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Orwellian omissions and Dickensian conditions nip the news at Fairfax

August 2, 2011

A combination of gross political bias and skeleton staffing appear to have got in the way of today’s news.

The National Party’s media cheerleaders at Fairfax just couldn’t get enough of John Key’s appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman two years ago, labelling it “a coup” and “a clever deal between Key’s staff and Letterman’s”.

Funny then, that while the rest of New Zealand’s news media were this morning breaking the embarassing revelation that Key used taxpayer dollars to pay to appear on Letterman’s show, there wasn’t a single word about it from Fairfax.  Not a jot, not a bean, not even the faintest whisper of an acknowledgement that it had occured.  According to Fairfax, it simply didn’t happen.   I tried searching on this morning and all I could find was last year’s gushing reports about our dear leader charming those nice Americans.

It’s certainly not the first time Fairfax have exercised astounding doublethink to protect their National Party buddies from looking like dicks, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.  But the audacity of it continues to amaze and amuse me.  How the hell can they expect to have any kind of credibility when they go to such great lengths to protect the Prime Minister and his Government from even the smallest embarassment?  Aren’t they ashamed to be so obviously in bed with the National Party?

Here’s how it was reported by the rest of the news media:

Meanwhile, print editions of Fairfax’s publications didn’t make it out today, with Fairfax blaming a “serious computer fault”.

Perhaps if Fairfax hadn’t been so busy making their New Zealand staff redundant and outsourcing technical roles to India, they might have had more than a skeleton staff of expertise to deal with the problem efficiently.  But, I guess we now know what they meant by the “streamlined production processes” they referred to when justifying these cost-cutting measures.

The worst part of the whole debacle is, it appears that Fairfax’s long-suffering staff first heard about these reforms from an article on the New Zealand Herald’s website.  Great form guys, and exactly what we’d expect from this hard-Right, anti-union media company.  Perhaps this is simply a way of shedding the New Zealand staff of those pesky unionised workers who have the audacity to attempt to negotiate reasonable terms and conditions.

Waging war on unions is ofcourse, consistent with Fairfax’s editorial stance, which continually bashes unions and never takes the side of the employees in any industrial dispute.  Everyone from teachers, to junior doctors, to fire fighters have faced the Rightwing wrath of Fairfax’s anti-worker propaganda in the last year alone.  Little wonder workers at Fairfax face such an aggressive, uphill battle in trying to secure their rights, with less employees clearly having to do more to compensate for understaffing in New Zealand.

Indeed, while journalists at Fairfax must feel they have all the editorial freedom of Winston Smith as they prepare their copy, the over-worked and underpaid production staff must surely feel like characters from a Dickens novel.


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