Gerry Brownlee’s futile news-censoring fiasco
"Wow, this expose by Mr Anderson over the deceit of Brownlee and his coven of sycophants and the way they attempted to divert attention from Mr Hutchings 'resourcefulness' is wonderful reading. Too many in the media are beholden to the paymaster, who is invariably the government or bureaucrat of the day. Congratulations and all arm to the NBR for chasing those who deserve to be exposed."Featured comment
Media managed “embargos” aimed at glorifying or disguising government propaganda do not stop NBR’s Christchurch reporter Chris Hutching getting the story.
This week ministers Gerry Brownlee and Hekia Parata tried to sideline Mr Hutching from the official announcement of devastating school closures and mergers in Christchurch.
Undaunted, and not bound or shackled by any so-called “embargo”, Mr Hutching’s journalistic resourcefulness resulted in details of the shock announcement – which quickly erupted into a huge public relations disaster for the government – appearing on NBR ONLINE first.
Other media soon followed suit ahead of a futile 4pm “embargo”.
A few weeks ago, Mr Hutching broke the big story of the day about the Christchurch rebuild “blueprint”.
The real news buried in that piece of government "bells and whistles" propaganda was the compulsory acquisition of private land – a story Mr Hutching broke days earlier, not from any government handout but from working his sources.
On that occasion the government’s good news “story” was shamelessly and lavishly orchestrated by an army of spin doctors working hand in hand with a complicit media for a 6pm television news blast and pre-arranged press coverage.
The event was an abuse of the embargo convention.
But for doing his job as a reporter Mr Hutching was vilified by a coven of blood-baying PR hacks and ministerial toadies.
A business reporter, Bernard Hickey, made a formal complaint to earthquake minister Gerry Brownlee, demanding the government ban NBR from Budget and Reserve Bank briefing lockups.
Any such unlikely ban would be vigorously challenged by NBR, which has never breached any market-moving briefings.
This week, thanks to the Official Information Act, it was revealed Mr Brownlee’s spin doctor, ex-journalist Nick Bryant, told Mr Hickey:
“We’d already resolved that they’re persona non grata for quake recovery, but I’d also noted your tweets and will raise your suggestions with Ministers.”
In the face of that Big Stick Wave NBR, Mr Hutching and his NBR colleagues will continue doing what they have always done – tell readers the news of the day as it happens, not when the government preens it for political theatre.