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Journalism in Aotearoa

If you want the lazy job in Aotearoa, be a journalist.

You write stories. Nothing could be easier.

You gather up some facts, get some expert comment, string it together with words to make a story -- or, in the sophisticated parlance of Aotearoa journalism, your narrative.

There is an infinite number of facts to choose amongst but your selection is made easy: you choose the facts that are easy to get and that are agreeable to you. After all, it’s your narrative.

The same for experts. There’s countless experts, often saying different things. It could get confusing. But it’s not. You quote the expert that says things agreeable to you. Also, the easy ones ready with a quote and keen to be the news. That’s why we hear from the same experts over and over.

As the pandemic runs out of puff, the New Zealand Herald has started “Inflation Nation” stories. These will “explore the reasons and impacts of the price shock - and possible solutions”.

First up, is Business Editor Andrea Fox. There’s price creep. Butter, cheese and yogurt are more expensive! A kilogram of cheese is $1.46 more than a year ago.

How can that be when there are cows everywhere? Turns out kiwis must compete with overseas buyers for “our” dairy products. Who knew?

(Ms Fox could usefully study comparative and absolute advantage. We could have cheap cheese but then we couldn't afford mobile phones or other electronic devices.)

Then the expert opinion and solution: Consumer NZ chief executive Jon Duffy says the Commerce Commission should be tougher on supermarkets. Mr Duffy is wanting a Supermarket Czar overseeing prices and making supermarkets sell from their own supply chain to their competitors at Czar-determined wholesale prices.

That’s Aotearoan journalism. It’s a story. It’s not true. It’s totally misleading. It’s muddled. The problem is not remotely grasped. The proffered solution is absurd and completely counterproductive.

That story would take 30 minutes to research and write including a coffee break. It’s one phone call, one google search and some sloppy writing.

There is no cause-and-effect thinking. The effect is inflation -- what is the cause?

Inflation is the sustained fall in the price of money against a basket of goods and services. It’s driven by supply and demand. There’s been nothing special in the last couple of years to shift demand. But what about supply?

Through the pandemic the Reserve Bank pumped $53 billion extra money into the economy. The average was $750 million a week. Through that time Aotearoan journalists were breathlessly telling stories about how well the Aotearoan economy was holding up despite most of us being locked up at home. It was an economic miracle. Not only was Aotearoa knocking covid for six we were sustaining our economy without working.

But sadly it wasn't true. It was just a story. Stories don’t explain. They don’t predict. They are just facts and comments strung together. Everyday news stories in Aotearoa are confusing and nonsensical.

It didn’t occur to the journalists that the economic miracle was fake. The clue was in the time value of money: interest rates crashed next to zero and asset prices boomed. We weren’t making more. We were just making more money. And so the price of money must fall.

And so now we have the inevitable inflation ahead of the inevitable crash.

Making it all the more unbearable are the endless stories about inflation -- all of them muddled, all of them wrong, all of them with counter-productive solutions.

A supermarket czar would mean higher prices, fewer goods, and poorer service. We know that through theory and bitter experience, here and overseas, and down through the ages. The absurdity of a government that can’t build a house, or plant a tree, dictating food supply prices as some madcap cure for inflation is so absurd that only an Aoteroan Journalist could possibly think that, let alone write that, let alone publish that.

But such rubbish is churned out day in and day out. The Main Stream Media are so inured to not thinking, to not analysing, to not critiquing, that they can’t even see the rubbish they write as the nonsense that it is.

Business Editor Ms Fox could well reflect on Milton Friedman saying in 1963, “Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon”. But that’s too much to ask. Our journalists are dopey; our government is dopey; and in that dopey round-and-around circle policy gets made. And it shows.

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77 commentaires

Laurette Strude
Laurette Strude
23 mars 2022

They don't bother proof reading.... doing actual research and writing an unbiased article would be far too hard for them. Why bother when they get paid by the government regardless of what and how they write. Perhaps if it wasn't trash people might subscribe.


Donovan Jackson
Donovan Jackson
22 mars 2022

Beware the long run consequences of any policy or action. So few take the time to understand basic economics. Essential reading should include Hazlitt, Sowell, Bastiat, Hayek, at a minimum. Thanks for another excellent piece Rodney.


You are 100% correct Rodney. A large number of articles in our newspaper simply equate to another teddy-bear's picnic. Don't offend anyone, and certainly don't draw any conclusions from your analysis (if there is any). Paint everything over as 'it is all the same'. You could refer to it as a rudderless ship in the night, except we know it is deliberate. Only solution: Completely ignore the MSM. Don't turn on the TV or buy a paper. Once the circulation numbers drop, the advertisers pull their support, and they might get the message that we're sick of their lies. 😉

En réponse à

Janb - Your suggested remedy is what I do. I stopped reading the Dompost when it no longer published my letters. My views stayed the same, but the wokes took over the newspaper. I never listen to RNZ‘s Morning Report nor its Midday Report. I sparingly listen to other programmes. I gave up TVNZ when it went digital around 2008. Brain dead. I occasionally skim through the Listener for media programmes but nothing has changed. I no longer have a TV. But I remain reasonably well informed from other sources.


I don't get it.

From the comments I've read on the quality of NZ journos most think they're a bunch of pimply faced immature college kids expressing immature socialist views. Are they all like that or are there some who value integrity and credibility who are caught up in a mass well deserved smear?

It wouldn't take much for the good guys to split away from the dorks, form a club with a set of rules designed to return their credibility. The public would then be able to determine their worth and they would become of value to their families and employers. That's a win win! As it is currently they are in a lose lose.

En réponse à

Same in the US, I observe from afar: alternative facts etc were trumpeted by the deluded orange POTUS and his lying spokespeople. A craven GOP tag along even with President Biden in office.


22 mars 2022

The problem runs deeper than the pathetic efforts of "our" journalists, the same incapacity exists generally among the products of, what we used to justifiably call, higher learning.

"What I soon discovered was that none of them had much idea how to make an argument in any context. Nor were they particularly skilled at analysing the arguments of others. They didn’t know how to read; they didn’t know how to write; and they didn’t know how to think."

"As for their thinking, they had the same relationship to their arguments as they had to their prose. They just made them; they didn’t and really couldn’t think about them in a metacognitive way. They couldn’t recognise contradictions, anticipate objections, entertain alternative…

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