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On The Manufactured Outrage Against The Government’s Covid-19 Communications Budget

Published: in New Zealand News by .

I must confess myself slightly perplexed at the “outrage” that the Government put $250,000 into working out how to do comms for its Covid-19 strategy. I mean, think about what was involved at every step – what New Zealanders were being asked to do.

I must confess myself slightly perplexed at the “outrage” that the Government put $250,000 into working out how to do comms for its Covid-19 strategy. I mean, think about what was involved at every step – what New Zealanders were being asked to do.

You’re asking 5 million people to lockdown, then social distance/mask up/scan/vaccinate .. all new behaviors at a national level and requiring outreach to quite a range of communities across the country. It’s not just communicating what to do but why it’s necessary.

And hopefully actually encouraging the vast majority of New Zealanders, regardless of political preference, to buy into that response and actively help carry it out.

I’m sure somebody out there is muttering about how “could have just stuck Jacinda in front of a camera to say any old thing and people’d have bought it” – but that’s simply not the case.

I’m also not sure how far people think $250,000 really goes as far as political communication and education is concerned.

The referendums staged last year cost more than ten times that in terms of comms – and that was for something as simple as two ticks in boxes on one day.

The National Party alone spent more than $250k on just its party facebook advertising for the last Election (i.e. not including individual candidates buying ads on the platform, or anything else, anywhere else).

The inference opponents of the Government seem to have drawn on this issue is that spending money is held to be necessary in order to secure some form of unfair advantage in communication – because, of course, it’s “unfair” if we co-ordinate a successful public health strategy…

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They – still – feel ‘crowded out’ by the Government’s ability to put out crisis messaging during a crisis which, quelle horror, actually gets listened to and acted upon by a reasonable swathe of the population (even people who don’t then go on to vote for said govt in election).

Seymour has a slightly different tac on it, of course – that being the general opposition to taxpayer expenditure , but also loudly proclaiming that this ‘proves’ that the Government’s Covid-19 response hasn’t been based on science but rather on sentiment.

Now that’s doubly curious – because first and foremost, interviews with leading scientists in the relevant fields in the Herald today had said scientists supporting using public money to craft and hone a decent public communication effort.

It’s literally listening to science.

Yet second, Seymour has set up an implicit duality between “following the science” and “listening to New Zealanders”. He is opposed, in a democracy, to the democratic will of the people guiding Governance. I’m not sure how else to put it.

Now, we’re going to hear a LOT more of that kind of thing going forward, for the simple expedient that various portions of our right-wing commentariat have realized that what THEY want to do (“learn to live with it”, “open the border”, “roll the Government”, “kill an orca”, etc.) …

… is pretty heavily unpopular with much of the electorate and won’t fly democratically. Most of it won’t fly scientifically, either; meaning that a comms strategy which listens to the electorate and is scientifically valid MUST be attacked as somehow neither of these things.

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Instead, we get what’s tantamount to declamations of the World’s Most Cost-Efficient Brainwashing Campaign. A mere $250,000 to hoodwink (indeed, to congeal) the Team of Five Million – twenty cents per person in and of this fair land to establish the JacindaRaj.

Although what REALLY sticks in their collective craw is the deep and abiding knowledge that even were they to spend ten times that amount themselves, they’d be unable to beat the Government and its tangible track-record of both communicative and Covid-related success.

Hence – what we have here is an attempt to generate well more than a quarter million dollars in outrage … for free – fact-free and otherwise.

Source: Setting The Agenda – The Daily Blog https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2021/07/22/on-the-manufactured-outrage-against-the-governments-covid-19-communications-budge/

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