I suppose one of the reasons I respect Nicky Hager is because I know he’s a better journalist than I am.
He also seems to me to represent a vital element in our journalistic history – the Puritan writer who cannot be corrupted. A man, like John Milton, who directly speaks the truth as he knows it to be, and bows in his opinions to no other authority.
So why do so many other columnists decry his work, dislike the man, and try to minimize his achievements? In two words, the answer is professional jealousy.
Producing the scoops
Nicky Hager has come up with scoop after scoop. Think of his work in exposing the machinations of Don Brash in The Hollow Men; our security services, and now Prime Minister Key and his manservant and blogroller Cameron Slater in Dirty Politics.
But worse still for Hager’s detractors, he has very seldom been proved wrong. I can’t think of an instance where his work has been faulted on key points.
So I admire, and envy, Nicky Hager’s work.
And unlike most columnists, Hager is not just a theorist. He works from original sources. He obviously
- conducts endless research
- checks and rechecks his work
- provides comprehensive footnotes.
He speaks to the powerful
Furthermore, he speaks to the influential with Truth.
What we tend to forget in New Zealand is that Big Money controls most of the organs of communication (but not the Internet, thank God) and a majority of writers and journalists have to bow to the imperatives of power. Not necessarily by writing dishonestly, though there’s plenty of that, but going where the market dictates and forgetting the hard stuff.
Think of all the PR bumf you read in the journals; the articles written by journos on ‘freebies’; and the endless commercial puffs on our TV news.
Then think of Hager’s carefully researched and footnoted output. See the difference?
That’s why I admire Nicky Hager.