Why Can't Our Journalists do their jobs?
WHY CAN'T OUR JOURNALISTS DO THEIR JOBS?
As the probability that National and Act will win the election grows stronger every day the left is going berserk. Not content with making new spending promises everywhere he goes, Chris Hipkins has taken to absurd allegations about his opponents' policies. Even after Christopher Luxon had told us all in the Leaders' Debate that National supported school lunches, Hipkins whose hearing must be deficient, claimed that they were in danger of being scrapped if National won. Labour looks and sounds desperate, a state that never inspires confidence. Our left-leaning media are also going crazy as the election slips away from their belief they should control it. If last week you were brave enough to watch TV3's shambles masquerading as a debate between the minor party leaders and co-leaders, with the shrieking Rebecca Wright in full cry, you'll know what I mean. David Seymour could scarcely utter a sentence before Wright began to shout him down. Weather-beaten Winston mumbled in the distance, while Marama Davidson smugly shouted her set piece lines that bore scant relation to the questions asked. Afterwards, TV3's Jenna Lynch and the Herald's ever-so-scruffy Simon Wilson pronounced her the winner. Collectively, the media coverage of this election is so bad that most rational people are likely to view change on 14 October as worth a punt.
It needn't be like this. There is a host of questions that need to be explored before election day. Take education where achievement levels have been steadily declining for more than a decade. Why is this? We know that truancy has become serious in recent years, and if kids aren't at school we can't be surprised they aren't learning. What steps are being taken by this government to deal with truancy? Are there any signs they are working? But, this isn't the only cause for concern. There are many knowledgeable people expressing opinions about faulty teaching of reading that ought to be explored. Some very odd curriculum changes have been made, too. People are quite openly saying that it's not just the Minister of Education that needs to change, but that Iona Holsted, the Secretary for Education, isn't up to the job for which she is paid $590,000 pa. She presides over a huge bureaucracy that is failing to deliver better educational outcomes. Why is this? Couldn't a journalist somewhere do some digging? After all, the future of our country depends on the education of our young people.
The same journalistic failing is obvious in the health field. Armed with a collection of idiotic slogans like that the health system was "systemically racist" because Maori weren't living as long as non-Maori, the Ardern-Hipkins government set off to erect a radically altered centralised scheme for health care. Adequately functioning district health boards that were trying their best to reach Maori and other problem groups with their services were summarily abolished, and a new racially segregated system was established in the middle of the most serious pandemic ever to hit this country. Why did the government persist once Covid broke out? Cross-examining the four ministers of health since 2017 might be enlightening? And what has been the outcome of the huge changes? Nearly six years ago a close friend spent several days in Auckland Public Hospital and received exemplary care. Another friend was there only last week. He tells me the place is seriously understaffed; that he was unable to have a shower because there weren't any towels; that bedpans weren't being emptied for many hours; and that he'd even seen cockroaches scuttling about the ward. What is it about the new system that makes it unable to handle such challenges? It surely isn't just because of Rob Campbell's ill-fated tenure of the top job? There must be glitches somewhere in the new system that a good journalist could uncover. And while journalists are investigating that, they might quiz Chris Hipkins about how he manages to throw money out the window every day on the campaign trail but can't solve the hospital doctors' pay claim that continues from strike to strike while patients miss out on surgery.
Underlying my questions is a serious problem that is afflicting journalism in this country. It isn't recruiting people of the same standard that used to be in the trade. There are one or two with overseas degrees and experience, but for every good one in the media world these days there are four or five like Michael Neilson, Adam Pearse or Jenna Lynch who believe they are entitled to inflict their personal political prejudices on the rest of us by slanting their stories. Most seem incapable of imagining the useful background they could provide to the voters if they dug a little deeper.