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This week on Media 7

The reporting of New Zealand’s longest ever war – the Afghanistan Conflict, is the theme of Media7  this week.

Russell Brown will be speaking to Dr. Paul Buchanan who last weekend presented a paper on the pitfalls of “embedded journalism” to a seminar at AUT.

In the second part of the programme we’ll be re-visiting a story we tackled earlier in the year, looking at the controversial work of the independent journalist Jon Stephenson.

In May the Sunday Star Times published a story headed “What Afghans really think of Kiwis”.

It was based on a poll conducted among residents of Afghanistan’s Bamiyan province by Stephenson, who has the distinction of having visited and reported from Afghanistan and the Middle East more than any other New Zealand journalist.

Stephenson’s Poll discovered that while the NZ provincial reconstruction team was viewed favourably by the local populace, they did not rate highly the team’s actual achievements in reconstruction.

This led to a stirring column being penned by the NZ Herald’s Garth George.

It was headed “Nit Pickers owe Kiwi Heroes a debt of gratitude” And it went on to attack Stephenson’s story — describing it as “silly” because it was based on a “poll” of just 100 Bamiyan town residents.

“How dumb can you get?” opined George,  stating that Stephenson’s sample “was taken in only the main centre of a province that covers more than 14,000sq km with a population of nearly 400,000. And, in any case, asking a resident of a single town with a population of 60,000-odd whether the aid work of the PRT is good enough is a bit like asking a beneficiary if the money he gets each week is enough”.

Jon responded to this broadside by filing some requests under the Official Information Act, and then presenting his conclusions at AUT’s Media, Investigative Journalism and Technology Conference over the weekend.

In his paper,  ‘How the war was spun: the media, the New Zealand Defence Force, and Afghanistan’ Stephenson argues that the New Zealand Defence Force has essentially received a “free pass” from media since the Afghanistan war began — and that Garth George’s column was just another example of sloppy journalism by an arm-chair warrior who’s never visited the region.

It would also be fair to say that Jon believes Garth had some help with his homework. Garth, in return, says he stands by everything he wrote.

Media7 is recorded in front of a live audience in the TVNZ Auckland Television Centre and is first broadcast at 9.05pm on Thursdays on TVNZ 7.

The show is replayed several times during the week. Media7 is broadcast both on FreeView and on Sky Channel 97. It is also available on demand from TVNZ’s website, can be downloaded as a podcast  http://tvnz.co.nz/media7/podcasts-2757335  and is available on YouTube.

There is also a Media7 FaceBook page for viewers to place their feedback and to learn more about the show and follow us on Twitter @medianz.

People wishing to attend the Media7 recording session and to be part of the audience should go to TVNZ TVC entrance in Hobson Street Auckland between 5.15 and 5.45 pm

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