UPDATED: Opinion is entrenched in the state TV newsroom TVNZ HAS NO EXPLICIT WRITTEN POLICY ON ITS JOURNALISTS WRITiNG OUTSIDE COMMENTARY

UPDATE, Sometime TVNZ 1 news presenter Miriama Kamo wrote an article of The Spinoff, 

TVNZ News managers said through a spokeswoman: “A number of our journalists and presenters contribute to other media outlets –  be it as radio hosts, as print columnists or panel guests. Some of these roles require personal opinions to be offered.

“We’re realistic about the fact that our journalists and presenters are people who hold personal viewpoints and there are occasions where these can be expressed and healthy debate can be engaged in.  While we don’t have an explicit written policy for our people taking on these roles, additional media responsibilities are assessed in a case by case basis to ensure the editorial strength of our newsroom, said spokeswoman Rachel Howard.

Do you remember the days we did not know the personal politics and opinions of newseaders?

Today in “The Spinoff” the sometimes TVNZ One News newsreader, Marae and Sunday host opined that people were wrong to comment about there being less animosity at Waitangi.

“Why do we praise ‘peaceful’ Waitangi Day celebrations? It suggests that agitators behaved, that they weren’t naughty, that they towed the line to allow everyone to have a ‘nice’ day.” she asked.

I tend to agree with her. But I was surprised to see that a high-profile and ostensibly independent newsreader and current affairs like Kamo presenting her personal views on politics. 

I imagine Kamo views her role as an interviewer on the current affairs programmes Marae and Sunday as justification for her taking a position. But I think news reading is special and there has never been a time when neutrality is more important. Its an old-fashioned view but her opinions in Spinoff queer the pitch for her newsreader role, in my opinion. Maybe its a one off But it’s a worrying trend at TVNZ and state broadcasting in general,

Kamo said in Spinoff

I find praise of a peaceful Waitangi Day jarring. The absence of protest is not the indicator of a successful Waitangi Day. Whether protest occurs or does not occur is not the measure of anything other than the mood of the marginalised. And if it is the measure, then it is for Māori to decide whether Waitangi celebrations were ‘successful’…. Every year, Waitangi Day is approached with trepidation – how much protest will there be, what form will it take? National leader Bill English was spooked by it, suggesting to RNZ that his decision not to attend Waitangi last year saw marae trustees organise themselves this year to see ‘dignity restored to that event’ – read, no protest. In his view, this is why the new government received a warm reception.

… the onus is not on Māori to smooth the path for others to come into their home; a home that has been, figuratively and literally, systematically dismantled and destroyed over decades. Labour too has a lot of ground to make up, so it’s good that Jacinda Ardern spoke with verve and hope for a more equitable partnership. Her warm reception reflects the historic grassroots support by many Māori for the party, the ongoing excitement around the prime minister’s leadership, but also her pregnancy.

It was a strong articulate opinion. But if she continues to be a pundit it queers the pitch for her reading the new.  I’m hoping this is not a sign of things to come. 

Hosking was never sold as being neutral – Kamo is.

Kamo objected to Mike Hosking over his arrogant utterances about the former mayor of New Plymouth Andrews Judd, It was a low point for Seven Sharp, in my opinion. TVNZ producers became too loose handling Hosking’s opinions. In some ways Hosking was less problematical. Seven Sharp was not a bulletin and there was no pretence that he was neutral, 

The state broadcaster hired Hosking to rark with a right wing viewpoints that he had promoted in other media for ages.. admittedly, she did not express her views on TVNZ. If TVNZ really valued her opinion, its surprising they don’t appear to have run them on TVNZ.co.nz website.

I’d argue that the neutrality is more important now than it has ever been

TVNZ would’ve had to give Kamo the go-ahead. I asked spokeswoman Rachel Howard about the approach. She  said that presenters giving their personal opinions has been around for years.

That is true. Paul Henry was very opinionated on Breakfast. TVNZ did not mind that while ratings kept up. Hilary Barry has liked to promote her feminist sensibilities to the world.

Now Hilary has been moved from Breakfast to Seven-Sharp, she is being replaced by Hayley Holt, the former Green Party candidate, though TVNZ says she knows her politics can’t intrude on the show,

Kamo has some strong and well- articulated views.

But I am pleased that Simon Dallow and Wendy Petrie keep their opinions to themselves, as do Samantha Hayes and Mike McRoberts on Newsbub.

It would-be worrying in the current environment if TVNZ decides that newsreaders don’t need to be neutral. 

 

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