Waters employs all the biased tactics at her disposal as owner/editor of her own paper. Her main power lies in omission. It is in what the public isn’t told, rather than what it is, that her influence particularly exerts itself. Thus, historically she has failed to report the actions and achievements of politicians she dislikes. She has reported their views out of context and, as one veteran politician puts it “turned every success into a failure”. Both Gulf News and Marketplace refuse to print letters critical of the Favoured Few ( the current Waiheke Local Board members, Mike Lee and Denise Roche).
Meanwhile, Waters has no hesitation in shamelessly promoting the politicians she favours. This has been particularly noticeable with the Roche bid for local and central government positions and in the last three years with this pseudo-green local board. Her magazine is now little more than a weekly propaganda sheet for the current Board members. It is a very profitable symbiotic relationship. To reward Waters for her support, the current Waiheke Local Board hands over ratepayers’ money specifically earmarked for advertising in the Gulf News.
In this environment it is almost impossible for other candidates to get a look in, unless they self-promote through paid advertising. Even then they don’t get a fair go. Their campaign ads are positioned unfavourably; candidate profiles inexplicably get ‘missed out’ or are placed where they are least likely to be noticed. Despite word limits on unfavoured candidates, her ‘Favoured Few’ will be allowed as much space as they like.
Sadly, since I sold the Marketplace eight years ago to Fairfax Media it has gone the same way. The only writer left, Diana Worthy, was formerly employed by Roche, the local hard left Green Party List MP, as her spin doctor, so no surprises that independent candidates now get similar treatment there.
Waiheke Radio is controlled by Chris Walker, friend of John Stansfield, husband of Roche. Walker interviews of those he dislikes are openly hostile. He subverts the direction of the interview and sabotages the interviewee’s message. In stark contrast, an easy ride is given to the Favoured Few or they are allowed weekly free promotional slots. Other radio hosts on the station are given free rein to humiliate the candidates they don’t support.
All this makes it very hard for independent candidates to gain traction. It used to be that a history of community service, or running a local business was regarded as a pre-requisite for election. That has now changed. Candidates simply need to be among the chosen ones. They get maximum publicity at minimum cost and don’t need to have any abilities at all.
In this biased environment, I commend all independent candidates brave enough to put their names forward. Let’s hope they don’t cop the vicious flack on social media from the island’s rent-a-mob that candidates other than the Favoured Few received last time.
The good news is that independents will have at their disposal the information contained in my daily reports on Auckland Council and the Waiheke Local Board over the last three years. These reports contain the factual information they are denied in mainstream media. They also contain my own opinion. It should be easy to separate the two.
Despite all the disadvantages of an uneven playing field, I still believe there is a thirst for change. The ‘Walden Folly’ bridle bridge to nowhere stands as a monument to waste of resources that is the hallmark of the failed current Board. I remain hopeful for change.
Marketplace demands removal of photo
Muddy Waters 4
It’s not about independence it’s about control