The Free Speech Coalition

Less than 24 hours after celebrating our partial-win for New Zealand media, our worst fears have come true.

While ethnic and rural/community newspapers have been spared, the same cannot be said of the magazines the Government has forced to shut up shop.

PETER MEECHAM/STUFF
Bauer Media New Zealand’s titles included the New Zealand Listener and Woman’s Weekly. The BFD.

A few hours ago, Bauer Media announced it is shutting down its New Zealand operations. That means an end of a swathe of cherished publications, including The Listener, North & South, Next Magazine, Metro, and even popular titles such as the NZ Woman’s Day, New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, The Australian Women’s Weekly, and Your Home & Garden.

Make no mistake, the nail in the coffin for these publications was the Government’s decision to designate these publications as “non-essential”. It is tragic that the shortsightedness of this decision has been shown so drastically and in such a short time.

The Government should never have tried to determine what media was “essential”. In a democracy, every person’s voice is essential, and the Government has no place to say otherwise, especially in the middle of a state of emergency. As we’ve said all along, the Government should have put in place objective minimum safety standards, not picked who could open and who had to stop the presses.

This demonstrates a fundamental lesson to keep in mind during the lockdown. The decisions made by the Government now will have impacts far beyond the end of the pandemic. 

Right now, choices are being made between upholding our freedoms and suppressing them to protect our communities and most vulnerable people. Without a media capable of investigating, analysing and commenting on these decisions, they will be made in the dark.

What this calls for is an even sharper vigilance over the Government’s actions during this state of emergency.

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