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Is the media manipulating citizens into violent action?

Is the media manipulating concerned citizens into violent action?

By Charles Drace

Over the past several years there have been literally hundreds of events around the country protesting against the Key government's expected signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement without public consultation or Parliamentary debate, the government's heads in the sand approach to climate change, income inequality, dangerous deep sea oil drilling off our coasts, asset sales and other policies that are designed to raise profits for large and mainly overseas corporations at the expense of New Zealanders.

The main media companies have largely ignored these protests and, what is even worse, have ignored the messages from concerned citizens to the government.

Last November's march against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement was the largest public protest in Christchurch since the Springbok Tour of 1981 with over 1500 concerned citizens marching, yet The Christchurch Press and most TV news ignored it and its message. On Thursday 19th, a peaceful protest at the opening of the Oxford Town Hall by John Key was captured on film and shown on One News but no comment was made referring to the protesters or why they were there, as if they could have been John Key's fan club!

Yet on February 15th when Auckland Action Against Poverty demonstrated at a National Party fundraiser at a yacht club in Auckland attended by John Key and the event turned violent with police throwing protesters to the ground and damage to the building, the media gave the protest sensational coverage.

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'This begs the question," said Gen de Spa, Its Our Future Christchurch organiser. "Why does the media of New Zealand require violent action from groups who strive to raise awareness against harmful government policies?"

"It seems obvious that the only communication available to these groups is when the media is able to reinforce the idea that protesters are a nasty bunch of troublemakers. It's the same old story and I believe the media is being derelict in its duty." said de Spa. "We are dedicated to peaceful actions yet our message is ignored by the mainstream media and thus the public do not become aware of the harms of many government policies."

The media have a major responsibility to raise awareness of issues that affect the well-being of our country and citizens. This is more true now than ever before as the Key government ignores public concerns, prevents the public from having any say in many of their decisions and often implement policies without proper Parliamentary process.

"The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement takes away the rights of New Zealanders and even the rights of Parliament to make laws protecting New Zealand and its citizens," said de Spa. "It has been written by and for over 600 international corporations. There is no avenue for a cost/benefit analysis to be undertaken prior to signing the agreement and we think this is essential. You would take that care if you were running a business, and it needs to be done for the country as a whole."

"You only have to do a little bit of digging into the Trans Pacific Partnership to find it hard to trust what we are being told. The fact that there is to be no open, public debate about something with such wide-ranging effects is concerning. And the virtual media blackout on those people who are raising their concerns and trying to raise public awareness puts the whole notion of an informed democracy into question," said de Spa.

Awareness and protest groups in New Zealand are not against government. They are groups of concerned citizens who believe it is important for everyone to be informed and for harmful government actions to be accountable.

If the media continue to blackout their actions and their messages in favor of corporate profits and often irrevocable and harmful government actions that are detrimental to the interests of New Zealanders, then is the media attempting to manipulate these groups towards aggression so that they can tell the only story they have already chosen to tell?


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