I like reading the daily newspaper. I enjoy trawling across the internet to get a 'fix' of international news via the sites of SMH, NYT, DT, RCP. I am grateful for what is given by the media by way of news and opinion. Most of the time I am a voyeur on the world around me, connected to that world by the communication threads spun by the media. But sometimes the reality of my world and the depiction of that world clash and I am confronted by the discordant pain of reality being misrepresented. Mention that to friends and the uniform response is "they have to sell their newspapers" (i.e., "they (TV) have to sell their advertising slots").
But is not earning money via mischief, deception and manipulation a form of corruption? And when some organisation always makes its money by that means, is it not an insidiousness at work in the heart of the community?
The current furore over the decision of the diocesan authorities to bring the cathedral down to safe levels (an effective demolition) brings home to those of us who cherish our diocese, our bishop, our people's safety, as well as the cathedral, the insidious corruption of the media. The media is playing the conflict up for all it is worth, but are not telling us that the conflict is between a few voicing unreasonable thoughts (we can rebuild it cheaply, we ought to save it whatever the cost, the City Council can do the job) and the many sane and sensible Anglicans and non-Anglicans of Christchurch who see the cathedral for what it now is, terminally ill and tragically dying.
This article makes an excellent point (yes, it is a media article - the media is not a complete basket case) that two different current affairs programmes on Wednesday nights made two opposing points about the state of mind of the population. How could they?! There is only one population here.
Even though one show got the state of mind of the population correct (bring the cathedral down for safety reasons), it was a bitter sweet programme because it gave most air time to an engineer who said the most absurd things: fixing it would only cost $20m but might take ten years. Yeah, right. Showing some quake damaged palace in Haiti as a potentially fixable building told us what? Oh, that's right, if we turned our country into one of the most corrupt places on earth, kept people living in tents for decades, we too could fix the cathedral. Yeah, right.
There is one and only one honest line of investigation the media need to take on the cathedral: show us the money. The cathedral is obviously fixable and restorable: it was made by human hands from accessible materials and it could be remade by humans hands and accessible materials.* It would just take a colossal sum of money, of the sort only the Prime Minister and government, or a consortium of wildly rich people can provide. Our journalists only need to make two or three phone calls to determine whether the Diocese should have made a different decision: to John Key or to our few really, really rich people and ask whether they are stumping up.
Every indication so far is that they are not. A government minister went on one show to confirm the diocese has made the right decision. A golden opportunity for him to tell the nation about an open cheque being given to fund the restoration. Noticeably he did not take that opportunity.
Meanwhile, in the real world of no money (relative to the government rightly assisting as best it can the whole nation, and to really rich people funding sport - the true universal religion of New Zealand), the media are making their bucks at the church's expense. And at the expense of all the people and organisations and realities they consistly misrepresent.
Ouch. That makes me part of the corruption every time I pay my newspaper sub and buy advertised products!
*Admittedly the genius of carver Frederick Guernsey might be hard to replace.