Items filtered by date: March 2019 - National Press Club Inc.

National Press Club president Peter Isaac outlined the position of the nation’s security agencies when he spoke to the Greytown Lions on September 19, several days after the Christchurch mosques atrocities.

Isaac had in fact been due to talk about pioneering Greytown newspaperman Richard Wakelin now acknowledged as New Zealand’s first professional journalist in that he had no political or pamphleteering axe to grind.

New Zealand security agencies have long been vigilant in following up insurgency and from any source or ethnic category, Isaac claimed in swivelling his anticipated address onto the Christchurch catastrophe.

This had become evident during the 1990s when the agencies had been notably vigilant on any indication of entering New Zealand anyone in the supremacist category

Even so this advantage was neutralised in regard to the Christchurch mosque shootings simply because the suspect had no previous brushes anywhere with law enforcement authorities beyond road traffic notices.

Cross-surveillance had yielded no clues on the mosque suspect just because he had no police record anywhere in terms of violence or threatened violence.

The only tangible footprint was the photo the suspect had posted of himself in North Korea with what appeared to be his official guides.

Only this rendered him as a person of interest.

Isaac noted that subsequent inquiries will follow the suspect’s money trail conundrum centred on how someone from a self-admitted everyday background and without any job had been able to criss-cross the world at will and in some comfort and been able to pay for things like air fares, rent and cars and computers and also weaponry and club memberships.

Inevitably, noted Isaac, the subsequent inquiries would delve into the security agencies and their access to the politically raw and even taboo areas of the suspect’s medical records and also financial records in regard to the provenance of his funds.

He cautioned media commentators on dwelling upon any imagined security agency failings.

The Security Intelligence Service and Government Communications Security Bureau could in fact have already intercepted and foiled insurgency attacks from any quarter, but be prevented from crowing about it in order to protect their channels.

Isaac advised the media gallery and associated “commentariat” to pull back from encouraging let alone “stoking” any notion at all that the vast and genuine outpouring of grief somehow exempted the nation as a whole from a perception of involvement with the mosque atrocities here, and thus collective involvement, and even guilt.

Isaac concurred though with the media concensus to the effect that the nation’s lax regulations on guns of all description needed to be drastically tightened up.

But he pointed out that gun regulation was often regarded by the gun owner population which is considered to be around the quarter million mark as a single-issue electoral matter.

Knowing this, politicians trod gingerly around imposing draconian restrictions, a delicacy also engendered by the sporting popularity of firearms.

He disagreed on grounds of unenforceability with the media-led call on imposing restrictions on social media a category that in the aftermath of the mosque atrocity has found itself sharing the same obloquy as automatic weapons.

Social media could not be “squeezed back into the bottle,” he said. As a consumer technology it could only be replaced by “something else.”

Social media he noted followed the path of all new technologies of following a 40 year development time trajectory from initial acceptance to a pervasive presence.

This had been the case with electricity, telephones and cars among others and was replicated by social media which had begun in the United States as DARPANET, a military networking research project and which underpinned the file sharing that enabled social media.

Returning to his scheduled theme centred on the nation’s first career, professional, journalist George Wakelin, he noted that Wakelin’s successor in running the Wairarapa Standard was William Nation, who founded Arbor Day in Greytown, and thus the Green movement in New Zealand.

William Nation died in 1930.

Had he lived to practise half a century later, in 1980, Nation would still have been at home with the newspaper technology at that time and also with its also application, conjectured Isaac.

Isaac sheeted home the advent of the “pervasiveness” of social media to the epoch between 2004 and 2006 which saw the rapid fire appearance of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

This trio of “disruptive” technologies had conclusively had the effect of ripping away from the hands of career journalists the last restraining gateways to mass access and to a substantial degree did so by fragmenting audiences.

These disruptive technologies arrived on cue after the first appearance 40 years before of the file sharing technology of social media.

It was a reminder, claimed Isaac, of the way in which the early effects of a new technology were overestimated, and the longer term impact underestimated.

The advent of this long term effect represented by social media washed away the journalistic guarantor status held since Richard Wakelin’s era.

This was because practitioners found torn out of their hands their traditional responsibility, a monopoly even, on quality control in the matter of verifying and calibrating degrees of truth and also of taste.

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Isaac (at left ) is pictured above with Lions officials Royce Cooper, Richard Vidulich, Steve Maddock, Tim Hughes.

For further stories see National Press Club associated site www.MSCNewswire.co.nz

Published in Main