If ever the media – especially journalist wonder why the public view them with disdain and minimal trust – they need only look at their behaviour when it comes to undignified media “scrums” around public figures.
The recent melee in Parliament’s halls, as journos tried to elicit a response from NZ First leader, Winston Peters, regarding his visit to Kim Dotcom’s mansion – was a less than edifying spectacle,
Evidently, the Press Gallery were a bit “miffed” at Peters’ curt responses to them and refused point blank to answer their questions. So in response to Peters’ lack of response, NZ Herald reporter, Audrey Young, wrote a “revenge piece” for her paper,
A “revenge piece” being something a journo will put together to present the subject under discussion in a less-than-positive light. That’ll teach him/her/them not to co-operate with the Fourth Estate!
Apparently really, really annoyed, Young wrote,
“We don’t recall Peters suggesting John Banks’ visits were a private matter.”
This was echoed by “Claire” (Claire Trevett?),
“Do you think John Banks didn’t need to tell us whether he had gone out there or not, or whether his privacy was breached when Dotcom said he had been out there?”
Ok, let’s get one thing straight here; Winston Peters is not being accused of accepting donations from Kim Dotcom, nor attempting to hide said donations in a falsified electoral return.
If indeed that is what “Claire” and Audrey Young are suggesting, then let’s have it out in the open. Make the allegations and ask the questions.
But comparing John Banks’ dodgy “hide-the-cheques” shell-game is in no way comparable to a politician meeting a citizen (or permanent resident, in this case). That is not journalism – that is just downright immaturity on a school-yard level. It is pettiness.
It certainly ain’t journalism.
Disclaimer: I am not a NZ first supporter. Never have been, and most likely, I never will be.
Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 February 2014.
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In a curious twist to the old problem of the media sensationalising some stories, the New Zealand Herald this year took upon itself the decision not to report protests at Waitangi;
Both images above courtesy of The Daily Blog.
One has to ask if it is the role of the media to be self-censoring stories of events occurring in this country? If central government issued an edict banning the Herald (or other media) from covering a political protest – the media would be furious. There would be editorials up and down the country, insisting that the media was obligated to report the news, and not hold back because something might may people “uncomfortable”.
If the Herald wanted to place a small protest or scuffle or shouted abuse into context, the item could easily be placed on page 6, as a small “side-bar” news item.That would be appropriate context.
Not reporting the news raises the spectre of self-censorship. But more important – what else is the NZ Herald withholding from the public? What else have editors, managers, Board Directors, etc, decided that we should not see?
Are we children, to be spared the hurt of something that might possibly upset us?!
Interestingly, the Herald had no hesitation in reporting this non-story about the Governor-General, Sir Jerry Mateparae, at the Waitangi Marae;
Interesting – there was no scuffle according to the Governor-General. He even tweeted as such earlier in the day,
“My being jostled at Waitangi is news to me. I’m enjoying the scenery, the people and the day so far! Visiting HMNZS Wellington tonight.”
But that did not stop the Herald from using the mis-leading headline,
Waitangi celebrations start with scuffle
Even as the Governor-General was tweeting that it never occurred, it didn’t stop the Herald from quoting Dear Leader, who jumped into the fictional story with undue haste, without first checking the facts;
“Having a few protesters or radicals effectively jostling the Governor-General is undignified, it’s unwarranted and, frankly, outright wrong.
Most people go to Waitangi to have a great time but there are one or two people that go to cause trouble and use the media to advance their own causes and their own issues.”
So there we have it. The Herald is only too happy to publish a story focused on an fictional event that never took place, complete with an utterly misleading headline.
But not so keen to report real events and the background to what is motivating protesters.
A bit of a double standard there, NZ Herald.
NZ Herald: Waitangi celebrations start with scuffle
Waikato Times: PM’s comments called overblown
Twitter: Governor-General NZ
Previous related blogpost
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Audrey Young on the GCSB…
It seems that the Herald’s Audrey Young is the only journalist in the entire country who has not bought into the Official Party Line that the GCSB Act 2003 is “vague” or “flawed”.
The GCSB Act 2003 expressly forbids it from spying on the communications of New Zealanders.
But, by a series of snakes and ladders through the stated functions and objectives of the act, it convinced itself it was allowed to help the SIS and police spy on New Zealanders.
Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Spying on NZ: More power to watch us
She’s 100% correct of course.
The law is about as explicit as it can get, without adding crayoned drawings for the terminally dense,
Acknowledgement: Parliamentary Counsel Office: Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003
Section 14 states,
Restrictions imposed on interceptions
14 Interceptions not to target domestic communications
Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.
Which makes other journos look lazy or incompetant or both, when they repeat government rhetoric about “vagueness” or “not fit for purpose” without checking the facts for themselves.
If Audrey Young can present the facts, then so can every other journalist worth his/her salt.
Lift your game, people.
See previous related blogpost: The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!
A Tale of Two Bains…
The latest on the David Bain saga, and the Third Degree report on TV3 which presented damning evidence which showed Robin Bain as the most likely killer of the Bain family,
Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Complaint laid against TV3 over ‘biased’ Bain report
Funnily enough, I cannot recall this group of obsessive-compulsives laying a similar complaint with TVNZ when Bryan Bruce (who I have much respect for, for his work on child poverty) hosted an episode on the Bain family, where he made it clear that he did not believe Robin Bain committed murder/suicide (see: The Investigator Special: The Case Against Robin Bain).
But I guess for these folk, that’s not bias, eh?
Over the years there have been many programmes presenting both sides of the case.
For one side to lay a complaint of “bias” is therefore just a little cheeky. More to the point, it illustrates a kind of growing “cult” mentality for some in the Pro-Robin/David Did It camp.
They remind me of Creationists and Climate Change Deniers.
Something that caught my eye last week was this item in the Dominion Post,
Acknowledgement: Dominion Post – Ageing car fleet seen as added danger on roads
It occurs to me that much like trucking figures are being used as indicators of macro economic growth, our nationwide car fleet can be an indicator of the economic well-being (or otherwise) of ordinary New Zealanders at street level.
In April, John Key boasted of “strong economic growth” in 2012,
“We’re seeing some great results. We achieved 3% economic growth in New Zealand last year, which is higher than most developed countries, and business confidence is increasing. Over the weekend, I met Christine Lagarde from the International Monetary Fund while in China, who said she believes our economic plan is “very stable and it’s also very promising“.”
Acknowledgement: Scoop Media - John Key: Growing our economy
Yet, if our car fleet is getting old, and fewer are being scrapped, then that indicates that the gains are not trickling down to workers.
According to Statistics NZ,
Annual growth in the labour cost index (LCI) salary and wage rates eased for the third consecutive quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today.
In the year to the March 2013 quarter, salary and wage rates (including overtime) increased 1.7%. This includes a 0.4% rise in the March 2013 quarter.
Private sector salary and ordinary time wage rates increased 1.8% in the year to the March 2013 quarter.
Public sector salary and ordinary time wage rates rose 1.5% in the same period. This rise in the public sector came from increases in central government (up 1.5%) and local government (up 2.1%).
In the March 2013 quarter, 13% of all surveyed salary and ordinary time wage rates increased.
Of the 13%, the median increase was 2.4%, the lowest in 12 years.
56% of the surveyed sample increased in the year to the March 2013 quarter.
Of the 56%, the median increase was 2.9%, the lowest in 21 months.
Note the statistic buried amongst the fifures above: “In the March 2013 quarter, 13% of all surveyed salary and ordinary time wage rates increased“.
The corollary to that is that 87% had no increases to their salary and ordinary time wages.
Little wonder that our car fleet is aging. People cannot afford to buy new (or even newer second hand) vehicles.
Wherever the wealth is going, it’s not trickling down to the 87%.
So much for Key’s pledges in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, to boost New Zealander’s wages. Add that one to his list of lies; broken promises, and dashed expectations.
The Price of Cocoa…
Three cans of cocoa tell an interesting story.
Can A is the oldest, with an expiry date of April 2011. The can measures 110mm (H) x 75mm (D). It contained 200g net dry cocoa powder.
We purchased Can B sometime in 2011 (?). The expiry date was March 2012, so it’s the second oldest can.
Interestingly, it also contained 200g net dry cocoa powder. However, whilst the contents remained the same as Can A – the dimensions of the can inexplicably increased; 130mm (H) x 75mm (D). Same diameter as Can A – but 20mm taller. Contents remain the same net weight.
A month ago we purchased Can C (expiry date, March 2015). The dimensions of this can is the same as Can B: 130mm (H) x 75mm (D). But this time, the contents decreased from 200 to 190g net dry cocoa powder. Ten grams less.
So the up-shot? The can-sizes have gotten bigger – whilst the contents has reduced by 5%.
On 9 June, I emailed Nestle to find out what was going on,
It has recently come to my attention that two cans of Nestle Baking Cocoa measure 110mm X 75mm, whilst the other measures 130mm x 75mm.
Both contain 200g net cocoa powder.
The smaller can measuring 110 x 75 has a “best before” date April 2011.
The larger can, 130×75 has a “best before” date March 2012.
It appears that you have increased the SIZE of the can, whilst the contents remain the same.
Is there a reason why the size of the cans was increased, by 20mm in height?
And can you confirm that the price stayed the same; increased; or reduced; when the change was made from a 110mm height to 130mm height?
(The email was sent prior to purchasing Can C.)
Perhaps not surprisingly, I received no reply from Nestle.
Unfortunately, I never retained the receipts for Cans A and B, otherwise I could compare prices. But what’s the bet that the retail price probably increased?
So next time Dear Leader stands before the Press Gallery and claims credit for his government policies resulting in low inflation or a drop in food prices – just remember; there are lies; damned lies, Prime Ministerial utterings, and statistics.
Mix all four together and you get a “drop in inflation and food costs less”.
And thus it came to pass…
“As short a time ago as February, the Ministry of Plenty had issued a promise (a “categorical pledge” were the official words) that there would be no reduction of the chocolate ration during 1984. Actually, as Winston was aware, the chocolate ration was to be reduced from thirty grams to twenty at the end of the present week. All that was needed was to substitute for the original promise a warning that it would probably be necessary to reduce the ration at some time in April.” – George Orwell, ’1984′
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 4 July 2013.
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NZ, Wellington, 25 May – Journalists and other staff working for Fairfax media, were told last week of a review that the company was carrying out. Management told staff that times are tough; advertising revenue was down; and that job losses had not been ruled out. Incredulous staff were told that there would have to be a reshuffle to make things work and that their would be job losses.
Staff were given no further details.
According to Radio NZ,
Acting general manager Andrew Boyle says there are potential job cuts across the entire company, from advertising to editorial.
Acknowledgment: Radio NZ – Fairfax looks at job cuts
And according to Stop Press,
He’s unable to say how many of Fairfax NZ’s roughly 1800 staff will be affected by the restructuring, as the company is still in early consultation with its business departments. However, he does expect it to be wide reaching including editorial, sales and operational roles. Pre-press (ad placing) and a contact centre run by Fairfax are also in the scope, he adds.
Acknowledgment: Stop Press - Job cuts on the horizon for Fairfax, company looks towards paywalls
Fairfax NZ acting general manager, Andrew Boyle, was quick to make reassuring noises to his readers,
“We still intend to be the largest newsroom in the country. We know competing with quality local content is vital to our future.”
Acknowledgment: NBR – More jobs at risk as Fairfax continues to restructure
Which was reinforced with his statement to Stop Press,
“At the end of all this we will remain the largest newsroom in the country and we won’t compromise what we’ll do for our readers.”
Unfortunately, if past trends with the Dominion Post, Evening Post, and The Dominion are any indication, Mr Boyle’s optimism is not confirmed by past experience.
Since 1983, newspapers in Wellington have gone through radical changes in both style; the number of titles available – and page-count.
Whilst prices have risen, the number of pages has dropped.
Monday 20 May 2013
Tittle: Dominion Post
Page count: 24
Front Page Headlines (stories):
- “Mystery as China blocks NZ meat”
- “The tragic toll of asthma”
Monday 26 May 2003
Title: Dominion Post
Page count: 44
Front Page Headlines:
- “Millions creamed from pokies”
- “Only two All Black canes expected”
- “Woman with rifle threatens shoppers”
- “Hollingworth resigns for sake of office”
- large photo-story of father/son Tae Kwon Do contestants in national competition
Monday 24 May 1993
Title: The Dominion
Price: 60 cents
Page count: 44
Front Page Headlines:
- “Cyclist killed in horrific accident”
- “Woman dies in domestic related incident”
- “Referendum may not have Senate vote”
- “Bolger rules out Aussie marriage”
- “Hutt Council may scrap its school recreation programme”
- “EnergyDirect faces another court challenge”
- + 6 mini-item single-column stories
- + photo-story on rugby league player, Robert Piva
Title: The Evening Post
Price: 60 cents
Page count: 28 (TV Week: 16 pages)
Front Page Headlines:
- “Projects blamed for Hutt debt”
- “Eve determined to keep going”
- “Waite caps off Kiwi golf clean-up”
- “Million Cambodians vote for peace”
- + 6 mini-item single-column stories
Monday 23 May 1986
Title: The Dominion
Price: 25 cents
Page count: 20
Front Page Headlines:
- “Sea and air rescue of 20,000 gears up”
- “Grampa takes a bow”
- “Rock fall injures rafters”
- “Car batters wineshop”
- “Bodies found in snow”
- “Tear gas use defended”
- “Mosely ends racing career”
- “Tour lifts cloud for Dairy Board Chief”
- “Tories get jobless vote”
- “Wholesalers seek change in margins”
- “Wages action meets tough line”
- “Douglas expects Cabinet reversal”
- + 6 mini-item single-column stories
- + 1 mini-item story
Title: The Evening Post
Price: 25 cents
Page count: 36
Front Page Headlines:
- “Freeze stretched to Feb 29 – Back-dating kills allowances”
- “Ferries sale, planes fly – Storm battering travellers”
- “600 bed down on board”
- “Her new car met train”
- “Gale shuts out containership”
- “Edward lunches with Cabinet”
- “Mud, water rupture hill road fill”
- “The longest gale”
Generally speaking, as the price of newspapers has risen, the page count has dropped, and the number of news stories on the front page has also reduced in number. Content within newspapers has most likely also reduced.
According to one source, whilst readership levels remain fairly positive, advertising revenue has also dropped by at least 40% in the last financial year alone.
Staffing levels have also been slashed. Three years ago, about a hundred sub-editors were made redundant – a process that began in 2008, but received very little media coverage (see: Fairfax says 100 further jobs to be cut in NZ ). Those who were kept on were reassigned to “hubs” that Fairfax set up to supply a centralised news service to service its various metropolitan dailies.
Only Fairfax’s on-line staffing levels – those who maintain the Stuff.co.nz website – have shown an increase in numbers, as the company diverted more resources to it’s web presence.
Financially, APN’s NZ Herald is in an even worse financial state. So much so that APN has not found any willing buyers for the ailing newspaper and remains on the market to this day.
According to Stop Press, Boyle is considering pay-walls Fairfax NZ’s online publications,
“We’re investigating quite actively what paywalls might mean. There’s a lot of modeling and research work being done but I can’t tell you a definitive time line for it or what it might look like.”
Both Fairfax and APN are actively considering the pay-wall model – but are afraid to make the first move, lest the other hold off, and readers flock to a free web-version of their competitor.
As Whakatane Beacon editor, Mark Longley pointed out,
“If one major newspaper website charged and the other one remained free, well, that would be a tough call.”
There are already three pay-to-view publications in New Zealand; the Listener, Whakatane Beacon, and the Ashburton Guardian.
On TV3 News, Ashburton Guardian editor, Coen Lammers said,
“If you want to know about Ashburton you have got to come to us, people have no choice really. If they value our journalism they’ll pay for it.”
That may work well in a town or small city, but in larger cities people have recourse to alternative sources of news. In fact, this blogger questions whether a pay-wall will turn around the fortunes of these large media chains when the problem is not with the readership – but with the content of their publications.
As the numbers above show (with one exception), the page count has dropped dramatically since 1983. It’s not possible to offer a similar service to readers even as page numbers drop – and advertising clients still have their advertisements crammed into fewer remaining pages.
Something has to give, and it has unfortunately been the quality of news presented.
To give an example; in the mid 1990s, the Evening Post alone assigned two reporters to covering Wellington City Council issues. A third reporter was assigned part time. The Dominion most likely also had their own reporters covering Council issues.
This blogger has learned that the Dominion Post – an amalgamation of the former Evening Post and The Dominion – has assigned just one reporter to cover Council business.
How is that geared toward improving coverage of City Council issues?
Another case in point; “fluff pieces” dominating the front page does not help to present a serious, credible image of a newspaper;
Acknowledgment; Dominion Post, 21 May 2013
Whilst burying serious news stories – of a nature that may will have incalculable consequences for the future of our country – somewhere in the back pages, does not scream Serious Media;
Acknowledgment; Dominion Post, 21 May 2013
Putting Fairfax’s Stuff (a god-awful name, by the way) website behind a pay-wall simply presents the same reduced news service, with a price-tag attached. This is not a clever business model. Especially when the “consumer” has free alternatives to choose from.
If Fairfax (and APN) are finding that revenue from advertising is falling, perhaps it is appropriate for management to re-visit their business strategy. Their model may be wrong when they treat print advertising separate from their online service.
Perhaps if Fairfax and APN proprietors treated both print and online media as a combined service, their clients may think more favourably about using it. Shoe retailers are masters at presenting a good deal for shoppers.
The last thirty years have shown that reducing the quality of media publications has proven disastrous in terms of building readership and a strong advertising base. Trying to ‘sting’ readers for using an on-line service harks back to the old “cost-plus” business mentality. That didn’t work out well either.
If Fairfax and APN want to grow their revenue then they need to get a lot more clever than simply putting their hands out and expecting readers to ‘cough up’. They will be mightily disappointed.
There is good reason why this blogger ceased buying newspapers ten years ago. I have a reasonably good memory that harks back to fine journalists like Lidia Zatorski who use to cover the Wellington City Council brief. If the mayor so much as sneezed – Ms Zatorski and her colleagues knew about it.
The Dominion Post is a pale shadow of it’s predecessors. My current short-term subscription of the Dompost confirms to me that nothing much has changed for the better (and said subscription will shortly be cancelled). Quite simply, the Dompost is hardly worth the paper it’s written on.
As a customer, this is how I see it.
And really, isn’t the customer always right?
Good luck on the pay-wall.
I’ll be on the other side.
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 27 May 2013.
National Business Review: Fairfax says 100 further jobs to be cut in NZ (26 Aug 2008)
Stop Press: Sky TV profits up, APN suffers losses, and Fairfax not doing so well (22 Feb 2013)
Stop Press: Job cuts on the horizon for Fairfax, company looks towards paywalls (21 May 2013)
Radio NZ: Fairfax looks at job cuts (21 May 2013)
National Business Review: More jobs at risk as Fairfax continues to restructure (22 May 2013)
TV3 News: News sites to adopt pay wall (24 May 2013)
NZ Herald: Maori TV payout and the year of the paywall (24 May 2013)
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NZ Herald “chief political commentator” seems to have taken issue with bloggers. Well, two bloggers, mostly,
Armstrong’s bizarre comments were… well, bizarre.
Personally, I put it down to an unholy mixture of jet-lag*; long nights; too much/too little caffeine; mid-life crisis; with a fair whack of frustration. Something has obviously crawled up his bits.
In fact, his comments in his column (above) were not just downright unprofessional, but suggestive of poor health. Comments like,
“Here is a blunt message for a couple of old-school Aro Valley-style socialists…”
“Get off our backs.’
“Stop behaving like a pair of tut-tutting old dowagers gossiping in the salons.’
“In short, stop making blinkered, cheap-shot accusations of the kind you made this week…”
And those were in just the first paragraph. After that, it was all downhill.
The tirade was directed at two gentlemen, Gordon Campbell and Bryce Edwards. Both responded in their own ways, and style,
All three are worth reading.
All three speak volumes about the state of journalism in this country.
Firstly; John Armstrong represents the Old Guard of the Fourth Estate; conservative; part of The Establishment; close to government. In fact, how close to government was exemplified by this extraordinary statement from opinion piece above,
“The rapidly growing influence of Edwards’ blog was initially down to its being an exhaustive wrap-up of all of the day’s political news. It is now starting to develop a much more political dynamic that is unlikely to please National.”
With an admission like that, you begin to realise why someone like Armstrong would be so belligerent to the likes of Campbell and Bryce, who are hardly Establishment-types.
Since when was it ever the concern of a journalist whether what s/he wrote was ” unlikely to please National “?!
A journalist is not put on this Earth to “please National” (or Labour). They are here to tell us what’s going on – regardless of whether or not National (or Labour) are “displeased”.
That one remark validates every criticism every made of the NZ Herald that it is a clandestine mouthpiece for the National Party. There is no other way it can be interpreted.
Secondly; whilst Armstrong represents the Old Guard of journalism, Campbell and Bryce are part of the New Wave of Media. In large part, this involves the latest advent of mass-media, the internet. But the internet is simply the tool – it is an attitudinal sea-change that best encapsulates what Bryce and Campbell represent.
When Rogernomics engulfed this country, it introduced the concept of the “free market” and “choice” to our economy. Some of it benefitted our nation – much of it did not. Thousands who lost their jobs will attest to that.
But the liberalisation and de-regulation of New Zealand was not simply something applied to our economy. It reached into, and affected every part, of our society.
MMP, for example, did to the electoral/political system was the removal of tariffs did to the importation of consumer products; it gave the Voter/consumer a greater choice in who to vote for.
That same liberalisation encouraged the de-regulation of the Media. It was no longer the province of card-carrying journos, feature writers, and freelancers. Suddenly, anyone could get “in on the game”. The internet did for citizen journalists, bloggers, and non-establishment commentators what the typewriter and paid salaries did for mainstream journos.
The richest irony here is that John Armstrong is a cheerleader for the de-regulated free market – the same de-regulated free market that has pissed him off by letting everyone in on his turf.
Right about now, Armstrong should understand what it felt like when our shops were flooded with cheap clothing and shoes from Fiji, China, and India – whilst New Zealand seamstresses and shoemakers were forced out of business.
Or how Labour and National politicans felt when MMP changed our political landscape and Parliament was flooded with Greens, NZ Firsters, Alliance, ACT, etc.
The de-regulated free market is such a wonderful thing – until it’s your arse that is bitten.
Painful eh, John?
Armstrong complains about the tough nature of his job – especially accompanying John Key and his entourage to the APEC conconference in *Vladivostok last week.
Perhaps instead of writing travelogue pieces (see: Curse of Russky Island strikes ) he might have considered writing about Key’s pursuit of a Free Trade Agreement with Russia. This might have been a worthy topic, considering that Russia appears to have an unhealthy, close relationship with the Russian Mafia. (See related blogpost: A FTA deal with Russia?! That’s a big “NYET” Comrade Key! )
Even the Guardian and Washington Post felt the situation warranted some decent investigative journalism. (See: The farce of Russian elections , Russia’s presidential election: rigging is a delicate art, Putin’s government moves to quash public dissent )
But we got none of that (unless I’ve missed it).
A story of a sovereign state that appears to have close connections to gangsters would seem to be much more of a story than interesting scenery in Vladivostok. That might’ve made an interesting story for Armstrong to pursue – especially if we’re going to be cosying up to our Russian cuzzies with a FTA.
Newsworthy, I would have thought.
Previous related blogpost
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- Neil Watts, Blogger, Fearfactsexposed
Little wonder Fairfax Media are struggling financially and virtually giving their publications away to attract subscribers.
Consistently failing to provide their readers with the news – if the news is damaging to their friends in the National Party – means that Fairfax Media’s credibility as a news provider is poor, and declining.
While less partisan news media jumped immediately on the third poll in a month showing National’s support crumbling, Fairfax avoided the story, as they have done with other polls that are unfavourable to their mates on the Right.
While this highly newsworthy story led the political news on TV last night, as well as on the New Zealand Herald website and Radio New Zealand, Fairfax once again applied the eerie Orwellian denial they have used in the past when a news item doesn’t suit their political agenda.
Predictably, when stuff.co.nz finally got around to mentioning the poll just before 9am today – some 15 hours after their rivals – it was only to provide readers with the National Party’s spin on the results, with a piece heavily dominated by John Key’s response.
As usual, the Opposition were completely sidelined from Fairfax’s story, and more importantly, the major implications of the latest poll – that Labour and the Greens could form a centre-Left government with a combination of support partners - were completely avoided. This angle is so obvious to any real journalist, that Fairfax again show their desire to provide propaganda over news, by avoiding it all together. As I noted here three weeks ago, after they avoided reporting on another negative poll for National, this illustrates exactly why such powerful, biased media corporations are a very real danger to our democracy. By stifling the debate, controlling the message, and starving the Opposition of comment, media organisations like Fairfax can and do have a frightening influence on our freedom.
Remember how their brainfart polls told readers over and over how the National Party were going to romp back into the Beehive last year? In detailed analysis of the reasons why New Zealanders didn’t vote, it was found that “a large proportion of non-voters cited the polls predicting the National Party’s victory, and decided the election was a foregone conclusion. The percentage of non-voters who said this was a factor was far higher in 2011 than in 2008″, according to The New Zealand Herald.
Critics at the time – myself included – noted the flawed methodology of these polls, and suggested that they were designed more to influence rather than inform voters. The resulting election turnout was the lowest in 120 years, with the supposably invincible National Party pushed much closer than the polls had suggested. Funny that, when their chums in the National Party are riding high in the polls, stuff.co.nz and the Dom Post can’t find a font big enough, but when the news is bad…well, it just ain’t news. Orwellian, Fairfaxian, call that what you will
Following a week where their political editor was heavily criticised for providing the Prime Minister with a series of glowing PR pieces as she escorted him around Europe, and where the most damaging elements of a number of issues were avoided, this is not a good look for Fairfax. Last week, they effectively ran the spin for John Key on the class size backdown, painting Key as “a leader who listens”, complete with a leading survey. They neglected to mention that the “listening leader” is ignoring New Zealanders over asset sales, and dodged figures picked up by other media showing that power prices would rise significantly once the assets were privatised. As if all of this isn’t damning enough for Fairfax’s credibility, another survey showed that 50% of stuff respondents favoured the Nazi solution of eugenics to tackle the problem of breeding “ferals”; is this a clear sign of Rightwing propaganda in action?
Had enough of this international corporation providing propaganda disguised as news? Please share this blog [Fearfactsexposed], join us on Facebook , and tell your friends to boycott everything that this National Party spin corporation publish. Only a strong public backlash will make Fairfax Media take notice, so let’s bloody have one!
Reprinted from the blog, Fearfactsexposed, with kind permission.
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- End of the Week Bouquets, Brickbats, & Epic Fails -
TV3′s current affairs “chat” show, “Think Tank” is hosted by John Tamihere, on Sunday mornings. This half hour programme discusses critical issues confronting our nation, but in a low-key, constructive manner. There are no flashy graphics; no distracting backgrounds; and the guests are encouraged to offer their views without being talked over by other guests or the host.
The only slight criticism? that this excellent show is “ghettoised” on Sunday mornings (alongside TVs’s “The Nation” and TVNZ’s “Q+A”).
It would be a radical moment in our media history if “Think Tank” (as well as “Q+A” and “The Nation”) were re-scheduled for prime-time evening viewing. The public might actually be exposed to intelligent viewing for a change.
Shayne Currie (Editor, New Zealand Herald)
Who tweeted (@ShayneCurrieNZH), ‘We wouldn’t want to be populist now would we Mr Key‘, after Dear Leader whinged on Newstalk ZB that “the media are in a more aggressive and hostile mood towards us” . Key singled out the Sunday Star Times and NZ Herald for special criticism.
Nice one, Shayne. Sometimes it takes a gentle reminder for politicians to understand that the Herald is not Pravda, nor is Sunday Star Times New Zealand’s own Izveztia.
Locked out by their employers, the Talley Brothers – millionaire businessmen – who are hell-bent on driving down staff’s wages and destroying the Meatworkers Union.
The AFFCO meatworkers are ordinary New Zealanders – they could be any one of us – who have been harrassed and persecuted by the Talleys.
In a display of sheer courage that our ANZAC forebears would be proud of, the workers have faced up to the bullies who are their employers.
These brave men and women should be hailed as true Kiwi battlers.
An incoming Labour-led government should not forget the AFFCO workers when they next review employment legislation.
Paula Bennett (National MP
For planning to force welfare recipients to immunise their children for no other reason than they are receiving welfare assistance from the State. This has to be the worst case of State coercion since military conscription.
If National wants everyone immunised, by law, then make it compulsory for everyone. Yeah, right! There would be rioting in the streets, and this rotten government would fall within a week.
But it’s fairly obvious that Key, Bennett, and their misguided mates are exploiting the vulnerability of New Zealanders who happen to be on welfare, for their own political ends.
This country’s economy is in dire straits; we are stagnating; unemployment is on the up; and kids are starving and going through pig-slop buckets to get a feed. Plus on top of that numerous scandals and dodgy deals, and National is desperate to focus public attention elsewhere.
In the 1930s, the nazi government used gypsies and jews as scapegoats. We can’t use jews – Israel would kick Key’s sorry arse to the curb. And we don’t have gypsies.
But we do have welfare beneficiaries, and the public doesn’t mind if they’re ‘bashed’ around a bit.They are the 1930s “jews” of our society.
This is shameful. For a New Zealand government to demonise a sector of the population in such a cynical manner is unforgivable.
Pita Sharples (Maori Party)
For citing that there had been a number of gains for Maori the upcoming budget, such as “funding for treatment of cancer, funding for tackling rheumatic fever…”
Yes, Mr Sharples – but at the expense of raising prescription charges from $3 to $5, which will hurt welfare beneficiaries, superannuitants, and low income earners the hardest. Many of whom already have to make hard choices whether to pay the rent and electricity bill, or cut back on food, medicines, etc.
Many of those low-income earners are the Maori Party’s constituents.
By any definition, that is not a “gain”, Mr Sharples. This is robbing Pita to pay Paul.
For not distancing itself from racist bigot, Louis Crimp, and returning his $125,520 donation. Is ACT so desperate for funds that it willingly accepts money from a person who believes,
“I don’t give a stuff what I’m called. You have to look at the facts and figures. This is the problem with New Zealanders. Most of them dislike the Maoris intensely – I won’t say hate – but they don’t like to say so.”
At what point does a Party draw a line and refuse to accept financial support because the donor is just so repugnant?
Act’s president, Chris Simmons, said he disagreed with Mr Crimp but respected his right to have a view,
“One of the beauties of the Act Party is we believe everyone should have their say.”
That may be, Mr Simmons. But by accepting a racist’s money, you are giving tacit approval to their abhorrent prejudice.
It’s called tarred by association.
Think about it.
And for the final category, the Epic Fail of the Week,
Businessman and bigot. Unfortunately, he may not be alone is holding such racist views.
We have a long way to go, in this country.
= fs =
In the last week, John Key has shown tell-tale signs that he’s losing it. At the very least, he appears to be somewhat frazzled and it is this blogger’s contention that the pressure and stress from the last few months are beginning to take their toll on Dear Leader.
More importantly, there is a definite chill in the air. The media and the public are not quite as adoring as they were during National’s previous term in office.
How else to explain this incident, a week ago on 10 May, when Key was doing one of his repetitious Smile & Wave photo-ops at the Holy Family School in Porirua East,
Two things jump out at the reader straight away,
- Look at the expression on Key’s face. Unless the camera caught him at an awkward moment, his face appears to be expressing a feeling of… disdain? Discomfort? As if he didn’t really want to be there?
- When the Prime Minister asks a group of children if they have dreamed of being the Prime Minister – and then retorts with, “Frankly, the way it’s going at the moment you can have the job” - that is a man who is not in a Good Place.
Aside from indicating that something is obviously ‘bugging’ Dear Leader, that comment was utterly inappropriate. You don’t ‘shoot down‘ children’s bright-eyed, youthful enthusiasm with such a cynical come-back. If John Key has a problem with his job, he needs to address it – not take his stress out on a bunch of kids, who, judging by the image above, were excited to see him.
His comment, a day earlier, on a radio show, seemed to further illustrate his growing frustration. When he was questioned about the Sky City piokies-for-concention-centre deal, his annoyance was obvious,
“ I’m out there trying to promote a convention centre which we don’t put any money in and all I get is grief. OK? That’s what I get is grief. “
Wow! Talk about ‘wired‘. To quote our American cuzzies, “Dude! You need to chill!”
One further thing that comment reveals is that John Key doesn’t seem to get it. He doesn’t seem to comprehend community concerns with problem gambling and the fact that pokie machines are heavily implicated as the worst possible form of gambling. They certainly appear to be the most profitable, despite declining numbers.
For good reason. Problem gamblem affects not just one individual, it can tear apart families and impact severely on businesses where gamblers may be working. Company embezzlment is often motivated by the culprits’ addiction and uncontrolled access to gambling machines.
People have lost their family home due to a gambling addict in their midst.
That is why Key is “getting grief”.
And he should expect more of the same.
That was followed, five days later by an extraordinary ‘whinge’ on NewstalkZB, with rightwing radio talkback host, Leighton Smith. When Smith questioned Key on the media’s increased willingness to be more critical when scrutinising National, Key tore into the media,
” The second point is that… what is true, is the media are in a more aggressive and hostile mood towards us…
… despite contrary to their opinions, I’m not that bent out of shape about that. “
Strangely, he then ‘channelled’ Helen Clark, and referred to a comment she made to him about her term as Prime Minister. As if Key was trying to use Clark’s standing as some kind of attempt to legitimise or justify his own performance.
” Helen Clark came up to me at the swearing in of the Government in 2011 and said to me, ‘I remember what it was like, the first term was sort of okay, the second term was disastrous and the third term was diabolical.”
He also referred specifically to the NZ Herald and Sunday Star Times, saying,
“ The Herald has turned more tabloid – that is an absolute statement of fact. It was trying to lift circulation, especially casual sales at dairies, and had brought over David Fisher (from the Herald on Sunday) as “an investigative journalist, so-called“. “
By that afternoon, Key resorted to form and denied he had ever made those critical comments. When questioned by journalists, who referred to his remarks naming the Herald and Sunday Star Times, Key grinned his usual vacuous grin and responded,
“… Don’t think I did. (Journalist interjecting; “Yeah, you did“) Not specifically. Just said their headlines were wrong…”
Key said a damned sight more than just “their headlines were wrong“!
Snapped, Dear Leader. That was an outright lie.
See: Key bemoans ‘hostile’ media (video)
See: Key bemoans ‘hostile’ media (report)
The pressure is now on John Key and National. They sleep-walked through their first three years in office, despite unemployment rising; growing debt that would’ve made Muldoon blush; a stagnating economy; and thousands more Kiwis voting with their feet and leaving the country.
As this Facebook User described the event,
” Not content with having New Zealand’s so-called journalists follow him around like lost puppies eager to lick up whatever verbal vomit he puked their way during his first term, our venerable leader expressed his exasperation that some of the pups have grown into wolves and now seem intent on going for his jugular.
Well i say good job- it’s about time the media in this country got real where Key is concerned and started to ask some serious questions about his background, his motives and his real agenda for this country and whether that agenda is going to be to the great detriment of the vast majority of New Zealanders.
Did Mr Key think he could just carry on running the country as though policy, legislation and inter-party deals were just another series of currency trades?
Perhaps he thinks the media should just stand idly by and provide tacit approval for his backroom deals with big business donors and cronies- because for a while there they did- without question. Maybe the increasingly wonky John Key thought we’d all just turn a blind eye to his massive hypocrisy over the John Banks donation scandal and his inability to comprehend the ethical considerations raised by Banks actions and their incompatibility with his position as a Cabinet Minister. Not to mention the morally bankrupt deal that gifted the unpopular Banks the Epsom seat in the first place. “ - Newstalkzb is a Right-wing Propaganda Machine
Now, in their second term, the public are expecting a heckuva lot more than bashing solo-mothers and raising charges on prescription medicines. “Reforming” welfare is not going to create any meaningful new jobs (does 150 extra staff for WINZ really count?).
Especially when Paula Bennett herself admitted on 29 April, on TVNZ’s Q+A,
“ No. There’s not a job for everyone that would want one right now, or else we wouldn’t have the unemployment figures that we do. “
Not enough jobs for everyone. But plenty of money to throw around on welfare “reforms”, hiring more WINZ staff, and giving solo-mothers free contraception (which seems a bit of a case of slamming the barn door shut after the baby has bolted…).
Here’s a thought – job creation!! Damn, I bet no one in National has come up with this bold new idea! (Holy Common Sense, Batman, I’m a fricken genius!)
If John Key is stressed now, six months into his second term, he has no idea what’s in store for him. As a Green co-leader said, Key needs to toughen up. Whinging to rightwing talkback hosts and venting at schoolkids is not a meaningful response to the critical problems faced by this country.
If John Key has a problem with understanding this – call a snap election, and be done with it. Let the people decide his fate.
Who knows – he might not have to worry about being PM any longer.
He might even get a decent nights’ sleep.
Fearfactsexposed: Key attacks media for doing its job
Kiwipolitico: Whining John
= fs =
In another of her mouthpiece columns for the official Party Line, NZ Herald columnist (and National Party fan), Fran O’Sullivan wrote a glowing report on how jolly well John Key was doing,
“ Finally, the PM is putting a stamp on his Government as he lifts its tempo and gets some serious purchase on major issues.
So far Key is making reasonable headway as he stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Cabinet ministers while they unveil pre-Budget announcements on hot issues, such as Paula Bennett’s on welfare reform. “
However, two comments stood out in Ms O’Sullivan’s cheerleading piece. One raised this blogger’s hackles – the other seemed totally at variance with reality.
The hackle-raising bit;
“ What is on the TPP table from the US perspective is a “gold standard 21st century deal” which is more focused on complex economic integration issues which impact on national sovereignty.
There will be much more water under the TPP bridge before a deal is cemented. And Key will have to deploy considerable salesmanship to make those tradeoffs (if the deal is done) palatable to New Zealanders. “
“Palatable to New Zealanders” ?!?!
What – pray tell – is Ms O’Sullivan referring to? What inside-info is she privy to, that us lesser mortals are not aware of?
One thing that we do know is that John Key has absolutely no hesitation in doing back-room deals which he may believe “benefits the country” – but in the long-term would create a social/economic mess for a future government to deal with.
Let’s be clear: Key is a creature of the financial world where quick, short-term gains are the order of the day – and devil take the hindmost. And never mind the consequences.
That is how the global financial crisis came about; very shrewd, clever, highly educated men and women – doing dumb, irresponsible things.
The question that begs to be asked – and answered – what “unpalatable” things is Key contemplating? What the hell is he up to???
And what will it cost us?
Next – the bit that seems “at variance with reality”,
“ But Key has more than held his own on television programmes such as Campbell Live or on Radio NZ’s Morning Report against critical news presenters trying to expose chinks in his political spin. “
Now, this blogger might be wrong, but when, precisely, did John Key last front to be interviewed or answer questions on Radio NZ? Not just ‘Morning Report’ – but any part of Radio NZ?
Every time Key has been invited to speak on Radio NZ (aside from last year’s election campaign), he has refused point blank.
If Ms O’Sullivan is aware of something that this blogger has missed, then so be it. We would stand corrected.
In the meantime, the perception is that Dear Leader is “gun shy” of Radio NZ. His Smile & Wave persona doesn’t work quite so well on radio – especially when the interviewer is a professional. Not a right wing lackey and mouthpiece, such as Leighton Smith on NewstalkZB.
Perhaps Key is aware that not only is his media “honeymoon” well and truly over – but divorce proceedings have begun.
= fs =
- 17 May 2012 -
- Phoebe Fletcher & Phil Twyford -
Issue 1: John Key attacks the media and then says he didn’t attack the media, legitimate concerns about the fourth estate or the need to get prescription cost increases, union bashing and Teacher basing out of the headlines?
Issue 2: Paula Bennett has announced a new board of business people to evaluate welfare reforms. What do we pay Paula for and why are they only business people?
Issue 3: Did the revelations in the Sunday Star Times last weekend of how involved John Key was with the ‘financial services hub’ idea concern anyone else?
Citizen A broadcasts 7pm Thursday Triangle TV
Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)
= fs =
It seems that practically any criticism of our Dear Leader, these days, elicits a critical response from certain quarters. Robyn Malcolm’s remarks at the opening of the Greens’ campaign have been described by the NZ Herald, as “vitriolic”,
The NZ Herald article carries on with similar comments,
“But fronting the campaign opening in Wellington, Malcolm savaged Mr Key’s performance.” – Ibid
Robyn Malcolm’s comments consisted of the following,
“”We have a leader who seems to be more interested in talking about his cats on the radio, being seen at the rugby and getting on the cover of the Woman’s Weekly. I thought that was my job…”
“We ended up voting in a Government who’ve revealed their total lack of interest in leading us into the 21st century with any innovation, courage, or social integrity, despite what a nice guy he [Mr Key] seems to be…”
“An unshakeable and abiding love of fossil fuels … and an inability to follow through on promises of any kind, but will make anything up for a Hollywood mogul should they happen to come down this way…” ” – Ibid
Ms Malcolm’s comments are critical, certainly. Hard-hitting, probably.
But “vitriolic“? And “savaging“?
These are subjective interpretations – opinion – not impartial reporting. To some people, Ms Malcolm’s remarks would be harsh. To others, they would be fair comment. The determination of how we, the public, might feel about her statements should be left up to us to determine – not prompted by a media report.
Gordon McLauchlan, on Jim Mora’s Radio NZ afternoon panel, made precisely the same pertinent observations and criticised the Herald’s slanted reporting of this event.
One wonders how it came to pass in this country, that an ordinary citizen can be vilified in such a manner by the press, for daring to criticise our elected representatives. This sort of thing was more common in my parents’ country-of-birth, prior to the collapse of the Soviet empire.
As an aside; I heard most of Ms Malcolm’s speech on the radio. I was driving at the time, so wasn’t paying much attention. What I can recall is that she was certainly critical of John Key and his love-affair with photo-opportunities – but certainly did not sound anywhere near “vitiriolic”. Quite the opposite, I considered her words and tone to be quite measured and reasonable.
If anyone has been “savaged” – it is Robyn Malcolm by the unreasonable editorialising in the Herald’s article. The tone and wording of that article is truly, vitriolic.
What is just as bad, is the outrageous hypocrisy shown by Auckland City Councillor, Cameron Brewer, who joined in the hysterical condemnation of Ms Malcolm. Brewer was reported in the same newspaper (NZ Herald) as saying,
“Given Robyn Malcolm is clearly so anti the Government and the Prime Minister, she is far too partisan to front this all-important public consultation and plan . Her personal politics will really colour this council and the plan itself. It is just not appropriate in local government to employ someone whose politics are so pointed to be fronting a public consultation campaign.” Source
Brewer has demanded that Ms Malcolm be replaced because of her perceived partisanship, saying,
“The mayor now needs to urgently reconsider whether she is the best ambassador to launch the plan.” – Ibid
Is this the same Cameron Brewer who recently considered seeking the candidacy for the National Party in the Tamaki electorate?
Why yes, I believe it is.
So, let’s be quite clear about what Cameron Brewer is saying;
- Voicing comments that are anti-government and critical of John Key makes it “inappropriate” for Robyn Malcolm to be connected with an Auckland City Council project because she could be seen as “partisan”, is not acceptable.
- Supporting the current government and intending to stand as one of their candidates, whilst being a member of the same Auckland City Council, is not partisan and is acceptable.
My parents came from an Eastern European country that, prior to 1989, had been ruled by the local Communist Party. The power and influence of the Party reached into all areas of public life.
For example, if, as a teenager, you wanted to go to University then you had to be a member of the youth wing of the Party, the “Young Communists”. If you wanted a good job, you had to be a full member, in good standing, of the Communist Party.
I think we know where I’m coming from on this issue.
In essence, for Brewer to accept Robyn Malcolm as the representative of Auckland’s Waste Management and Minimisation Plan, she must be a card-carrying, Key-cuddling, member of the National Party.
Thank you, Comrade Brewer, for showing us how little you value political diversity of opinion.
Will you be following up with a One-Party state and Gulag prisons for dissidents such as Ms Malcolm?
And me next, I suppose?
A new poll out today in the NZ Herald should have National’s strategists very worried. Instead of the unfeasibly high 50%+ results that others polls have been showing – this Herald “Mood of the Nation” poll appears to mirror a recent Horizon Poll.
NZ Herald “Mood of the Nation“
- 9 November 2011
- 20 October 2011
2008 General Election Results
- 8 November 2008
In both polls, the gap between National and Labour is between 11.1% (NZ Herald) and 12% (Horizon). The Greens would fill that gap nicely, becoming essential to form a coalition.
Wild cards: the Maori Party and Mana Party.
Not likely to retain seats in Parliament: ACT and Peter Dunne.
+++ Updates +++
Government Minister to political dissenters: “Pull your Head in!”
The government has ordered Auckland University to cease political protest action. Government minister, Steven Joyce yesterday decreed that “my general advice to NZUSA (NZ Union of Students’ Associations) on the cost of living for students is to keep your heads down”.
As usual, the full force of the State was brought in to “control” the situation,
Joyce further added, “I think most New Zealanders think students are reasonably well looked after at this point in time”.
“Mr Joyce said university students had 75 per cent of the tuition subsidised on average and benefited from interest-free student loans.” Source
This is true: university students currently have much of their tuition fees subsidised by the State. And their student loans are interest free.
However, the Minister for Tertiary Education forgot to reveal to the NZ Herald that he recieved a free tertiary education. No student fees. No student debt. It was all paid for by the tax-payer.
So, it seems rather curious that Mr Joyce, who benefitted from a free, tax-payer funded, tertiary education, with no debt incurred from his tuition – can order fee-paying students to cease all political dissent.
Another case of a Baby Boomer telling Gen X to “do as I say, not as I do”?
Source for information
- Steven Joyce, born: 1963.
- After completing a zoology degree at Massey University, Steven started his first radio station, Energy FM, in his home town of New Plymouth, at age 21 (1984).
- Student Loan system is started: 1992.
How to be a sloppy journalist…
NZ Herald journalist Derek Cheng writes about National’s planned “welfare reforms” on 14 August. Mr Cheng writes,
“The Government will limit how 16 and 17-year-old beneficiaries and 18-year-old teen parents can spend the state’s money to ensure they are not buying items such as alcohol or cigarettes…”
Mr Cheng continues in the same vein, a little later on,
“* money for basic living costs like food and groceries will be loaded onto a payment card that can only be used to buy certain goods and cannot be used to buy things like alcohol and cigarettes…”
That’s all very well and good… but it’s already illegal for 16 and 17 year olds to purchase alcohol and tobacco products.
Why has Mr Cheng not pointed this out in his article?
National’s policy release has been barely challenged by the mainstream media (MSS) and sounds as if 16 and 17 year olds are freely purchasing tobacco and liquor in this country. They may well be. But it is not dependent on whether or not under 18s are beneficiaries.
In fact, it could be argued that 16 and 17 year olds on a Living Alone Allowance are less likely to be able to afford expensive cigarettes and booze.
The Independent Youth Benefit rate (as at 1 April 2011) is $167.83 per week – NETT.
That’s right folks, that’s what this is all about: $167.83 a week. Out of that, a young person living independently has to pay board, food, clothing, transport, power, phone, and other outgoings.
That doesn’t leave much for boozing and fagging much, does it?
Yet, Mr Cheng ignores all this and simply parrots National Party policy, without any critical analysis whatsoever.
This is simply unacceptable. It brings to mind government-owned newspapers such as “Pravda” and “Izveztia” from the now-defunct Soviet Union. These newspapers were nothing more than mouthpieces for the Soviet Communist Party. they had as much to do with critical, investigative reporting – as Vegans have to raising cattle and lamb for supermarkets.
Perhaps the Herald should re-brand as “The New Zealand Government Herald“? Or simply, “The State Mouthpiece“?
Because that is what it seems to be evolving into.
As usual, the three Golden Rules to apply to the MSS are,
- Don’t believe everything you read, see, and hear.
- What am I not being told?
- Will it sell advertising?