|It's highly fortunate that we don't have a significant stream of tabloid media in New Zealand. Redmer Yska's recent book may explain why that is the case. How has it affected LGBT fortunes here?
Truth was the placeholder for tabloid amateur 'journalism' in New Zealand for many years. It used to be a crusading newspaper for the public interest, particularly campaigning against the maintenance of the death penalty in New Zealand during the fifties and sixties after several questionable verdicts occurred. However, as Yska relates, it had the misfortune to hire a particularly venal social conservative editor in the sixties and the quality slid steadily downhill, as did its circulation levels.
Increasingly, it adopted advertisements from the sex industry to finance its declining fortunes, and INL was only too glad to shed its gaffe-prone, unpopular problem product during the eighties. It became especially troublesome because it seemed to have little comprehension of the state of New Zealand defamation law. Insofar as the New Zealand newspaper landscape goes, Fairfax Media's broadsheets and the Horton New Zealand Herald dominate and now monopolise it.
What about other media formats? Granted, 'tabloid' referred originally to newspapers, but the same low quality and poor professional practice designation can also be applied to other outlets- like talkback radio. It doesn't rate well in New Zealand, given the highly fragmented and competitive radio market. Radios Live and Pacific don't play anywhere near the demagogue role that right-wing populist social conservative hosts do in the United States.
And then there's Investigate. Quite notably, this magazine never releases independently audited circulation figures. We have no idea of its ownership, donor funding streams, or what potential conflicts of interest might occur. It seems to be detached from the mainstream media, who rarely cite it within their own outlets.
Tabloid media doesn't currently play a significant role here, it would seem. Perhaps this is just as well, considering sobering work like Simon Watney's Policing Desire (1987), which deals with the headaches that HIV/AIDS prevention and LGBT politics faced during UK tabloid market dominance in the Thatcher era. As Yska relates, Truth's obnoxious far right seventies ascendancy led to Marilyn Waring's (ignored) outing as a lesbian in the late seventies, and the paper was also used to target Labour MP Colin Moyle, a potential leadership contender, when Muldoon attacked him in Parliament.
Truth was recently downgraded to Truth Weekender in 2009. I imagine few of us will be particularly sorry to see this sorry scandal rag's haemorrhaging and further decline.
Recommended: Redmer Yska: Truth- the Rise and Fall of A New Zealand Newspaper:Nelson: Craig Potton: 2010. Simon Watney: Policing Desire: Pornography, AIDS and the Media: London: Methuen: 1987. Craig Young - 29th November 2010