Click bait alert!

Don't be fooled by the headline


  • Community
  • Auckland
May 04, 2020 Karina Nepia

“Mum’s will be happy when kids return to school so they can have the lounge back to do the ironing,” said TV1s Andrew Saville. Yes, he actually said that. Propped up on the couch, eyes gazing at my phone, yet ears still open, the reporter was discussing the positives of Covid-19 Alert Level 3 and the possible return of students back to school. It's 2020 where we openly celebrate the mana of wāhine, the creation of the Gendertick, and equal pay initiatives and I was presented with an archaic use of a gender norm on the 6pm news. As I sat there with my whānau, I stared at the TV, mouth wide open, then looked back to my whānau to see who was with me, feeling the outrage. Still engaged in their devices nobody noticed so  I took to my email and messaged the Y squad about the ironing comment and added an angry emoji for added effect! I was met with ‘you need to do something’ followed by!!! 😠

In a time where we are unable to venture outdoors, we are absorbing enormous amounts of news updates on the internet and television. Covid-19 has changed the way we are receiving updates and it’s almost like we have stepped back in time to listen to the radio each day. In the morning we scroll through our phones, midday we watch the press conferences and at night we sit down for the full shebang! But are we being told the full story? Or are we being played by one sided narratives without a second thought. The ‘ironing remark’ serves as a reminder that gender norms and stereotypes often creep into our daily dose of mainstream programming. 

‘Calls for police to shut down Māori-led roadblocks as public report they feel ‘intimidated’

Headlines such as the 1news story above are common in mainstream media and paint a picture of radical Māori activists at every border. In this instance, MP Matt King received complaints of intimidation at one Northland border.  MP Hone Harawira however disputes the claims and talks of measures to mitigate conflict such as placing women on checkpoints. Harawira’s words of protection and care for the vulnerable were lost in the story and are replaced with images of frightened New Zealanders unable to travel through all Māori-led checkpoints. Note the headline  ‘roadblocks’ not ‘roadblock’.  The roadblocks aim to protect the elderly and vulnerable who are often overlooked. Their purpose is not about keeping people out but protecting those within. Health is not equitable across different communities and globally marginalised people are more at risk to Covid-19.

Harawira knows this  and Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Boomfield, has stated, "As a population group, Māori have on average the poorest health status of any ethnic group in New Zealand.” Yet roadblocks are looked at as barriers rather than one of protection. Not often will you hear about the ‘feel good’ stories occurring at these sites to keep spirits high such as Tik Toks and waiata battles. 

MP Rawiri Waititi of Te whānau-ā-Apanui (East Cape) said their borders were established as they did not want a repeat of the devastation caused by the 1918 Spanish Flu. Yet Te Whānau-ā-Apanui was pictured as being lockdown vigilantes with headlines like this: ‘Illegal community 'checkpoints' credited with reducing Covid-19 spread’. The word ‘illegal’ has been placed in front of the above headline for click bait, leading the reader to think the operation is renegade, rather than crediting it for its result: zero cases in the area.  

We sometimes don’t see the other side of a story and perhaps take the news at face value. 

We are often so captured by the headlines, that we forget the story and we don’t question why. Stereotypes and gender norms are played out in TV, on the radio and in news articles. It often requires me to search deeper than the headlines and sift through the words. We are living in a time when conversations of diversity and inclusion (D&I) have become the main rather than the after dinner mint.

We are encouraged to broaden our mind, attend workplace summits, develop policies and procedures on D&I. Yet if the application of diversity and inclusion could be measured, how much are we practically applying at home and what could be stopping us from progressing further?  

As a wahine Māori I am accustomed to viewing the news with one eye shut. The same story featured on mainstream news will often provide a completely different perspective for Māori audiences on Te Karere or Te Ao. It helps keep my perspective broad rather than narrow. As our place of work is also now home for many of us, it’s important to welcome diversity and inclusion in. If a headline speaks to you then find another news source to compare. Only then will you know if consistent exposure to one narrative will frame your whole perspective.  

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