Ruth Laugesen has an excellent piece in the SST. Spinning govt yarn costs $47m.
Government agencies have hired more new communications staff in five years than all the journalists working at Television New Zealand, Radio New Zealand, the Sunday Star-Times and the Dominion Post newspapers put together.
The Ministry of Social Development topped the list with 54 communications staff and contractors, making it bigger than Radio New Zealand's entire workforce of journalists.
Think about that. Social Welfare has more than the main public radio station. Does that tell you something about priorities? Apparently "only" 15 deal direct with the media. But there is only 1 social welfare reporter in Radio New Zealand. So every time there is something newsworthy the massed ranks of "communications" employees in social welfare can be brought to bear.
The standard has a hilarious attempted rebuttal. Its all the nasty capitalists fault. thestandard.org.nz.
The basis of the article is that the number of spindoctors employed by the Government has greatly increased - we’re told it’s doubled from five years ago and is much much larger than it was in 1984. This is totally true. But one of the aspects of good spin is what you leave out.
There are a lot of reasons general communications staff might increase, most notably the fact that it takes a lot of people and effort to maintain an up-to-date website and having no website or an out of date one leaves you open to a lot of criticism (especially if you’re a ministry). Y’see, nearly every newsroom in New Zealand has had the guts ripped out of it by its owners.
The really disturbing piece about this is the justification. Labour feels it has to get its message out because newsrooms are being cut. NO statistical basis for that whatsoever, unlike Laugeson who sticks to the facts. And the argument is completely circular. The government must according to standard employ more people to generate more press releases to make up for the reduction in MSM journalists. So apparently the MSM have retrenched journalists because it is cheaper just to regurgitate the government spin. What next? Parliamentary Services takes over news corp?
Aparently the ministry needs to have up to date websites. Apparently not all of them disclosed. Here is what part of your $47m pays for.
Kiwiblog » Blog Archive » The Standard hosted by the Labour Party?. Apparently The Standard is hosted by the Labour Party on servers that also host the Labour party website. The main Labour party website has the parliamentary crest meaning it is paid for from public money.
The following is a comment I wrote at Kiwiblog. - To summarise my understanding of facts & inferences so far. Labour party rented servers & one of a block of reserved IP addresses are used to host the standard. - not in dispute The fact that the labour party pays for but does not authorise the site appears to be a breach of the EFA - not yet disputed The standard bloggers are self described not members of the labour party. - Whilst not being paid up financial members allows them to truthfully assert they are not members I wonder whether d4j or redbaiter would get the same charitable offer of server space from the friendly labour party. Some of the Standard bloggers appear to work in the communications area for EPMU. - not disputed yet. But there is a difference between someone whose job description is to blog and someone, whose bosses understand that these staff are “fighting the good fight” by spending part of their working hours blogging. The output from the standard is to high to be done in that limited time outside working hours with a normal social life. I pay for my own site on sixapart. It costs me about $10 a month. No doubt dpf’s costs are worth substantially more due to the higher traffic. The biggest cost is time.I surmise that some of the standard bloggers have moved gradually to a situation where they spend part of their working hours at EPMU blogging on labour party hosted servers. Under the current law that would appear to require authorisation and disclosure.
We are not talking huge sums of money. It is the principle. It would be the highest delicious irony for the first breach of the new law to be a labour supporting group. I can see a complaint to the electoral commission coming on.
Taxpayer money is being used to fund people in the New Zealand blogging community to rebut the time of people like myself who think it is worth their own time and money to argue against the evils of this current government.
At what point does the misuse of taxpayers funds become corruption?