Published in The New Zealand Herald 30 April 2018
There’s no such thing as free speech, and it’s a good thing too.
There is nothing original about that sentence. It was the title of an essay by an American legal scholar named Stanley Fish. In it he argued that speech cannot be free because it is never free of consequences and responsibilities.
He is right. For several decades, as a journalist and editor on this newspaper and later as an academic, I have championed free expression. At no stage, however, was I under any illusion that speech was entirely free of consequence and responsibility. I knew that it had limits. Continue reading
Last week I finished teaching my last course at the University of Auckland. It was a Summer School paper titled “Journalism in Practice” in which the theories of journalism and media were contrasted with the realities of producing journalism. Eight prominent journalists and an eminent media lawyer gave lectures in the course. What follows is my sign-off to the class…. Continue reading
A paper in MediaNZ on realistic expectations for change in New Zealand news media by the beginning of the next decade:
Vol 17, No 1 (2017) Agenda 2020 Imagining the Future of New Zealand Media
ADDRESS TO REMUERA ROTARY 6 NOVEMBER 2017
I covered my first New Zealand general election half a century ago. Continue reading
The well-established Mirror and the depression-era launch of the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly
A frisson of fear must have passed through the owners of the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly in the first week of December 1932. Continue reading
An address to the Australasian Catholic Press Association annual conference in Auckland 24 August 2017
President Donald Trump may be blamed for many things but you can’t hold him responsible for creating the post-truth environment. It existed, in one form or another, even before Julius Caesar justified the annexation of Gaul by bad-mouthing the neighbouring Germanic tribes. Perhaps it existed even before Pericles, to borrow from the Tony Blair songbook, sexed-up the need for the Peloponnesian Wars.
This commentary appeared in the New Zealand Herald on 1 June 2017
The question is not whether New Zealand will be confronted by fake news in September’s general election but what form it will take.
The recent track record of falsehood is too seductive for it to be ignored here. Brexit, the U.S. and French presidential elections (and no doubt the forthcoming German federal election campaign that coincides with our own) shows fake news has a ready audience among those who would like it to be true. Continue reading