Should RNZ build its footpaths where the younger generations already walk? Or, should it construct a road that leads them somewhere new – somewhere they’ve never been before?

RNZ’s management answered that question quite definitively with its proposal to effectively kill off RNZ Concert and replace it with a youth radio network modelled on the black radio stations of New York. Think BfM meets OMC – but without the culturally eccentric ethnic charm. No, Helen Clark may have rescued RNZ Concert, but RNZ’s bosses’ direction of travel remains the same: down, down, down towards the fashionably dumb; not up, up, up towards the intelligently creative. The network’s barkers are already rehearsing their lines: “Come on in and join us, kids! You’ll encounter nothing here that you haven’t heard before. Relax! Enjoy!”

How to explain such wilful cultural vandalism? What drives RNZ’s Generation X bosses to tear down the public broadcaster’s proud tower with such venomous spite?

The answer, I believe, lies in the fact that they are the tragic heirs of Rogernomics. The kids who were educated at school and university to despise the New Zealand that pre-dated the neoliberal revolution of 1984-1993 – most especially its faith in the superiority of public service over private enterprise. What more compelling symbol of that faith could there be than the public radio network? What target more deserving of the rage and resentment of those who never received the public goods Baby Boomers took for granted than New Zealand’s post-war social-democratic flagship – RNZ?

It was through the speaker of my trusty Philips portable radio, way back in 1975, that I heard the first “Morning Report”, the programme which instantly set the news agenda for the rest of the day – for the whole country. Broadcasters like Joe Coté and Geoff Robinson, effortless conveyers of warmth and authority, were a joy to listen to. They, and those who came after them, set the journalistic bar very high. Forty-five years on from that first broadcast, the present hosts of “Morning Report” struggle, and regularly fail, to clear it.

More generally, RNZ’s “product” reflects the network’s reckless abandonment of the middle way. The sensible notion that, as a public broadcaster, RNZ should do its best to reflect the public, has been set aside, and in its place a regime of extreme cultural didacticism has arisen. National Radio is no longer a station where the broadest possible range of New Zealanders’ ideas and opinions is broadcast for their fellow citizens to hear and judge. The views of those who remain unconvinced by the new orthodoxies of identity politics have been rigorously filtered out, and those espousing them “de-platformed” with extreme prejudice.

A friend of mine has coined a phrase for this ideological cleansing of the public airways: he calls it “the Mulliganisation of Radio New Zealand”. The reference is to the afternoon offerings of that quintessential Gen-Xer, Jessie Mulligan: a broadcaster who proves, five days out of every seven, that a little knowledge, and a lot of ideology, are very dangerous things indeed!

Fittingly, Mulligan’s afternoon stint is followed by Wallace Chapman’s “The Panel”. This show (with which it is only fair I acknowledge a long association) was formerly hosted by Mulligan’s highly professional predecessor, Jim Mora. Justly renowned for the “robust” debates between its left-wing and right-wing guests, “The Panel” gave RNZ’s listeners a ringside seat to the political, economic and cultural arguments in which the whole nation was collectively embroiled. No more. Chapman, like Mulligan, specialises in turning down the heat and dimming the lights. Breathlessly inoffensive, punctiliously politically correct, “The Panel” has made the penitential journey from seditious to soporific – and kept on going.

The great tragedy of RNZ is that it has squandered the opportunity to interrogate intelligently the hopes and aspirations, the triumphs and challenges, of the generation that followed my own. Not every New Zealander born between 1966 and 1986 subscribes to the extreme “wokeism” that is currently masquerading as the default ideology of RNZ’s listeners. Most of them would, however, be glad to hear its contentious propositions debated. Such as the wisdom, or not, of passing laws against “hate speech”. Or, of introducing a radically Maori nationalist version of New Zealand history into the nation’s classrooms.

Some listeners would even welcome, in addition to RNZ’s programmes about rural New Zealand, and its regular updates on the antics of the markets, a strong and constant commitment to covering the issues arising out of everyday working-class life in this country. An RNZ that acknowledged New Zealand (not “Aotearoa”) as a house of many rooms, many windows, and many mirrors. A multicultural society with a great many more than one ideological story to tell.

An RNZ which refuses to acknowledge the full diversity of belief and aspiration in New Zealand runs a terrible risk. When the mood of the nation inevitably shifts, the worst possible position in which the public broadcaster could find itself is so far out on an ideological limb that its enemies feel completely safe in sawing off the branch altogether. An RNZ so bereft of friends and allies that no effective defence is any longer possible.

There is a very good reason why the public broadcaster should do everything within its power to be the citizens’ friend and comforter. It’s so those same citizens will always have a reason to be the friends and comforters of public broadcasting – when its enemies come a-calling.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Friday, 19 February 2021.


Tom Hunter said...

That's all very sweet Chris, and like you, I mourn the passing of RNZ. When I first returned from the USA twenty years ago I awoke every weekday morning at 6am to the sound of the birdcall and Morning Report. It was a simple switch from listening to the US's NPR and the likes of All Things Considered.

I dumped One News and Three News almost two decades ago, but RNZ held me longer. But about five years ago I'd had enough. Since I don't listen to it I'll have to take your word about it's Wokism in the now, but I would not be surprised, since my reasons for dumping it was that Right-Wing ideas, as opposed to "Right-Wing" commentators or guests, barely got a look in, and when it was an interview rather than a panel it was hostile to the nth degree. Meantime, every Left shibboleth ever invented got the royal treatment, and constantly, endlessly, with nary even a critical question.

My fave example was an interview with some dairy farmer who was thrilled about the ETS and any other AGW regulations that could be enacted. Only later did I research him to discover that he had a company milking 3000 cows and had bought up countless small dairy farms that could not get the capital needed to meet new regulations. Of course he was thrilled,

Needless to say that coverage of the USA was knee-jerkingly appalling, particularly if there was a GOP President.

But it's not the loss of people like me, it's my kids and their friends. If what you say of RNZ's imagine appeal is true, then they're in for a hell of a sad ending. The reason Millenial/Gen Z and co don't listen to RNZ is that they don't listen to the "broadcast" world at all, including all those competing Radio stations, who are still catching the tail end of Gen X'rs like me.

No, the kids are watching their Tumblr and YouTube channels, where the likes of PewDiePie reign with literally hundreds of millions of followers and the pursuit of subjects, let alone the way they cover them, that would horrify Jessie Mulligan and his senior management team, yet are perfectly tuned to those generations. Jessie and RNZ are simply being left behind.

Chris Morris said...

I agree wholeheartedly with you Chris. I used to be a constant listener to National Programme (I know it isn't called that but I hate this constant rebranding). My kids used to hassle me because all the preset frequencies on the car radio were all in the 101 band for the different areas that I drive. However, I now rarely listen. I hate the presentation of opinions as facts. I do not like that there is no diversity of opinions. They take ever so great care on Maori words, but mangle English.
Oh to have Kim Hill back on Morning Report- when she filled in, I switched back on and I was back to being a follower. It was amazing all the politicians that expected softball questions got Kim ripping their limbs off (but in an ever so caring way) Who can forget the great Oh, followed by a very long pause?
I now find myself listening to podcasts, mostly from overseas. It will take a lot to get me back.

Chris Morris said...

The big risk to RNZ, seeing as it is using BBC as its role model, it that the equivalent of GB News will setting up here. Andrew Neil should be the role model for every interviewer. Only needs a bit of local content and take a lot from GB News, Fox and Sky Australia. Won't be done under a Labour government, but when National get back in, it will be ripe for the picking as contestable funds. And the average NZer won't care about the loss of RNZ

greywarbler said...

I think those in charge of RadioNZ have no discernment of what you are on about. They are generic, men and women for all seasons and reasons, primed with the business system paradigm that they carry with them. If they do well they will find easy employment elsewhere. NZ does not demand very high quality, it just says it does and probably pays top prices to the procurement agencies.

They will roll us all into a Brave New World where there is no integrity - we are halfway there already. As Peter Cook said to Dudley Moore - Integrity, I admire it and I'm willing to pay top dollar for it. (Or something similar.) For the oldies - the young will have no memory of these stars. Here 'tis:

And more Peter and Dudley making fun of serious music.

Kat said...

Radio New Zealand......."National" and therein lies the reason for the demise. Its is repeated like a nauseatingly repetitive echo at every opportunity. Imagine if it was "Radio New Zealand Labour"......

Morning Retort only comes alive when Kim Hill cracks the airwaves....she must wonder sometimes if there is anybody out there......

Anonymous said...

Spot on Chris. The place is actually been run by cast-offs from the 1980s. This is 80s middle of the road talkback, without the ads. It rates for sure, and they only care about the numbers now, because numbers prove it is relevant, and worthy of funding. As you say, they are fearful of any debate, of upsetting people. Sound like us? Yeah, nah. I used to listen to RNZ Nat probably 8 hours a day. I get my news from one hour of Morning Report, because they basically repeat the first hour three times. Just like RNZ National, the website has lost its way too. They haven't won any awards for that, for years. Too much 'visual journalism', and not enough substance. They are stuck in the mindset that Facebook promoted that video is more engaging. Phil Pennington deserves credit for the stories, he breaks, and others, I'm sure, plus Māni Dunlop, and Julian Wilcox, for breaking through the racist culture that developed through the 90s. I've given up on Checkpoint, which was a guilty pleasure when Mary hosted. The current host is constantly saying if you want to see the pictures on that story go to our Facebook page. Who cares, I am in the car at that time. What a waste. Sunday is turning into The Panel, it won't be long before the excellent Media watch is relegated to the bin like Insight was, because it's 'not hosted by Jim'. The podcast productions have started to sound like a heavy-handed editor has taken to them. There is no innovation any more, it's all so bland, and the music isn't helping. Brain Crump, Katherine Ryan, and Kim Hill, continue to be national treasures. So sad.

Brendan McNeill said...

Someone recently described RNZ’s National Program as “The broadcaster that dare not speak its name”, which pretty well sums up its demise. It has been a long time since RNZ’s National Program has attempted to represent the diversity of opinion that is expressed by every day New Zealanders. It has been captured by the ideological left, and has become repugnant to at least half of its target audience. Not that it bothers them, they get funding regardless.

I confess to having moved considerably to the left (of the dial) when it comes to radio stations. The concert programme now has my attention. It could do with playing more jazz classics in the afternoons, but thankfully it can be relied upon to provide music without ideology, vacuous opinion, or mindless banter.

The idea of replacing it with a station that targets the youth tells us all we need to know about the board of RNZ and their senior management. Who in head office identified a gap in that market? Adam Smith once wrote “there is a great deal of ruin in a nation” which meant there needed to be a good deal of incompetence by its leaders to bring down a nation state. This is also true of RNZ. It will continue to exist long after its demise.

Kat said...

Oh, and RNZ "National" has long been captured by the ideological rabid right but no worries because half the listening audience are repulsed.......

And some people wonder why we are where we are....

sumsuch said...

Kim Hill laughing into the face of Richard whatshisname at losing Akld Central. Why National impinged the prick Richard someone onto that grand social democratic institution. Kim laughing was a social democratic main audible victory in that time of the rich having their way. Social democracy is the foundation and it requires a strong party for the people, or not Labour by the 36 year definition.

GEB said...

Regarding RNZ National, quite correct to point out that the music doesn't help. Lots of flash in the pan triers at odds with the assumed goal of bringing us serious topics! The music is always a prompt to change station or turn off!

The goal of mass mediocrity at best by ex Commercial radio management is unimpressive.

Nick J said...

Nail on the head Tom, I watched PewDiePie and fealt generational distance and dislocation. Yet if that's where its going the RNZ should probably venture.

Ditto on the news, theres only so much sport and market I can take and if it doesn't cry it is not seen as news worthy.

illbehaviourNZ33 said...

Old man shakes fist at the sky. Your entire whinge is cheapened by your reference to a Maori nationalist version of nz history.

What they are currently doing is addressing the fact we have had a radically British version of NZ histiry being taught for the past century. Also, NZ is Aotearoa. That's how it is now. Get over it. This column will be all the rage in the old folks homes I bet. Nice one. Well written.

Chris Trotter said...

To: illbehaviourNZ33.

While I unreservedly plead guilty to being an old man, IBNZ33, I shake my fist at the rest of your commentary.

If it is a sin to suggest that a radically Maori nationalist take on NZ history is a proposal worthy of debate, then, as the Good Book suggests, we should all regard ourselves as sinners.

And just to set the historical record straight, the expression "Aotearoa" is the creation of those worthy Pakeha colonials who thought it might be a good idea to write down Maori myths and legends for the benefit of posterity.

Maori had no generic name for New Zealand (as they did for the North and South Islands) which is why, when they were required to think in such terms, they simply employed the transliteration "Niu Tirani".

To change this country's name, without first obtaining the explicit consent of its people, is an act of cultural and political aggression that cannot help but stir up resentment and racist ill-will.

But then, a person who defaults so easily to ageist abuse would probably have no problem with that.

Nick J said...

Grey, the bliss of Pete and Dud, voices from a more robust age, often very blue language. One of my favourite scetches involved Pete declaring that all endangered animals should be wiped off the face of the earth, followed by the question of where were the whales when we were fighting the Bosch. More intelligence displayed in that scetch than in a hundred years of the vacuous Panel.

Patrick Ibbertson said...

To: illbehaviourNZ33

It is inaccurate to claim a radically British version of NZ history has been taught for the past century. In fact no NZ history was systematically taught at all, British or otherwise.

Personally, I recall that my pakeha social studies teacher, using then-current resources, taught us about Maori culture and society very respectfully - eliciting curiosity and empathy - in 1969. We had studied Inuit the year before, and undertook an in-depth project on indigenous people of North America in 1973 with a theme of
complex interaction, also indigenous life and society in Borneo in 1975.

Over several years from 1971 the weekly periodic subscription series New Zealand's Heritage was heavily promoted and available throughout the country and in school libraries. It covered pre-European, post contact, colonial and modern New Zealand history in extensive detail. The articles were well written and balanced, introducing many forgotten and sometimes unfortunate episodes to a wider public. That was by no means a radical British version of NZ history. Over subsequent decades local historians have researched and published a vast range of articles and books, expressing numerous viewpoints but generally open minded and examining Maori perspectives. In 1980 New Zealand History 101 at very Pakeha Canterbury university was even more challenging and encouraged students to deeply question their assumptions. That was 40 years ago, deep in "Boomer" territory.

I welcome the opportunity to have New Zealand history taught in schools but if indeed it were solely a "Maori nationalist" version it would not be history but propaganda, no better than any example of radically British interpretation you might decry. Maori insistence on the importance of whakapapa and honouring all of our tupuna must guide us to ensure our full histories, including global and British history are taught as part of that effort to give everyone a chance to know where we've come from. Replacing one constructed narrative with another, radically simplistic fairytale, will get us nowhere.

Shane McDowall said...

I still listen to RNZ news at 8am,noon,and 10pm. Never listened to the Concert station because I do not like classical music.It sends me to sleep.

I was really saddened when Geoff Robinson announced his retirement. I still miss the sound of his voice in the morning.

I realised that Geoff had been full time on RNZ since 1976, and he not once said my name.This would not do.

Shortly before he retired I sent an e-mail on the decision to build rail carriages in China instead of Dunedin.

" Commonsense says the rail carriages should be built in Dunedin. The free market says they should be built in communist China. Commonsense versus the free market ... we know what wins in New Zealand" he chuckled and then the 9am bird call sounded.

Sometimes you do get what you want.

Wiley Trout said...

If anything cements RNZ Website into the concrete overshoes of wokeness it is the ‘Identity’ column which is on the front page.

The lead story dates from August 2020, the next story February 2020,

By all means, have stories about Identity, but keep them current.

AB said...

Chris - the comments here indicate that you might be gaining some friends you don't particularly want.

Jack Scrivano said...

I am in some ways relieved to read your assessment of Radio New Zealand, Chris. For some time I have been disappointed that I no longer find it the stimulating and entertaining friend that I once found it to be. I put it down to my advancing old age. As my wife tells me when I grumble about yet another piece of one-sided dumbed-down tosh: ‘They didn’t make the programme for you, dear. They are hoping to attract a young, woke audience. You will soon be gone. That’s not going to help their ratings, is it?’

On the other hand, Concert still has its moments – Nick Tipping, et al. Fingers crossed that it survives the next 'review'. And the occasional visit from Kim Hill is always a treat. Plus, if you find yourself in need of a little Saturday night entertainment, Saturday Night is pretty good. The listeners choose the music. And Phil O’Brien adds intelligent comment.

Grscaevola said...

A well written, well considered piece. You articulated what I have been raging about for months. Also well done on Aotearoa, Like you I am well aware of its pakeha origins.
Oh by the way, compared to me, you are but a boy.

Anonymous said...

The demise of the Panel is the worst aspect for me personally of the demise of RNZ. You are right that it has become provocative to no one except those who want more than three lefties sitting around agreeing with each other. Even when there are folks on who you might suspect have opinions which would confront the orthodoxy it is apparent that dissension from that orthodoxy wont be tolerated. It really is so sad. Diversity of every form is fine on RNZ except diversity of political and ideological belief.

The Barron said...

There was an episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show in which Lou Grant lampooned Ted Baxter when he was going to take a position hosting a TV quiz show. 'What do you want to be...'the grizzled news manager asked in respectful tones, '...a news anchor or...' he changed to deep distain "...a quizzzzzzz master'.
Ever Saturday morning I wish Ed Asner was in Kim Hill's ear asking whether she wanted to be a broadcasting journalist or a general interest magazzzzzzine host.

Chris Morris said...

Your snide comment doesn't even try to understand what is going on.
What it seems to indicate (and no doubt Chris will correct me if I am wrong) is that modern woke society has alienated many old style progressive/ left wing thinkers who now find they have more in common with the conservatives than they do with the identity politics driven snowflakes that dominate the media.
If that is correct, then when the reaction comes, it could be very divisive, especially if a charismatic populist comes forward. And all the "gains" will be gone in the stroke of a legislative pen.

greywarbler said...

Nick J We should remember about Pete and Dud and Fawlty Towers and Monty Python, that a flexible BBC gave them a go. Now it seems constipated and wringing its milky-white hands in a Uriah Heep behaviour that makes me want to heave when I read certain reports and anecdotes. A bloodless revolution in the name of cleansing past sins. When you read history the past sins are almost indescribable.

Actually working to make good mates to run the three-legged race with in an awkward gait but together - into the future would and should be the aim, but these mimsy-pimsy people who think that saying sorry over and over in the right language helps us to a better future. It is time that we put humanity at the core of our lives and turn outwards and defend our covered wagon society against the Machines and the Tripods.

Thinks: O aye when we were young we had to sleep thirty of us in a covered wagon. That were nothing, we had to... That's what we'll get in the future from the smug. The rest of us will be dead, then they'll be sorry?

swordfish said...

Agree on virtually every point.

But I'm angry rather than "sad' about this younging-down & dumbing-down.

And I'd suggest the Woke Generation are not Gen Xers but rather Millennials (b 80s-mid 90s) & possibly even more so Gen Z (aka Zoomers) born late-90s to c2012.

Anonymous said...

There's a reader participation idea...

How about people contribute on here their suggested programme, what and who they'd like to hear on Radio New Zealand National in a week starting on Monday morning.

What would you replace the dross with?

thesorrow&thepity said...

RNZ a.k.a. Radio Aro Valley.... truly a sad demise

David George said...

Chris Morris: "woke society has alienated many old style progressive/ left wing thinkers"
There's no doubt about it Chris but something else is going on that helps explain the loss of faith and interest in media.
There's always two sides to every story, once an outfit is committed to one side folk instinctively know they're not hearing the truth. It becomes predictable, boring, there's a palpable lack of authenticity, the feeling that you're being propagandised. A bit like the readers of Pravda we have to assume that everything is fabrication, distortion or manipulation. Who wants to waste their time or be expected to pay for that!

Bari Weis, in her resignation letter to the NYT, laid it out:

"None of this means that some of the most talented journalists in the world don’t still labor for this newspaper. They do, which is what makes the illiberal environment especially heartbreaking. I will be, as ever, a dedicated reader of their work. But I can no longer do the work that you brought me here to do—the work that Adolph Ochs described in that famous 1896 statement: “to make of the columns of The New York Times a forum for the consideration of all questions of public importance, and to that end to invite intelligent discussion from all shades of opinion.”

Ochs’s idea is one of the best I’ve encountered. And I’ve always comforted myself with the notion that the best ideas win out. But ideas cannot win on their own. They need a voice. They need a hearing. Above all, they must be backed by people willing to live by them."

The entire letter is a great read and shows what happens when a great media outlet abandons it's core commitment to balance and the truth.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

" You are right that it has become provocative to no one except those who want more than three lefties sitting around agreeing with each other"

Interesting, given that most of the people on the panel seem to be business people – can't remember the last time there was ever a unionist on there. It seems to be middle-class turtles all the way down and the bland leading the bland.

Puddleg said...

I'm regularly hearing trendy opinions expressed by guests on RNZ which are antiscientific idealism or just plain dishonesty. Nothing wrong with that in a free market but once upon a time anything that didn't pass the smell test would have been questioned, last time I heard it happen Kim Hill was on but we can't expect her to do everything. Usually the BS is just blandly accepted now.
This has three adverse effects - the public is exposed to the unchallenged propaganda of special interest groups, science facts and logic are devalued, and anything of value in the guest's position isn't extracted from the pseudointellectual mess they were allowed to bring on air.
We used to get something approaching the dialectical materialist ethos a socialist democracy thrives on - fact based opinions logically argued. Now we have something closer to monolectical idealism - preaching, without dissent,
that the world is, or should be, something it isn't and can't be, and bugger the facts and the people who know them.

Wiley Trout said...

AB. In your world you only have friends who agree with you? Sad. I have friends in a spectrum from the greens to the right of The Great Khan. They may be wrong (or I may be wrong) in their views, but we have interesting discussions.

As to what I would like to hear on RNZ?


Andrew Nichols said...

Very sad. Ut was all I listened to in the end befire we left NZ forAus. TV has never recoverrd from its destruction in the 80s. Hete in Aus we have the ABC Its RN is OK but a bit cowed by its dependence on the shrinking funds supplued by a hostile Coalition Govt. The jewel in the crown is ABC 1 the ad free tv channel. Treats its viewers asi inelligent cultured beings...not as brain dead ad fodder like the truly execrable TVNZ.

Phil said...

I have life long friends with a range of political beliefs and recall many good arguments at the pub. Sometimes, I have changed my position because of such discussions. This modern tribalism that a person should not associate with people who don't have the same opinions is worrying. The use of the word Aotearoa at RNZ isn't a problem for me but the undisclosed agenda is. If RNZ said we have been directed by the Government to normalise the word Aotearoa as part of a plan to change the name of the country then we can debate this issue in a transparent manner. Instead this stuff happens by stealth.

The Barron said...

Kim Hill, NZ best integration interviewer, has gone from purging Pilger, bashing Brash and diagnosing Duff to penguin sex. wombat poo and dog vocabulary. It is a bit like Paul McCartney joining the Wiggles.
Jim Mora, one time the poor man's Derek Payne, has developed to an articulate, well researched and balanced interviewer. Unfortunately, trapped in a format that wastes this.
The same with Katherine Ryan. She can do he best, but has a Political Commentators slot with two political hacks pashing at the political centre, and a 'comedy' slot for guest to laugh at their own jokes.
Then there is is like a Spot On interviewer lowering to a ten year old's level. Rather than the traditional RNZ interviewer arriving at a place of knowledge, it is a world of wonder in which he pretends or actually to have no former knowledge. This is 'the Mulliganisation' of National Radio. A shame, when he has abandoned his Forest Gumpian style and interviewed James Comey, John Dean and other US politicos he has done a reasonable job. He just has to stop being the substitute for the listeners grandson who never calls.
The Panel? The banal and the bland hosted by platitudes.
RNZ used to challenge themselves and the listeners, they have retreated to an inept comfort zone. What we have now is the broadcasting equivalent of tartan slippers that zip up on the side.

Wiley Trout said...

The Panel.

Wallace the Pope of Woke brings you ‘The Hour That You Never Get Back’. A warm bath, free from those dissenting opinions that are so troubling.

Followed by Lisa , when did you stop beating your wife, Owen.

greywarbler said...

I wonder if 'arriving at a place of knowledge' and a 'world of wonder' is something worth aiming for, to be embraced with a concurrent drop in news from the USA loading our airtime. It has been bad in the past with breathless interviews with by-standers when there has been a shooting in the 'States', and minute by minute descriptions of their peculiar, disgusting and perverted methods of running a democracy (into the ground). Hearing and watching the disappearance of the American 'pipe-dream' has been depressing, vexing and disillusioning.

Just the brief details as part of world news thanks, and by the way there is a lot of world that we never hear about. So Radionz do your bloody public information job, along with enhancing our cultural and creative impulses. Stick to your knitting, while you still know how to do it.

If we want light relief we can always watch Moments of Wonder with Philomena Cunk. She shines a light on people's individual pantries of the mind and their store of information, that is just the right brightness to reveal the cobwebby corners with fluff caking them. This is her on computers.

Nick J said...

Had to laugh at IllbehaviorNZ's little missive. It reminded me of me 40 years since when I knew absolutely everything with certainty and was in opposition to everybody. Life then progressed and my own evident failings became manifest as purely of my own making. That understood I got better. Step one, behave like you would have people behave to you.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Bari Weiss also said:

“New York Times employees publicly smear me as a liar and a bigot on Twitter with no fear that harassing me will be met with appropriate action,”

So much for freedom of speech eh?

AB said...

@Wiley Trout On the contrary I have no friends who agree with me. The point of friendship is not agreement. In Chris's case, I think his concern with what he calls 'wokeism' is potentially leading him to places that are in conflict with his core (for want of a better word, 'socialist') principles

Uncle Bulgaria said...

A bit unfair in current Morning Report presenters. They may not hold the gravitas of Geoff but I think the question lines are good. This culture war against RNZ won’t lead anywhere good. Just recognise that it is the lowest funded of all give departments and if you want it to be better, give it more money.

David George said...

"So much for freedom of speech eh?"
I'm not sure if that "drive by" comment was intended to be serious GS. There is no attempt at the moral or any justification for personal abuse by free speech advocates as you must surely know.
More specifically, that this abuse was from work collogues and was tolerated by the company management was Bari's point. She would have a strong case in our employment courts if that was allowed within one of our companies.

John Hurley said...

Katherine Ryan and Atakohu Middleton seem confused about the use of te reo in newsrooms.
"It's a societal shift" ; "public sentiment" ; "isn't coming from on high" But is coming from "a change of guard in newsrooms" where those born 1969 (her), are coming through. They grew up at a time when the idea that we had good race relations was destroyed. They go on to say that it is people leading and it is good that these people show us what to value.

Mean while Kaona Lloyd says "we have had the debate; it is OVER. You need to catch up to the rest of us" and Mani Dunlop gets more negatives than positives but when she sees a text "to be honest it just drives me more, because: those people need to get on the waka that's the way this country is going and we see that every year". Jack Tame [sic] calls those types "decreasingly relevant".

I'm making a video and I uploaded Treaty Debate 2010 to Youtube to get a subtitle file, then corrected the subtitle. It is about Ranginui Walker's role. Spoonley talks about the policy of "ethnocide". It isn't obvious that assimilation wasn't a best policy and clearly you have the influence of the Frankfurt school from the beginning of that period. What is also not obvious is that Don Brash was wrong about blood quantum. As Jordan Peterson says your identity is not your own it is negotiated within society, (in so far as it makes claims on other peoples status ("coloniser"/"colonised")).
A questioner asks about migrants and multicultural policy. Spoonley is disappointed Maori weren't given a role in "welcoming" migrants. Ranginui Walker says that the Treaty was the first immigration document; a relationship with British "the Queens people" and we should "pull up the draw bridge" .He goes further "driven by economic development" & "eating our way down the food chain".

On TVNZ John Campbell interviews a young Chinese man who says the NZ government is too slow he wants to push ahead with his large development. The counter POV is that we let in far to many people. It also isn't obvious that there is no moral right to maintain our identity in our own country.

What we are seeing (I think) is expression of an incoherent Gated Institutional Narrative.
This video needs remaking

greywarbler said...

Puddleg presents us with a good slogan for a protest. The fact that few will understand it doesn't change its usefulness. Protesting is a hit and miss affair at getting a point over anyway - educating the public about things outside the everyday.
So why not go for -
Your Choice
for EVER?..a Limited Time"

Dialectic is defined as the art of determining the truth by the logical exchange of ideas and opinions. A philosophical, logical discussion using questions and answers on ethics or social problems is an example of dialectic.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"I'm not sure if that "drive by" comment was intended to be serious GS. There is no attempt at the moral or any justification for personal abuse by free speech advocates as you must surely know."

Kiwi Dave – you people go on and on about free speech, and when it's your own you never ever suggest limits. Only when it's someone else it's perhaps a little too free. Well free speech is a government thing. No one else owes it to you and it has consequences. If one of those consequences is someone calling you a bigot, then that's also free speech at least when it's conservatives right? I've asked time and time again on this blog what limits there should be on free speech and no one has ever bothered to answer. Rush Limbaugh called hurricane Irma a "hoax" ... 129 people died in Florida in hurricane Irma, and I wonder how many of those believed him when he said it was a hoax – not to mention he fled the damn thing himself soon afterwards without informing his listeners. But according to you, that's just free speech right? I regard all you conservative free speech advocates and their "useful idiots" as complete hypocrites and will continue to do so until you start explaining exactly what you mean by free speech.
Not to mention that your hero Bari Weiss spent time harassing and trying to ruin the careers of various Palestinian academics. Yeah, hypocrisy.

Hilary Taylor said...

UTTERLY agree with this Chris. Some great comments too...'concrete overshoes of wokeness' is brilliant. Mulliganisation'too. I've been wondering 'is it me or it them?' I backed's them. Smug orthodoxy, boring line toe-ers, nakedly woke. Recalling fondly the times in the 90s when I was pinned to the feeding chair with bubs, kept informed, provoked & stimulated by Hill, Edwards, Clark, Mora et's all behind me and my constant aural companion is inconstant now. I crave to wonder at the politics of the staff...not be slapped around the gills by their partisan cred. I'm off to Concert, that still provides warmth, erudition, a little mystery and some terrific music, mostly. (I'm still welded to Mora & Hill & Matinee Idle)

Christine Pullar said...

I grew up with National Radio, listened to it as our sole station for 40 years as an adult, total of 60+ years. The radio is off now, other than BBC3 on internet radio. I feel that RNZ National has a agenda to realign my views and values to the woke way, thanks but no thanks.
I miss RNZ National, how can we register with their management the consistent sentiments expressed for your article on this site and on the Daily Blog? Would they listen?

remo said...

To do with 'dumbing down'.
The whole point of DEEPSTATE CIA operation MOCKINGBIRD and affiliated programs, is Global narrative Control. Psychological warfare in the 'information battle-space.' The infiltration of nuanced propaganda (social engineering memes) into the collective conscious and subconscious, without the listening/watching public knowledge of it, destroys the foundations of reasoned 'knowing.'
Transmission via (but not limited to); Movies, Radio, Podcasts, Newspapers, magazines, cable and public TV networks ("The Cultural Cold War' by Frances Stoner Saunders) insert sophisticated Narratives pretending to be 'news-and-views' as evidenced right now by anonymous's' hacking the UK 77th Brigade 'Integrity Initiative' media/disinformation assault on the networks of Russia.
You can include unit 8200 in Israel and NEWSGUARD IIO -Inform and Influence Operations as well as BBCNN and proliferating 'Factchecking' sites alongside the technocracies running the Gigantic internet social media networks. A 'free-press' Not free at all, given the consolidations and censorship of the past twenty years, where delivery of disinformation to home populations as well as foreign adversaries, is sourced/controlled as part of 'warfare operations'; described by MOCKINGBIRDs Frank Wisner (the' Great WURLITZER) as either 'witting' assets - those essential media personalities 'in the loop' - or 'unwitting' and "Useful idiots' in-so-far-as they believe what they 'report' to be true. The Authority of which is aided and abetted by key insiders and 'tenured' academia/Science; further made legitimate by Judicial Commission type corroborations.

The ability to separate and slander opposition unopposed by contest and cross examination, one of MOCKINGBIRDs greatest triumphs.

The 'dumbing down' you and many others describe, is the result.

David George said...

GS "what limits there should be on free speech" Here's my take on it.
The example of the treatment (slander or libel) of Bari Weiss is usually dealt with as a civil matter through the civil courts or, in her case, through the employment courts so not really a government matter at all.
We have laws against speech (or other communication) that is incitement to violence and so on, each country has to work out what suits them and that will reflect changes in society over time; we no longer criminilise blasphemy for example.
I think pretty much everything is OK except incitement to violence or a very clear incitement to hate.
Laws that make the truth no defense are not acceptable for obvious reasons, they restrict our search for the truth.
The idea that the criminilisation of speech will stop lies is absurd, you'll just swap one lot of BS for another and lose the right to counter at the same time.
Here's a beautiful wee clip (2.5 minutes) that makes the case for the importance of a free press and public discourse. On Free Thought and Speech in London

Puddleg said...

@ The Baron,

Kim Hill on penguin sex was her finest work since she dismantled the wooly thinking of the human rights commissioner over "hate speech".
She didn't argue against it because it made good sense and was firmly rooted in facts (which she already knew very well).
And it was an example of a scientific truth being suppressed in the name of political correctness.
Suppressing evidence of penguin homosexuality, prostitution and general loucheness in Edwardian England was the "woke" thing to do back then.
Even today, the story could only be told on RNZ because it was a story about animals, so did not disturb the idealism of humans too much.

@ Chris Trotter,

your argument suffers a little from the outdatedness of its terminology; it comes across as a right-wing argument that doesn't understand the thing it criticizes, rather more than it should, to people who haven't thought about this problem before.
The term "Woke" itself is problematic because it represented something different, and perhaps more relatable and admirable, in US Black culture before it was co-opted by the twitterati; so using "woke" pejoratively to describe its neo-liberal, bourgeois, and privileged evolution, e.g. as it taints RNZ will always be a bit racist. Which can't be helped if the word is common usage and the phenomenon it describes is real, but I find it useful to refer to it alternatively as the US cultural imperialism that it is, and similar descriptors, and to also acknowledge the many things that are Woke in a good way (e.g. the movies of Spike Lee).
Here's some good modern socialist writing about the problem, by Ursula Huws
and George Hoare

Puddleg said...

@ Guerilla Surgeon,

Freedom of speech as someone's right to speak is less than half the story.

Most people do not want to speak publicly, but they do want to listen and assemble narratives and opinions that seem truthful to them.
in other words, they want to learn.

Freedom of speech is everyone's right to learn, and their right not to be lied to, for example because there will be a debate after every lecture that will expose any flaws in its argument.

No-one is perfect, so everyone's views must be up for discussion, and everyone's facts must be checked openly, if they seek to influence society.

David George said...

PS to my comments re free speech.
I don't think it's a good idea to get too caught up in the left right/my side your side view of the issue and can certainly agree "the right" have been guilty of the oppression of speech, and on quite a scale; the MaCarthy era for example.
I don't think ideas, including political, religious or cultural ideas should be in anyway protected from criticism lest we lose the right to honest discussion. I also think we need to be careful of criminilising low level criticism and humour directed at identifiable groups - Aussie sheep shager jokes for example. Their function is generally not malevolent as is often assumed.

There's a very good essay, The Moral Case for free Speech by Wendy Kaminar that takes a more nuanced and fundamental approach to the issue.

"So, instead of relying on an instrumental defence of free speech, we need to make the moral case for it, as essential to freedom of conscience. I’m repeating myself; I’ve previously advocated making the moral case for speech, but it seems even more essential today. It’s a less appealing case, which requires insisting that people have inalienable moral rights to harbour and express whatever others reasonably condemn as lies, delusions and dangerous prejudices. Criminal and civil laws may bar acting on such beliefs, through violence, say, or workplace discrimination; but laws that ban their expression violate what should be sacrosanct – freedoms of belief and conscience. Put very simply, regardless of consequences, it is profoundly immoral for any person, civil or governmental entity to assume the power to tell us what to think."

Anonymous said...

Lots of opinion Chris, but little analysis or evidence - and a tendancy to use Trumpisms: sticky labels like "wokism", "Mulliganisation" instead of a carefully evidenced argument. Afternoons has always been a magazine style programme. I just don't get what the issue is? How "woke" is "Critter of the Week?" or using a token amount of Te Reo after years of revitalisation?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"I think pretty much everything is OK except incitement to violence or a very clear incitement to hate."

See this is the see this is an example of the waffle and Bullshit that you people continually spout when it comes to freedom of speech.

Who decides if it's a "very clear incitement to hate"? Because just at the moment we have already a very high bar on so-called hate speech. It's quite difficult to get a conviction in the courts.
And how about your friends that were deplatformed, some of their speech is very close to "a clear incitement to hatred". At least in my opinion. But obviously not in yours. Should this be tested in court?

But by the same token, you seem to think that private organisations should be forced to publish people's speech – speech that violates their terms of use.
And how do we deal with the lies? If someone dies as a result of those lies do we sue people for the results of the lies? Bit late if someone is dead. But that's going to open up a can of worms.

And Ms Weiss – didn't take a civil case did she? I understood she just resigned with some sort of drama queen self promoting letter, while avoiding the fact that she had by her lies caused some sort of employment tribunal to have to decide that a professor or two weren't anti-Semitic?
Is calling her a bigot or a Nazi a "clear incitement to hatred?" Gosh, I probably have a case against the one or two people here then who called me a communist. I dismissed those comments with the contempt they deserved – isn't that what Bari perhaps should have done?
Where is the line between criticism and hatred? The US has much wider boundaries for freedom of speech than we do, particularly for criticism of public figures, so I'm pretty sure she doesn't have a case. In fact I just read a legal opinion that say she doesn't have a case. On the other hand, those that she slandered in the line of her work have proved that they did have a case.

That quote of yours in your second post is interesting. It seems to equate lying with conscience. The freedom to believe in outright lies – I've got no problem with that, but promulgating outright lies can have real-world consequences. And suing someone is both difficult and expensive in New Zealand and other Commonwealth countries. Just ask Deborah Lipstadt how much it cost to defend herself against a lawsuit for telling the truth about the pseudo-historian David Irving. And for that matter how much it cost him to lose.
So I would have absolutely no problem with a criminal prosecution of someone who claims that a hurricane is a "hoax". Or that a pandemic is some sort of liberal hoax. Or that vaccinations cause autism. Presumably you would think it problematic?

It's less so perhaps in the US, but then if you're a public figure it's almost impossible to do that without proving not only that it was a lie, but it was a malicious lie. All I can say is bugger that, a lie is enough let alone if it was malicious.

greywarbler said...

What an interesting and thoughtful discussion with back-up bits to listen to. Kiwidave refers to free speech, which in my mind crops up in connection with my thoughts about the damn paparazzi flashing pics of celebrities, especially when they are just looking ordinarily human, which then are chosen for the covers of female magazines. These seem to have a dedicated readership who want to see, read about or hear about the latest bulge or cosmetic malfunction or intimate relationship malfunction. It all seems so oppressive and malicious.

Those who stoop to this argue they are free to do it and to spy from various viewpoints, though it is harassment and predatory, as contested free speech often is. It must be acknowledged that the throw-away comments of those who have the power of free speech and a large audience eager to hear the latest mal-mots, is damaging to that person's life.

I have been reading an old biography of the Prince of Wales and the denigration of him during the time that he and Diana's relationship was coming apart, often completely untrue, all hurtful. The Prince's private secretary wrote to the Sun once about some gratuitous comment and had a curt reply from the then Editor, Kelvin MacKenzie. (He was later suspended in 2017, from the Sun because he called a footballer of mixed race a 'gorilla').

Anonymous said...

Poorly argued @Chris Trotter. Using a sticky meme like "wokism" echoes Trumpian rhetorical tactics. How does that help us? What is your evidence?

sumsuch said...

Do you not remember Wayne whatshisname killing us one minute at a time in the afternoons? The high culture was Kim Hill's morning programme, the heir of an increasing succession of magical beings, Crosbie to Barry to Hill.

Thinking of that, truth should be sharp, as it is by its essence, and in the modern day RNZ is blunted. It should have carried on from Hill, but it stopped. And I put up with them, most of all, the present incumbent of the morning programme. Particularly her Monday politics programme with a Rogernome representing the Left. You've convinced me through my thoughts in this response.

The Barron said...

I am hesitant to reply because clearly you got information from the interview which you see as a counterbalance to misleading moral right 'naturalisation' of nature.
There should be a caution not to counter athromorphism with the same. The March of the Penguins' was hailed by the religious right, the fact ornithologists immediately told of same sex behaviour and pairings was lost in the popular prescription. Indeed, you just need to subtly ask any farmer and animal sexual behaviour can be varied.
Anthropologists would say human societies have wide spectrum regarding sexual norms and gender identities, as would Western historians.
The point is that Kim Hill is an interviewer of note on our public radio. There is a difference between public company interest and interesting to the public. RNZ concentrate time and resources almost exclusively to the later. Penguin sex has its place on the state broadcaster, but there must be space for serious, challenging broadcasting journalists. Interesting to the public should not be used to mask the lack of public interest broadcasting.

Nick J said...

So many calling themselves "Anonymous". Always the same shit, no commitment, no defending the Alamo, just snide hit and run aka bollocks.

Kit Slater said...

It's been said that in times of peace, the feminisation of governance occurs, only to disappear when the country is threatened. This part of the peace dividend has, with the help of the extreme Left, raised levels of trust, diminished border constraints, fragmented identity, and minimised biological determinism, categorisation, hierarchy and respect for conservative values. At the same time this process has raised communal authoritarianism, primitivism, anachronistic moralising, moral and cultural relativism, and empowered a socially-engineered utopianism.

The media is an essential component in this project, every bit as important as the education that precedes it. The demise of The Listener from its glorious peak under Alexander McLeod was a harbinger for the decay of the broadcaster it represented. For me, National Radio has been displaced by a litany of podcast acronyms - ABC, BBC, CBC, LSE, RSA, TNY, LRB, and some 200 other, far more rewarding, sources. Next time I get a radio diary through the post, there won't be any entries for radio listening at all.

Big'n Boards said...

Tame comments to what I woukd say Chris trotter, you were, "gentle" of this now agendanised (if such a word, I failed english) politically biased radio. Gone is the scrutiny of our politicians, and you forgot to mention the perpetuating hoax of "wall to wall" covid..but good on you for at least truthfully pointing it out

greywarbler said...

A thought about RadioNZ bringing young people to themselves by talking about what they are interested in, dismissing the interests of older people as perhaps 'unwoke'. From that point of view they are wanting to put the younger generation into a trance like Sleeping Beauty to be 'woken' up to the problems always at large in society but which the young were too self-obsessed to realise (as young people all tend to be, males not mature till 25 for instance). How can these sleeping beauties be able to face the complex problems remaining from the past to be fixed, presenting now, and looming for the future??

We have not been educated and informed sufficiently in the 20th century to see our way to be able to pass by the new Dark Ages. To continue to diminish the spectrum of information so the young can bypass the real troubles now and be unprepared when they are personally hit by them in future could drive them into depression and mental illness. Hey, there are constant reports of long waiting lists for people seeking help with their minds.
We are already there, on the edge of harsh reality! Answer by the brainwashed, increase the amount of coloured pap and half-truths available for self-medication from RadioNZ and scapegoating brouhaha from loudmouths and whiners on commercial radio.

Remember the conundrum of this apparent mish-mash from previous USA Secretary of State Runsfeld:
Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know.
We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tends to be the difficult ones.

He makes a good point and true one. We need to be informed and educated to be able to understand such stuff, and seek the truth or reason in it.

greywarbler said...

Kit Slater Your comment with 'feminisation of of governance' in the first sentence leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. There is a lot of jostling to step out of the spotlight attempting to seek out what is wrong with our political and social system. Please leave gender out of the prime scrutiny, it is too much part of the usual suspects. I feel that any concerns that relate to it are just symptoms of bigger causation. Don't go for the low-hanging fruit eh. Your approach multiplied by those of other thoughtless dodgers may actually be the rotten core of the problem.

Anonymous said...

Why Chris targets Jessie Mulligan when the afternoon slot has always been a lifestyle/magazine format is beyond me. Wayne Mowat, Jim Mora all followed this format. What a terrible come down to now have a "Critter of the Week" segment . What is this "wokism" Chris rails against? More Te Reo in a country where Te Reo Maori is one of the official languages?

Geoff Fischer said...

"To change this country's name, without first obtaining the explicit consent of its people, is an act of cultural and political aggression that cannot help but stir up resentment and racist ill-will."
New Zealand was the name given to these islands by the colonizers. As such it was an act of cultural and political arrogance, if not aggression. As a name it is silly and irrelevant. So at some point it will go out of use. What will replace it? As you say, Niu Tirani is a mere transliteration, useful at the time, but no longer. Aotearoa may be an invention, but it is widely accepted by our people, resented, as you intimate, only by racists or colonialists who would resist any meaningful name, particularly one that comes out of te reo Maori.
By "explicit consent" I assume you mean a referendum. (Would you consider the colonialist parliament qualified to deliver "the explicit consent of the people"? I would hope not).
A referendum may come, but all in good time. Meanwhile, let the people decide on their own account what they call their nation - whether Aotearoa, Te Motu or even the once favoured "Maoriland".
Once a term has popular currency, it will become the name of our nation by default.

Kit Slater said...

Greywarbler - We can laugh at the far-Right believing that evolutionary theory is a myth, but pragmatists can laugh at the far Left and their false beliefs that evolutionary psychology is a myth and that gender is socially constructed. A comprehensive narrative covering current affairs in the West cannot avoid the role played by women and thus by their nature.

"A party of order or stability, and a party of progress or reform and are both necessary elements of a healthy state of political life." J S Mill, On Liberty. "To keep a state or polity healthy it requires this tension between a conservative, aggressive, male, less empathic, tribe on the one hand, and the liberal, open-to-experience, more feminine alternative, to keep this polity running. The Iroquois had one system of government for times of peace and another governing system in times of war." Hector Garcia is a Professor in the department of Psychiatry at the University of Texas, a Clinical Psychologist and author of Sex, Power and Partisanship. Extracted from The Parlia Podcast.