MAINSTREAM MEDIA SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE
July 24 2019
Having recently watched a Mayoral debate organised by Infrastructure New Zealand, Mayoral Candidate Craig Lord was intrigued as to why he was not invited by the organisation - and the response was a sad indictment on the media coverage for the Local Body Elections.
“The Chief Executive of Infrastructure NZ Stephen Selwood was very apologetic about me not attending, and when I asked him why I wasn’t invited he said their list of candidates was simply collated from media reports.”
Lord knows this is a massive issue for voters, given the recent report from LGNZ showing only 38.5% of Auckland’s eligible voters bothered to do so. But he was incredibly disappointed to see the ‘knowledge of candidate’ percentage.
“It’s sombre reading really. 33% of voters didn’t vote as they claimed they didn’t know enough about the candidates. I fully understand the candidates have to make themselves as publicly known as they can but I also feel the media have a civil duty to perform in this matter as well given their existence is reliant on the public.”
“The mainstream news media needs a juicy story with ‘big names’ to get the readers and then sell the ads - I get that, but they should also be playing a better part in our democratic system. They don’t. You feel as though they have an agenda and the public have no choice but to go with that.”
Lord believes media would benefit themselves by giving a more balanced view across the names.
“They’re missing out on stories due to their assumptions of who are the front running candidates. It’s the media themselves that label candidates as front runners - they haven’t done decent polls or held an independent election to make that confirmation, it’s just their own decision to put people in that box. They should be asking themselves some questions.”
With nominations now open for Local Body Elections Lord understands media will feel a small obligation to cover a few more names, but they need to do more than feel obligated.
“I’ll be giving them a hard time about it - and I’ll rally my supporters to do the same thing. They need to understand that their assumptions are wrong and just like elected officials they need to be held accountable for their decisions. When an entity like INZ relies on what the media has published then the media should understand the implications of what they do and don’t do.”