Today is Human Rights Day. Knowledge is power and the ability to access information is important not just for democracy but for equity across the board.
Radio New Zealand is a free to air source of information for rich and poor alike. Not everyone can afford to have an internet connection in their home, not everyone can afford to access stories that are behind a paywall and not everyone can afford to subscribe to a newspaper, but RNZ is free for all who have access to a radio or even a basic mobile phone with radio capability.
People from all walks of life benefit from what RNZ has to offer offline and over the airwaves. There are a lot of elderly people who either don’t use the internet or who use the internet for some basic things, such as email, but generally feel uncomfortable in cyberspace. Many of those people get enjoyment and information from RNZ. Some elderly people even sleep with their radios under their pillows for company. Also, there are many blind people who get a lot of value out of listening to RNZ. For example, “That Blind Lady” – Julie Woods. Finally, let’s not forget that there are rural people both in New Zealand and in the South Pacific who rely on RNZ / RNZI for part or all of their news. In many places where there is no internet and there is no FM radio, RNZ is there, a hands free way of getting information, keeping farmers and truck drivers company while they work.
Radio New Zealand is not just radio, a lot of people assume that it is. It is radio, podcasts, online articles, videos, live streams and Checkpoint with John Campbell which is partially a TV show which airs on Freeview 50. It’s a great free source of information, for example, I have met university science and classical music students who access material from RNZ to help them with their studies. Some of them hope to have their compositions played on RNZ Concert someday.
RNZ gives people a voice, whether it’s their quality news coverage of issues, telling the stories of Māori, giving aspiring musicians airtime or allowing people who are isolated access to our world, RNZ should be valued for the great organisation it is. Many countries aren’t so lucky when it comes to freedom of information and the press, let’s remember that on Human Rights Day.