So news from late last week is that Paula Bennett has herself a new press secretary, former investigative journalist Phil Kitchin (I’d just like to say this headline is the best headline I’ve ever come up with).
People were quick to respond with damnation. We had media folk saying how awful it was (though I suspect that was more from the point of view that they’d lost another good one; in a week when it looks like they’re losing one of their best). We had people saying this proved how in the pocket of National the media really is (despite Farrar’s best efforts to “prove” otherwise). It’s the usual noise whenever this sort of thing pops up. Which is quite often.
Quite often journalists become press secretaries or go work as a comms people. Because that is a logical progression if you’re keen on increasing your salary. So I really think it’s time we stop begrudging journalists who do it.
Also, Phil hasn’t been a reporter for a long time. He’s been working at Treasury. Leaving investigative journalism up to David Fisher and Matt Nippert (and Jess McAllen for the stuff that destroys entitlement clubs).
So what the hell team? Why do we have any say over what sort of career progression any individual makes? Journalists in this country get paid absolutely fuck all. And money is nice. People like having money because they like having families and owning nice things. We shouldn’t get all up in arms about this.
And if you’re a journalist at the top of your game earning your four fifths of jack-all a year [number replaced with words because someone called me on inaccuracy] and you want more money in your back pocket then where do you go? Editorial jobs don’t grow on trees, and journalists do have some skills that are commensurate with being a press secretary. So it makes sense.
And if a journalist we like goes and works for a Minister or a political party we don’t, well that’s just life isn’t it? Like how Israel Dagg tweeted in support of John Key. Come the world cup I’ll be screaming like a mad man if he’s in sight of the tryline in the grand final against Ireland with only one man to beat.
So congratulations Phil. I wish you all the best in your new role. And to any other journalist who’s considering the move, do it. Get paid what you’re worth.
N.B: I would also like to add that I don’t think this runs counter to my piece about Rachel Morton because in that piece I was complaining that TV3 was applying different standards to one reporter who was going to TV1 and another who was going to Steven Joyce.
Also, I really really dislike Joyce.