If politicians call you a stooge, it may be only because they would rather you be their stooge.
So, last time I appeared in this particular part of this newspaper I wrote about cows.
I got some feedback. One piece came from a Mr W Peters of St Marys Bay/Northland. You may or may not have heard about it, but about a week's worth of back and forth ensued with a variety of bit players joining in for their 10 cents' worth.
I have no desire to relitigate any of it, mainly because I got bored witless by it and if I am, I assume you are as well. But, if one thing surprised me, it was how appallingly ill-informed so many people are about how the media works. Worst of all were actually the members of the media, who should've known better and the fact they don't should worry us all. No one is more obsessed with the media than the media.
I am not a journalist. Much commentary was served up on the basis I was. Which, surely, is one of the great ironies - as a journalist one of your primary tasks is accuracy and if you start off with inaccuracy you never really recover.
So, as many a story went, because I was a journalist I was then supposed to be upholding some age-old tradition that balance wins the day, no editorialising should ensue, and having an opinion is out of the question.
A journalist is a person who has a bit of paper that tells us they are a journalist. They will have been on a course, or have a diploma or a degree. I have none of those things. I have UE in a handful of subjects, at which point my formal education ended, and the real-life one began.
Given I am not a journalist I can, like most people, say what I like. Perhaps the most sensible bit of commentary I read about the whole subject was from the person who suggested that my glass half-full view of the world might just happen to coincide with the glass half-full view of the Government.
Governments all tend to have a glass half-full attitude, any Government. But for consistency's sake, I can assure you that when it comes to being a John Key stooge as the good Mr Peters suggested I am, I have been glass half-full for about 50 years, and certainly the 33 I have spent in the media game.
I like good news ... in all its forms. I like victory, I like positivity, I like a bright outlook and a prosperous forecast, and if I do anything in the various non-journalistic roles I have, it's to promote good people and good ideas and good outcomes.
Sometimes they have a level of government involvement, sometimes they don't. It's the idea or the person that counts. One commentator tried and failed to make a case that my views suited some arenas and not others. The main arena he thought it didn't fit was Seven Sharp.
My opinion in this paper, he argued, is found among many others. My opinion on NewstalkZB sits among the conservative bent you find on talk stations all over the world.
But he thought Seven Sharp was out of bounds because as far as I can tell he lives in 1972 and forgot that TVNZ, although officially a broadcaster owned by the state, is not the BBC, and is not a government department. It is, rather, a Crown entity charged with doing well, winning audience and making money.
The idea that you can't have a 7pm current affairs show without a bit of back and forth and a few ideas to head away with to mull over is condescension in its highest form.
I operate on the very simple premise that people can do with my ideas what they like. The reaction seemed predicated on the fact not only I should not have an opinion, but the fact I do is dangerous given ... well actually, I don't know, because none of it made any sense after that.
And isn't that one of the great insights into many a journalist? One, they claim to be impartial when in reality they're not, they just pretend to be. They accuse me of bias by being biased themselves and not even seeing it, and two, they hate people like me having ideas and thoughts and putting them out there because they worry people might get influenced and they're not up for it because too many journalists look down their noses at the rest of us as being Luddites.
When did tossing a few ideas about the place become a cause for national concern? I would have thought it's the exact opposite, the more ideas the better. We live in a world of constant ideas and opinion and debate and we are better for it.
In a world of millions of outlets I have three. If I had three outlets in a world of three outlets they might have a point, but accessibility to ideas has never been easier, there has never been more choice, or indeed freedom, and part of that freedom is, last time I looked, that listening to me, watching me, reading me was not compulsory.
The fact some people do is something I never take for granted and work hard to maintain, but at no point was anyone dragged to the show unwillingly.
Am I biased? Well, who's asking? I gave on radio (you can look it up on the ZB website) a list of things I have said about Winston Peters and Andrew Little and James Shaw that were all favourable towards them.
The simple truth is I am not remotely political. I love the political game and I follow it with a fervour, but it's the ideas and the people with the ideas that win me over. Most people at their level at some stage have good ideas. I never heard from them when I praised them, which leads to the conclusion that politicians only hear what they want. And if they're accusing you of being a stooge it's only because they would rather you be their stooge, then, magically, you'd be brilliant.
If one overarching thing has come out of this past week, it's the fear some seem to have of ideas. That a person with a lot of ideas is apparently an issue. That a person whose ideas don't suit others is somehow biased, and lacks objectivity.
Perhaps my amusement at the reaction comes from the fact I am light of foot and not the coiled spring of angst so many who waded in appear to be.
If you're afraid of ideas, you're afraid of life.
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