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Workshop 3 – Summary

Workshop 3

20151218 worklshop 3 logo

Building knowledge

How do we ensure a well-informed, civically engaged New Zealand in 2030?
Thursday, 19 November 2015

Sally Hett, McGuinness Institute

McGuinness Institute Reporters:
Hannah Steiner-Mitchell                         Lachlan McGuinness
Callum Webb                                            Annie McGuinness
Ali Bunge                                                   Madeleine Foreman
Francesca Ancillotti

The third and final workshop, which was held at the Royal Society of New Zealand, saw over 60 diverse participants come together to develop potential responses to the focus question for the workshop: ‘How do we ensure a well-informed, civically engaged New Zealand in 2030?’ The goal of the workshop was to spark a national conversation and document contemporary thinking around these issues.

The workshop PowerPoint presentation is available here.

Peter Griffin, manager of the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Science Media Centre and co-host for Workshop 3, welcomed participants and established the responsibility of the day, which was to synthesise the speakers’ ideas into recommendations of ways to achieve the overarching vision: to ensure all New Zealanders in 2030 have an accurate understanding of the world they live in, and the ability and skills to bring about change.

Dr Peter Thompson, senior lecturer of media studies at Victoria University of Wellington, reminded us of the nature of the problem and of what we learnt from evidence presented at Workshop 1. Dr Gavin Ellis, senior lecturer in Media, Film and Television at the University of Auckland, then outlined the nine visions for 2030 produced at Workshop 2 and summarised John Campbell’s conversation with five intermediate school children on how they see New Zealand now and in the future.

Wendy McGuinness, chief executive of the McGuiness Institute and co-host for Workshop 3, explained the proposed outputs for the project and the structure of the day. She described this workshop as a way to crowdsource recommendations for making progress and contributing to the national conversation. Wendy then introduced the session, which was titled ‘10 speakers, 5 minutes, 1 slide’.

10 Speakers, 5 minutes, 1 slide

The first formal speaker of the day, Dame Dr Claudia Orange – head of research at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa – used the lens of education to identify her three ideas to improve civic engagement. Her first idea addressed the lack of knowledge around democratic institutions and parliamentary systems in high school students, and suggested a visit to the capital for every young New Zealander as part of their practical learning. This tied closely to her second idea – a Waitangi visit for every young New Zealander, to better their understanding of the histories and relationships of New Zealand. This would inspire a shared appreciation for our growing multicultural society, embedded in our bicultural history. Dame Dr Claudia’s third idea was based on how she herself was taught – see issues, judge what you can do, and act. She proposed a leadership course from senior primary to high school, which would ask for commitment to New Zealand values as per her first two ideas. The goal would be to inspire leadership and kiwi pride by providing space for difficult conversations to be had and for young people to become empowered to make a difference.

Dr Carwyn Jones, senior law lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington, reminded the participants that significant change is needed before meaningful civic engagement can take place. He argued that government institutions currently disempower citizens from using their voices and calling for action. Carwyn’s first idea proposed teaching young people how to create a respectful conversation by making their voices heard in new and different ways. This respectful conversation would call out inappropriate content and prioritise reliable information on issues of climate change, peace and equality. If we do not have these ideas as priorities, we could be steering citizenship in the wrong direction – away from a sustainable, engaged society instead of towards it. His second idea was to establish an independent organization to make this reliable information accessible. His final idea envisioned a new model of citizenship through grassroots changes to the power structure from the outside.

Jane Wrightson, chief executive of New Zealand On Air, spoke from a broad media perspective. Her first idea – pro bono with a twist – focused on industry collaboration. She proposed creating a competition-free hub for a specialist news audience – a new joint venture. This could take the form of a curated news report targeted at school students with the aim of growing appetites for future news consumption. Her second idea was to address the need for democratic organizational coordination in the media industry in order to overcome the current silo structure. This could be done by creating a combined multimedia council for an online democracy initiative each election. Council-member organizations would commit three months per year to the initiative. Her third idea called for yearly journalist think piece projects that would follow a major world political event from a New Zealand perspective. This kiwi lens and research-driven work would engage audiences with better quality content. A trend that emerged in Jane’s ideas was the importance of working together and supporting other media companies. The business enemies are no longer each other, but global media organisations.

Dr Helen Sissons, senior journalism lecturer at Auckland University of Technology, addressed the issues of growing journalism talent and of protecting ‘big J’ public journalism. Her first idea suggested teaching journalism students transparency of reporting processes to ensure accuracy of information. This would help journalists become a trusted and credible source of information, which is crucial to public journalism. Supporting this was the idea of fostering a willingness amongst journalists to interact and build connections with the audience, by allowing the audience to be co-writers and researchers. Her final idea emphasised the importance of building relationships within the media industry. For public consensus around journalism funding, the public should be reminded that democracy doesn’t just happen by itself and that New Zealanders will continue to need the media to hold power to account.

Dr Siouxsie Wiles, senior lecturer in medical sciences at the University of Auckland, opened by stating that the current science system is fundamentally broken. Her first idea called for the removal of algorithms embedded in our web browsers. These algorithms generate online personalisation that creates echo chambers we are unaware of, limiting our access to a range of information and opinions. Her second idea – open science projects – would connect communities, schools, academia, CRIs and industry with transparent data. Her third idea – teaching critical thinking from pre-school – would teach children how to spot logical fallacies and would boost society’s understanding of how conscious and unconscious biases affect our decision making.

Louise Green, president of the New Zealand Educational Institute, presented her ideas from an educational standpoint. Her first idea – for every school to teach the New Zealand curricula as intended – argued that there is room in the curriculum for soft skills to be taught, which would help to grow actively engaged life-long learners and citizens. These soft skills are currently pushed aside in favour of subjects that are measured by national standards. Her second idea was for teachers to help develop student agency ­– by encouraging them to articulate who they are as part of their school, family and community ­– which would enable them to develop their own voice and take action on things that are meaningful to them. These are skills that would grow creative problem solvers in our communities. Her third idea aimed to establish low-decile schools as community hubs to address disparities between deciles. These would provide coordinated cross-agency support to ensure equity of access, opportunity and success. Putting Louise’s ideas in action would mark a significant step towards achieving the educations system’s overall goal – to level the playing field.

Terry Burrell, teacher at Onslow College, called on us as educators and community members to stop stifling innate curiosity. Somewhere between five years of age and the end of our schooling, our curiosity is being suppressed until it is lost. We need to explore and probe students’ own knowledge in order to foster their personal curiosities. Terry’s second idea was a recurrent one throughout the workshop – that of teaching philosophy and critical thinking to school children. This would help young people to develop effective bias detectors and to think about thinking, reasoning ability and argumentation. The current system pre-digests information for students, stifling the development of these skills instead of acknowledging their increasing importance in navigating the internet and all its information. Her final idea was to replace level 1 NCEA with an extended civic and scientific investigation, which would connect every school with a research institute or museum and a local conservation project. Through current modes of assessment, children are funnelled into academia, but we need a broader, more liberal approach to successful learning with less assessment and more engagement and dynamic learning. This could take the form of long-term participatory science platforms, the length of which would allow for mistakes and feedback to build resilience and perseverance in children.

Tara Ross drew on her education and journalism backgrounds – being a senior journalism lecturer at the University of Canterbury and research associate at the Pacific Media Centre. Her first idea was to build a range of inclusive media models to meet the needs of all people by diversifying personnel and content and by increasing collaboration. When Tara discussed mainstream media with Pacific audiences she repeatedly encountered the sentiment ‘it’s not my news,’ indicating a strong sense of alienation and a serious lack of fair representation amongst those whose voices we need to hear the most. Her second idea proposed supporting news media innovation in the online and social media space. This is where young people are looking for their news, so we need to match this demand with quality news information online. Her third idea encouraged media to prioritise, fund and celebrate quality journalism by and for ethnic minorities by collaborating and engaging directly with communities.

In the next presentation Sylvia Nissen developed her ideas from her PhD research at the University of Canterbury. Her first idea recommended a charter for broadcasting that would enable rich public content across multi-platforms, helping us to move beyond deficit and diet models of citizenship. Sylvia argued that the new generation of university students have high democratic aspirations but growing frustrations with existing processes and with the lack of opportunities to evoke meaningful change. Her second idea was to establish a new role for the Broadcasting Standards Authority – to track the extent to which diverse audiences feel listened to, with the hope of identifying inequalities and regional disparities in the public conversation. Sylvia’s third proposition was to empower young people by developing platforms and reforming existing organisations in order to provide the resources – time, space and mentoring – for young people to bring about change. We need to treat young people as actors, not understudies, in shaping the direction of New Zealand’s future.

The final speaker of the day, James Dunne – chief executive at the Superdiversity Centre for Law, Politics and Business – advocated that compulsory voting, coupled with a particular focus on enrolment of and communication with groups that have poor participatory rates, would drive a better understanding of the parliamentary system. This would encourage political parties to engage with a more diverse range of people who would otherwise choose not to vote. His second idea focused on building inclusiveness into our multicultural society by requiring every government agency to adopt a formal multicultural and multilingual plan on engaging with all New Zealanders. This would be a direct push to involve all New Zealanders in our public institutions. The final idea of the day was to implement a compulsory course on citizenship for high school students and new New Zealanders to teach our core New Zealand values.

A panel session followed the presentations, where all the speakers had the opportunity to elaborate on their ideas and have them stress-tested by participants. The key challenges identified were those of funding and of how to rebuild the public’s trust in quality journalism as being vital to our democracy and civic engagement.

Over lunch the ideas that had emerged so far were written up on the wall. Each participant was given five stickers, which they placed next to the ideas they wanted to explore in the afternoon. Working in self-selected groups, participants then further developed six ideas of collective interest, each relating to an overarching theme of the workshop series. These ideas are the means to achieving the nine visions from Workshop 2.

Group one began by discussing the need for a joint venture between broadcasters for quality civic journalism. It was felt that this collaboration between ‘big J’ (public service) journalists should include existing organisations, journalism schools, faculties and freelancers. This discussion led to the idea of a Media Summit. The Media Summit would have three pillars: Advocacy – giving journalists a united voice; Standards – creating a media-wide regulatory body of ethics; and Collaboration – promoting valuable content and quality ‘big J’ journalism. Discussion in the report-back session highlighted the need to rethink the funding of public service journalism and focused on a marginal levy model. The main goal of the summit would be to repurpose journalism and reconstruct its reputation to be trusted by and valuable to all New Zealanders. It would also promote a fiscally neutral marginal levy of either 1% or 0.5% on a wide range of media services and products across the value chain (including networks, software and hardware). This would collectively contribute to current market failures so all sectors could help collect revenue to off-set the gaps in the market. A 1% levy could potentially raise an annual fund of up to $160m and would be insulated from inter-ministerial budgets and inflation.

Group two dived straight into developing Sylvia Nissen’s idea of a charter for broadcasting that would enable public content across multi-platforms. They debated creating a new media operator or reforming TVNZ, but consensus grew around Radio New Zealand because of its reputation and the lower cost of adapting it. Both mainstream and niche models of operation were discussed, but a public service publisher (with NZ On Air) was the decided model. The next challenge was to work out a funding strategy and how funds should be spent. The idea of an indexed tax lost support due to the possibility of subsequent governments cutting funding. The levy discussion by group one would prove viable for the charter to fund the restructuring of RadioNZ into a public service multi-platform operator. The quality of programmes and production would need to be high for public support of the charter.

Group three quickly reached agreement on the value of lowering the voting age to 16, as this would allow for greater school involvement. It would provide students with information and a forum for discussion before their transition out of school.  The group also felt that teachers should encourage students to partake in mock parliaments and Model UN education programmes. They then brainstormed around the idea of a no confidence vote to distinguish ‘can’t be bothered’ from ‘disillusioned’ non-voters. The discussion then addressed how the media currently focuses on entertainment politics and the polls, rather than issues during elections. The group wanted to see the media responsible for informing, not entertaining, the public. The media should work hard to make information digestible for the public, for example by publishing Hansard as a cartoon. The group then looked at how parliament works internally, and saw the possibility of moving away from the bipartisan structure towards a more inclusive circular arrangement as a step in the right direction. To represent the diversity of New Zealanders in parliament, one idea put forward was to implement a MP quota system. This would help create a more inclusive New Zealand.

Group four’s focus on open-source science came out of the ideas put forward by Siouxsie Wiles. The group’s discussion aimed to establish the different aspects of open-source science. Their first idea was to ensure open access to scientific publications and transparency of all data. This would allow data to be reused to reaffirm another scientists’ findings, minimising costly repetitive research. The group saw a role here for public media: to interpret academic work and to publish it in a way the public can understand. This would help to build relationships and trust between scientists and journalists. The group’s second idea was to open up the whole scientific process to the public who could participate by both collecting and interpreting data, there providing a space for community engagement. Improving the existing participatory science platform would anchor communities in the collaborative open research process. The discussion then turned to how we might make this happen. The roadblock to open-source science is the way scientists are currently assessed and rewarded. The group recognised the need to reform incentives, which they proposed achieving through a new funding model with extra grants to make the research journey public, as mandated by government. This would reinforce the democratic principle that publically funded research should be freely available to the public. In addition, an outreach dissemination fund would incentivise the promotion of public participation in the scientific process. This funding could come from multiple agencies and be managed through an open access action station. This idea led the group to discuss policy in terms of how we can encourage government and MPs to get involved. To address this, they proposed a practical business plan showing the benefits to community and science. Another idea to encourage public engagement with science was to build it into the education system at the university level – teaching the realities of funding and the accessibility of data to students.

Group five looked at growing a stronger idea of citizenship, with consensus around Louise Green’s idea of refocusing the school curriculum away from national standards in primary schools. More attention needs to be placed on teaching civics and critical thinking at the frontend of the curriculum. It was recognised that additional government funding would be needed to educate teachers on civic responsibility and critical thinking. This realignment of the front and back ends of the curriculum would encourage classroom connections and help create a safe space for conversations where students feel empowered. The group built on the idea of this safe space by proposing an inclusive network of community hubs around schools. This would strengthen personal connections and extend engagement to parents and the wider community. Sharing stories and skills in a safe environment would make the communities more resilient. Suggested hubs were community gardens, citizen projects and bird count programmes. A new idea that emerged from the group discussion was an immigrant-mentoring project. Volunteers and new New Zealanders would partner to discuss the public conversation and what it means to be a New Zealander, and to learn about each other’s culture. The forum for these conversations would vary from phone calls to monthly meetings, with the aim of building connections across New Zealand and creating a sense of attachment.

The lack of freely available, high-quality online resources led group six to focus on the idea of creating access to online resources that contain the kind of content needed to meet the goal of improved citizenship. Inspiration was drawn from the Ministry of Education’s ‘Pond’ website but the group recognised a need for more robust curation in order to ensure good quality resources that teachers, students and the wider public can trust. To ensure that it is used, it would need to be appropriately promoted. Out of this consideration came the idea of creating a space for sharing stories across New Zealand to promote place-based learning for school children. This could take the form of online collaboration via skype to connect people of different cultures and locations, as well as first-hand learning experiences such as free visits to heritage sites. These visits could be paired with a mentoring programme between young adults and children, with a focus on citizenship education. A continuing theme in the discussion was inequ ality and the lack of connection with New Zealand, particularly for minority groups. The group recognised the relationship between a feeling of attachment to New Zealand and a desire for public engagement and civic participation. To address this, the group proposed using online resources to create an environment that fosters belonging. This could be through resources that encourage volunteering and social action as well as targeting disengaged groups such as Māori, Pacifika and the disabled community. The use of online decision-making platforms such as Loomio were also suggested as a way for citizens to make their voices heard and to know they were having an impact.

Hannah Bartlett and Sun Jeong presented the illustrations they developed over the day – The Body of Society and The Civics and Media Wellness Report. These are illustrations of how society’s systems need to work together to reach our vision for a civically engaged New Zealand in 2030.

Todd Krieble, Strategic Adviser at the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, shared the next steps for the project and Peter Griffin closed the workshop series by thanking participants for joining the conversation and acknowledging the sponsor organisations for their efforts throughout the workshop series.

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The latest Workshop 3 programme is now online, ready for tomorrow!

The McGuinness Institute and the Royal Society are busy preparing for the third and final Workshop held tomorrow at the Royal Society. The Work programme is now up and available on the Civics and Media workshop 3 page. You can also view it below.

20151118 CM workshop 3 programme image

We look forward to the speakers presentations – 11 speakers, 5 minutes, 3 ideas – looking at ways to bring about a more civically engaged New Zealand in 2030. To learn more, see The Civics and Media website homepage.


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Paul Satherley discusses the state of formal civics education in New Zealand, from a government perspective at Workshop 1

The Civics and Media Project Workshop 1, on 2 September 2015, saw Paul Satherley from the Ministry of Education discuss the state of formal civics education in New Zealand, from a government perspective. Paul’s presentation contributed to the focus question ‘What is happening with civics and the news media in New Zealand?’

Paul’s presentation is now available on the McGuinness Institute’s YouTube channel. You can also watch the video below.

Satherley provides a broad look at the current curriculum for civics, and provides data from the ICCS 2008 (International Civic and Citizenship Education Study) survey which highlights the areas needing improvement in the New Zealand civics space.

Below is one of the graphs used in the presentation showing New Zealand Year 9 civic knowledge scores by highest level of parental education attainment.

20151117 Civics and Media Project - Figure 1 for blog

To learn more see The Civics and Media Project homepage. We are currently preparing for Workshop 3, which will be held at the Royal Society on Thursday, 19 November.  If you are interested in attending workshop 3, email us at

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Workshop 3 – Exploring print media 1875 – 2015

In preparation for Workshop 3 on Thursday, 19 November 2015, the McGuinness Institute has created slides Exploring print media 1875 – 2015 with the front pages of The Evening Post, The Dominion and The Dominion Post every 15 years on 30 June. This will be displayed at the workshop to encourage discussion and help develop ideas about where we see news media in 2030.

Below is the Exploring print media PowerPoint.

Workshop 3 will be held in Wellington at the Royal Society on Thursday, 19 November 2015.  It will involve collecting ideas in the morning from a diverse range of speakers and then working in self-selected groups in the afternoon to develop a workshop booklet that proposes a way forward. See below for the interactive template of the draft workshop booklet.

To learn more see The Civics and Media Project homepage. If you are interested in attending workshop 3, email us at

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Observations from John Roughan, a participant at Workshop 2

John Roughan, editorial writer and columnist for the New Zealand Herald, and participant at The Civics and Media Project Workshop 2 has shared his observations on news media in 2030 with us. John speaks about the possible implications of no daily news media by 2030 and how the internet may be the way forward for civic engagement. Below is John Roughan’s observations:

‘If we cast our minds forward 15 years to 2030, it is quite possible daily newspapers and broadcasted news will not exist. That has two implications:

  1. News gathering resources will be much reduced. Website advertising cannot support the reporting staff that newspapers and TV newsrooms used to employ.
  1. News will no longer be a “public” experience in the sense of a local newspaper or a national TV evening bulletin that everybody is aware of. News will be received on private screens from self-selected sources and shared on a network of friends or like-minded people.  This, I think, has unknown implications for civic participation.  It will be a world of intersecting networks with no single public noticeboard. People may lose the sense of “knowing what everybody knows”, which is where politics happens.

I am not a social media user, so I don’t really know whether they offer any civic experience, but whenever I attend seminars on new media, we quickly end up debating the merits of the local newspaper or the television news channels.  That suggests to me that social media is not giving its users a common reference point of its own. Social media seems to still need old media for that common reference point, as well as for the news gathering that is still done. In fact news that happens on social media does not seem very important unless it is picked up and printed or broadcast by old media – or is that just when I become aware of it?

I don’t think this lack of a civic experience, a common reference point, a political noticeboard in 2030 will be solved by public broadcasting, which seemed to be the view at the Auckland seminar I attended.  Public broadcasting, no matter how well funded, will always be too dull to attract most people’s interest. I think a state-funded newspaper would be just as bad.

One young guy in Auckland was talking about how websites might be used to fill this gap. I didn’t really understand how that would work, but I can’t think of anything else that can do it. The internet is the civic platform of the future and we have to find a common reference point there, somehow.’

John Roughan for blog
John Roughan
Leader Writer, Columnist
New Zealand Herald

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Workshop 2 – Summary

Workshop 2

Developing themes

What will a well-informed, civically engaged New Zealand look like in 2030?

Tuesday, 27 October 2015


Mark Boyd, PhD student, Politics and International Relations, University of Auckland
Dr Thomas Owen, Lecturer, School of Communication, Auckland University of Technology

Rachel Berryman, University of Auckland
Anna Gilderdale, University of Auckland
Maria Perreau, University of Auckland

The second workshop of The Civics and Media Project was held at the University of Auckland and saw more than 50 participants come together to address three key questions:

  • What roles do we hope and expect media to play in civic life in 2030?
  • How will the notion of ‘civics’ and ‘civic engagement’ be expanded by 2030?
  • How will education prepare young New Zealanders to be engaged citizens in 2030?

The university’s Acting Dean of Arts, Associate Professor Bernadette Luciano, welcomed the attendees by posing the question that would be the theme of the day: ‘What will a well-informed, civically-engaged New Zealand look like in 2030?’ She pointed out that the tools to engage with this future need to be developed for business, government and civil society, but most importantly, for the young people who will be the adults of tomorrow.

Workshop Convenor Dr Gavin Ellis, senior lecturer in Media, Film and Television at the University of Auckland, reminded the participants that they needed to disengage themselves from the nature of future technology and, paraphrasing the recently deceased American baseball player Yogi Berra, told them ‘it is hard to make predictions, especially about the future.’ He also pointed out that while civics knowledge has been found to be strong in high decile schools, it is ‘alarmingly low’ in low decile schools, posing a danger of creating an underclass.

Gavin Ellis’s PowerPoint presentation is available here.

The Strategic Advisor to the CEO of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Todd Krieble, then reported on Workshop 1. He said it brought up mixed evidence, both good and bad, and illuminated quite a few unanswered questions.

Todd Krieble’s PowerPoint presentation is available here.

In light of this context, the workshop properly began. It consisted of a series of plenary panels and breakout sessions on media, civics and education, which are summarised below.


Future Focus – Voices of the Voters of Tomorrow

The future focus of The Civics and Media Project was emphasised in this first plenary session, which saw Radio New Zealand presenter John Campbell in conversation with a panel of five engaging and inspiring intermediate school students – Luc Taillon, Ishannita Chaudhuri, Louis Rozas, Mia Stewart, and Kenya Santamaria. Together they discussed how they see New Zealand now and in the future.

In 2030, our panel of five young people will be in their mid-20s. They’ll be setting out on or settling into their careers (the first of several, if the seers of tomorrow are correct). And they will have voted in three elections. So what do they see in their futures?

All of them are concerned about the environment, and the damage that climate change might do to it. Luc Taillon thought that the world of 2030 could be like the rubbish-strewn wasteland portrayed in the movie WALL·E. While Ishannita Chaudhuri worried that the ozone layer might have disappeared and they’d all be wearing sunsuits.

But they recognise that action needs to be taken: ‘Someone needs to step up and say we have a problem and we need to fix it’ said Louis Rozas. Luc said that we need to bring it to the attention of the Prime Ministers, the Presidents and the United Nations. Ishannita said we need to find other ways of producing our energy and electricity.

They’re not fans of TV news: it’s ‘depressing’ and ‘kind of scary’ and ‘the media makes things negative’. But they’re still positive, stating that we need to take care of the poor and homeless because they don’t have a voice; we need the views of everybody; and we need to think about what we do before we do it.

Moderator John Campbell summed them up with his trademark effusiveness as ‘lovely, ethical kids’. Workshop convenor Gavin Ellis pointed out that the whole day was not about the adults attending, but about these citizens of tomorrow: ‘We need to come up with something that reflects their anxieties and aspirations. How can we empower our young people?’


Plenary Chair: Professor Annie Goldson, Disciplinary Area Head in Film, Television and Media Studies, University of Auckland

Breakout Facilitator: Dr Maria Armoudian, Lecturer in Politics and International Relations, University of Auckland

A key metaphor for our democratic society came up early in the discussion, when participants began to think of society as a living body. Just as a body needs nutritious sustenance to grow and thrive, society needs the information provided by quality civic journalism to maintain good health and resilience. Throughout the day, in this plenary panel, breakout session, and full group discussion, participants debated the function of journalism in a democratic society, and the institutional arrangements needed for it to fulfil this function.

First, MediaWorks Group Head of News Mark Jennings pointed out that democracy must be ‘learned’ by successive generations. To support this learning, he called for the creation of a public broadcaster combining TV One and Radio New Zealand, with emphasis on a digital platform, which may or may not have advertising. But in exchange for a public information provider that would not compete for advertising dollars, he argued that there should be an obligation on commercial operators to provide meaningful news and current affairs.

Radio New Zealand Head of Content Carol Hirschfeld reminded the audience of the basic requirement of journalism to hold power to account, and emphasised the ability (and therefore responsibility) of public service media to maintain standards across the news media ecology.

Finally, Hannah Bartlett, a postgraduate journalism student from Auckland University of Technology called for greater media literacy education in schools, and highlighted the power of media to engage youth as participants in civic processes and developed the media diet analogy.

Working on the foundation of these remarks, contributors to the media breakout session noted that journalism has a duty to inform the public about how to engage with democratic processes, and must strive to utilise platforms and provide tools that foster such participation. Journalism must contribute to the public’s knowledge, facilitating the dissemination and contextualisation of information that enables New Zealand citizens to engage meaningfully and productively in politics, society and culture.

Media outlets should strive to establish enduring credibility, creating environments that facilitate long-form, investigative reporting and in-depth analysis of society. Quality journalism must become resilient to commercial pressures, and should rely on a diverse range of funding sources (e.g. government, subscribers, levies, license fees and donations) to ensure sustainable financial support. New Zealand journalism must prioritise a broad and fair representation of our society through inclusion of a multitude of diverse perspectives, issues, sources, and locations.

Ultimately, for media to fulfil its role as both a key stakeholder and facilitator of a fully democratic New Zealand.

A vision for media in 2030:

  • A full range of information is available, enabling all New Zealanders to actively engage in shaping their society.
  • The media industry is free from governmental, corporate and commercial pressures.
  • All sectors of society, all platforms, and all resources act together to support the umbrella vision above.


Plenary Chair and Breakout Facilitator: Dr Paul Taillon, senior lecturer in History, University of Auckland

Former adman and Waitakere City Mayor Bob Harvey kicked off the Civics panel by saying that we live in age of fear, terrorism and environmental degradation, and that New Zealand is seen as a haven of safety and security. But he also said that we can’t be blasé about our future: ‘We need to go to 2030 right now’.

Fellow panellist Sandra Grey of the Tertiary Education Union pointed out that we don’t need to reach a complete consensus, because if we do it will make life hard for those who live outside it. She also said that although everyone can now have a part in reporting the news, ‘good journalists work hard at being good journalists’ – not every citizen is a good journalist. Good quality reporting goes on within ethical boundaries, and the area within those boundaries ‘is not the blogosphere.’

Ryan Mearns from Generation Zero – a group set up to combat climate change through innovative transport solutions – said civil society organisations need to educate journalists. He also pointed out that today’s young people are not ‘joiners’ like the Jaycees and Zonta members of the past, but prefer to engage in a ‘softer’ way, which is often online.

In his summary, the panel chair reiterated that the conversation revolved around what a civically engaged society would look like. Challenges to it include inequality, media fragmentation, changing demographics and lack of cultural diversity.

They articulated a vision for civic engagement in 2030:

  • Citizens are interested in and feel a strong sense of attachment to their communities.
  • All citizens have access to the tools and the information they need and there are no barriers to participation.
  • The citizenry is active and is able to engage in healthy democratic debate.


Plenary Chair and Breakout Facilitator: Associate Professor Carol Mutch, Critical Studies in Education at the University of Auckland

The education discussion was structured around the triad of content, student learning, and teacher pedagogy. The dominant theme was that civics – in its wider sense including citizenship and social responsibility – must have a higher priority within the school curriculum.

Deanna Johnson of Nga Iwi School in Mangere began the panel, noting that schools must practice the inclusive democracy they teach, encouraging collaboration and growing student voices.

Bronwyn Houliston of McAuley High School in Otahuhu brought up the perspectives of her Māori and Pasifika students. While the students shared a passion for social justice, they also felt alienated from parliamentary and council processes. Intergenerational and structural forces were seen as impediments to engaging in civic lifeand accessing civic knowledge.

Brent Coutts from Baradene College in Auckland lamented that in a crowded curriculum, civics education effectively ends at age 13 for most students. He cited examples of how teachers were instead incorporating civics learning into other subjects, emphasising social responsibility as part of all learning areas.

The breakout session group discussion arrived at a solid consensus: civics, citizenship, social responsibility, and political literacy must be elevated in New Zealand education.

They articulated a vision for civics education in 2030:

  • Students are empowered as citizens, as family members, as iwi, and as members of local, national, and global communities.
  • Citizenship is an integral part of school curricula.
  • Families, iwi, communities and government work together to educate citizens from pre-school level, throughout primary and secondary education, and beyond.

Final discussion

Facilitator: Dr Claire Meehan, lecturer in Criminology, University of Auckland

The final plenary session heard reports from the breakout workshops outlining the vision statements they had agreed upon. The session also included an open-mic discussion with an ‘Oprah-like’ walkabout by Dr Meehan. The contributions from the floor emphasised the need for equity and for the ability to affect change.

Wendy McGuinness, chief executive of the McGuinness Institute, distilled the day’s discussions into an umbrella vision statement:

To ensure all New Zealanders in 2030 have an accurate understanding of the world they live in, and the ability and skills to bring about change.



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Workshop 1 – Summary

Workshop 1

Collecting data

What is happening with civics and the news media in New Zealand?

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

The first workshop of The Civics and Media Project saw 40 people come together to survey the current civics and media landscape in New Zealand. As the day progressed, speakers representing different stakeholders in this area unearthed many questions concerning New Zealand’s current direction and pointed to issues requiring further investigation. The intention of the day-long workshop was to establish a shared evidence base and to identify key themes for continued discussion, in order to ensure that New Zealand is heading in the direction of a well-informed, civically engaged society in 2030.

The following is a digested account of the speakers’ presentations with supporting resources.

Firstly, Brad Jackson from the VUW School of Government introduced the workshop and explained that the structure of the discussion in this first workshop (and the second and third workshops in turn) would be flexible – able to be fuelled by questions arising over the course of the day.

As the first formal speaker of the day, Prof. John Burrows QC began by discussing what would become a strong thread over the course of the workshop – the concept of nationhood. Burrows noted that New Zealand is a super-diverse nation, which presents unique challenges in establishing a coherent national identity. In order to do this, Burrows believes citizens need to have a shared idea of how our nation is governed, and of the constitutional principles that make up our distinctive constitutional relationships.

He provided a definition of civics, which was used as a working definition throughout the remainder of the workshop: ‘the study of how government works and the rights and duties of citizenship.’

Burrows stated that New Zealand’s unique position as a country without a formal constitution recorded in one cohesive document – in conjunction with the distinctive constitutional relationship created by the Treaty of Waitangi – means it is essential that citizens understand the legal and political principles which govern the nation. Burrows lamented the lack of understanding of New Zealand’s constitution in certain demographics – older generations as well as younger, disconnected kiwis.

To these ends, Burrows highlighted the main features of governance that he thinks ordinary citizens should have knowledge of: ‘How government and Parliament work, and what they do; how the courts work and control government; the functions of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission; the continuing significance of the Treaty of Waitangi; the principles behind the rule of law.’

Burrows explained that the media’s principal functions arise from the classic concept of the media as a trusted and reliable source of news and information. The functions of the media are to get messages out and to provide a forum for comment. Digital media and changes in funding structures are simultaneously enabling the enhanced performance of these functions and challenging the nature and quality of news, information and civic participation.

Burrows’s PowerPoint presentation is available here.

Paul Satherley from the Ministry of Education introduced the group to the state of formal civics education in New Zealand. He explained that schools are able to design, deliver and review their own curriculums and that civics in this process is considered part of social studies. Government, the Treaty of Waitangi and human rights are all aspects of these lessons. Later in the afternoon, further clarification was sought as to how civics fits into the curriculum.

Satherley presented data from the ICCS 2008 survey, which shows a wide distribution between the highest and the lowest civic knowledge scores amongst Year 9 students. This reflects the diversity and inequalities in New Zealand’s society.

Satherley’s PowerPoint presentation is available here.

Scott Ussher from Statistics New Zealand built on the themes initially brought to light by John Burrows. He provided the group with evidence of New Zealand’s increasingly diverse population and of the population’s declining civic engagement over the past few years. Ussher demonstrated New Zealand’s diversity with numbers. In 2013, nearly 20% of people could speak two or more languages. Roughly 90% of the total population felt a sense of belonging to New Zealand, with 48% describing themselves as strongly belonging. In Māori groups, 71% felt a strong sense of belonging, whereas in Asian groups only 20% said they felt a sense of belonging to New Zealand. These statistics raised the question of the relationship between social inclusion and civic participation.

When it comes to particular relationships with institutions of the state, Māori adults have high trust in police and courts but low trust in the media. There is more work being done by Statistics New Zealand to determine whether or not this aligns with similar trends in other demographic groups. The survey does not ask about what causes low trust in institutions and the media – a question which may be necessary in order to begin improving engagement between citizens and the state.

More work is being done in this area with the New Zealand General Social Survey 2016: Objectives of the Civic and Cultural Participation supplement.

Ussher’s PowerPoint presentation is available here.

Karl Lofgren of Victoria University’s School of Government spoke of the possibility for digital media to act as a vehicle for improving citizens’ civic connectivity and knowledge of the machinery of government. However, he cautioned against seeing ‘new media’ as a silver bullet, encouraging the group to think instead of the kinds of engagement currently lacking from public and private debate. Lofgren asked about the ways that online participation might be able to act as a means for improving accountability of elected officials to citizens. He noted that there is a risk in relying on digital participation as the sole means of increasing civic activity and engagement, and noted that often ‘direct democracy’ merely reinforces existing patterns of ‘engagement inequality’, being less accessible to those who do not have the time or resources.

Dr Gavin Ellis of Auckland University and former editor-in-chief at the New Zealand Herald gave an overview of the current state of news media in New Zealand. Ellis noted that newspaper circulation has declined by 36% since 2000. He emphasised that it is not just the content of the news that needs to be re-assessed in the current climate, but its structure too.

He discussed issues facing these publications such as ownership by Australian companies, large shareholding presence of financial institutions and profit-first strategies. Efforts to increase civic engagement may be hampered by the dominance of infotainment, reader-friendly stories and trends towards sensationalism in news media, he said. Ellis noted that the move to mobile presents its own issues, and warned against a society where ‘bread and circuses’ are the main drivers of the citizenry.

Ellis’s PowerPoint presentation is available here.

Dr Peter Thompson, senior lecturer of media studies at Victoria University of Wellington, discussed the relationship between polity, economy, civil society and the media. He noted that the media plays a crucial role in shaping the structures and links between state, market, and civil society.

His discussion revolved around the central question of how we can ensure that the interests of civil society are not outweighed by polity and economy. He prompted the group to think about the ‘genuine crisis’ we are currently experiencing wherein the traditional news system is struggling to maintain itself.

Thompson gave an overview of the New Zealand media ecology, explaining that New Zealand as a nation has a laissez-faire approach to regulation of the media market, meaning there is little control over media ownership and cross-media holdings or competition. He noted that New Zealand has low economies of scale and high opportunity costs for local content forms, and therefore viewers are consuming high levels of imported content.  Picking up the threads from earlier speakers, Thompson noted that digital convergence should be seen neither as the cause of, nor as a panacea for, the current issues with the media sector and the decline in the general public’s civics knowledge. He then discussed further changes occurring in the media sector, noting that

  • News media is under increasing shareholder pressure to defend narrow profit margins – pressure which comes in the form of redundancies, populist formats and clickbait, opportunity costs for investigative journalism, and cuts to newsroom budgets.
  • There has been a government policy shift away from public service principles, for example the end of the TVNZ Charter, the closure of TVNZ 7 and the freeze on funding for Radio New Zealand.
  • Serious TV current affairs programmes are being pushed into peripheral slots.
  • Fairfax and NZME are uncertain about the use of paywalls; NZPA has collapsed.
  • There has been an increase in the use of blogs and social media as news sources, but these are often partisan (without declaring so) or are derived from mainstream news media.
  • Funding models for ‘indie’ news media are difficult to create & sustain.

These changes destabilise New Zealand’s desire for, and access to, reliable news and information. The media must provide this as part of their role as the fourth estate.

Thompson ended his speech by emphasising the continuing importance of the public sphere – we must discuss this issue in ways that are accessible to all, in order to generate and sustain civic dialogue. Thompson explained that in the digital convergence era, this cannot just be left to the internet – it needs cooperation from state, capital and civil society.

Paul Thompson, CEO of Radio New Zealand, gave the group an overview of the national broadcasting company’s experience of charting new territory. He explained that RNZ’s choice has been to provide quality content in whatever form it takes, in order to fulfil its purpose of serving the public interest. In addition to traditional radio, RNZ’s online audience is growing on platforms such as its website, and website offshoot The Wireless, providing additional written, cartoon, and video content.

Thompson noted that although citizens today are given a greater degree of choice in what they consume (with the case of time-shifted television viewing as an example) there is still value in institutions which build and retain trust as content providers and accountability mechanisms for politicians. Thompson highlighted the notion that the contemporary abundance of information is both a positive and a risk. Throughout the discussion he was careful to assert that RNZ is a ‘special case’ as it is publicly funded, and therefore is somewhat immune to some of the drivers impacting other MSM outlets.

Marcus Stickley from The Wireless, the ‘public service media platform for millennials’, explained that many young people do not understand the power they have as citizens. He explained that civic engagement manifests differently today and should not simply be dismissed as ‘slacktivism’. Stickley explained that the millennial audience (or at least, the target audience of the Wireless) requires information that is presented in a relatable way – with room left for debate. Information and media must cater to the context of the individual. Stickley provided the following examples of how The Wireless is responding to contemporary media tastes and making content accessible:

Peter Griffin, Manager at the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Science Media Centre, picked up on points made by earlier speakers such as Thompson, noting that we are currently experiencing digital vertigo. It is difficult to determine what is credible when there is such a wealth of information readily available. As part of a civic education people also need to be equipped with the tools to analyse the veracity of information, he said. He noted that digital literacy is about more than merely using computers; there needs to be a critical-thinking component to this education. We need to ensure that digital citizens are also engaged citizens.

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The Civics and Media Project Workshop One: What is happening with civics and news media in New Zealand?

Workshop 1

Collecting data

What is happening with civics and the news media in New Zealand?

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

New Zealand ranks highly when compared internationally in terms of governmental transparency, media freedom and civic engagement. However, our media landscape is in a state of flux and our voter turnout is in decline, and the impacts of these changes on our nation’s culture must be monitored. Business, civil society and government must have the tools to respond to the changing needs of the 21st century citizen.

The first workshop in the Civics and Media Project will sketch out the media landscape, using studies and analysis available to us. Experts in the field will anticipate major trends and areas for discussion in the next twenty years. The discussions at the workshop will aim to emphasise the data that is currently missing from these conversations, with a view to gaining the knowledge and the tools we need to continue a dialogue on the topic. This workshop is hosted by the Victoria University of Wellington’s Institute for Governance and Policy Studies.

Workshop 1 focuses on:

  • the state and trends of civics knowledge and participation in New Zealand
  • the state and trends of news and information in society

Key Speakers include:

  • Emeritus Professor John Burrows QC who will speak on the role of civics and media in a democratic society
  • Paul Satherley (Ministry of Education) who will speak on the state and trend of civics knowledge and participation in New Zealand
  • Paul Thompson (CEO, Radio New Zealand) and Marcus Stickley (Editor, The Wireless) who will speak on the state and trend of news and information in society
  • Professor Miriam Lips (VUW) who will speak on the role of open data and civic participation

One of the formal outputs of the workshop will be a discussion paper which will then be used to fuel discussion and inquiry ahead of the second workshop. Workshop papers and reports will be made publically available on this website. Workshop 1 is a closed workshop due to the limited space of the venue. We invited individuals based on their expertise and the unique and varied perspectives they would bring to the table. However, we intend that this discussion be as wide-ranging and open as possible; as such, we invite people to comment on our blog posts, email us and follow the #Civics&MediaNZ conversations on Twitter. We plan to make all the workshop outputs accessible to everyone on this website.

This workshop is the first of three workshops that form the Civics and Media Project. Workshop 2 will be hosted by the University of Auckland Faculty of the Arts and will examine what a well-informed society looks like in 2030. This is being held in Auckland on Tuesday 27 October. Workshop 3 will be hosted by the Royal Society and McGuinness Institute and looks at what individuals, communities, business and government might do to maintain a well-informed society in 2030. This is being held in Wellington on Thursday 19 November.

For more information see the Civics and Media Project FAQ here.

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Introducing The Civics and Media Project

20150630 The civics and media project - header

New Zealand’s civil society, businesses and branches of government all need to be armed with the appropriate tools to respond to the complex and changing needs of the media landscape in the future.

The Civics and Media Project is an initiative of Victoria University of Wellington, the University of Auckland, NZ On Air, the Royal Society of New Zealand, the McGuinness Institute and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

The project consists of three workshops and accompanying discussion papers, which will examine whether citizens and communities have the news and information they need and want in a digital age and determine what a well-informed, civically engaged New Zealand will look like in 2030. The purpose of the project is to inform and encourage public discourse and engagement regarding civics and media, with the ultimate aim of informing decisions by individuals, industry and institutions across society. The discussion papers produced during the course of the project will be published on this website when they become available.

The project will run three workshops:

  • Workshop 1 will be held on Wednesday 2 September in Wellington.
  • Workshop 2 will be held on Tuesday 27 October in Auckland.
  • Workshop 3 will be held on Thursday 19 November in Wellington.

Workshop 1 is a closed workshop due to the limited space of the venue. We invited individuals based on their expertise and the unique and varied perspectives they would bring to the table. However, we intend that this discussion be as wide-ranging and open as possible; as such, we invite people to comment on our blog posts, email us and follow the #Civics&MediaNZ conversations on Twitter. We plan to make all the workshop outputs accessible to everyone on this website.

For more information see the Civics and Media Project FAQ page.

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