Monday, 05 October 2015 10:30

HaasMarkFoot 151002Making his mark: Author Haas with former Wairarapa district mayor and now Member of Parliament Ron Mark and National Press Club member Denis Foot.

South Seas Public Intellectual
Tony Haas Returns to Roots
to Launch Autobiography
Being Palangi

National Press Club member Tony Haas’ 50 year career as a South Seas public intellectual was capped in the remote New Zealand valley of his childhood with the publication of his book Being Palangi-My Pacific Journey.

The autobiography begins with Haas’ paternal grandfather, a prominent Bundestag figure of the inter war era telling his son, Haas’ father, to put as much distance as possible between he and Germany.

Which is what happened with Haas Snr settling in New Zealand and then taking up a farm near Pahiatua in a region itself geographically distant, the Wairarapa Valley.

Haas charts his own Jewish raising in the secular New Zealand, and how as a student at Victoria University, Wellington, he was to identify his trademark cause of Pacific multi culturalism which he was to pursue as researcher, publisher, broadcaster, writer, traveller, family man, and all-purpose advocate.

Also chronicled is how Haas fell under the spell of fellow journalist Michael King the pre-eminent chronicler of his era of the Maori experience. He recounts how he vowed then, with King’s encouragement, to do for Oceania what King had done for New Zealand.
HaasLineUp 151002Pacific stars: Long time Wairarapa local politician Bob Francis attentive while launcher-in-chief broadcaster Ian Johnstone outlines Haas’ life and times, and Mandarin Rob Laking listens,
as does Haas, and United Nations Lebanon-based refugee topsider Ross Mountain.

Hedly 151002Generating: Dynastic Wairarapa book retailer and publisher David Hedley (centre)with (left) assistant manager Steve Trotman and Bob Francis.

Monday, 04 January 2016 11:53

Safety & Security

in Contrived News*

How serious are no-go areas in relation to their coverage by mainstream media?
They are all the more pervasive just because they have become an accepted as part of the scene. Therefore they do not stand out. They are not viewed as being unusual, or out of place.

Some examples?
The most worrying aspect of these no-go areas is that there are so many of them. Here’s one to start with. When it was officially disclosed that in New Zealand there were 40 people under surveillance by the security services, there should have been instigated by the media at the very least a debate on the nature and provenance of the individuals being watched.

You could say that the admission that in a sparsely populated nation that there were 40 people under surveillance was disturbing in itself?
It was a very candid admission and pretty much corresponds to a non-disclosed number of quite a few more. We have to assume these fall into the lesser security category of persons of interest.

This hardly constitutes a pattern of no-go areas?
If you want a very large-scale and set-piece no go area then you have to consider the Paris climate conference. It was treated with the type of hushed reverence that was once accorded royal events such as coronations. There was no disclosure of the immense and embarrassing tensions at the conference. Instead there was the old rote style of reporting in which the word “historic” was such a recurring feature. I would have liked to have known details, for example, of who was there from this country, and who was paying for them to be there?

Let’s have more examples to make still more visible this pattern?
This no-go syndrome is far too easily ascribed to the delicacies of political correctness and this is certainly an element in the toadying, conformist, correct and polite coverage of something like the Paris event. Timing is also a big part of this. For example earlier in 2015 the round of pay increases to politicians triggered immense and justified media ire. At the end of the year, when the mainstreamers were not watching, were distracted, the pay boosts went through and without a murmur.

What are these distractions?
The distractions are made up of pre-programmed and large scale events. Sport hardly surprisingly is the central one here. It is so much part of the mainstream wallpaper that news practitioners fail to notice it. For example you are watching the news on television which is mainly about sport. At the conclusion, the newsreader says “and now we have the sport” when all you have been watching has been about sport.
This is hardly something new in the news?
It has become intensified because of the mainstreamers turning themselves inside out as they seek to hug popular culture in all its manifestations and this really is the heart of the matter. Its most obvious manifestation is the embracing of entertainment and sport.

You are always going on about market-forces and such like and isn’t this what we are talking about here?
Let me narrow this down. We are talking about news which is in fact contrived in that it is a pre-programmed event such as a ball game. One side must win. The other must lose. So the outcome also is 50 percent pre- programmed. It is very much pre-packaged and it is the news equivalent of bubble-wrapped pour-on instant convenience foods.

Some might say that you will soon recommend the return of classified advertising on the front page?
In this fingering of the dominance of pre-packaged and pre-programmed news I am in good company. Paul Henry for one (pictured speaking to the National Press Club in 2011). In his autobiography he relates how when he was working for the government television news, there was this intense focus on having the news crystallised as long as possible before it was presented.. When there was spontaneous news, actual news, it threw this pre-programmed contrived format into inconvenient disarray.

*Interview with National Press Club president Peter Isaac

Saturday, 06 December 2014 13:34 Written by

Lifetime Achievement Award Laureate Connie Lawn is Dean of White House Press Corps

See: Tribute to New Zealand’s Presidential Insider


Lifetime Achievement Award Laureate Connie Lawn is Dean of White House Press Corps

Monday, 05 October 2015 11:13

NoOne 151002

Brazil Envoy Emphasises

Language & Cultural Objectives

The 193rd anniversary of the independence of Brazil drew as guests National Press Club president Peter Isaac and newsmakers Bill and Donas Nathan (pictured). Sometime soldier, IT executive, state protocol official and impresario Mr Nathan’s work in the performing arts corresponds with the Brazil embassy in Wellington work in supporting Polynesian and Latin American cultural links.

Meanwhile Ambassador Eduardo Gradilone drew attention to the accelerating Brazil/New Zealand student exchange scheme – an indicator of the flourishing relationship between the two countries.
He also spoke of the value in this of New Zealanders learning Portuguese and Brazilians learning English. With over 200 million speakers worldwide Portuguese is a substantially more widely spoken language than for example French.

Brazil opened an Embassy in Wellington in 1997 taking the initiative in the New Zealand Government’s Latin American Strategy announced in August 2000. This was followed up with the establishment of the New Zealand Embassy in 2001 which reinforced a trade office opened in São Paulo in 1999.

The 20th annual gathering of Central Districts/ Wellington region journalists this year also served as a milestone for perpetual host New Zealand Farmer editor Jon Morgan's own half century in harness.

He signed on under the old cadet apprenticeship scheme in his teens and soon began specialising in rural and agribusiness reporting which has remained his focus ever since. In recent years he has found himself shifting from the press bench to the judges rostrum, adjudicating on exhibits at agricultural shows and field days.

The event also gives his guest-colleagues an insight into their hosts' own pastoral and horticutural skills because the venue is the Morgan's own property in the Horowhenua - Kapiti district.

      Post prandial. Evening Post's Penny Harding Gary Connor

Continue here for more photos

Monday, 05 October 2015 11:23

Clumsy Emails Crash Through News Noise Level

 Interview with National Press Club president Peter Isaac

Q: We are now well into the internet age. You were a major player in the predictions industry. Looking back, where would you say you rank?

A:     Let us look at my foolish prediction made in this same feature several years ago about the citizen-journalist. I forecast well-intentioned amateurs taking over. In the event what has happened? Almost the opposite. Highly organised special-interest groups such as the Taxpayers Union are making the running. They are the ones revealing the sister-city jaunts and all the other newsworthy elements of local government life that were once a staple of the press. So my prediction of lone-wolves doing the leg work was wrong. What has happened is that doctrinally driven and very organised groups have taken the lead. Not the individuals that I had predicted.

Q: There seems to be this drift to the right in the internet political spectrum?

A: I utterly failed to see this. The evidence of this imminent swing was there to be seen, perfectly clear in the wisdom of hindsight. The chorus of symmetrically similar views from the mainstream print and the broadcast media bored the socks off everyone. Even if they  agree with it, people wanted some variety. This came from the right in the form of these agenda emails and blogs. The usual liberal and leftie ones are still there. But they have no pick up.

Q: How did this step-change come about?

A: It had its beginnings in elements of talk-back radio and this is pretty much where it stayed and still stays. But these outfits such as the Taxpayers Union picked up on it, detected the trend, and pursued it.

Q: The Taxpayer Union relies on clumsily designed mass emails to get its counter-message across?

A: This surprised me too. My thinking had revolved around slick web sites padded with entertainment sucrose and with the emails merely calling attention to them. In the event they went direct and the email became the message.

Q: This pick up happened quickly?

A: This surprised me. When I started receiving these emails I thought they were banging their heads on a brick wall. The reason being that the journalistic mentality usually has to be led backwards over a story, rather than have their reportorial faces slammed into it.

Q: Let us turn to the big picture now. You are an old print man. How do you see the chains?

A: The problem for the chains is that the advertising agencies are successfully persuading them to aim at those in their teens, twenties, and thirties.

Q: What is wrong with this demographic?

A: When did you last see anyone under the age of 50 read the print version of a newspaper? They are compounding this with these full front page splashes. This is all the more weird with the Dominion Post which is a broadsheet. They are forever seeking to make the pulling out of a bath plug seem like the sinking of the Wahine. Print must distinguish itself from broadcasting. John Campbell found himself on the eclipse because his bosses kept seeing numbers that indicated that frantic sensationalism was falling as a viewer demand.

Q: Is this pick up of these rightward email news-breakers a long or a short term phenomenon?

A: They are doing the old fashioned leg and tipster work and as long as they do this there will continue to be pick up. Curiously the same thing now applies on the email commentaries, however highfalutin’. The New Zealand Initiative, the rump of the old Roundtable, also now enjoys pick-up via its rather more stylish email bulletins.

Q: Is there a formula here?

A: ACT started it with their cheeky emails. You are about to delete it. Then you think to yourself – better have a look, might be something important . Someone else might see it. Pick it up. The others followed in ACT’s footsteps with these acerbic snippets. Meanwhile our friends on the left of the political spectrum relied on their web sites and their ponderous essays therein.


Tuesday, 12 May 2015 14:42

Remembering Thea Muldoon

An Interview with National Press Club President Peter Isaac

Dame Thea Muldoon Personified an Era. 
She Gave Shortest New Zealand Speech Ever

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