A few days ago we wrote about a New Zealand Herald article that was critical of the government handling of an early years child care report, and how government propaganda had been used to bury bad news.
Since then the original article on which our story was based has been removed from the NZ Herald’s web site. The original link was http://nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11544478.
Below are excerpts from the withdrawn article (in bold) which we published 3 days ago when the link was still live.
The full transcript of the Herald’s article may be viewed at http://pastebin.com/7MDKvxz4
A damning report by an education watchdog about babies and toddlers was partially rewritten after high-level meetings about its “risk” to the Government.
Documents show Ministry of Education advisers also tried to mitigate the impact of the Education Review Office report by planting good-news stories to balance negative media coverage, and carefully crafting a communications “narrative” during “war-room” meetings before its release.
Politicians and sector experts say the behaviour is concerning, and have raised queries about potential political interference in an independent body, plus a lack of transparency at the agencies.
The propaganda campaign came to light when emails between the ministry staff were obtained by the NZ Herald under the Official Information Act.
They show staff frantically planning for the release of the study – which found almost half of early childhood centres were not doing enough for under-3s in vital developmental areas, and therefore not meeting their curriculum requirements.
The finding followed a series of other reports that highlighted issues with the quality of early childhood education, and urged the Government to raise standards. The worst of those pointed out that poor-quality early childhood education can be harmful for children.
Next came a frenzy of activity at the ministry There were internal “war rooms and meetings with the ERO which resulted in the independent ERO report being re-written a day before its release day to put the onus on the providers, rather than the government.
Sources say the ministry wanted the report “reframed” as it was seen as a threat to the Government and could have potentially embarrassed the minister, Hekia Parata.
The final recommendations – updated on August 5, the day it was made public by the Herald – did not reference the ministry at all, with four bullet points focused solely on providers, including the need for them to “note the good practice examples included in the report”.
The re-written report was a “massive blow to ERO’s credibility” according to the Labour Party education spokesman Chris Hipkins:
“They are supposed to be an independent watchdog. It’s unacceptable if the Government [was] putting pressure on them, and unacceptable if they bowed to that pressure.”
Green MP Catherine Delahunty said it appeared the ministry was trying to hide a problem to make the minister look good. “How can parents trust information about services if they are whitewashed?” source http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11544478
*The content of this article http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11492610 has also been copied to Pastebin.com.
“A Darker Side to the NZ Media“
You may also be interested in our article Migrant Tales – The NZ media “needs to keep the government and the advertisers happy in that order (28 Nov2012)
…In a thread dedicated to biases in the NZ press, the author tells of how journalists are kept from writing about the news and where the loyalties of their editors lie.
“There is a far darker side to the media here that not many know. I have one good journo friend that was working for (name of NI newspaper redacted) who put it so perfectly as follows.
“It’s not that we don’t know it’s all going on, we desperately want to report on it. God knows we got into journalism to tell the truth, but the reality is far more depressing. I can tell you that myself and my colleagues have been informed in not so polite a way, “Report on that and you are out of a job, we need to keep the government and our advertisers happy in that order”.
It runs from the back door dealings of what the TPP really means, to National threatening to pull all advertising from (name of NI newspaper redacted) during the last election, to things simply disappearing from all news sources in a ghostly fashion (When you see this happen on google it is scary stuff).
So in essence it is a case of report all is well, keep the advertisers happy, keep the government spin machine running, make stories from nothing as if they have grave national importance and maintain the lie. Truth was a casualty of all journalism when it comes to the almighty dollar, it’s just far more obvious here.
But if you want any further proof I ask you this: Kim dotcom piece run by (redacted) to remove public opinion of him was completely biased and one sided. Then came David Bane (note that this is at the time of the payout). If you want further proof just watch those type of programs and ask yourself WTF? or don’t your brain may thank you.”
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A government of spin redux – The Standard (16 Nov 2015)
The Herald has withdrawn a story that reported on Government pressure on the ERO to rewrite a report after what appears to be pressure from the Government to do so… read on