Wednesday, October 8, 2008
It would seem that the state of fashion journalism here in New Zealand is of considerable interest to a lot of you, so I wanted to publish some of the feedback I've received.
Yesterday was fascinating for me. After commenting on a great piece of journalism from TVNZ ondemand's show Media 7 – and on what I see as a huge amount of media coverage on New Zealand Fashion Week in the form of low standard journalism – plenty of diverse opinions came out. It was particularly interesting that some of the people (possibly media themselves?) commenting on this blog did not do so publicly, choosing to write under the easy pseudonym "Anonymous". It follows my argument that the New Zealand fashion media are all too often afraid to give their real opinions about New Zealand designers for fear of repercussions – will the designer still be nice to me if I write what I really thought about their collection? Or, I just received all these free/cheap clothes from that designer, shouldn't I say nice things about the clothes? Or, if I tell the truth, will that designer pull their advertising dollar from my publication?
Here were some of the comments I received:
Is any reporting, whether it be fashion or entertainment or even possibly hard news, ever really objective? Regardless of my cynicism, I respect what you're saying Isaac. Let me know when you get your first designer hissy fit, and let's compare notes! :)
Zoe Walker – features writer for Viva/NZ Herald.
NZFW gets coverage because people love looking at other people, and this sells more papers/gets more online traffic etc. More readership means more advertising revenue…
No matter how many journalists (fashion or otherwise) want to believe that they are unbiased and objective, at the end of the day one can’t bite the hand that feeds you and if a designer is spending thousands of dollars in advertising with a magazine or newspaper, a bad review will not go to print (whether it’s the editor or journalist that makes the final call) because small NZ publications can not afford to lose such revenue at the expense of writing a critical and unsavoury review.
It happens all over the world, just on a larger scale in New Zealand because we are small and there is virtually no disposable money in our fashion industry. Every New Zealand editor must ‘keep the advertisers happy’ if they intend to continue to make a profit, whether it’s for APN, APC, TVNZ, Pacific or an independent publication/blog, whatever, as long as advertising subsidies journalism, there is never going to be any ‘true’ objectivity in mainstream media when it comes to our small fashion scene.
Having seen first hand the bias and fluffing of such reviews on New Zealand fashion., Fashion Week being a pearler of an example, witnessing writers true thoughts of a show, followed by a weak and sickeningly nice review.
As much credibility as you lose by remaining anonymous and making anonymous comments and reviews, maybe New Zealand needs more anonymity so what needs to be said can be.
To which I replied:
I wholeheartedly disagree. What New Zealand needs is a bunch of journalists, proper journalists, who are willing to get out there and tell the truth and put their names to it. I think posting nasty or honest things about anyone under an anonymous name is cowardly and promotes bad feelings rather than promoting journalistic integrity - which is what we need so badly!
I received this email last night about the Media 7 report and my blog-post from an associate who wishes to remain unnamed.
There are a number or different things that I see happen – the really well connected PRs have mates in the top rating tv shows, so you see stories that just cannot be justified ending up being big items on CloseUp, Campbell and others.
Then you see the dumb ‘alternative view’ approach where ill-suited journalist (specifically chosen to be a mis-fit) goes along wanting to take the piss. I’m sure that Deborah (Pead) leveraged this anti-fashion sentiment to get her over-sized men’s fashion item on tele – which was, simply, blatant PR.
Sadly neither of these approaches get us any items of real interest at all – it is either PR or paparazzi and little in between.
The stories I wanted to see but never emerged:
· When World duo say they missed fashion week for a few years because they were “showing in Paris” – did they actually do a show – or did they in fact just take a trade fair stand at a trade event in Paris?
· Let’s go looking in stores in international markets and see if we can find NZ garments on the racks – I think that some are actually doing business and selling garments, but many do the ‘we sell all over the world’ line and noone looks further. Let’s see some examples.
· How was it that Kate Sylvester won last year’s Air New Zealand export award, only to use that travel budget to NOT show at our fashion week? This patently was a surprise to most or I doubt that Air NZ would have used an outfit from them if they’d had any indication. This outrageous slap in the face was taken without comment!
· Why were there no buyers this year at what your panel described as a trade event. The ‘delegate’ numbers were through the roof, but the ‘buyer’ numbers through the floor – I find this very worrying as the sustainability of the event must surely be based on this.
· Simon Lock was here from IMG – was he here to look at buying NZ fashion week or not? What would a sale potentially mean to our fashion industry? What would its value be? Does Pieter have the heart to continue…
I'm eager to hear everyone's thoughts, so don't forget to comment!