You know what would be amazing? It would be really amazing if the news media applied the same gimlet-eyed standards it rightly uses on matters involving the private sector – in cases where a company isn’t running a prison too well, say – when a local council has been left in charge of a town’s water supply that ends up getting contaminated and sickening thousands.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen. It’s just a fantasy. You were asleep just now. And so you wake from your slumber, realise it was just a dream and go back to whatever it was you were last reading in the news.
That’s why more and more people are flocking to alternative news sources. They can’t stand the hypocrisy.
Chances are, what any business readers may have been looking at before nodding off may have been to do with the high and mighty report published in the New Zealand Herald about the private sector’s dastardly “unethical” investments.
The report, sententiously headlined “Dirty Secrets of KiwiSaver,” was put together by Matt Nippert, somebody I know a bit and quite like. It would have been right at home in the student media where Mr Nippert began his energetic career. But in the downtown press, where it has attracted a bit of attention over the past week, it seems a bit odd.
It’s not just odd, it is cringeworthy. Only weeks ago Matt Nippert was lecturing companies on their dodgy tax affairs… while working for the NZME/APN company infamous for… dodgy tax affairs.
The report turns on its central claim to having rumbled three of the country’s largest KiwiSaver providers as having led contributors to “unwittingly” invest a relatively microscopic $152 million in “controversial” arms manufacturers or “big tobacco companies.” (A slight swerve here. Where exactly does one find a “small” tobacco company these days? Is that, like, the Kwik-E-Mart on The Simpsons that’s managed by those two Indian brothers?)
We’ve journalistically been here many times before, of course, with reporters ferociously lecturing investors on how to manage their portfolios, although this one has admittedly been enhanced online by some cool search features.
Matt is really our moral guardian. But like most moral guardians, it is all about doing what he says, not what he does. Not only does he work for a company with dodgy tax affairs, he also is a user of unethical products himself. How do we know? He proudly displays these on his Facebook page.
I don’t know what Mr Nippert studied during his time at Victoria University but I would be surprised if it was philosophy, where the first point in any decent syllabus is to impress on students that what we call ethics often amounts to little more than arbitrary personal preferences.
Oh, but that’s it – it is Matt’s ethics, and by and large the media’s ethics that we have to live up to, even when they do not meet these standards personally.
Certainly this could be said of tobacco, which is a legal product used by hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who presumably don’t all view themselves as unethical people. And if profiteering from the habit is the real issue, then why not mount a journalistic campaign against the government for raking in hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes even it admits it doesn’t need for any related medical costs?
One other thing. Why is Matt Nippert, whose Facebook page has him unironically photographed with a cigarette fetchingly a-droop in his mouth, leading the journalistic charge against those who invest in tobacco products? I think we should be told.
I think we don’t care.
Especially the “top tier” staff at the NZ Herald. The filthy little tabloid is proving on almost a daily basis that it hasn’t sunk as low as it can.
– NBR, Facebook