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Book review: Scooped

Book review: Scooped

Scooped: The Politics and Power of Journalism in Aotearoa New Zealand
AUT Media
$39.99

The latest book to come out of AUT Media (and the first new text on journalism in this country in a decade or so), Scooped: The politics and power of journalism in Aotearoa New Zealandruns the gamut from academic criticism to practical ideas and discussion.

Some chapters lean towards the pointy-headed side – The cultural politics of journalism: Quotidian intellectuals and the power of media capital – while others offer discussion from those with extensive daily experience in the field, such as Finlay McDonald on “the politics of practice and the voice of the New Zealand Listener”.

Authors include Massey University journalism lecturer Margie Comrie; London lecturer Slavko Gajevic; Massey VC and former Labour MP Steve Maharey; Canterbury University comms lecturer Donald Matheson, and more.

The best chapter of the bunch is perhaps the last, where investigative journo Nicky Hager unleashes a can of Screw You on the PR industry.

Anyone in the game knows PR people outnumber journalists by one squillion to one, but Hager cites examples that will make any hack’s angry pants fit that little bit tighter.

Such as? A coal industry lobby group in Wellington that put out so much negative publicity on a potential carbon tax during the Labour government’s 1999-2008 time that the notion was dropped. Or Hager’s own book Secrets and Lies, the story of a US PR company that ran a political and media campaign in favour of logging our public native forests, including a fake pro-logging community group, beyond which journalists never dug.

Hager gives seven ways to combat the over-commercialisation of news, but in the capitalism-at-all-costs/let’s-kill-public-service-broadcasting/citizen-journalism-is-our-saviour culture we’re now soaking in, it’s easier said than done.

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