Clark cops a serve from Espiner

On the House – stuff.co.nz

Clark must have lost her poltical nose as yesterday she insulted most of the press gallery and most of th MSM, but in particular the NZ Herald. Not a good strategy for re-election.

Well Colin Espiner has taken exception and he joins the shit-list with Fran O’Sullivan.
[quote]So Prime Minister Helen Clark thinks journalists are all ?too young to remember history?. That?s so funny. Most people are too young to remember history – that?s because, er, it mostly happened a long time ago.

Helen Clark herself is too young to remember World War Two, or New Zealand?s becoming a Dominion, or Gallipoli, or the Battle of the Somme, or the prime ministership of her hero Peter Fraser.

So what? It?s possible to study history, isn?t it? You don?t have to have lived through events to gain an appreciation of their significance, although I admit it helps. Until they invent time travel, however, this isn?t possible.

Clark told a journalism conference at Wellington?s Massey University yesterday that the political editors of TV1 and TV3 are too young to remember seminal events in New Zealand history, citing the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam, the sending of protest frigates to Mururoa, and the 1981 Springbok tour.

While I think most New Zealanders would argue with Clark on the Vietnam example being a seminal moment in our history, the other two probably qualify. I?ve spoken to both Guyon and Duncan and both clearly remember the Springbok tour. Similarly New Zealand?s fight against French testing in the South Pacific is so ingrained in our culture I doubt any journalist would be unaware of it.

This ageist approach to the media is also interesting considering the PM has just appointed a 30-year-old, Darren Hughes, as a minister and Labour has just selected a candidate in his 20s for the Rimutaka seat.

It?s something I?ve noticed cropping up a bit this year, though. A couple of months ago journalist and commentator Chris Trotter had a similar moan, complaining that the press gallery was all too young and there was insufficient experience. This ?it?s not like it was in my day? sentiment is generally a sure sign one is getting old.

As I argued with Chris, journalists aren?t getting younger – our critics are just getting older. Like policemen suddenly seeming younger than your children, people in their 20s and 30s suddenly seem less experienced once you get a few years under your belt.

Maybe the PM is just upset because of the tirade from most media outlets against the Electoral Finance Bill. She singled out the New Zealand Herald in her speech, but there isn?t a newspaper in the country that I know of that has written in favour of this legislation.

I was interested to see Clark also opined that ?senior press gallery journalists? – who I presume would include myself – shouldn?t be blogging, saying it was a disturbing trend because it allowed opinion-leaders to rush to judgment before having a chance to think through an argument. That?s an interesting point. I suppose it is true one has less time to consider an argument in a weblog. But equally, it is easy to correct or change course as well.

The days of newspapers being simply a journal of record are mostly behind us, which I consider to be largely a good thing, although I?m not sure Clark thinks so. There certainly is more campaigning journalism and opinion and commentary around these days than when I started, when it was pretty much limited to the editorial.

I don?t remember the Prime Minister being so critical when more of the commentary was praiseworthy of her government, of course. I doubt she?ll be contacting transTasman to complain at getting top marks in its yearly ranking of MPs. Oh yes, that?s right – she likes Ian Templeton. He?s old enough to remember history.[/quote]

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