Election strategy outlined 

Susan Freeman-Greene

Local Government New Zealand has pledged to involve community newspapers in a campaign to attract more candidates and voters to this year’s local body elections.

LGNZ announced last week it wanted to make the country the “most inclusive and active local democracy in the world” as it promotes the October local body elections.

A statement from Local Government New Zealand’s Chief Executive Susan Freeman-Greene said a Vote 2022 campaign would be “rolled out across the country via social media, video and radio with the support of community-based partners”.

The statement was not shared with the New Zealand Community Newspaper Association and Good Local Media news director Roy Pilott raised the issue with Freeman-Green.

‘We made the point that in Waipā we circulate 25,000 copies every Thursday and are the only media which provides independent coverage of local body issues, as distinct from cutting and pasting council media releases,” he said.

He told her Good Local Media coverage in the Te Awamutu News and Cambridge News of the Māori ward issue and the value of community boards in Waipā was hugely influential – “even though we were for the most part a lone voice on the issue”.

Pilott suggested the advice from communications advisors to do everything on social media was short sighted.

Freeman-Greene responded almost immediately.

“We are totally supportive of community publications – they are very important in our campaign,” she said. “The media referred to in the campaign is just part of what the public will see, so social media etc is not in place of print and community publications but are examples of the general approach going broad.”

Susan Freeman-Greene says her organisation want to significantly increase voter and candidate numbers.

“This is the bold ambition, and we know it will take more than one election cycle to make lasting changes.”

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