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Time to speak up for Metiria Turei! (Part Rua)

11 August 2017 1 comment

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: The Wellingtonian <editor@thewellingtonian.co.nz>
date: 5 August 2017
subject: Letters to the editor

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The Editor
The Wellingtonian

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It astounds me that several reactionary media “personalities” have demanded Green Party co-leader, Metiria Turei, to resign from Parliament because she was forced to lie to social welfare so her benefit would not be cut.

In 2009 then Deputy Prime Minister, Bill English was caught claiming a ministerial housing allowance for a Wellington property he already owned through a family trust. After public anger mounted, he was eventually forced to repay $32,000 to the taxpayer. (“Bill English buckles over housing allowance”, Dominion Post)

This despite his ministerial salary of $276,200 per year – plus perks, gold-plated super scheme, and free/subsidised air travel after he retires from Parliament. (“Key backs $900-a-week subsidy for English home”, NZ Herald)

Meanwhile, Metiria Turei, a 23 year old solo-mum, struggled to make ends meet and put food on the table. All this during Ruth Richardson’s infamous benefit cuts. Thousands of families were forced deeper into poverty, and the effects are still with us today with rising homelessness.

Despite this, the Establishment Media led by Duncan Garner, Mike Hosking, and Patrick Gower mount a nasty vendetta against her?

Their actions illustrate precisely why Ms Turei voluntarily disclosed misleading social welfare in the mid-1990s; the stench of double standards is stomach turning.

-Frank Macskasy

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Sunday Star Times <letters@star-times.co.nz>
date: 5 August 2017
subject: Letters to the editor

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The Editor
Sunday Star Times

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Several media “personalities” are demanding that Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei resign from Parliament because she happened to register and vote in an electorate she did not usually live in?

How many thousands of New Zealanders live overseas and still vote in the last electorate they were registered in, prior to emigrating?

In 2005, then Opposition-leader, John Key, was guilty of the same “crime” Ms Turei is now accused of, as the media reported;

“National Party rising star John Key won’t be able to vote in the Helensville electorate he represents in the election this year… The former banker, who owns six New Zealand homes, said he made the change to clear up potential misunderstanding. Mr Key and his wife, Bronagh, are listed in electoral rolls for 2002, 2003, and 2004 as “residing” at a Waimauku address in the Helensville electorate, but have never lived there.” ( “National MP’s home away from home”, NZ Herald)

The matter of “multiple residences” did not stop Key from becoming Prime Minister three years later, and later knighted.

But if a poor, young, brown woman does the same thing, the Establishment Media goes crazy?

The Electoral Act 1993 is clear:

“A person resides at the place where that person chooses to make his or her home by reason of family or personal relations, or for other domestic or personal reasons.”

It is time for the media hysteria to stop and focus on the real critical problems confronting us as a nation. Enough fake news!

-Frank Macskasy

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: NZ Herald <letters@herald.co.nz>
date: 5 August 2017
subject: Letters to the editor

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The editor
NZ Herald

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Metiria Turei’s honest disclosure of her interaction with WINZ in the 1990s may have caused an unintended consequence.

In being upfront and honest about her indiscretions with WINZ, she has sparked a storm of hysteria from reactionary “media personalities”, right wing politicians, conservative commentators, and those who gleefully sit in judgement of others.

As a consequence, she has become a warning to other politicians that truthfulness, openness, and candor will not be rewarded.

Every other politicians will look at the witch hunt pursuing Ms Turei and double-down on keeping secret their secrets.

Politicians will become even more risk-averse to telling the truth.

The next time a politician is challenged to be more open, the fate of Ms Turei will cross their mind and serve as a grim warning; honesty is not well rewarded in politics. It is brutally punished.

So. Which politician would like to raise his/her hand to reveal some skeleton from their closet? Someone? Anyone?

-Frank Macskasy

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>
date: 4 August 2017
subject: Letter to the editor

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The Editor
Dominion Post

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National as been very quiet over Metiria Turei’s admissions of neglecting to tell WINZ that she had flatmates, so her DPB would not be cut. In the early 1990s, welfare had been savagely cut in Ruth Richardson’s notorious “Mother of all Budgets” to a level where starvation and homelessness loomed to rising numbers of unemployed.

By the end of 1991, nearly 200,000 Kiwis were out of work as free-market policies were thrust upon us.

Perhaps National does not want to draw attention to Deputy PM, Paula Bennett, who was also on welfare at the time? Questions have been raised over Ms Bennett’s activities at the time.

Some in media have been less reticent. Certain reactionary “media personalities” have attacked her mercilessly. No doubt these same (predominantly white, well-paid, middle-aged male) critics lived saintly lives when they were in their 20s? Of course they did.

She was 23 when she filed an incorrect address so she could vote for a friend in the McGillicudy Serious Party. The whole point of McGillicudy was to take the mickey out of politics.

When did some lose their tolerance for youthful silliness to such a degree that, decades later a pack would be baying for her blood?

-Frank Macskasy

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: North and South <north&south@bauermedia.co.nz>
date: 5 August 2017
subject: Letters to the editor

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The editor
North & South

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Recent disclosures by Green Party co-leader, Metiria Turei, that she was forced to lie to social welfare in the 1990s has provoked the usual outrage from the reactionary Establishment media. Media “personalities” Patrick Gower, Duncan Garner, and Mike Hosking – all affluent white men – are baying for her blood.

However, this is not about so-called welfare fraud. This is about one gutsy woman speaking out against a broken welfare system. Since Ruth Richardson’s disastrous benefit cuts in 1992, thousands of families became mired deeper in poverty; creating worsening homelessness; hungry and barefoot children going to school; and a rise of poverty-related disease.

It is in this environment of punishing the poor and those who lost their jobs during the ideological re-structuring of our economy, that has pushed many to lie or with-hold information to WINZ. It is a matter of sheer desperate survival.

Not that Messrs Garner, Hosking, and Gower would know anything of surviving poverty. Their homes are warm; their beds comfy; their bellies full. When Fairfax political journo, Tracy Watkins joined the media feeding-frenzy, accusing Ms Turei that she “failed the most basic political test – the hypocrisy one”, it was probably written after a nice meal, with a glass of ‘cheeky pinot’ (or was it a Brown Bros riesling?) on her work-desk at home. (“Mad, bad or bold? Metiria Turei’s big gamble”, Tracy Watkins, Fairfax)

No cold, damp homes or empty stomachs for these Media Establishment journos, thank you very much.

Meanwhile, Deputy PM, Paula Bennett, has been noticeably low-key on this issue.

Herself a former DPB beneficiary, Bennett made full use of social welfare to obtain a free University education through a Training Incentive Allowance (TIA), and a Housing NZ grant to buy her own home. (“Bennett knows about life on Struggle St”, Fran O’Sullivan, NZ Herald)

As Social Welfare Minister, one of her first acts in 2009 was to terminate the TIA. No other solo-mum or solo-dad would have the same chance she did.

There have been questions asked about Bennett’s activities whilst on the DPB. Those questions remain unanswered. Unlike Metiria Turei, the Ministry of Social Development appears to show no interest in our Deputy PM’s past.

While Bennett keeps her head down, her “attack dogs” in the Establishment media are ripping into her opponant, Ms Turei.

After all, how dare she speak out about the grim realities of living on welfare?

Such is Ms Turei’s real “crime”.

-Frank Macskasy

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[address and phone number supplied]

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References

Fairfax media:   Bill English buckles over housing allowance

NZ Herald:  National MP’s home away from home

Legislation:  Electoral Act 1993

NZ Herald: Key backs $900-a-week subsidy for English home  (alt ref: The Indian Weekender:  Know your leaders – Bill English and Paula Bennett)

Fairfax media:  Tracy Watkins – Mad, bad or bold? Metiria Turei’s big gamble

NZ Herald:  Fran O’Sullivan – Bennett knows about life on Struggle St

Additional

NZ Herald:  Political Roundup – The Consequences of Metiria Turei’s benefit confession

Previous related blogposts

Hon. Paula Bennett, Minister of Hypocrisy

Tips from Paula Bennett on how to be a Hypocrite

Some background info for Guyon Espiner

Time to speak up for Metiria Turei!

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“Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over

 

humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the

 

habits of the poor by the well-housed, well- warmed,  and well-fed.”

 

– Herman Melville, 1819 – 1891

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 6 August 2017.

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Journalist blocks TDB Blogger

8 August 2017 2 comments

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On 2 August, The Daily Blog’s administrator – Martyn Bradbury – published a story on Gerry Brownlee accusing Mediawork’s journalist Patrick Gower of being a “cheerleader for Labour”;

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If that message truly came from National minister Gerry Brownlee, I thought it was a ‘Trumpian’ example of childish stupidity. An intemperate ‘tweet’ from a naive, newly elected, fresh-faced member of Parliament could be excused on the basis of inexperience.

But a senior politician of  Brownlee’s record should know better. He has been in Parliament for two decades.

I sought out Gower’s Twitter account to make precisely that point.

When I access Patrick Gower’s twitter account – @patrickgowernz – this is what I found:

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A close up of the message informing that I had been ‘blocked’ by Mr Gower;

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I was a little surprised.

Three years ago I ran a series of blogposts on Gower’s own intemperate twitter posts and media comments on Laila Harré  and the electoral accommodation between the Mana Movement and the fledgling Internet Party;

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The three stories above were highly critical of  Gower’s attacks on the Mana-Internet alliance. In my view Gower’s on-going vendetta was a naked attempt to influence the 2014 election.

As I wrote in August of that year;

It seems obvious that Gower has a personal thing against Mana and Kim Dotcom.

His most recent utterances on 29 July made that perfectly clear, when he has again stated,

“And David Cunliffe has repeatedly and pointedly refused to rule out working with Internet-Mana to form a Government.”

At every opportunity, Gower has repeatedly demanded Cunliffe rule out working with Mana-Internet.

Why?

When a journalist demands that a political party make a definitive policy statement to rule out a potential coalition partner is not reporting the news – it is a naked attempt to influence it.

It is one thing to ask a party leader who they will/won’t deal with, post-election. That is a perfectly legitimate question to ask.

But to pressure a party leader to rule out a potential coalition partner?

Gower has stepped beyond the bounds of what is acceptable journalism. It is not his job to dictate to any party leader who they should/shouldn’t coalesce with. His job is simply to report their decisions.

The rest is up to us, the people to evaluate that information.

Pull your head in, Paddy.

I was unaware up until 2 August that Gower had – at some point – blocked my access to his Twitter account.

Think about that for a moment. A journalist’s job is to present information to the public. It is their paid role; their raison d’être.

I can understand if Gower declines to allow me to post comments on his page. It’s his Twitter account; he sets the rules (within Twitter’s own Terms and Conditions). I have no argument with that.

But his action to block a person from even reading what he has written strikes me as totally contrary to what a journalist should be. Journalists should never decide who can  and can’t read their material. (Which raises an interesting side-issue on pay-walled journalism.)

Gower’s action poses some interesting questions;

Who else has Gower blocked?

How on Earth can a seasoned journalist feel so threatened by a blogger that probably 99.99% of the population does not read?

What will Gower’s employers do if they expect him to interview me on a breaking story that I may be privy to – and I decline?

Is this professional behaviour from a seasoned journalist?

And how will Gower react if a public figure blocks him from their Twitter or Facebook account?

Gower’s blocking of me suggests that he has taken my criticisms badly. Which is ironic, considering the harsh criticism that Gower has dished out to Hone Harawira, Kim Dotcom, Laila Harré, et al.

Not a good look, Mr Gower.

Heat. Kitchen. Door.

 

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References

Wikipedia: Gerry Brownlee

Twitter: Patrick Gower

TV3: Opinion – Dotcom does Key a Winston favour

Other Bloggers

The Daily Blog: Martyn Bradbury –  Twitter Watch – Witness Gerry Brownlee’s petty & dangerously paranoid attack on Patrick Gower

Previous related blogposts

Patrick Gower – losing his rag and the plot

Waiting for Gower’s Twittering of indignation

How biased is the media? A Patrick Gower case study

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 3 August 2017.

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Some background info for Guyon Espiner

1 August 2017 5 comments

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On Radio NZ’s ‘Morning Report‘ on 26 July, Co-Host Guyon Espiner interviewed Green Party co-leader, Metiria Turei on why she didn’t find a job to support herself at University and pay for the care of her baby. He was critical in her activities in the McGillicudy Serious Party and the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party instead of seeking some sort of part-time employment.

The reason why any job seeking by Ms Turei during the early/mid 1990s would have been futile is common knowledge to those who remember the ‘Mother of All Budgets’ by then Finance Minister, Ruth Richardson;

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Prime Minister Jim Bolger and Finance Minister Ruth Richardson make their way to the House of Representatives for the presentation of the 1991 budget. Richardson was from the radical wing of the National Party, which promoted individual liberty and small government. This was reflected in the budget, which severely cut government spending, including on welfare. Richardson proudly proclaimed her plan as the ‘mother of all budgets’, but such was its unpopularity among voters that it – along with high levels of unemployment – nearly cost National the next election.

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Unemployment at that time reached levels not seen since the Great Depression of the 1920s/30s;

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Unemployment Rate

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Unemployed Number of People

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Nearly 200,000 people were out of work at the time.

There simply was no  work for thousands of New Zealanders who had lost their jobs.

In April this year, a well known journalist wrote this analysis of Jim Bolger and the extreme neo-liberal “reforms” of the early 1990s;

Bolger says neoliberal economic policies have absolutely failed. It’s not uncommon to hear that now; even the IMF says so. But to hear it from a former National prime minister who pursued privatisation, labour market deregulation, welfare cuts and tax reductions – well, that’s pretty interesting.

“They have failed to produce economic growth and what growth there has been has gone to the few at the top,” Bolger says, not of his own policies specifically but of neoliberalism the world over. He laments the levels of inequality and concludes “that model needs to change”.

But hang on. Didn’t he, along with finance minister Ruth Richardson, embark on that model, or at least enthusiastically pick up from where Roger Douglas and the fourth Labour government left off?

Bolger doesn’t have a problem calling those policies neoliberal although he prefers to call them “pragmatic” decisions to respond to the circumstances. It sets us up for the ride we go on with Bolger through the 1990s, a time of radical social and economic change.

Judge for yourself whether or not they were the right policies but do it armed with the context. Bolger describes his 17-hour honeymoon after becoming PM in 1990. He recalls ashen faced officials telling him before he was even sworn in that the BNZ was going bust and if that happened nearly “half of New Zealand’s companies would have collapsed”.

The fiscal crisis sparked the Mother of All Budgets and deep cuts to the welfare state. Some believe this was the start of the entrenched poverty we agonise about to this day.

That author was Guyon Espiner, co-host of Radio NZ’s ‘Morning Report’.

Either Espiner has forgotten the lessons of history, grimly recounted to him by former Prime Minister Jim Bolger – or he wilfully chose to ignore the dire circumstances that Metiria Turei, and thousands of other New Zealanders, found themselves in at the time.

Neither is an edifying prospect for a supposedly professional journalist with a wealth of knowledge to tap into. He should have known that he was demanding the near-impossible from Ms Turei.

The interview was one of a series throughout mainstream media where the scent of blood has been picked up by the journalist-pack, and they are in full flight of their quarry.

The circumstances of why she was forced to lie to WINZ is almost incidental.

The fact that she did lie to WINZ is of secondary importance to the Right; the mainstream media; and to the Establishment.

The real reason she is being pursued and vilified is because she dared to speak out. While the Establishment will tolerate benefit fraud – and occassionally make sport of anyone discovered doing it – they will not tolerate anyone from the lower classes stepping forward to tell their story.

Ms Turei’s grievous crime is not the money she took. It is her subversion.

That is the real threat to the Establishment.

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#iammetiria

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References

Radio NZ:  Greens say household income report is damning

Te Ara – The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand:  The ‘mother of all budgets’

Trading Economics: Unemployment Rate

Trading Economics: Unemployed Number of People

The Spinoff:  Neoliberalism has ‘failed’ and the ‘model needs to change’

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 27 July 2017.

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TV3’s The Project – A Babyboomer lowers the boom

2 April 2017 2 comments

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“TV3 have attempted to make current affairs for people who listen to the Edge, the problem is that generation doesn’t watch TV. So TV3 have alienated Gen X and Boomers who want actual current affairs at 7pm to gain a generational audience who don’t bother with the platform TV3 are using.” Martyn Bradbury, 26 March 2017

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I don’t often comment on other bloggers who have contributed a piece for The Daily Blog. Ninety percent of the time, my ideals, values, and beliefs are  muchly similar to those expressed by others on this forum.

Martyn Bradbury’s piece on   “The Project meltdown raised a point that has been on my mind since I saw the very first ‘Project’ billboard in Kilbirnie, Wellington. Waiting patiently at the lights, my gaze wandered over to the billboard on my hard right (metaphor?);

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The Billboard was situated just above clothing bins where unwanted stuff is dumped by people. (Irony?)

At first, I was stumped. I couldn’t work out what ‘The Project’ or the logo, ‘+HR=E’ was supposed to signify. My first impressions were that it was promoting a new New Zealand comedy movie. Or a novel, upmarket chain of childcare centres was entering the country. ‘+HR=E’ would be a pretty nifty corporate logo for the latter. ‘+HR=E’. Three year olds. Geddit?

A few moments later, as the lights were still red,  I noticed the blurb “News delivered differently” and “Weeknights 7pm”, and then it dawned on me. It was Mediawork’s latest effort to wrest primacy of the 7pm timeslot from ‘Seven Sharp’ and ‘Shortland Street’.

The lights turned green, meaning my *facepalm* moment had gone and I kept both hands gripping the wheel as I mercifully left the scene of the Braindead Zone I had stopped in.

My thoughts turned to another image I remembered from Google Images;

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Oh, how times change.

From sombre anchormen (and they were all men during Phillip Sherry’s time at the NZBC), to… muppets.  Yes, really, muppets. ‘The Project’ has muppets on its set. Here’s the evidence, from an episode on 4 March 2017;

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Let’s play a game, children… see who can spot The Muppet.

Take…

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Your…

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Time…

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No?

Can’t pick it?

Ok, it’s probably this one;

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(But I could be wrong.)

Now, I’m not suggesting for one micro-second that we return to the era when our NZBC was practically an off-shoot of the 1950s-version of the BBC.

But Mediaworks already had a well-recognised, well-respected ‘brand’ in the form of TV3’s ‘Campbell Live‘. It was solid journalism covering a wide range of stories, from the sombre and thought-provoking to the occassionally light and frothy.

Its in-depth coverage the  GCSB Bill, and the Ian Fletcher scandal  in 2013 and 2014 were perhaps one of only two serious media  analysis (the other being Radio NZ) of National’s widening of the surveillance state in this country;

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Campbell Live’s‘ on-going investigation of  post-earthquake events in Christchurch also raised new standards of journalism, as well as nationwide consciousness of events and on-going problems in that stricken city.

Indeed, John Campbell and his talented team at TV3 were so successful at raising public awareness on the GCSB issue that it provoked our former-Dear Leader Key to respond in his usual trivialising, shoulder-shrugging, *meh*-sort of way;

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Jessica Wright: “How do you think that Kiwis feel about the bill?

John Key: “I think they’re much more interested in snapper quota.”

Jessica Wright: “But I’m not talking about snapper quota, I’m talking about the GCSB Bill. How do you think that they feel about the GCSB Bill?”

John Key: “Yeah, I think they’re much more interested in snapper quota.”

Jessica Wright: “Why?”

John Key: “Because they like catching fish.”

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Despite ‘Campbell Liverise in ratings, it was insufficient to save the programme from it’s apparently pre-determined doom.  It was soon followed by the jaw-droppingly  inane New Zealand-version of  ‘Come Dine With Me‘;

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Rivetting stuff. Almost as engaging as watching grass grow.

By sheer coincidence the producer of ‘Come Dine With Me‘ was  none other than Mediawork’s Board Member, and unReality TV porn-purveyor, Julie Christie.

When Mediaworks axed ‘Campbell Live‘ in May 2015 – most likely at the behest of corporate head-kicker Mark Weldon, aided by his trustee henchwoman, Julie Christie – they opened a can of worms.

There were (unsubstantiated) rumours that Key had contacted Weldon, demanding that Campbell be gotten rid off.

The short-lived garbage  that was ‘Come Dine With Me‘ was considered unappetising by the viewing public, and was quickly canned after only two months. It was followed by Story’  in August 2015 but seemed not to engage viewers. The last chapter of ‘Story’ was broadcast in December 2016.

Now we have ‘The Project‘.

Firstly, I have no idea where Mediaworks execs get their ideas from or why they think that something as vacuous as this programme would appeal to the public.

As “Bomber” Bradbury succinctly put it;

“TV3 have attempted to make current affairs for people who listen to the Edge, the problem is that generation doesn’t watch TV. So TV3 have alienated Gen X and Boomers who want actual current affairs at 7pm to gain a generational audience who don’t bother with the platform TV3 are using.”

We ‘boomers  are the generation that grew up on serious investigative journalism. We are the who watched as Muldoon was taken down by a younger Simon Walker and John Campbell took on Helen Clark. We’ve enjoyed the stellar talents of committed professionals like  Lindsay Perigo, Louise Wallace, Brian Edwards, Maggie Barry, Bill Ralston, Kim Hill, Ian Fraser, Mihingarangi Forbes, Liam Jeory, Kathryn Ryan, Carol Hirschfeld, Paul Holmes, Anita McNaught, Cameron Bennett, Melanie Reid, Guyon Espiner, Genevieve Westcott, Mike McRoberts, Lisa Owen,  and so many, many more. 

Regardless of their politics, these were dedicated journalists who we could rely on to ask the questions that we ordinary Citizens were rarely in a position to do. They were persistent. They asked the hard questions which demanded answers and in doing so, challenged those in authority.

That is the purpose of journalism.

Not to look like this;

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I can’t speak for all Babyboomers (of which I am a member of that privileged demographic), but I want my current affairs and news more like BBC/Al Jazeera/Radio NZ/CNN/etc instead of this;

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I want to see this;

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And most certainly not this;

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Next, the number one rule in business is;

#1 The customer is always right

The second rule is;

#2 If in doubt, refer to Rule One

That rule may not always apply. If a customer requests cyanide in their latte, that request can be rightly declined (or not, depending on what is clearly stated on the menu board).

Aside from issues of life and death, public morality, and physical/biological impossibilities, the customer (in the form of the Viewing Public) is always right when it clearly expressed a desire to keep ‘Campbell Live‘ very much alive. So, how right was the  customer?

Viewers:

Campbell Live – 23 May 2015: 330,830

According to comparative ratings, approximately 186,830 customers were very much right. They “walked” from TV3, en masse. Consider me one of them.

Instead of telling us, the viewers what we want to watch, perhaps Mediaworks should have listened to us in the first place. Businesses that turn a deaf ear to their customers usually end up like this;

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If Mediaworks is attempting to cater to Babyboomers, then shite offerings such as ‘The Project‘ will not cut the mustard. It is a pale, immature, sickly parody of professional journalism. What else can you call something that is fronted by people whose day-jobs are comedians? (Though, to be fair, Jesse Mulligan and Josh Thompson are pretty damned good comedians. I’ve enjoyed watching their gigs on ‘7 Days‘.)

It is an insult to my intelligence.

It is an insult to the intelligence of every person who has grown up (or not) watching real journalism, covering real stories, in a real, professional manner.

To be blunt, Mediawork Execs, if you can’t cobble together credible meaningful journalism for your 7pm timeslot, just repeat F.R.I.E.N.D.S or M*A*S*H* or anything else with excessive punctuation marks in the title.

Or just show this;

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Add a bit of background elevator-music and you’re sorted.

Or, you could try something Different/Not Different. Hire a bunch of the most respected, experienced, capable journalists; resource them properly; and give them sufficient editorial-independence to do their jobs properly.

Guarantee them security from interference by the Mark Weldons and Julie Christies of the world.

Spend money on promoting the product. If Mediaworks can spend millions promoting ‘The Block‘, ‘The Batchelor‘, ‘The Project‘, and other programmes of dubious value – then it should be able to promote a serious, flagship current affairs programme.

Treat the viewing public with respect.

That is how a business succeeds.

It’s not that hard. Does it really have to be explained?

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References

Radio NZ: Labour calls for inquiry over GCSB appointment

Scoop media: The GCSB Bill – We at least have to try

Fairfax media: Come Dine with Me to replace Campbell Live

Fairfax media: John Campbell bows out of Campbell Live show

NZ Herald: Political roundup – Who killed Campbell Live?

Wikipedia: Story

NZ On Screen: Tonight – Robert Muldoon interview

NZ On Screen: 3 News – ‘Corngate’ interview with Helen Clark

Throng: TV Ratings – 22 May 2015

Fairfax media: MediaWorks boss – Project is here to stay and will win the ratings war

Other Bloggers

The Daily Blog: The Project meltdown – when Executives come out to support your 7pm Show, that’s when you know you are in trouble

The Standard: I want that left wing bastard gone

Previous related blogposts

The Curious World of the Main Stream Media

Producer of ‘The Nation’ hits back at “interference” allegations over ‘Campbell Live’

Campbell still Live, not gone

Friends, Kiwis, Countrymen! I come to praise John Campbell, not bury him

Mediawork’s Julie Christie at war with NZ on Air – Possible conflict of interest as first reported last year on TDB

Blogger threatened with lawsuit over questions of conflict-of-interest regarding Mediaworks

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 27 March 2017.

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Is Karl du Fresne happy now?

19 August 2016 1 comment

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In March 2013, former Dominion editor and right-wing columnist, Karl Du Fresne, spat an almighty dummy when he launched a diatribe of accusations of “bias” against Radio New Zealand;

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RNZ's bias needs to be tackled

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I responded shortly thereafter with my own interpretation of Du Fresne’s accusation, writing;

Du Fresne referred to RNZ as “left wing”. And then listed all those people whom he thinks are guilty of being “left”. People like,

Kim Hill

Chris Laidlaw

Jeremy Rose

Kathryn Ryan

Obviously, these people all need to be brought before Parliament’s House Committee for Un-New Zealand Activities. (Which, we don’t have – yet – but I’m sure one of Mr Du Fresne’s right wing colleagues such as Maggie Barry could easily organise one. More on Maggie Barry in a moment.) Then the H.C.U.N.Z.A.  can ensure that Hill, Laidlaw, Rose, and Ryan never work in this town again.

Du Fresne claimed;

“So what might the new RNZ chief executive do to enhance the organisation’s standing in a political climate that is less than favourable? One obvious step is to take a tougher line against the editorial bias that still permeates some RNZ programmes.

Public broadcasting organisations, by their very nature, tend to be Left-leaning.”

Left-leaning“?!

Du Fresne did not hold back in his trenchant criticism of the state broadcaster;

But publicly funded broadcasters have an obligation to make programmes that reflect the views and interests that I’m comfortable with – not just those the broadcasters happen to favour for the rest of New Zealand who are a bunch of leftie, pinko, mung-bean eating, hippies.”

I responded by listing the right-wing commentators who were regular or semi-regular guests and commentators on Radio NZ;

  • ex-National President, Michelle Boag;
  • National & ACT supporter and anti-MMP campaigner, Jordan Williams
  • rightwing blogger and National Party apparatchik,  David Farrar;
  • ex-ACT MP and Party President,  Rodney Hide;
  • ex-ACT and later, ex-National MP, Stephen Franks;
  • former speech-writer and press secretary for National and right-wing commentator, Matthew Hooten;
  • and former police officer and front-person for television’s “Police Ten 7″, Graham Bell (who holds right wing views on many issues).

Not forgetting also;

  • Richard Griffin, Radio NZ’s one-time political editor, who worked for National Party ex-Prime Minister Jim Bolger, as his  press secretary in the late 1990’s, and is on Radio NZ’s Board of Governors
  • Maggie Barry (who I referred to above), was the morning presenter on Radio NZ’s ‘Morning Report’  in 1986, and hosted  ‘Nine To Noon’ show in 1990. Later, in November 2011, Ms Barry stood as a political candidate in the general election, and won the seat of  North Shore. She stood as a National Party candidate.

On Wednesday 10 August, another guest featured on Radio NZ;

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The Panel with Jeremy Elwood and Karl du Fresne - radio nz

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Karl du Fresne – his name pointed out with a big, ‘pinko’ arrow.

So, is Radio NZ still biased?

Especially when the only person to be publicly banned from that broadcaster was left-wing commentator Martyn Bradbury;

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State Media Bans Dissident - frankly speaking - frank macskasy

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Not so self-righteous with indignant cries of “Bias!” now are we, Mr Du Fresne?

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References

Manawatu Standard: RNZ’s bias needs to be tackled

Radio NZ: Board of Governors

NBR: Maggie Barry selected as National’s North Shore candidate

Radio NZ: The Panel with Jeremy Elwood and Karl du Fresne

Additional

TV3: Blogger Bomber banned from RNZ for criticism of Key

Other Blogs

Tumeke: Banned from Radio NZ for criticizing the Government

Previous related blogposts

State Media Bans Dissident!

Karl Du Fresne has a public baby waa-waa cry-session

Karl Du Fresne has a public baby waa-waa cry-session – part rua

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RNZ's bias needs to be tackled - smells like bullsit

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 14 August 2016.

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= fs =

“Spinning” in a post-truth era

18 August 2016 3 comments

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ministry-of-truth-update

 

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Two recent media stories, on two utterly disparate issues, were clear examples of how tax-payer funded media “spin doctors” were guiding government ministers to respond to questions in a certain way.

Two interviews; two ministers; both on Radio New Zealand’s ‘Morning Report‘ – and both interviews left the audience none-the-wiser afterwards.

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“Guidelines”

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The first, on 5 August, featured Finance  and Social Housing Minister, Bill English, defending Housing NZ’s use of flawed testing regimes for methamphetamine-use in state housing.

On 20 June this year, Housing NZ admitted that the current testing for methamphetamine use (smoking)  was flawed;

“…The current standard guidelines were written to address meth ‘cooking’ and not use, meaning they are not entirely suitable for the contamination that occurs through use of meth.

The Ministry of Health guidelines were written a while ago. At that time it wasn’t perceived that consumption would be at the levels that it has reached. For this reason the guidelines do not cover all they need to.”

Drug Foundation executive director, Ross Bell, was scathing;

“I think they’re out of control…

[…]

I don’t know how they can justify that. Housing New Zealand has spent over $20 million in the last financial year doing these tests and these cleanups. Knowing that these are flawed the minister should step in and stop taxpayers’ money being wasted and vulnerable people being punished.”

Despite the testing regime  – which TVNZ’s  ‘Fair Go‘ programme used to “detect” methamphetamine on bank-notes – “not fit for purpose”, Housing NZ has continued to use the flawed guidelines to evict tenants;

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Expert questions meth contamination evictions

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Housing NZ Minister, Bill English, agreed that the testing for methamphetamine was flawed;

“They’re operating to a Ministry of Health guideline which I understand is internationally standard, but is regarded as not quite appropriate, particularly for dealing for use of P in houses…

[…]

Now, the test as I understand it, indicates the presence of any P at all which may be a very low health risk.”

The interesting aspect to Radio NZ’s Susie Ferguson’s interview with Minister English was not that he disagreed with the premise that the P testing regime  was flawed. He gave a straight answer to Ms Ferguson’s question;

Susie Ferguson: “Are these tests fit for purpose?”

Bill English: “Ah, no. And Housing NZ have said that.”

English then spent the next seven minutes defending the flawed testing regime.

In part of his interview, the “g”-word became glaringly  prominent;

“Housing New Zealand is in the position where there is currently a moh guideline, you can’t just wish that away – Housing New Zealand are not health experts.

Ministry of Health stand by the guideline, and the Ministry of Health are the statutory organisation that promulgates the guideline.

I think everyone involved with this is frustrated, I suppose except for the scientists that gave us the guideline in the first place.”

It is obvious what phrase English’s media spin-doctors told him to stay “on-message”.

He referred to “guidelines” no less than sixteen times within those seven minutes.

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“Technical matters”

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On 8 August, in an unrelated matter, our esteemed Dear Leader, John Key, was interviewed over  China’s threats to launch a trade war if New Zealand investigated cheap imports/dumping of sub-standard Chinese steel.

As Vernon Small described the situation on 4 August, in the Dominion Post;

Now let’s see if we’ve got this right.

In early June Chinese officials find a type of fungus (Neofabraea actinidiae) on board a bunch of kiwifruit heading into the country.

Nothing much happens.

Then in early July a message is passed, through back channels, to Zespri and Fonterra (and potentially other primary producers) that China is extremely peeved that a complaint has been laid about the potential dumping of cheap Chinese steel in our market.

A steel inquiry by regulators here could lead to the imposition of non-tariff barriers that could slow down our exports, the warning suggests. And, what’s more, China is angry that the complaint was even accepted for consideration by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

After some to-ing and fro-ing, China officially denies it draws a link between a potential steel-dumping inquiry and sales of our food products. The various New Zealand agencies and exporters chant in unison that it is an “unsubstantiated rumour” that such a link had been made.

Trade Minister Todd McClay at first tries to dismiss media reports as reflecting a single low-level source talking to Zespri. But he later back tracks and apologises to Prime Minister John Key and concedes the Zespri warning was not all. In fact, there had been “discussions and limited correspondence over the past few months as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has endeavoured to assess the veracity of these reports”. But in the end they were not verified.

[…]

On July 22, Zespri said it had experienced no problems. 

But on July 29, just a few weeks after the initial “warning” – and right in sync with that warning –  Chinese border agencies impose non-tariff barriers, involving a risk notification and strengthened inspection and quarantine processes, on our kiwifruit.

Zespri says their unwelcome fungal friend does not affect food safety and is not a pathogen. It exists in several countries, including New Zealand, Australia, Holland, the United States and Ecuador – and potentially China itself, the home of the chinese gooseberry to which the noble kiwifruit is whakapapa.

But in contrast with Zespri’s relatively sanguine view, the Chinese notice from the AQSIQ, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, describes Mr and Mrs Neofabraea actinidiae in very unflattering terms as a “rot pathogen” and a “major disease” that could infect other fruit such as apples and persimmons, thus inflicting “serious economic loss”.

It saying the fungus hails from New Zealand and Australia – the targets of Chinese suspicions that we are acting in league with Uncle Sam.

And through it all ministers and Zespri are ruling out any link to the “unsubstantiated” trade threat.  “China throws up these non-tariff barriers all the time” is the tenor of the message emanating from the Beehive. Nothing to see here.

(The full text of Vernon Small’s analysis is worth reading, and reminiscent of the sort of critical journalistic insights that we used to have in abundance in the Fourth Estate, and which could ultimately do great harm to an encumbent government’s reputation.)

On Radio NZ’s Morning Report, on 8 August, Guyon Espiner interviewed our esteemed Dear Leader on China’s blocking of our kiwifruit exports.

Key’s responses to Espiner’s questions were a tribute to the Prime Minister’s media spin-doctors. Throughout the entire four and a half minutes interview, Key stayed on-message, referring to the blocking of Zespri’s export as “a technical issue“.

The phrase “technical issue” was used three times.

Other answers given were verbose – but not very enlightening for the listener;

Espiner: “Did he [Todd McClay] tell the truth about that, though?

Key: “Yeah, he did, but he was-“

Espiner: “You said he was dancing on the head of a pin.”

Key: “He was very specific in the answer that he gave to a very specific question.”

Espiner: “He was misleading, wasn’t he?”

Key: “Well, I just think, in our business the problem is that even though often a journalist will ask me a direct and specific question, you really know they’re  asking a broader question. And it’s kind of tidier if you can at least give a, give them [a] more fulsome answer.”

So according to Key, if “a journalist will ask… a direct and specific question, you really know they’re  asking a broader question“?

This was quintessential Key silly-speak for “Yes, Todd McClay lied”.

The curious aspect to Key’s “spun” answers is that Guyon Espiner – a seasoned journalist of the calibre of Lisa Owen, Kim Hill, Simon Walker, et al – allowed Key to make his specious drivel unchallenged.

At the very least, Espiner should have challenged Key of his references to “technical matters” with the simple question,

“Prime Minister, is the phrase “technical matters” the on-message phrase you’ve been told to use?”

Key would have responded with a resounding “No, of course not!”.

But that would have blown that phrase out of the water from that point on in the interview. The carefully ‘spun’ message crafted by his spin-doctors would have been rendered neutralised, and Key would have had to rely on other answers to Espiner’s probing. Perhaps even something approaching the truth.

The best way to counter “spin” is to clearly identify it as such.

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Shades of Bill Birch

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In 1991, when former Finance Minister, Bill Birch, was promoting the Employment Contracts Bill to the New Zealand public and media, his constant mantra was that it would “raise real wages”;

” The challenge New Zealand faces in industrial relations is to create an environment that delivers high productivity, high income and high employment.”

The promise of “higher wages” was an attempt to justify  the de-unionised, laissez-faire bargaining aspects of the Employment Contracts Act (later passed into law as an Act of Parliament).

But such was not to be. As economist, Andrew Morrison, reported for the  Parliamentary Library in 1996;

“The content of employment contracts has also changed. There are more flexible work practices, greater multi-skilling and increased use of performance pay. Rates for overtime and penal rates have dropped.

[…]

Econometric work shows the ECA as having had no significant effect on the aggregate level of wages. There may have been some deterioration in working conditions, however evidence is not clear-cut.”

Birch’s claims of the ECA “raising wages” were utterly bogus of course.

In reality, the Act increased wages for a few – but either froze or reduced wages for the majority, as Morrison pointed out.

It was the first occassion when this blogger noticed an oft-repeated phrase used by a politician to promote a wildly unpopular piece of legislation. It may have been one of the first (?) uses of ‘spin’ in such a context (as opposed to mis-use of information or outright lies).

In 1991, the “raising wages” mantra was not challenged in any meaningful way (that this blogger can recall).

A quarter of a century later, we still seem to have a problem with political ‘spin’.

The scary thing is, that our elected representatives don’t really seem perturbed that we recognise their ‘spin’ for what it is. In a post-truth environment, it seems to be the “new norm”.

As Andrea Vance wrote in an opinion piece on 1 July;

Politicians are now playing a game in which it’s up to their opponents to fact-check, to catch out their lies. (“People have had enough of experts,” as British Tory leadership hopeful Michael Gove put it.)

They presume media and the voters should accept what they say as fact.

Earlier this week, Trump’s supporter Jeffrey Lord dismissed this “fact-checking business” as an “elitist, media-type thing”.

People only care about “what the candidates say”, he added.

But if what the candidates say are bare-faced lies…then where does that leave us?

Indeed, where does that leave us?

Perhaps needing new standards for political honesty?

We can call them “guidelines“.

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References

Radio NZ: Drug Foundation critical of meth contamination evictions

Housing NZ: HNZ supports new meth standards committee

Radio NZ: English calls for more specific housing meth tests

Radio NZ: Expert questions meth contamination evictions

Radio NZ: NZ braces for effects on Zespri’s halt of kiwifruit exports

Fairfax media: China’s attack on kiwifruit after trade reprisal warning ‘just a coincidence’

Radio NZ: NZ braces for effects on Zespri’s halt of kiwifruit exports

Parliamentary Library: The Employment Contracts Act and its Economic Impact – Andrew Morrison, Economist (November 1996)

Otago.ac.nz: Labour’s Labour Relations

Additional

TV1 News: A post-truth era in politics

TV1 News: Perhaps the Government might want to say sorry

Radio NZ: Is a ‘post-truth’ era upon us?

Radio NZ: Give facts a chance

Previous related blogposts

Military ‘spin-doctoring’ – the media catch-up

The Art of ‘Spin’

Paula Bennett on unemployment: spin baby, spin!

The Dark Art of ‘Spin’ – How It’s Done

The Dark Art of ‘Spin’ – How It’s Done (Part #Rua)

When spin doctors go bad

“Spin me a conspiracy”, said Dear Leader!

“Spin me a brain exchange”, said Dear Leader!

National Party spin on Aaron Gilmore and MMP

National spins BS to undermine Labour’s Capital Gains Tax

Housing Minister Paula Bennett continues National’s spin on rundown State Houses

The Mendacities of Mr English – Fibbing from Finance Minister confirmed

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quick it's an emergency - spin doctors

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 13 August 2016.

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= fs =

Letter to the editor – Mark Weldon’s fan club offers support

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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It appears that there are now two supporters for Mark Weldon;

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mark weldon - tv3 - mediaworks - letter to editor - dominion post - 7.5.16

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It demanded a response…

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>
date: Mon, May 9, 2016
subject: Letter to the editor

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The Editor
Dominion Post

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“It concerns me that Mark Weldon has become a scapegoat”, writes Gaylene Freeth (7 May) She asks, “why should all the finger pointing be directed solely at him, when surely the responsibility and accountability rest primarily with the Mediaworks chairman and board members”.

The reason is quite simple. As CEO, Mark Weldon carried out certain policies – policies ostensibly in accordance with Mediaworks’ Board directives.

However, no one forced Weldon to carry out those policies. No one held a gun to his head as he oversaw the mass-redundancies of highly skilled, experienced professionals from their jobs and cancellation of “Campbell Live”.

He could have resigned at any time.

The old argument that “he was only following orders” is one that was firmly rejected as recently as 1945.

When Ms Freeth – herself an experienced businesswoman – demands to know “why is Weldon the only one being targeted at present”, the answers are glaringly obvious;

1. He agreed to carry out Board directives
2. He was paid to do the job
3. CEOs are ultimately responsible for their actions

Ms Freeth says that “any board directive must be implemented regardless”.

No, Ms Freeth. Mark Weldon had a choice and he exercised it. The buck stops with him.

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– Frank Macskasy

[address and phone number supplied]

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References

Radio NZ: MediaWorks CEO Mark Weldon resigns

Previous related blogposts

Campbell Live, No More

Blogger threatened with lawsuit over questions of conflict-of-interest regarding Mediaworks

Mediawork’s Julie Christie at war with NZ on Air – Possible conflict of interest as first reported last year on TDB

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weldon - tv3 - mediaworks

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 May 2016.

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= fs =

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