The mainstream media in New Zealand has long prided itself on being trustworthy, insightful, and important. However, recent revelations have called into question the integrity of these outlets, as they have been accused of accepting bribes from the government.
This scandal has raised serious concerns about the state of media independence in the country and the impact it could have on democracy.
In a recent article, journalist Amy Brooke wrote that “it is utterly untruthful of our media outlets to claim to be ”independent and trustworthy” when being basically bribed by the government.”
Allegations of media payola
Brooke points to the government’s Public Interest Journalism Fund, which has provided millions of dollars in funding to various media outlets.
According to Brooke, this funding is not truly meant to support “public interest journalism,” but rather to propagate a government agenda and influence the media’s coverage.
One example of this is the $300,000 that was given to Stuff, a major New Zealand news outlet, with the requirement that they produce a “cultural competence” course for journalists.
The Spinoff, another outlet, was given $207,000 and must agree to do a podcast series “to explore Maori issues.” These stipulations on the use of the funding raise questions about the true intent of the government’s actions.
Undermining media’s integrity
The use of government funding to influence media coverage is not limited to New Zealand.
Similar accusations have been made in countries such as Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been accused of using state resources to control the media and silence critical voices.
In Venezuela, the government has been accused of using state-owned media outlets to promote their own agenda and silence opposition.
In addition to government funding, media outlets in some countries have been accused of accepting bribes in the form of advertising revenue.
In Mexico, for example, it has been reported that some media outlets have accepted bribes from drug cartels in exchange for favorable coverage or silence on certain issues. This has led to a lack of trust in the media and a distorted portrayal of the events taking place in the country.
The acceptance of bribes by media outlets undermines the integrity of journalism and erodes the public’s trust in the media.
In a democratic society, a free and independent press is essential for holding those in power accountable and providing citizens with accurate information.
When media outlets are seen as being influenced by government or other powerful actors, it undermines their ability to fulfil this vital role.
It is essential for media outlets to maintain their independence and integrity in order to effectively serve the public’s right to know. Governments and other powerful actors must not be allowed to use their resources to influence media coverage and silence critical voices.
Citizens have a right to accurate and unbiased information in order to make informed decisions. It is the responsibility of media outlets to uphold these standards and resist any attempts to bribe or influence their coverage.
In New Zealand, while the government’s Public Interest Journalism Fund may have been created with good intentions, the reality is that it has been used to propagate the government’s agenda and silence critical voices.
This undermines the integrity of journalism and erodes the public’s trust in the media. It is essential for media outlets to reject these bribes and maintain their independence, in order to effectively serve the public’s right to know.