“Democracy Under Attack” was the heading for the New Zealand Herald’s extraordinary campaign against the Electoral Finance Bill (EFB) before it became law in late 2007. The phrase has almost become iconic, and reflects a significant time in New Zealand politics, when political finance reform was the subject of a bitter, highly partisan and societal debate. That the Herald entered the fray so strongly to campaign against the EFB became – for some – almost as controversial as the bill itself. It’s very useful therefore that there’s been some in depth academic analysis of this issue carried out – which can be downloaded in PDF format here. This very interesting investigation was carried out last year by Hollie Hyndman, who was a University of Otago Politics honours student – and she has kindly allowed it to be uploaded to this blog. The dissertation is an excellent exploration of the dynamics of the Herald’s campaign against the EFB. It doesn’t really seek to give a definitive answer as to whether the Herald’s campaign was warranted and desirable, nor is it passing judgment on the EFB/EFA, but it does contain an incredibly useful debate about all the issues. Hollie gives a very considered account of the Herald’s campaign, applies theory about the role of the media in liberal democracies like New Zealand’s, and interviews Nicky Hager, Therese Arseneau, and Audrey Young about the topic. But importantly, as Hollie says in the abstract, ‘More broadly, the [news]paper’s stance against the EFB is used as a case study for exploring political communication in New Zealand. It provides invaluable insight into media power, the relationship between media and citizens, and the changing role of traditional media in the 21st century’. I’ve included Hollie’s dissertation on this blog because it deserves a wider audience, and because it plays an important role in chronicling and contributing to an understanding of the whole history of the Electoral Finance Act in New Zealand.