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People’s Report on Public Broadcasting and Media Presented

People’s Report on Public Broadcasting and Media Presented

Today at Parliament, a crowdfunded report on public interest media, along with an open letter in support of the recommendations it contains were presented to Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran.

Campaigning organisation ActionStation, Media advocacy organisation Better Public Media Trust (formerly known as the Coalition for Better Broadcasting) and musician, writer and activist Lizzie Marvelly delivered the report.

The report, the People’s Commission on Public Broadcasting and Media, was crowdfunded and was informed by an extensive consultation earlier this year by ActionStation and the Better Public Media Trust. This community engagement process took place across New Zealand seeking the views of both those working in Media as well as gathering input both online and in person from ordinary Citizens.

The report recommends the following points aiming to strengthen Public Broadcasting:

1. More funding for NZ On Air and RNZ now and annually in line with inflation;

2. A charter to ensure all taxpayer funded public interest media is independent, ensures a diversity of perspectives and is easily discoverable and freely accessible to all people;

3. NZ On Air should be further mandated to fund the production and promotion of more news, current affairs and citizenship education material, including text-based content;

4. Media literacy and critical analysis should be included in the Curriculum;

5. An independent review of all taxpayer funded media structures and institutions;

6. Government funding for ongoing professional development in public service media vocations.

It appears the first item on this list of recommendations has been all-but ticked off, with the Government indicating it will allocate somewhere in the order of 20-30 Million to Radio New Zealand in the upcoming budget.

However, it is yet to be seen whether the remaining five points will be adopted. The creation of a Commission for Public Broadcasting by the Government is another promising sign in this area and perhaps would be a good forum for work to be done on scoping the feasibility and desirability of these recommendations for the Government.

According to Laura O’Connell Rapira of ActionStation. “the three major themes to emerge from the public submissions to the report were the need for inclusion (public broadcasting needs to include the voices of all segments of New Zealand), investment (need for more financial support, particularly from the government) and independence.”

The full report can be found here:
It also features a foreword by the Rt. Hon. Helen Clark in which she states: "The quality of our media matters. We rely on it for information about our own affairs and about how external events impact on us. At its best, it should convey a sense of and reflect New Zealand’s identity in its many dimensions."

Another important aspect of the findings is that participants emphasised “the critical role an independent media plays in holding the powerful to account in democracies – whether elected politicians, officials, business leaders or other authorities.” Participants suggested that the fourth estate needs to ‘speak truth to power’ and defend against manipulation of facts.

The importance of this issue is clear given recent developments worldwide such as the proliferation of fake news on the so-called ‘new media’ platforms such as facebook and google as well as manipulation by established news networks with vested interests in maintaining a certain manner of politics.

The recent New Zealand Media Ownership report written by Merja Myllylahti and published by the Journalism, Media and Democracy research centre (JMAD) describes how concentrated power has become in New Zealand’s media.

As Professor Wayne Hope of AUT puts it in a recent briefing paper published on Scoop,
“Newsrooms contracted, news content thinned out, and current affairs journalism disappeared from prime time television. We have an over bearing convergence of finance, political and media culture which obscures the issues of media ownership.”

Hope, however sees reason for, well.. hope in the realm of Public Broadcasting:
“Recent developments though are, potentially, more hopeful. The Commerce Commission has stood against extreme manifestations of ownership concentration on the grounds of media pluralism and democracy. The newly elected government has promised to advance the principles of public broadcasting in a multi-platform environment, by supporting Radio New Zealand. But what about the rest of our media environment?”

In other words, it is crucial that we continue to have strong Public broadcasting, however as Hope points out, in light of this highly concentrated media landscape, we should also be concerned about the independence, diversity and accessibility of the rest of the ‘non-public’ media environment.

This is exactly the issue Scoop has been working at addressing the past few years. While Scoop is not funded by taxpayers, it is our belief that the news industry in general should also be held to the same high standards of independence, diversity and accessibility.
This belief lead the founders of Scoop to establish the not-for-Profit Scoop Foundation for Public Interest Journalism, with a charter requiring it to support journalism in the interests of the public interest. We believe this model will ensure that regardless of future events or personnel, the Scoop Foundation and its subsidiary social enterprise running will continue to serve the best interests of an informed society and educated populace.

The Scoop Foundation’s objectives fit well with recommendation four - that “Media literacy and critical analysis should be included in the Curriculum”. The Foundation’s charter also requires it to work to ensure New Zealanders are educated about the importance of public interest journalism.

The Scoop Foundation has been raising funds from the community in order to support high-quality public interest journalism this year and we are extremely pleased to be releasing the results of our 2017 Earthquake Journalism Grant this month just after the one year anniversary of the Kaikoura quakes.

Charlotte Graham - one of the recipients of this grant - has produced an excellent series on the effects of natural disasters on disadvantaged and marginalised communities in New Zealand. An article on this topic will be published in New Zealand Geographic Magazine and online at on 18 December along with a series of associated multimedia content to be published on from 18 December onwards.

The Scoop Foundation looks forward to funding more excellent investigative journalism of this nature in 2018. We are now working with innovative journalism crowdfunding platform, PressPatron to allow supporters to assist us in this endeavour.

You can support the Foundation’s work in the public interest journalism space through a one-off or recurring donation via PressPatron here.

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