Labour Leader Hipkins today said that Winston Peters' remarks about the government bribing the media "weren't acceptable" & "potentially in breach of legislation". The bribery claims relate to the $55 million Public Interest Journalism Fund. However that fund has little to with the true extent of the bribery. The evidence shows it works primarily through the vast amount of advertising which the government pours into the media on a daily basis.
So how does scientific research contradict Hipkins? In one of the world's top economics journals, Harvard Professor Rafael Di Tella shows there is a direct link between media outlets receiving government advertising revenues and the biasing of their stories in the government's favor.
His article is called, Government Advertising and Media Coverage of Corruption Scandals. Di Tella writes, "... We construct measures of the extent to which the four main newspapers in Argentina report government corruption on their front page during the period 1998-2007 and correlate them with government advertising. The correlation is negative. [That is, a greater dependence on advertising reduces the extent to which the media outlets focus on misdeeds by the government]. The size is considerable" ... "Overall, our findings are consistent with a model where newspapers bias reporting in favor of the government in exchange for transfers".
Take just one example of government advertising spending in NZ, namely related to Covid. An Official Information Act (OIA) request showed that "A total of $87,657,993 has been spent by DPMC on public information campaigns in support of New Zealand’s COVID-19 response between 1 March 2020 and 31 December 2021". Add that $90 million to the $55 million journalism fund and you're on your way to $145 million. That is the tip of the iceberg - huge numbers of government job advertisements are also placed in the media. By the way, the OIA above also stated, "I am therefore refusing your request to have this information broken down by medium", so "they" have made it impossible to get the data in NZ linking the ads to outlets that are government friendly.
Is Hipkins arguing that the truth is not acceptable?