1930s: Whose News?
January 27, 2019
Newspapers were mouthpieces for the state, usually in the pay of one or the other big party. Owners and writers often ingratiated themselves into political high political office themselves, eg Fitzgerald, Bowen, Balance. New Zealand’s was the first Parliament in the world to be broadcast when radio came. However, transmission content was carefully edited and controlled by Prime Minister Savage to make his own party look good to the public. Upon listening, the people had the same reaction I did which was to be shocked at the bullying hierarchical vying that is the “Debating Chamber.”
“uninformed, uncritical, isolated, intolerant, inward-looking and homogeneous in its values. The consciousness of the population in the pre-war era was dominated by the dictates of tradition and authority.”
The pathway of all radio news passed through the Prime Minister’s Office for the sake of ‘public interest’. As a result, New Zealand society in the early 1930s was “uninformed, uncritical, isolated, intolerant, inward-looking and homogeneous in its values. The consciousness of the population in the pre-war era was dominated by the dictates of tradition and authority.” (ref. Newbold). This control over the assembly of the news is what largly forged Savage’s revered, avuncular, persona.
What put a stop to it? Anarchist pirates! Young rock-lovers figured out a legal triangle within the Hauraki Gulf which was technically “off shore” from which they could transmit their own radio station. After Radio Hauraki nothing was the same again.
Ref. Greg Newbold; Some book about crime
Image: PM Savage looking appropriately like a gangster; 1970 logo for Radio Hauraki