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Kiwi Documentary Maker Highlights Plight Of Our Fourth Estate At Prestigious International Award Ceremony

Published: Thu 18 Apr 2024 11:19 AM
For the second year in a row, Bryan Bruce has won a New York Festivals Film & TV Silver Award, this time for his documentary The Food Crisis which screened on Sky Go last year. Entries are judged by an international Grand Jury in a competition that attracts some of the finest and well-funded programmes in the world.
In accepting the award on behalf of his team, Bruce drew attention to the plight of Fourth Estate journalism in Aotearoa New Zealand.
“Lots of journalists are being fired by the broadcasters,” he told the audience, “And funding for programmes in the public interest like The Food Crisis has dried up. So, this award, coming at such a critical time for media in Aotearoa New Zealand, means a lot,” he said.
Funded by the now defunct Public Interest Journalism Fund (PIJF) administered by NZ On Air, The Food Crisis investigated why food costs so much in Aotearoa New Zealand. The Fund was set up under the previous Labour/Greens coalition government, a scheme which the incoming National, Act, New Zealand First Coalition has refused to continue.
Bruce’s previous award-winning documentary, Inside Child Poverty Revisited, assessed what had happened to improve the well-being of children in our poorest homes since his groundbreaking documentary in 2011, both of which received funding from the PIJF.
“But not only has that source of funding dried up the broadcasters are also shying away from independent investigative journalism,” says Bruce.
“Despite the fact that The Food Crisis rated well on Sky and has now won a major award in New York, the current broadcast market appears to have little appetite for the sort of fronted documentaries I make.”
“Spaces on TVONE and THREE’s programme schedules are increasingly scarce for such material, as channels across the board focus on trying to attract viewers aged 18 to 39 and 25 to 54.”
“With newsrooms closing down and top journos being fired, Fourth Estate journalism which speaks truth to power is in a lot of trouble in our country and that’s not good for our democracy,” says Bruce.
Independent investigative documentary making is a time consuming and difficult business and finding funding is a perennial issue, but Bruce has always found a way to make award winning documentaries. These include Inside Child Poverty, which was the first to draw attention to the plight of children living in our poorest homes and Mind the Gap, about the increasing divide between rich and poor.
“Given the reluctance of broadcasters to support independent investigative work, the challenge is how to reach Kiwis with stories that matter to their lives” says Bruce. “That’s why I have set up my own subscriber channel, Bryan Bruce Investigates, where people can access my writing, podcasts and documentaries.”
Bryan Bruce’s new subscriber channel can be found here: bryanbruce.substack.com

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