It has come to my attention that there is some discussion about the demise of the current affairs programme Campbell Live. This is of great concern to many Cantabrians – why? Campbell Live is the only forum in mainstream media that has spent notable time disseminating information relating to the problems and issues facing our community since the 2010-2012 earthquakes.
Sign the Campbell Live petition here and make sure Campbell Live stays where it is: http://www.actionstation.org.nz/savecampbelllive
Immediately after the earthquakes we saw over-reporting of the ‘drama’ of the events in local and national media. However as time has passed, that faded away to only be occasionally revisited at annual commemorations. The only programme that has consistently continued to bring the plight of the Canterbury people to the attention of the rest of the nation is Campbell Live, and John Campbell himself. He has travelled down to Christchurch on several occasions and filmed programs live, and the response from the general public has been overwhelmingly in support of the Campbell Live team.
There are still so many of these unresolved insurance cases and related issues in Canterbury that the media could print or run a story every night for the next five years and then some. These are the major underlying unresolved issues that should be the focus of the media’s attention and Campbell Live was the only programme highlighting those issues.
From a media perspective, the initial disaster had its inherent public appeal – they are the ‘big stories’ and often attract the large audiences but we are now almost five years on and the rest of the nation is probably tired of hearing the same old problems, yet we desperately need Campbell Live’s support to ensure that we have a voice.
And despite the fact that today, very little is reported about developments in Christchurch, there is no doubt that television influences the attitude and behaviour of individuals and organizations post disaster throughout not only the affected region but also the wider New Zealand community. Messages contained in the media and in official discourse during this disaster leave indelible impressions on the public and provide the de-facto justification for official actions that are undertaken to manage the disaster. For this reason Campbell Live has become a critical voice for the mostly unheard affected Christchurch populous.
The media treatments or lack thereof of disasters both reflect and reinforce broader societal and cultural trends which support the status quo and the interests of ‘elites’ and, let’s face it, John Campbell has never been afraid of asking the hard questions. I have no doubt in my own mind that the National Party would be happy to see the programme disbanded. No more questions about the failings of EQC or the private insurers, no more uncomfortable questions about the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) or the TTPA – in fact a big problem solved. Let’s not fool ourselves; reporting clearly serves broader political purposes and so does lack of reporting. Myths and half-truths concerning the public, politics, and the dissemination of information, serve to justify policy stances adopted by CERA, law enforcement entities and other institutions concerned with social control. Removing the one programme which allows the big questions to be asked and the answers to be pondered upon really raises major questions about the democratic process in this country.
The Christchurch earthquake should be a great opportunity for the media to play a role in bringing about changes in laws, policies, and institutional arrangements which go toward improving the way a Nation interacts with its citizens and handles itself in times of disaster.
Certainly a substitute television program such as Jono and Ben (which has been suggested) would be a low-cost, low-quality, high-availability ‘food and entertainment’ to the exclusion of matters that many consider far more important: e.g. current affairs, national disaster recovery, human rights, and democracy itself. Palliatives offered in place of discussion about solutions to significant, long-term issues and problems faced by the entire country are no substitute.
and the list goes on…..