ACT was active last week. Nicole McKee launched tougher measures on criminals with Firearms Prohibition Orders. David Seymour launched faster parallel assessment of new pharmaceuticals. Todd Stephenson got his Bill for mandatory prisoner rehab through First Reading. Mark Cameron put justice for David Stewart back on the national agenda. ACT MPs were out at the Northern Field Days, helping clean up after Port Hills fires, and even running Auckland’s Round the Bays.


Newshub is closing, or at least playing dead and hoping another white knight charges in at 3 Flower St, where Newshub is based. Meanwhile, journalists have reacted with all the usual self-entitlement and lack of self-awareness we know and love them for.

They piled in on politicians who said Newshub’s closure was the market in action, media are changing, and it’s sad for the people involved but them’s the breaks and other true and reasonable things. Tone deaf! Insensitive! Not fair! Et cetera. All this from people who grin down the camera at politicians’ failures, and have competed for decades for politicians’ “scalps”.

Unfortunately that’s just what we’ve got used to over the years. Journalists (not all of them, of course) demand accountability but it’s always for thee, never for me. All the while trust has plummeted and the media is in trouble everywhere.

That’s half the media’s problem, having a product to sell. Most of what is reported you won’t remember next week. If you did you’d wonder why it was ever reported. Meanwhile major challenges for the country take a back seat to sensationalism. The other half of the problem is having a way to sell it.

Could there be a white knight to save Newshub’s network? Since TV3 was licensed thanks to Richard Prebble’s broadcasting reforms in the late 1980s, the TV and News operation at 3 Flower St has had a new owner about every five years. There’s been NBC (the American network), Canwest (a Canadian media company), Westpac, private equity, Mediaworks, and Warner Brothers Discovery.

This time feels different because the way of selling it is not looking so good either. TV was a technology that blew people’s minds, nearly a whole lifetime ago in the 1950s. Sending pictures and sound to another person was like science fiction then. Now it’s so easy we have to ban individual kids from doing it during school time.

Without a monopoly on beaming in to people’s homes, it’s difficult to sell advertising. As TVNZ’s half-year report showed last week, they’re facing similar problems with advertisers moving to online competitors.

It may be that the next white knight is only delaying the inevitable. That’s a world where there just isn’t TV news the way we’ve thought about it for the past 60 years. It’s already difficult to believe people were paid a million dollars a year to read the news in the 1990s but that’s a good reminder of how fast things are changing.

What we’re left with is a whole lot of questions that probably nobody knows the answers to right now.

Can journalists recognise the loss of trust in them is not someone else’s fault? Hope dies last but early signs are not good, it’s hard to think of a single journalist who’s come close in the week since Newshub’s news.

Will a white knight rescue Newshub and keep it going? This time does feel different, but the demise of TV has been predicted for a long time and it does still operate around the world.

Does it matter if the media market becomes more fragmented? The U.S. suggests it does. Neighbours living in different worlds with different truths from different sources can’t be a good thing. It’s the opposite of what we’ve had for the last century or so of successful democracy. But, like the demise of TV, moral decay and society falling apart have also been predicted for a long time.

Does Government have a role to play in media? At the moment it owns a radio and a TV station and hands out money from various jam jars like Creative New Zealand and NZ On Air. It may be time to ask what, if anything, the Government needs to do?

One thing’s for sure, journalists love to report on their own industry so the questions above will get a lot of airtime in the next few months.

That's it for this week, be sure to stay tuned next Monday

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