Spam Journalism: The spurious use of sensational headlines to add spice to an otherwise pointless article
Has anyone noticed how much the Herald is rapidly turning into a Labour propaganda pamphlet? It seems they are only too happy to blindly publish any press release from Labour with barely an alteration. I fully expect the parliamentary seal to be displayed prominently on the next edition. Today’s spam is not merely early childhood education spam, it is political spin.
“The parents of tens of thousands of preschoolers can expect to start paying more for early childhood care next year – in some cases up to $80 a week for each child.
“The increases are expected to kick in from February once the Government removes the top two funding bands for around 2000 centres which have more than 80 per cent of fully qualified staff.”
The headline is, of course misleading on every level. ECE funding changes have been in the pipeline for nearly a year, so it can’t be much of a shock. In the very first line the weasel-words “in some cases up to $80 dollars a week” suggest immediately that perhaps it is not as bad as all that. Later in the article we read:
“Those increases varied from $2 to $80 per child per week. In Auckland just over half of the centres indicated fees were likely to increase by $15 to $30, 14 per cent were $40 to $50 and 5 per cent were planning on increases of more than $50 a week.”
Suddenly half of the centres will be charging less than $30 a week and almost all will be charging less than $50. This is a bit different from $80.
Nowhere in the article does it tell you the vital piece of information that there are 4300 ECE centres and that 2300 are completely unaffected (because they have less than 80% ECE qualified teachers). In fact, National has increased the level of funding for these centers. Therefore this paragraph in the article is meaningless:
“Nearly 60 per cent of the centres expect participation to drop as an effect of the funding cuts. Maori, Pasifika and children from low-income families are expected to be particularly affected.”
This is a meaningless sentence – the parents affected will go to the cheaper centres. Should there be insufficient centers new ones will be created and the more expensive ones will be forced to drop prices. I’m certain Phil Goff knows this, but that doesn’t stop him from spreading viscious disinformation to scare parents:
“Labour leader Phil Goff said Prime Minister John Key should be “ashamed” that participation rates will drop as a direct result of the Government’s funding cuts.”
Naturally Phil leaves out the same vital piece of information – that parents can simply move to the cheaper ECE centers. Overall enrollment will not drop. In fact, because National is now going to fund 5-year-olds and all playcenters and kōhanga reo (no, you won’t find that in the article, either), the enrollments will increase.
This kind of sensationalist love-in between the Labour party and the Herald is disappointing. It would have been nice to see some analysis on the provision of Early Childhood Education. Does having 100% qualified teacher staff, instead of 80%, really make sufficient difference in the quality of a child’s education to justify an addition $400 million expenditure? Will the funding of playcenters and kōhanga reo, with the lower emphasis on education detract from ECE goals? Are we not simply paying for taxpayer-funded babysitters? What effect will funding 5-year-olds have on school enrollments?
These are all valid questions, worthy of debate. Instead, all we get is “the government hates children/women/Maori” and the sight of Phil Goff acting like a Drama Queen.
I wonder if the Herald receives funding as an early childhood education center?