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Insults – better to give than receive  

In brief

  • Some journalists are seemingly blind to the role their insults and divisive views play in angering others.
  • Are emotions playing too much of a role in journalism? 
  • How about some consideration of the other side’s perspective? 

Overplaying the victim card? 

Reporter Paula Penfold, who was behind the very inflammatory and one-sided “Fire and Fury”, seems to want others to be sympathetic to her personal circumstances. She decries the abuse she and colleagues receive “just for doing their jobs”, seemingly blind to the very different perspective others have about that. Penfold is contemptuous towards those opposed to vaccine mandates. They are “anti-factsters”, self-centred, sanctimonious and simple minded. The attempt to cast many Kiwis in an unfavourable light ignores that they see her as attacking first.

We are not denying the personal situation she explains regarding her sister is heartfelt and emotional to her. Indeed, it even warrants a sympathetic ear. But is it too much to say this would have been better sent to a close friend instead of trying to use it in the ongoing “shape the narrative” war? Of course, many on the other side have their stories which are often every bit as touching. Penfold does not express interest in hearing those stories.

There are numerous examples of Government and media smearing people as racist, sexist, anti-vaxxers, and conspiracy theorists for holding different views. The result has been an erosion of trust and social cohesion

Ever heard of “follow the money”?

Penfold writes she doesn’t understand why anyone would think the media is “used as a weapon by governments to disseminate their propaganda.” Maybe she is not familiar with the “go to” move of rulers throughout history? Maybe she is not familiar with the hugely increased “comms” budget of Ardern? Maybe she has never heard of the Disinformation Project? If not through the media, how else is propaganda disseminated? 

Penfold then makes the claim that despite funding by the Government, it doesn’t affect her editorial independence. Perhaps in her case the Government programs are just rewarding someone who already thinks the way the Government wants them to? For instance, claiming the Wellington protests were more dangerous than war-torn Afghanistan. 

First off, looks count for this sort of thing and it is not a good look. Secondly, is it any better that she honestly believes what she says, but the Government then pays her because she believes it?  Many see the whole $55M NZ On Air fund as being something the Government should not even be allowed to do, for the very reason that it is the current Government paying its supporters.

Two wrongs don’t make a right

Better behaviour by journalists and politicians would likely result in more civil discourse. 

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