I'M FAMILIAR WITH RACHEL SMALLEY'S JOURNALISM. I've listened to her on the radio and watched her on television. She's capable at what she does. But she's predictable. While she's not an unreconstructed right winger like her Newstalk ZB colleague Mike Hosking, she offers little, if a anything, in the way of an alternative to the corporate-approved neoliberal narrative. Her politics are conventional, well within the cosy National-Labour dialogue that masquerades as 'representative democracy'.
Yet Smalley wants us to believe that the corporate media would be immeasurably improved if there were more women in prominent roles. In a NZ Herald column she wrote that John Campbell's appointment to Radio New Zealand reflected a "near-monopoly of male broadcasters".
On Monday she said that "It is clear that my opinion has made people uncomfortable. It's challenged people. It's challenged feminists. It's challenged management,"
She went on to say: 'Diversity in prime time is fundamental. Nobody wins if our world is being shaped by the perspective of one gender and one race, irrespective of their politics."
She could have also added that nobody wins if our world is being shaped by the perspective of one class. A capitalist media structure means that working class views remain unheard. While Hosking, Henry, Gower and co speak for the powerful, who in the corporate media is speaking for the voiceless? No one. Smalley is either unconcerned or unaware of the obvious class bias of the corporate media.
Smalley is parading as a fearless campaigner against entrenched political power but if she is so concerned about a lack of diversity why is she not challenging the unrelenting right wing views of the corporate media? Why isn't she asking why there is no room for journalists - or even commentators - that hold alternative left wing views? If Smalley is so concerned about the lack of diversity why hasn't she questioned why two supporters of the National Party - Mike Hosking and Paul Henry - hold prominent positions in the media. Instead she has cosy on-air chats with Hosking before he begins his breakfast show. That's really challenging feminists and management.
And if she's so concerned about diversity why didn't she speak out against the disgraceful politically-motivated hatchet job that Mike Hosking and Heather du Plessis Allan did on Kim Dotcom's 'Moment of Truth' public meeting with whistleblower Edward Snowden and Pulitzer winning journalist Glenn Greenwald?
Du Plessis-Allan is, of course, now co-hosting a prime time news show, Story, on TV3. Apparently this is just an aberration in a 'near monopoly of male broadcasters'.
I'm not going to speculate on Smalley's personal motivation for her outburst, but her argument is as infantile as those who claim parliamentary politics would be so much better if we had more women MPs. My short answer to that is ... Paula Bennett and nine long years of a neoliberal Labour government led by Helen Clark.
The real problem is that the corporate media does more to support entrenched power than to question it, more to quell democracy than invigorate it.The gender or ethnicity of the journalists at the helm of the corporate media machine is largely irrelevant. In this country,as elsewhere, journalists have become part of the power structure rather than critics of it. And that includes Rachel Smalley.