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

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Current affairs programme producer, Tim Watkin, has vigorously denied any outside interference in his weekend show,  ‘The Nation‘ .

In an email, to this blogger, dated 18 April, Tim asserted his editorial independence,

“Let me reassure you, most importantly, that not a single ounce of pressure was brought to bear on me or anyone in my team. It was our decision alone (and some felt strongly it would be a waste of our time)…

[…]

What was most frustrating about your blog was the utterly unfounded assertion that we would give in to pressure from management to not cover that, or any, story. “

On 9 April, news broke on the announcement that the last remaining  investigative/advocacy, current affairs show on free-to-air TV, Campbell Live‘, was facing a “review”. In commercial media parlance, “review” is often  a euphemism for staff to prepare to pack their bags and vacate their desks by lunch-time.

Strangely, announcing an impending “review” is hardly ever a precursor to a 20% salary increase for staff; more allocation of resources for the producers; and a more favourable time-slot for the show.

On 14 April, this blogger reported in The Daily Blog that neither TVNZ’s ‘Q+A’ nor TV3’s ‘The Nation’ that weekend (Saturday/Sunday, 11/12 April) had mentioned this story which had featured in every other main-stream media;

As well as the msm, most of the top blogs in the country covered the story, one way or another (see: Other blogs)

So I was looking forward to see some serious analysis on ‘The Nation‘ and/or ‘Q+A‘, on this issue.

Incredibly, and alarmingly, none was forthcoming, except for a brief throw-away-line by comedians Jeremy Corbett and Paul Ego, during their sixty-second satirical-slot on ‘The Nation‘ (though without any actual direct reference to John Campbell), to “being replaced by Jono Pryor and Ben Boyce“.

TV1’s ‘Q+A‘ was also strangely silent on an issue that had been a nationwide talking point.

Instead, on Saturday’s ‘The Nation‘, we had stories on;

  • Legal highs, with interviews with Peter Dunne and Matt Bowden
  • the booming Auckland Property market, with interviews with Mayor Len Brown; Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse; Kate Healy from Ngati Whatua Orakei Whai Rawa Ltd, and property developer David Whitburn

Sunday’s ‘Q+A‘ on TV1  gave us;

  • an interview with HSBC economist, Paul Bloxham, who coined the phrase “rock star economy”
  • urban-designer, Charles Montgomery, on how to improve our cities

Considering that ‘Campbell Live‘ is one of the last serious current affairs programme remaining on free-to-air television, one would have thought that this was worthy of scrutiny by either ‘Q+A’ or ‘The Nation‘.

Understandably, perhaps, TV3’s executives Julie Christie and Group Chief Executive Officer Mark Weldon – who have allegedly expressed a dislike for  ‘Campbell Live‘ – may have dissuaded ‘The Nation‘ from enquiring further into the matter.

On the weekend of 18/19 April, TV3’s ‘The Nation’s‘ stories focused on;

On 19 April, TV1’s ‘Q+A focused on;

  • water ownership rights & Iwi claims
  • an interview with Lt Gen Tim Keating, on our troop deployment to Iraq
  • historian, Dr Vincent O’Malley, on our own land wars

Again, it was left to the satirical componant of ‘The Nation‘ (on Saturday 18 April) to refer obliquely to the issue, when ‘Animation Nation‘ poked fun at “the entertainment value of Campbell Live“. (More on the repeat broadcast of ‘The Nation‘ on Sunday 19 April, below.)

On 18 April, I asked Tim Watkin why there was no mention during the body of the programme regarding ‘Campbell Live‘. Considering the national interest involved in this story, I found it strange that ‘The Nation‘ has not looked into the issue. Could he shed any light on whether or not  the issue had been discussed by ‘The Nation’s‘ Producers, for possible inclusion?

Tim’s reply;

“Journalism struggling is not new  and, to be honest, many journalists shy away from such stories because it looks self-indulgent and the public appetite for us navel gazing (and the political appetite for public service broadcasting, for that matter) is not high in my view. Programmes like The Nation and Q+A have no history of reporting media stories, beyond coverage of Dirty Politics etc (which we did extensively), so why start now? We didn’t cover the end of Close Up. Or the rise of Paul Henry. Or Tim Murphy’s resignation… I could go on. There are lots of media stories that matter, but it’s not our core business.”

Tim did admit though;

“Having said that I accept this is bigger than most, which is why we made sure we did discuss it both weeks, on our Sunday panel…”

Tim’s reference to “Sunday panel” repeats an earlier statement in his 14 April email where he asserts “you must have missed the fact that we talked about Campbell Live in our extra Sunday panel“.

The Sunday edition of ‘The Nation‘ is a few minutes longer because of a lack of commercial advertisements on Sunday mornings. Hence, more of the panel discussion is broadcast on Sunday than it’s original airing on the previous day, Saturday morning.

So if the viewer watches the Saturday morning broadcast, but not the Sunday morning, extended version, she/he will miss a few extra minutes of chit-chat.

Hence Tim Watkin’s reference  to the “extended panel”.

The question for the reader is threefold;

(a) is a panel discussion sufficient coverage of an issue that Tim himself concedes is “bigger than most”?

(b) is a panel discussion a suitable alternative to an actual interview and story by trained journalists?

(c) how many viewers are aware that the Sunday version of ‘The Nation‘ is extended by a few minutes, because of a lack of commercial advertising, and therefore a need exists to fill in a gap that would otherwise be left, if the original Saturday version were broadcast? Unless a viewer was aware of the extended version on Sunday mornings, why would anyone watch the same show twice?

Given Point C, most viewers, having watched the early morning Saturday version of ‘The Nation‘, would miss the repeat (albeit extended) broadcast on Sunday, and any additional material therein.

This blogger will raise his hand and say he was unaware of the extended panel version, and would have been oblivious to this situation had Tim not referred to it, and a close friend (hat-tip, Freda) not alerted me to having heard the panel discussion on Sunday morning.

Tim further stated;

…Our kind of programme is not made in a few hours. Sure, we can dump everything when major news breaks, but that’s a big ask of my already over-worked team (which is currently preparing for six hours of ANZAC Day coverage on top of their day jobs). So you pick your battles. While the CLive story matters it’s hardly 9/11 or Dirty Politics. Next, you have to think about what talent you can get to talk to and what you can add to the public debate. The newspapers were all over CLive, so what new could we add? Who would talk in a studio programme that would be useful and wouldn’t look indulgent? .”

No one is suggesting that the ‘Campbell Live‘ story is “ 9/11 or Dirty Politics“, and we can dismiss that strawman/woman reference right here and now.

However, considering the very nature of ‘Campbell Live‘; it’s reputation for investigative journalism; it’s reputation for advocacy journalism; and John Campbell’s outstanding, impeccable reputation – this blogger believes that it does matter. It matters very much.

Referring to coverage of any story on ‘Campbell Live‘ as “self indulgent” seems an exceedingly weak excuse to ignore it.

Tim’s question as to who “you can get to talk to and what you can add to the public debate. The newspapers were all over CLive, so what new could we add? Who would talk in a studio programme that would be useful and wouldn’t look indulgent” is a question for a current affairs producer to answer. S/he is paid to come up with such names.

But off the top of my head, I can think of  Kim Hill, Brian Edwards, Bill Ralston, Andrea Vance, Fran O’Sullivan, to name a few. Or ex tv company executives. Perhaps even staff willing to talk, off the record, under a guarantee of anonymity.

Critiquing and scrutinising media events that impact on our country and the way investigative journalism is carried out is hardly “indulgent”. For one thing, it addresses the ages-old question; Who Watches The Watchmen?

On the issue of  “Who Watches the Watchmen”, I asked Tim; in your experience, do media outlets (eg; TV3) ever investigate themselves when they are the focus of public attention?

Tim responded;

Yes, many do investigate themselves. Look at the BBC on Clarkson. Indeed our host Lisa Owen, when at TVNZ, was often used to stories on TVNZ.

So, it’s not “indulgent” when Lisa Owen did stories on TVNZ?

Tim added;

“It’s always delicate reporting on yourself, but it’s important to be able to do (arguably more so at TVNZ than at TV3 because there is public money involved there while Mediaworks is just a private business).”

Mediaworks is just a private business“?

I leave the reader to draw his/her own conclusions to that one single sentence. To this blogger, it raise more questions than it answers – especially when Tim described how “it’s always delicate reporting on yourself”.

Indeed.

I then referred Tim to a recent story  by Matt Nippert in the ‘NZ Herald‘ on 18 April; “Campbell’s sponsor cut months ago“. I asked if he thought Nippert’s claims warranted further investigation on ‘The Nation‘, and if not, why not?

Tim was categorical;

“No. By this time next week, I’m sure that angle will have been fully investigated and played out one way or another. It also might be useful to consider the differences between the strengths and weaknesses of print vs studio-based TV programmes. That’s a great print story, but how would you cover it on TV now that it’s broken? It’s a newsworthy reported fact, but doesn’t suggest a compelling 10 minute interview or 10 minute track, which is what we do.”

I am intrigued that Tim asks, “but how would you cover it on TV now that it’s broken?

If a blogger – untrained in media or journalism – has to advise a TV producer “how to cover it on TV now that it’s broken“, then one of us is in the wrong job. I would assume, just for arguments sake, that Nippert’s story would be covered in the same way that Nicky Hager’s story on ‘Dirty Politics‘ was covered.

To determine whether Nippert’s story is “compelling” or not, I refer the reader to the full article;

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campbell live - Campbell's sponsor cut months ago - nz herald - matt nippert - john campbell - TV3 - mediaworks

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On one point in  Nippert’s story, I will add my own observation. Reference Bill Ralson’s comment;

Bill Ralston, a former TVNZ head of current affairs, said the short-term deal was highly unusual and only made sense if a decision about the future of the show had already been made…

[…]

Mr Ralston said longer-term sponsorships made more financial sense for broadcasters.

“If you’re a cash-strapped TV channel like they are, you’d want that cash booked in for at least a year.”

In the 1990s, this blogger worked for a community newspaper, in the advertising department. When seeking clients to advertise, we were told to encourage clients to book advertisements for long periods – the longer the better. It meant guaranteed income for the paper.

Given a choice between a three month contract and a year-long contract, any advertising rep would have pushed for the latter. No advertising manager in his/her right mind would willingly give a client only a three month contract when a twelve month version was available.

Otherwise, you would be throwing potential revenue away.

This point alone warrants a full investigation by any current affairs team worthy of the name. It raises questions. I suggest to Tim  Watkin that might be a valid starting point; why was a cash-strapped TV channel that has just come out of liquidation turning down year-long sponsorship contract

On 14 April, Tim strenuously also rejected any executive interference in his show, and  expressed umbrage at impugning the integrity of his team;

“…you suggest that we “may” have been “dissuaded” from covering the story by Weldon or Christie. Clearly given my first point, that’s wrong. But what has prompted me to drop you this personal note is that it also impugns the integrity of my team without any supporting evidence. Let me assure you that it is entirely incorrect.

[…]

That I’m always happy to debate, but I get very protective when people make stuff up, make lazy assumptions or get personal, especially if it reflects on the integrity of my hard-working team of journalists, who more than most have put their skin in the game and chosen to work on a NZOA funded programme trying to make the type of television that is thorough and thoughtful and holds power to account without fear or favour.”

Two points require addressing here.

1.  The point made in my previous blogpost (The Curious World of the Main Stream Media) stated;

“Understandably, perhaps, TV3’s executives Julie Christie and Group Chief Executive Officer Mark Weldon – who have allegedly expressed a dislike for  ‘Campbell Live‘ – may have dissuaded ‘The Nation‘ from enquiring further into the matter.

Note the two words I have highlighted; “allegedly” and “may“.

I have no evidence except other media reports which have carried this suggestion. (Hopefully Tim will be contacting them, seeking a “correction”?) Indeed, I purposely left out a damning allegation which had first been reported on social media (and since published on another website)  simply because I could find no corroborating evidence to support it.

However, let me make this point. Tim refers to Nicki Hager’s investigative book, ‘Dirty Politics‘.

When ‘Dirty Politics‘ was released and the contents of National’s dealings with a far-right blogger became public knowledge, several individuals, from the Prime Minister up, were quick to shrug and respond;

So what? We all knew this was happening. There’s nothing new here.

I make no claim what influence – if any – Mediawork’s executives Julie Christie and  Mark Weldon made to keep the ‘Campbell Live‘ issue out of their current affairs programmes.

We simply don’t know for certain. There have been unsubstantiated claims, but no evidence.

But – if evidence does surface that pressure has been exerted from MediaWork’s lofty towers, or further afield, from a certain Ninth Floor, will we be hearing the same cynics dismissively protesting;

So what? We all knew this was happening. There’s nothing new here.

2. This blogger rejects any suggestion that Tim’s Team has been insulted or in any way had their integrity impugned.

If legitimate questions cannot be asked of politicians by the media; and of the media by the public – then someone is holding themselves above any form of accountability.

For the record, this blogger does not question the hard work or integrity of the workers involved in ‘Q+A‘ and ‘The Nation‘. Nothing I have written comes close to suggesting otherwise, regardless of Tim’s long bow which seems to stretch from Bluff to Kaitaia.

Also for the record,  despite not questioning the dedication and integrity of workers involved in both shows; my question remains; why was the ‘Campbell Live‘ issue not considered worthy of scrutiny by either/both ‘Q+A‘ and ‘The Nation‘?  Tim himself concedes that this is an extraordinary, on-going story.

When the fate of television’s last, prime-time investigative tv show is under threat – then we, the public, deserve to at least ask why?

Are we still permitted to ask questions? Especially when the msm won’t ask on our behalf?

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Addendum1

I invite producers of ‘Q+A‘ to answer the same questions I have levelled at Tim Watkin.  To date, I have had no response to queries sent via Twitter to the show’s producer.

Addendum2

Meanwhile, news for ‘Campbell Live‘ just gets better and better;

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campbell live - twitter - ratings - 17 april 2015

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As I tweeted back, “I guess with those figures, Mediaworks will be canning Jono & Ben and 3 News?”

Addendum3

The near-full version of emails between myself and ‘Nation‘ producer, Tim Watkin, is available for viewing here.

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References

NZ Herald: Campbell Live to be axed? TV bosses place show under review

Frankly Speaking: Campbell still Live, not gone

TVNZ: Q+A (19 April 2015)

TV3: Animation Nation

NZ Herald: Campbell’s sponsor cut months ago

Mana Party:  Key – I want that left wing bastard gone

Twitter: Campbell Live

Previous related blogposts

The Curious World of the Main Stream Media

Other bloggers


 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 20 April 2015.

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The Curious World of the Main Stream Media

19 April 2015 5 comments

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Q+ A and The Nation

The biggest news story of the week broke on  Thursday, 9 April, with Mediaworks revealing to a stunned public  that ‘Campbell Live‘ – which had just celebrated it’s tenth anniversary – was “under review”. It was a story appearing in practically every media outlet in the country;

Fairfax media

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NZ Herald

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Radio NZ

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NZ Newswire

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nz newswire - john campbell - campbell live - tv3 - mediaworks - Support swells as Campbell Live faces chop

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Mediaworks/TV3

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National Business Review

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NBR - national business review - tv3 - john campbell - campbell live - tv3 - mediaworks - Will Campbell Live survive

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On Facebook, a Save Campbell Live!  group quickly sprang up, with 1,545 members as 12.01am, 14 April.

One petition on Change.org has acquired 19,654 signatures, and another on Action Stations has 66,974.

The tweet hashtag, , was trending near the top of Twitter’s New Zealand Trends on 9 April;

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#savecampbelllive

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Acknowledgement for use of image above: Halloween Mike1

As well as the msm, most of the top blogs in the country covered the story, one way or another (see: Other blogs)

So I was looking forward to see some serious analysis on ‘The Nation‘ and/or ‘Q+A‘, on this issue.

Incredibly, and alarmingly, none was forthcoming, except for a brief throw-away-line by comedians Jeremy Corbett and Paul Ego, during their sixty-second satirical-slot on ‘The Nation‘ (though without any actual direct reference to John Campbell), to “being replaced by Jono Pryor and Ben Boyce“.

TV1’s ‘Q+A‘ was also strangely silent on an issue that had been a nationwide talking point.

Instead, on Saturday’s ‘The Nation‘, we had stories on;

  • Legal highs, with interviews with Peter Dunne and Matt Bowden
  • the booming Auckland Property market, with interviews with Mayor Len Brown; Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse; Kate Healy from Ngati Whatua Orakei Whai Rawa Ltd, and property developer David Whitburn

Sunday’s ‘Q+A‘ on TV1  gave us;

  • an interview with HSBC economist, Paul Bloxham, who coined the phrase “rock star economy”
  • urban-designer, Charles Montgomery, on how to improve our cities

Considering that ‘Campbell Live‘ is one of the last serious current affairs programme remaining on free-to-air television, one would have thought that this was worthy of scrutiny by either ‘Q+A’ or ‘The Nation‘.

Understandably, perhaps, TV3’s executives Julie Christie and Group Chief Executive Officer Mark Weldon – who have allegedly expressed a dislike for  ‘Campbell Live‘ – may have dissuaded ‘The Nation‘ from enquiring further into the matter.

When Fairfax Media made redundant large numbers of sub-editors a few years ago, the event was not reported in ‘The Dominion Post‘ or any other Fairfax title. The news was suppressed by management. In this respect media management can be every bit as shy of public scrutiny as the politicians they profess to scrutinise.

The media demand press freedom to allow public scrutiny – except when it applies to them.

Stranger still is that TVNZ – a direct commercial competitor to Mediaworks – made no mention of goings-on at TV3. One would think that a major event in this country’s media would have rated some sort of story or analysis with media experts.

Instead – nothing.

Television executives seem very shy when it comes to public attention on their own activities.

How NOT to promote a flagship programme

Palmerston North teacher, Scott Milne, pointed out that ‘Campbell Live‘s’ poor ratings may be due to Mediaworks not promoting the programme as enthusiastically as it does with others.

On Twitter, Scott posted this screen-shot of a TV3 webpage;

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When an advert for hair shampoo (lower right on page) is larger than the promo for a current affairs show, it becomes fairly clear how well the broadcaster is supporting their own product (the programme – not the shampoo).

Perhaps there is an element of truth to suggestions that certain Mediaworks executives are not “fans” of Campbell and/or his show?

The sooner that a free-to-air, non-commercial, public broadcasting channel is established, the better it will be for this country. If  the UK can have the BBC and  Australia has the ABC and SBS – why can’t we have something similar?

Short answer: lack of political will coupled with ideological stubborness.

If we had a new NZBC, commercial free, and dedicated to something resembling quality programming – TVNZ and Mediaworks/TV3 could broadcast all the crappy reality and crime shows that the rest of the public could possibly stomach.

More than anything, a lack of a free-to-air, non-commercial, public broadcasting channel shows how immature we are as a nation. Distracted by trivia has given us the only form of  dumbed-down  television the masses can digest.

More head-scratching decisions at TV3?

News over the weekend indicates that TV3 will be cutting back their weekend news bulletins at 6pm to only half an hour – less when you subtract advertising, weather, and sports;

TV3 is to chop its Sunday night news bulletin to 30 minutes, in the latest dramatic move to turn its news department into a “news, commentary and conversation” team.

MediaWorks chief executive Mark Weldon is at odds with many among his 200-strong news staff after announcing “bubbles and bagels” to celebrate the launch of Paul Henry – at the same time as Campbell Live staff were being told their programme faced the axe.

“It was just insensitive and inappropriate,” a TV3 news staffer said.

A cut-down version of ‘Third Degree‘ will be given a new – and somewhat bizarre – name;  “3D and will be shortened to 30 minutes“.

If  MediaWorks executives still have faith in their 6PM news bulletin and ‘Third Degree/3D‘, they have an unusual way of showing it. Which raises a few questions – what do they hope to gain? More time allocated for commercial programming?

Those viewers who enjoy watching the 6PM news bulletins may find themselves feeling cheated at TV3’s cut-down, “budget” version. They may vote with their remotes to switch to TV1, where the format will offer an unchanged, longer version.

After all, if you enjoy watching TV news, which would you opt for?

Those who don’t watch TV news won’t care either way.

So MediaWork’s decision will impact only on news-watchers – and cutting back the format to 30 minutes may yet prove to be one of the  biggest blunders in TV3’s history. Perhaps bigger than it’s excellent 1993 sitcom, ‘Melody Rules‘…

MediaWorks group head of news Mark Jennings just keeps digging…

Just when you thought that threats to ‘Campbell Live’s‘ survival and cutting TV3’s 6pm news bulletin was bad enough, MediaWorks group head of news Mark Jennings seems to have made things worse by these incongruous utterances on 12 April;

“We know that Sunday night is a good place for current affairs. People are increasingly time poor and we believe 30 minutes of news plus 30 minutes of current affairs is a winning formula for this popular timeslot.”

No, Mr Jennings, we are not “time poor” – we are information poor.  In a world of superficiality and bastardised media services masqerading as “news”, we are poor in real, in-depth, news and analysis.

When “X Factor NZ” receives more  promotion from MediaWorks than one of the most respected broadcasters in the country – then it is fairly obvious where management’s priorities lie.

Trying to pass off responsibility for questionable decision-making by MediaWorks executives, onto the public being “time poor”, is exceedingly bad form. And dishonest.

If people are so “time poor”, the 6PM news bulletin might as well be cut to 15 minutes. Or eliminated altogether. There. Sorted. Plenty of time for people now…

… to switch to TV1.

Mr Jennings added;

“This way we can guarantee a pacey, high-quality product that will be appointment viewing.”

Yes, “pacey” – until each advertising break. Take ten or fifteen minutes out of each ‘3D” episode, and it become so “pacey” as to rush past the viewer. Blink, and you’ll miss it.

And then, this “gem” from Mr Jennings;

“I am very proud of our investigative journalism, and the 3D Investigates strand will build on our ground-breaking work on the Teina Pora and David Bain cases, and the Fox Glacier crash.”

Yes, indeed. He is so “proud of [TV3’s] investigative journalism” – that he is cutting both the 6PM News Bulletin and ‘Third Degree‘ in half – and considering dumping ‘Campbell Live‘.

What a peculiar way to express one’s “pride” in their work.

With regards to ‘Campbell Live‘, Mr Jennings explained his rationale for reviewing the programme;

“Viewer expectations in 2015 are quite different from those of 2005 and we need to constantly review our programming to ensure we are meeting those expectations.”

How “viewer expectations in 2015 are quite different from those of 2005″ is never quite explained. But it cannot be that different; people may take their information from the internet, but they also still watch television.

The advent of television was supposedly the death knell for movies. That belief was wrong.

On-line e-books were supposed to make real books redundant. That belief, too, was wrong.

People will watch television. What they won’t watch is crap.

In that respect, “viewer expectations in 2015 are [not so] different from those of 2005″.

Perhaps MediaWorks’ management should be looking at themselves and not at the public for reasons of ‘Campbell Live‘ not gaining increased viewership.

First and foremost; has it been promoted with the same vigour and gusto as Paul Henry? ‘The Block‘? ‘X Factor‘? ‘The Bachelor‘?

If the answer is “no” – the solution that follows on is fairly evident. Does it need to be spelled out?

MSM antics just get weirder and weirder…

Just when you thought the msm couldn’t get any weirder, comes this strange story about Fairfax media touting for ‘freebies’ from it’s readers;

Fairfax encourages readers to write

NZCity, 11 April 2015
Fairfax Media New Zealand has outlined more of its plans to make readers involved in its editorial process.

The company’s Stuff Nation product already publishes more than 2300 articles every year written by readers and the pieces are among stuff.co.nz’s most read and commented on.

Fairfax Media New Zealand group executive editor Sinead Boucher told theNewspaperWorks masthead newsrooms will set assignments for readers on newsworthy topics, as well as encourage them to send in more personal topics they may wish to discuss.

Pieces will be individually verified and edited by Fairfax journalists and edits discussed with contributors.

It’s not an attempt to get free content or do away with journalists, Ms Boucher says.

The company wants readers to play a larger role.

Popular issues include bullying, elections, obesity, the road toll, marriage equality and the property market.

On March 18, Fairfax Media New Zealand announced it was introducing a new approach to digital storytelling with a renewed focus on local journalism.

A series of changes and proposed changes aimed at enhancing local and national journalism across digital and print will be rolled out nationally.

Accepting op-ed pieces or letters-to-the-editor is one thing.

But “setting assignments for readers on newsworthy topics” appears to me that Fairfax is attempting to attract free content, which it will then on-sell for commercial gain.

There is a word for that: exploitation.

Not exactly surprising though, as Fairfax has lost many of their journalists and sub-editors over the last decade, as the company seeks to increase it’s profits and returns to shareholders.

“It’s not an attempt to get free content or do away with journalists”, Ms Boucher says.

That should go on a Tui billboard.

With fewer staff expected to do more; increasing use of “news hubs”; and a focus on on-line content at the expense of newspapers – that is precisely what Fairfax are aiming at.

Is this the future of newspapers; a msm-version of de facto bloggers-in-lieu-of-real-journalists, mass-producing stories on the cheap (free)?  If so, it makes for grim reading.

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References

Fairfax media: Campbell Live vs Jono and Ben

Fairfax media: Campbell Live to be reviewed

NZ Herald: Campbell Live to be axed? TV bosses place show under review

Radio NZ: The end for Campbell Live?

NZ Newswire: Support swells as Campbell Live faces chop

Mediaworks/TV3: MediaWorks confirms Campbell Live review

Newstalk ZB: Campbell Live facing the axe

NBR: Will Campbell Live survive?

TV3: The Nation (11/12 April 2015)

TVNZ: Q+A (12 April 2015)

Converge: Fairfax In Trouble

Twitter: Scott Milne

Fairfax media: Campbell Live should have moved with the times, pundits say

TV3: TV3 to reduce Sunday 6pm news bulletin to 30 minutes

Wikipedia: Melody Rules

TV3: TV3 current affairs moves to premium timeslot

Scoop media: Jono and Ben and Campbell Live

NZ CIty:  Fairfax encourages readers to write

Additional

Previous related blogposts


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emerson-charlie-hypocrisy-john key.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 14 April 2015.

 

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The closure of three prisons and loss of 262 jobs – five issues for the National govt

18 April 2015 2 comments

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The closure of three prisons and loss of 262 jobs

The closure of units in Waikeria, Tongariro-Rangipo, and Rimutaka Prisons, and the subsequent estimated loss of 262 jobs has been openly conceded as a re-distribution of inmates to the new, privately run prison at Wiri.  Corrections chief executive, Ray Smith, stated on 9 April;

I am also proposing to close units at three prisons – Rimutaka, Waikeria and Tongariro/Rangipo…

… With the opening of Auckland South Corrections Facility (at Wiri), and the subsequent reduction in pressure on prison capacity, we can now look at closing these end of life facilities.

The Wiri facility will be managed by multi-national corporation, Serco, as a profit-making venture, paid by the tax-payer.

Smith has blamed the closures and redundancies on the Waikeria, Tongariro-Rangipo, and Rimutaka Prisons being  “50 years old, surrounded by facilities that are 100 years old“. He claims “it would be uneconomic to bring them up to scratch“.

The closure of units at Waikeria, Tongariro-Rangipo, and Rimutaka is estimated to save the National government $165 million. This will be a godsend to Finance Minister Bill English, who admitted on 10 April that National’s much heralded promise of a budget surplus was looking more and more unlikely;

We’re (the Government) is continuing to manage the books carefully but lower inflation, while good for consumers, is making it less likely that the final accounts in October will show a surplus for the whole year.

With the  planned sale of state houses to the  Salvation Army, and other social services, having collapsed, English’s expectation of reaping big cash dividends from the housing sell-of has evaporated.

As I wrote in October 2014;

Meanwhile, Bill English was outlining National’s true agenda, whilst Key was putting on his benign face to the New Zealand public.  As TV3’s Brook Sabin reported,

A big state-house sell-off is on the way, and up to $5 billion-worth of homes could be put on the block.

The shake-up of the Government’s housing stock will be a key focus for the next three years, with Finance Minister Bill English to lead it.

On the block is everything from a tiny 75 square metre two-bedroom state house in Auckland’s Remuera, on the market for $740,000, to a three-bedroom home in Taumarunui for just $38,000. Thousands more properties will soon hit the market.

The reason for putting up to  $5 billion-worth of homes  on the block?

Crashing dairy prices had left a gaping hole in the National Government’s books, and their much-vaunted Budget surplus next year was under threat. Remember that  Key was candid in the implications for the economy and the  government’s tax-take; when he stated – also on 6 October;

It can have some impact because if that’s the final payout, the impact would be as large as NZ$5 billion for the economy overall, and you would expect that to flow through to the tax revenue, both for the 14/15 year and the 15/16 year. My understanding is Treasury is working on those numbers for the incoming Minister of Finance, which fortunately is the same as the outgoing Minister of Finance as well.”

Faced with the imminent sinking of one of National’s cornerstone election promises – a return to surplus by 2014/15 – $165 million saved by the closure of prison units will be  a relief to an increasingly frustrated Bill English.

Key and English couldn’t flog of $5 billion of state housing to social services. So now they are looking at what is effectively privatisation-by-stealth with our prison services.

And bugger the inevitable consequences…

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Justice not for sale logo

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Five issues for the National govt

The closure of units at Waikeria, Tongariro-Rangipo, and Rimutaka Prisons will not be without dire consequences that impact on nearly every aspect of New Zealand society, regions, and the economy.  Even the political landscape may be altered if this ill-considered plan goes ahead.

1. Sending “clients” to a private facility

There is something decidely immoral about up-rooting hundreds of prisoners whose freedom of movement and freedom of choice has been curtailed by State sanctions, and handed over into the hands of a private corporation – Serco – where the prime motivator is making a profit for shareholders. (Overseas shareholders, to be precise.)

In no way can this dystopian scenario be considered part of the “free market”, as all forms of choice have been removed from the prison “clients”.

Serco have been handed “clients” into their “care” whether wanted or not by the prisoners. Not since the slave trade from the 16th to 19th centuries have human being been treated as commodities by Western nations.

Make no mistake; private prisons turn human beings into “things”, to be used by business as investment commodities.

How long before prisoners are sold, bought, and traded by competing corporatised prisons? How long before their labour is sold to other businesses, for profit?

2. Regional economies and job losses

The loss of 262 jobs in Upper Hutt (Rimutaka),  Waikeria, and Tongariro-Rangipo will impact considerably on those regional economies already badly hit by loss of industries, closed businesses, population moving away, and continuing down-turn in the dairy industry.

It is this sort of regional neglect that resulted in Northland voters abandoning the National Party and electing NZ First leader, Winston Peters, as their electorate MP.

Waipa District mayor, Jim Mylchreest, was frustrated and angry at National’s further under-mining of what remained of regional economies;

Here they are with a major change and not even bothering to let us know plans are afoot.

I assume that they’ve done their sums and it’s more efficient for them but they’re not looking at New Zealand in terms of what are the benefits to try and keep employment in the regions.”

Mayor Mylchreest has every right to be angry – closure of a high-security wing at Waikeria Prison will  result in the loss of 148 jobs – creating considerable impact on nearby Te Awamutu (pop: 10,305), only sixteen kilometers away.

Is this how the National Party “supports” the regions?!

It seems that National has not learned a single thing from the Northland by-election.

Rimutaka may well be a safe Labour seat. But it also delivered 15,352 Party Votes for National – now at risk as Upper Hutt will be hard hit by job losses at Rimutaka Prison.

National may have mis-calculated the political fall-out from this move.

3. NZ First/Country Party

A loss of 262 jobs. Millions lost from regional economies. Small towns losing more people. Businesses closing, through lack of turn-over. Which, in a vicious circle leads to more job losses…

A recipe to increase NZ First’s re-positioning on the politicalk spectrum as a de facto “Country-Regional Party”?

It certainly sounds like it.

National may have handed Peters an early Christmas gift to campaign on. Disaffected voters seeing hundreds of jobs lost in their communities – with  subsequent closures of down-stream businesses in their town Main Streets – may wonder why on Earth they should keep voting for National? What’s in it for them?

Not much it would seem.

“Vote National – Lose Your Job” would appear to be the new slogan for National for the 2017 elections.

I have no doubt that even as I write this, and you the reader are reading my words, that Winston Peters and his NZ First strategists are already working on how to maximise these events for their own political gain.

I have no doubt whatsoever; the “Northland Experience” will be repeated throughout the country – much to Winston Peters’ delight.

4. Prisoner’s families

National’s Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has stated;

I understand that this proposal may be unsettling for affected staff but Corrections will have extensive support and assistance in place should the proposal go ahead. I also believe that the proposal reflects our commitment to providing safe and secure working conditions for staff and a safe and productive environment for prisoners.

Prisoners have a much better chance of successful rehabilitation in modern facilities where they have access to education, training and employment opportunities.

Being close to their families is an important factor in rehabilitation for some prisoners.”

However, transferring several hundred prisoners from as far afield as Rimutaka, to Auckland – a distance of some 650kms – is hardly “being close to their families”  and one can only imagine how increasing isolation from family and community will give  “prisoners […] a much better chance of successful rehabilitation”.

The distances involved are considerable, as this Corrections Department map illustrates;

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[6] Waikeria Prison [8] Tongariro/Rangipo Prison [13] Rimutaka Prison

[6] Waikeria Prison
[8] Tongariro/Rangipo Prison
[13] Rimutaka Prison

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Minister Lotu-Iiga needs to explain why he thinks that isolating prisoners in this manner, can possibly assist in their rehabilitation and reintergration back into their communities?

It seems that transferring prisoners out of their communities flies in the face of the Minister’s assertions.

It may also prove more expensive, as prisoner’s families make increased calls upon the Child Travel Fund;

The Child Travel Fund provides financial support to eligible children traveling to visit a parent in prison. The fund also supports parents traveling to visit a child who is under 18 years of age and in prison.

Does National even care?

They should. Increasing prisoner’s alienation from family and communities undermines every effort made by the judicial/corrections system to rehabilitate prisoners.

It should definitely be cause for concern for  the corporate managers of Wiri, for whom rehabilitation and reduced re-offending is part of their contract, according to Corrections chief executive, Ray Smith;

They can earn up to $1.5 million in incentive payments if they can reduce the rate of reoffending by up to 10 percent more than the department can do.”

According to Derek Cheng at the Herald, writing three years ago;

For Wiri, Serco will face stiff financial penalties if it does not meet rehabilitation targets – which will be set at 10 per cent lower than public prisons.

The Corrections Department has a target to reduce re-offending by 10 per cent. If that is achieved, Wiri would have to achieve a rate 20 below the current rates or face fines, which have yet to be set.

Though Finance Minister Bill English – quoted in Scoop at around the same time – was more cautious;

It will also face financial penalties if it fails to meet short-term rehabilitation and reintegration measures including prisoner health and employment targets, and safe, secure and humane custodial standards.”

However, speaking to Paul Henry on Radio Live, Corrections chief executive, Ray Smith, was more circumspect when asked directly what penalties were involved in prisoners re-offended after release;

(@ 7:35)

Henry: “If rehabitation rates, if recidivism rates deteriorate, is there a penalty?”

Smith: “Well they just can’t earn the incentive payment if they can’t [meet the targets(muffled)].”

Henry: “So there isn’t actually a penalty?”

Smith: “[Stuttered words]...the penalties are associated with failure on security. The incentives are geared towards having to actually achieve better outcomes than the Department.”

So unlike penalties associated with prisoner escapes, where Serco actually has to pay the government, the only “penalty” associated with not meeting rehabilitation targets is foregoing $1.5 million in incentive payments?

Under Serco’s contract to manage Mt Eden Remand Prison, it is fined $150,000 each and every time a prisoner escapes, as happened in 2011 and 2012.

Under the contract to manage Wiri, it appears that the “penalty” is foregoing incentive payments.

The two “penalties” are not exactly the same and Minister English was being less than clear when he referred to Serco facing “financial penalties“.

Repeating the question – does National care? Not in the least, one may rightly guess. After all, chances are that National will no longer be in government when the ‘chickens come home to roost’ on this little social time bomb, and John Key will be writing his memoirs somewhere on an idyllic Hawaiian beach.

5. Relocating staff?

There seems to be confusion as to what will happen to the 262 staff who will lose their jobs from  Waikeria, Tongariro-Rangipo, and Rimutaka Prisons.

In his interview with Paul Henry on Radio Live on 10 April, Corrections CEO Ray Smith offered to do his best to find replacement jobs at other facilities for 262 redundant staff.

Suggestions that staff would be relocated to Auckland, with a “$20,000 relocation assistance-payment” appears to be farcical for two reason;

1. $20,000 payment to a Corrections staffmember living in a small town, where properties are worth considerably less than the over-heated Auckland housing market, is unhelpful. There is a worsening housing shortage in Auckland, and it seems to be verging on incompetence for this government to be adding to the housing problem by encouraging more workers and their families to move to the the city, thereby adding to congestion.

2. According to various media reports, the new Wiri facility is already fully staffed;

And unfortunately for staff who will be laid off, the opening of a large new prison in South Auckland next month is no consolation as all jobs are already filled. – TV1 News

A new prison in south Auckland will pick up the relocated inmates, but it is already fully staffed.TV3 News

So where are the jobs? Certainly not at Wiri.

Which makes this statement from Corrections Minister Lotu-Iiga unconvincing;

It should also be noted that the number of prisoner places is not reducing and will in fact increase with the opening of [Wiri]. We will have a net increase of 433 beds.”

The closure of three facilities; 262 redundancies; and contracting out to a private provider all reeks of National’s mania for cost-cutting.

As with many other cost-cutting exercises, it is New Zealanders; their families; and economically-fragile regions and small towns, that are having to pay the price. Treating prisoners as commercial commodities adds a particularly nasty aspect to this exercise.

Meanwhile, foreign-owned Serco stands to gain $30 million of tax-payer’s money, per year, from managing the new Wiri prison.

Someone is benefitting, and it is not us.

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Justice not for sale logo

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Prison facts and statistics – December 2014

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Number of prisoners in each prison - nz prisons

Source

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Justice not for sale logo
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References

Fairfax media: Up to 262 prison jobs may be cut in major Corrections restructure

TV3 News: Union – Prison staff can’t afford to move to Auckland

TV1 News: Budget surplus looking increasingly unlikely this year, Bill English admits

TV3 News: State housing sell-off worth $5B

Hive News: Treasury re-crunching Budget numbers for low Fonterra payout

National Party: Remaining on track to Budget surplus in 2014/15

Wikipedia: Serco

TV1 News: Town’s fury at being left in dark over prison closure

Wikipedia: Te Awamutu

Election Results 2014: Official Count Results — Rimutaka

Department of Corrections:  Sustainable Development Framework

Department of Corrections:  Travel assistance for visits

TV3 News: Union – Prison staff can’t afford to move to Auckland

NZ Herald: New private prison at Wiri given green light

Auckland Scoop media: Amazing promises for new Wiri prison: less offending, better safety, superior service

RadioLive: Around 260 staff face redundancy at Waikeria, Rangipo and Rimutaka prisons (audio)

Auckland Scoop media: Private operator of Mt Eden fined $150,000 for prison escape; security improvements made

Radio NZ: Serco fined after another prisoner escape

TV3 News: Govt criticised over prison job cuts

Radio NZ: Serco expects $30m revenue from Wiri prison

Department of Corrections:  Prison facts and statistics – December 2014

Previous related blogposts

The lunatics are running the Asylum

Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Rua)

 


 

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140105 Housing in prisons

 

 

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 13 April 2015.

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Campbell still Live, not gone

16 April 2015 4 comments

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campbell live header

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I don’t always get an opportunity to write about something positive. Whether political or in the media, there are so many dodgy, unpleasant, or downright despicable things happening that our attention is usually taken up by matters that are, in the main, negative.

Case in point, regarding the media, was Paul Henry’s outrageous and offensive remark to a female guest on his programme, when he enquired if she had had sex with Virgin Airlines owner, Richard Branson. The fact that the woman in question was internationally respected and renowned  scientist, Dr Michelle Dickinson, who had been one of a number of people invited by Branson to attend his event,  made Henry’s remarks even more repugnant.

But as some TV3 producers of Henry’s show indicated rather hysterically and defensively, it seems that Henry’s obnoxious behaviour was perfectly acceptable to them (see: Addendum 1).

Thankfully, good  taste prevailed and Henry’s late night programme was dumped only after one year. Perhaps viewers were simply too tired at the end of a long working day to put up with an over-grown schoolboy revelling in his crude, moronic, “sense of humour”.

On the other end of the media spectrum, we have current affairs shows like ‘Campbell Live’. In a vast ocean of dross, John Campbell’s prime time programme of social and political stories stands out like a beacon.

Campbell and his team of professionals hold politicians to account; bring us stories of events happening in our communities; focus on the worst of human behaviour – but also highlight the very best that people are capable off. There is simply none of the jaded cynicism or political sycophancy of Mike Hosking, Campbell’s so-called “competition” on TV1. There is certainly none of the juvenile, smutty, sexist “humour” that the cretinous Paul Henry indulges in.

Campbell reflected what was happening in our own country, good and bad; noble and anti-social; and asked awkward questions of those in authority.

Hardly surprising that “Campbell Live” has won a whole slew of awards, according to this Wikipedia article;

  • Campbell Live won two awards at the 2006 Qantas Television Awards including Best Current Affairs Series. The second award was for the Best News or Current Affairs Presenter for John Campbell.
  • At the 2010 Qantas Television Awards, Campbell Live received three awards, one for Best Current Affairs Editing, one for Best Current Affairs Reporting and John Campbell again won for Best News or Current Affairs Presenter.
  • At the 2011 Aotearoa Film and Television Awards, Campbell Live received an award for investigation of the year for their work tracking the Samoan Tsunami relief funds – presented to host John Campbell, Executive Producer Pip Keane and Producer Claudine MacLean.
  • Campbell Live has also won The TV Guide Best on the Box People’s Choice Award for Best Current Affairs Show from 2011 to 2014 and Best Presenter from 2010 to 2014.

The growth of media “personalities/entertainers”, replacing professional journalists and broadcasters, is becoming more depressing with each passing year.

Media personalities like Hosking no longer even bother hiding their political allegiances. Political neutrality, it seems, is a quaint concept left behind in the 20th Century.

When so-called “broadcasters” like Mike Hosking treats a Government Minister with unquestioning  reverance, whilst badgering, demeaning, and dismissing a critic of the government, we have indeed arrived at a state of affairs little better than a satrap of Putin’s Russia.

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Seven Sharp - 14 august 2014 - nicky hager - steven joyce - dirty politics

Seven Sharp‘ – 14 August 2014 – Mike  Hosking chats with Steven Joyce whilst excoriating Nicky Hager over revelations in ‘Dirty Politics‘.

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Luckily for Hosking, he has his supporters from the National Party parliamentary wing, as Todd Barclay revealed with his injudicious comments on Twitter.

Ironically, right-wing broadcasters such as Bill Ralston – who himself has links to the National Government – has berated TV3’s moves to “review” ‘Campbell Live‘;

“I think they’re dealing with a product that they do not understand. There is a market for news and current affairs in New Zealand and there is a market for what John is doing.

The most senior management of TV3 have been gunning for John Campbell for a long while. He has been under enormous pressure and it has been lawyers, I understand, at 40 paces as they fight this one through.”

On Twitter, Ralston lamented;

For the record: TV3 top management are intellectual pygmies (excepting Jennings) who never understand good current affairs

Has realisation finally dawned on Ralston that a free media can be undermined by capitalism as well as authoritarian governments? Better late than never.

Bit by bit, the so-called “free” media in this country is being neutered – not by State power – but by the unrelenting, voracious hunger of commercial imperatives for profit and shareholder returns, as well as conservative, National-aligned broadcasters.

Commercial threats to the media cannot be under-estimated. Note this intriguing (and over-looked) comment on a ‘Stuff‘ website reporting on the ‘Campbell Live‘ story;

Avocado on Toast

Okay, I’m going to shed some light on this. I use to work for Mediaworks which – ten years ago up until three years ago – was an amazing place to work. Sadly a lot of managerial/decision making positions have been given to accountants or sales representatives as of late. Neither of which have any experience in how TV nor Radio actually works; all they care about is the bottom line. Redundancies/cost cuttings have been occurring across the company in all the wrong places and all the work funneled into hubs last year and this year. This saves money but puts pressure on those hub staff as they’re not re-compensated for the extra work nor given extra resources to help with the work. The only departments getting extra resources, pay increases and extra staff are sale representatives. Questioning these decisions results in “hush meetings”. They’ll be looking at Campbell Live not asking: “How can we make this better for the staff and the business?”, instead they’ll be asking: “How can we make this cheaper yet more profitable without any regard for the staff?”. They’ll cut key staff and resources then blame the staff members whom they don’t make redundant when it falls over. And I can assure you that this paragraph is EXACTLY what Mediaworks’ business model is. Mediaworks is going to implode within the next two years, I feel pretty confident in saying this as everything that I’ve said would happen three years ago up until this very story HAS happened. Thus why I happily resigned.

The reason I give credence to that comment is because precisely the same corporate policy of staff cutbacks and drop in quality has occurred at Fairfax media. Sources within Fairfax have described  very similar events taking place within our newspapers – which I scrutinised in June 2013  – and which was recently covered on Radio NZ’s “Media Watch” on 5 April.

The gutting and dumbing-down of our media has been occurring at a creeping, snail’s pace.

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frog-in-pot

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Recent “milestones” – of a pessimistic variety – have been the amalgamation of Wellington’s ‘Evening Post‘ and ‘Dominion‘, in  July 2002; on-going redundancies of journalists and sub-editors at Fairfax NZ;  axing of non-commercial TVNZ7 on 30 June 2012; replacing TVNZ’s ‘Close Up‘ with ‘Seven Sharp‘ on 4 February 2013, and many others. The scheduling of TVNZ’s ‘Q+A‘ and TV3’s ‘The Nation‘ on Saturday and Sunday mornings  is an undisguised ghettoisation of political current affairs programming in this country.

Aside from ‘Campbell Live‘, only Radio New Zealand’s ‘Check Point‘ offers a serious prime-time, professional, broadcast-programme. But even Radio NZ  has been the victim of a sustained, covert attack by this National government, with a freeze on funding since 2008.

Make no mistake – ‘Campbell Live‘ is the last serious current affairs programme, scheduled for prime time viewing, on our free-to-air television screens.

The threat to a free media comes not from jack-booted secret police, acting on orders from a repressive government. The threat is more subtle, and comes in the form of commercial imperatives – which demands “more from less”.

The irony here is that our newspaper, radio, and television media are quick to point to “press freedom”, when they perceive their ability to publish/broadcast as they wish, is under some form of constraint by legislation; privacy demands; national “security”; police investigations, etc.

But the real attack on freedom of the press is coming not from externalities – but from within.

The next time TV3 complains of an attack on press freedom – someone should be asking them how they reconcile the so-called free press with TV3 executives axing the last serious current affairs programme on prime-time TV.

If an authoritarian government banned ‘Campbell Live‘ from the air, TV3 would be up in arms. There would be fierce resistance; government diktats resisted; offices raided by police; arrests made; people detained.

But when their own management does it, for commercial reasons, that is evidently acceptable.

The media demand press freedom. As longer as it’s profitable.

Perhaps, as Brian Edwards pointed out in his insightful blogpost on 10 April, it is simply that public service television and commercial television are as incompatible as mixing oil and water.

In which case, the sooner we return to a dedicated, non-commercial, public-service broadcaster – the better. And commercial broadcasters like TV1, Tv2, TV3, et al, can do what they do best; broadcast crap.

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Addendum1

Petitions to save ‘Campbell Live’. Add your voice to this campaign;

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save campbell live petition

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save campbell live petition - (2)

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Addendum 2

On-line poll at NZ Herald (not scientific) as at mid-day, 10 April;

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should campbell live be saved - nz herald

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Addendum 3

From MediaWork’s Mark Jennings;

“Viewer expectations in 2015 are quite different from those of 2005 – and we need to constantly review our programming to ensure we are meeting those expectations.”

Mr Jennings – I suggest pornography;

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NZ media - new styles of news reading

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Nothing quite like some bare flesh to push up ratings, eh?

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References

TV1: Seven Sharp – Hager and Joyce: Head to head

Fairfax media: National MP Todd Barclay blasts Campbell Live supporters

NZ Herald: Media – Hosking plugs car and Key

Wikipedia: Campbell Live – Awards

NZ Herald: Decline in Campbell Live audience not ‘sustainable’

Dominion Post: Rise in consultant costs ‘gob-smacking’

Twitter: Bill Ralston

Fairfax media: Campbell Live to be reviewed

Frankly Speaking: Pay Walls – the last gasp of a failed media business-model? (blogpost)

Radio NZ:  Mediawatch for 5 April 2015 (alternative link)

Scoop media: Redundancies at Radio NZ? The funding freeze in action

NZ Herald: Campbell Live to be axed? TV bosses place show under review

Fairfax media: Behind every TV stripper

Previous related blogposts

Mike Hosking – Minister for War Propaganda?

Message to TV3 execs – Is this really acceptable?

When the mainstream media go feral: A tale of two holidays

The Media will respond to Kim Dotcom’s up-coming revelations professionally, impartially, and with all due diligence

Letter to the Editor: John Campbell expose on Key and GCSB

The trivialisation of the News and consequences

Seven Sharp turns into Serious Shite?

NZ media; the Good, the Bad, and the Very, Very, Ugly

Pay Walls – the last gasp of a failed media business-model?

Additional

Facebook: Campbell Live

Facebook: Save Campbell Live!

NZ Herald: John Campbell: Mr Conscience

Petition: TV3 – Save Campbell Live

Petition: Save Campbell Live

Other blogs

Brian Edwards: The Campbell Live Debate – A Considered View

Insight NZ: Some of the best #SaveCampbellLive tweets and statuses (so far)

No Right Turn: Save Campbell Live

Polity: John Campbell

Public Address: About Campbell Live

The Civilian: No telling how large Mike Hosking’s erection is right now

The Standard: Save Campbell Live!

The Standard: Campbell live and politicisation of media

The Political Scientist: Seven Sharp, Campbell Live and TV Ratings – The ‘Nudge’ Factor

Lefthandpalm: Campbell … live?

 

 

 


 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 11 April 2015.

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2015 – Ongoing jobless tally

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Unemployment logo

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Continued from: 2014 – Ongoing jobless tally

So by the numbers, for this year;

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Events

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January

February

March

April

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Statistics

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New Zealand Unemployment Rate - January 2014 - January 2015

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September 2014 quarter – Employment & Unemployment

In the September 2014 quarter compared with the June 2014 quarter:

  • The number of people employed increased by 18,000.
  • The employment rate increased 0.2 percentage points, to 65.2 percent. This came as employment growth outpaced population growth.
  • The unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage points to 5.4 percent.
  • The number of people unemployed decreased by 4,000.
  • The labour force participation rate increased 0.1 percentage points, to 69.0 percent.
September 2014 quarter Quarterly change Annual change
(000) (Percent)
Employed 2,346 +0.8 +3.2
Unemployed    134  -2.8 -9.6
Not in the labour force 1,116  +0.1  +0.6
Working-age population 3,595 +0.4 +1.8
(Percent) (Percentage points)
Employment rate  65.2 +0.2  +0.8
Unemployment rate    5.4 -0.2   -0.7
Labour force participation rate  69.0 +0.1  +0.4

Notes:

1. All figures are seasonally adjusted. Source: Statistics New Zealand

2. Employed: Includes people who worked one hour (or more) per week, whether paid or unpaid.

Source

December 2014 quarter – Employment & Unemployment

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Employment at a glance
Dec 2014 quarter Quarterly change Annual change
(000) Percent
Employed 2,375 +1.2 +3.5
Unemployed    143 +5.8 -2.6
Filled jobs 1,800 +0.1 +2.5
Percent Percentage points
Employment rate  65.7 +0.4 +1.0
Unemployment rate 5.7 +0.3 -0.3
Labour force participation rate 69.7 +0.7 +0.9

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Notes:

1. All figures are seasonally adjusted. Data source: Household Labour Force Survey: December 2014 quarter

2. Employed: Includes people who worked one hour (or more) per week, whether paid or unpaid.

3. Statistics NZ  has combined the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS), Quarterly Employment Survey (QES), and Labour Cost Index (LCI) information  into one combined Labour Market Statistics release.

Source

Analysis – Unemployment rising

Unemployment jumped from 5.4% to  5.7% in the December 2014 quarter. That translates into 8,000 more people being unemployed over the intervening quarter.

Data for March 2015 quarter will be released  6 May 2015.

Additional Information

The  under-employment stats;

People who are underemployed are those who work part-time, would prefer to work more hours, and are available to do so. In unadjusted terms, the number of underemployed grew by 12 percent over the year. While the number of part-time workers increased over the year, the ratio of people underemployed to employed part-time also rose – from 17.1 percent in June 2013 to 18.7 percent this quarter.

Official under-employment: up

 

Definitions

Jobless: people who are either officially unemployed, available but not seeking work, or actively seeking but not available for work. The ‘available but not seeking work’ category is made up of the ‘seeking through newspaper only’, ‘discouraged’, and ‘other’ categories.

Under-employment: employed people who work part time (ie usually work less than 30 hours in all jobs) and are willing and available to work more hours than they usually do.

Employed: people in the working-age population who, during the reference week, did one of the following:

  • worked for one hour or more for pay or profit in the context of an employee/employer relationship or self-employment 

  • worked without pay for one hour or more in work which contributed directly to the operation of a farm, business, or professional practice owned or operated by a relative 

  • had a job but were not at work due to: own illness or injury, personal or family responsibilities, bad weather or mechanical breakdown, direct involvement in an industrial dispute, or leave or holiday.

Source

Other Sources

Statistics NZ:  Household Labour Force Survey

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[To  be periodically up-dated]

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New Poll adds to Len Brown’s problems

9 April 2015 1 comment

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goff - auckland council - brown

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A recent poll has added to Auckland mayor, Len Brown’s problems. Horizon Research recently  revealed that the incumbent, Len Brown, has a serious challenger in the form of current Labour MP, Phil Goff;

Former Labour leader and cabinet minister Phil Goff is a clear front runner in results of a poll on who would receive most current and potential support if they were to run for the Auckland Mayoralty in 2016.

A Horizon Research poll of Auckland Council area residents conducted between 19 and 26 March 2015 finds Mr Goff, the MP for Mt Roskill, has 20% support of all respondents if he were to become a Mayoral candidate.

Former Mayor John Banks has 8% support.

Current Mayor Len Brown has 5%.

Runners-up in the poll were CEO for Auckland Chamber of Commerce, Michael Barnett, at 5%; National MP for Pakuranga, Maurice Williamson at 6%;  current right-wing councillor Cameron Brewer at 5%; and Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse, at 4%.

The poll follows an unscientific NZ Herald on-line survey  reported on 18 March, where 5,000 respondents cast their preferences. Again, Phil Goff was the  preferred candidate;

Phil Goff – 26%

John Banks – 22%

Michael Barnett – 15%

Maurice Williamson – 14%

Penny Hulse – 13%

Len  Brown – 5%

John Palino – 5%

One year ago, on 20 March 2014, the Herald published a more scientific survey which also gave bad news for any future Len Brown mayoral-candidacy.

The results were again less than encouraging for Brown;

Only 22.7 per cent of the people questioned in this month’s poll said they would vote for Mr Brown in the 2016 elections; 57.7 per cent said they would not. The other 20 per cent said they did not know or did not vote in local body elections.

Interestingly, the beneficiary of any anti-Brown voter-sentiment would appear to be another “left-leaning” candidate (Goff), and not his previous electoral rival, John Banks.

Despite his initial conviction, for filing a false electoral return for his failed 2010 mayoral  campaign, being quashed by the Court of Appeal in 2014, public perception of Banks’ lack of judgement may weigh against him for any political come-back. The ex-National MP; ex-ACT MP; and ex-Mayor is seen as too “accident”-prone to be considered a viable alternative to Len Brown.

Banks’ re-trial – set for 6 July this year – is by no means a guarantee that he will be found Not Guilty this time around.

Other right contenders are Maurice Williamson and John Palino – the latter implicated in  dirty dealings with a well-known right-wing blogger who ‘outed’ Brown’s affair with Auckland woman, Bevan Chuang;

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L-R: Luigi Wewege, Bevan Chuang, and John Palino

 

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Luige Wewege was closely connected with Palino’s mayoral campaign team. He was, in turn, ‘outed’ by Kiwiblogger, David Farrar, as a liar when Wewege denied in public that he himself had had a close relationship with Ms Chuang.

Wewege and Palino have burnt their political bridges in this country.

Auckland city councillor, Cameron Brewer, has also expressed a willingness to stand on a right-wing ticket. But aside from looking like a minor character who inhabits the comic-book store in the US sitcom, ‘Big Bang Theory‘, it is hard to see what he has going for him. As with Banks, Brown, and Williamson, contenders for a mayoralty require a strong, out-going personality. ‘Nuff said.

Which leaves Maurice Williamson as the most likely  right-wing adversary for a Goff tilt at the Auckland mayoralty.

Despite receiving only 14% support in the unscientific 18 March poll, support for Williamson cannot be under-estimated. His famous “Big Gay Rainbow” speech in Parliament on 17 April 2013  alone must have cemented Williamson as an inspirational beacon of hope for the LGBT community in Auckland.

With a decent campaign team and predictably plentiful donations of cash  from the business sector, Williamson could yet prove a strong adversary for Phil Goff.

One thing is for certain, as the Horizon Poll pointed out, Len Brown’s political career appears to be over;

“Indications are that 65% of ratepayers would not consider voting for Mr Brown if he were to be a candidate.”

It would be interesting to know who commissioned the poll-questioning regarding Auckland’s mayoralty.

The real question for the Left is, would a Phil Goff mayoralty be any better?

If Goff issued any statement on the dispute, I have yet to find it.

It is that silence which I find troubling. And it is not often that I am troubled by a politician’s silence.

 

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References

Horizon Poll:  Brown down, Goff front runner in Mayoralty poll

NZ Herald: Auckland Mayor Len Brown loses backing of top campaign team

NZ Herald: Thumbs down for Len Brown – poll

Fairfax media:  John Banks retrial set for July 6

Fairfax media: The mayor, the love rat and nudity

Kiwiblog: Not in a relationship!

TV3 News: Wewege denies relationship with Chuang

NZ Herald: Cameron Brewer hints at bid as Phil Goff eyes mayoralty

TVNZ News: Williamson’s ‘big, gay rainbow’ speech makes world headlines

Fairfax media: Phil Goff – rebel with applause

NZ Herald: Wharfies supported after ‘disturbing’ lock-out notice

NZ Herald: Port admits leaking worker’s details – union

Other related blogposts

Workers lose their jobs – Day of Shame!

A media release I would love to see from Len Brown

Lies, Boards, and Aucklandports

Lies, Boards, and Aucklandports (#Rua)

10 March – Today was a True Labour Day!

Ratbags, Rightwingers, and other assorted Rogues!

I have seen one future, and it is bleak

National MP admits collusion with bosses to set up strike-breaking law!!

Other blogs

Evening Report: Why Len Brown Should Stand Down and Why Phil Goff Should Stand for the Auckland Mayoralty

Kiwiblog: Mayor Goff?

The Daily Blog: 5 reasons why Goff will run for Auckland Mayor

The Standard: Len Brown’s future

The Standard: Len Brown is toast

Your NZ: Brown eased out, Goff lining up

 

 


 

len brown - john banks - i'm glad i'm not that guy

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 4 April 2015.

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John Key’s government – death by two cuts

3 April 2015 1 comment

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With Winston Peters winning the Northland by-election, National’s grip on power has loosened, with one less seat in Parliament.

Before 28 March, National held 60 seats in the House, and with it’s neutered poodles, ACT/David Seymour, and Peter Dunne/United Future, had an overall majority of 62 out of 121.

With Peters’ victory, National’s majority now rests on Peter Dunne, who, on occassion has exhibited an ‘annoying’ streak of quasi-independence from the National Party Politburo.

What has not been examined by the MSM is that should National face another by-election, even Dunne’s support will not be sufficient for National to pass legislation, and reliance on the more independent minded Maori Party would put Key’s administration into an untenable situation.

For example, on TVNZ’s ‘Q+A‘ on 29 March – the day after the by-election – the Maori Party’s co-leader Marama Fox outlined her party’s position on social welfare;

Fox: “We now have the opportunity to leverage of this platform; to negotiate every piece of legislation…

… One of the things that we need to ensure is that we can put money in the hands of the people who most need it. If you look at the poverty statistics in this country, the people who are most affected by poverty are families on benefits. And benefits have not risen with the rates of the cost of living in the last thiry years, really, in realistic terms and those people need some relief.”

When Corin Dann asked Ms Fox if she would demand more money from the Finance Minister to increase welfare payments, she replied;

Yes, absolutely.”

This is not something Bill English would want to hear. With National’s Budget surplus this year balanced on a knife’s edge, English has already squashed John Key’s suggestion of a $130 million tax-payer funded bail-out of SkyCity’s convention centre;

There’s no contingency for that. If the less preferred option ended up being the option then that money would be part of the Budget process.

It beggars belief that English would welcome an  increased welfare bill costing many hundreds of times greater than the subsidy proposed for a multi-national casino – though god knows it would go a long way toward alleviating increasing child poverty in this country.

Yet, that is precisely the situation that National now finds itself in. One more by-election loss, and National’s majority in the House would vanish, and Key’s administration would be at the pleasure of the Maori Party.

National’s choice? To abandon right-wing “reforms” and appease the Maori Party’s demands for  increase social spending – or call an early election.

As the General Election in 1984 showed, voters do not appreciate early elections and the governing Party is punished at the ballot box.

So where is National vulnerable to losing by-elections?

The following five National-held electorates have majorities of five thousand or less, and in a major swing away from the government, could potentially fall into the hands of an Opposition Party;

Auckland Central Nikki Kaye 600
Christchurch Central Nicky Wagner 2,420
Maungakiekie Sam Lotu-Iiga 2,348
Waimakariri Matthew Doocey 2,506
Whanganui Chester Borrows 4,505

In addition, there are ten electorate National/ACT MPs with majorities between 5,000 and 9,000 – the latter figure being Mike Sabin’s 2014 electoral majority;

East Coast Anne Tolley 7,934
Epsom* David Seymour* 4,250*
Hamilton West Tim Macindoe 5,784
Invercargill Sarah Dowie 7,482
Nelson Nick Smith 7,605
Ōtaki Nathan Guy 7,782
Papakura Judith Collins 5,119
Rotorua Todd McClay 7,418
Tukituki Craig Foss 6,490
Wairarapa Alastair Scott 6,771

National’s other coalition partner, Peter Dunne, has a slim majority of only 710.

At this point, the National Party politburo and their charismatic, blokey Dear Leader must be praying to every god in the heavens for the health and safety of those sixteen members of Parliament.

Key, English, Joyce, et al, must also wondering if any of their colleagues have any skeletons rattling noisily in their closet? And if so – does Labour or NZ First know about it?

 

* Unreliable majority because of deal-making between ACT and National.

 

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References

TVNZ Q+A: Maori Party Emboldened?

NZCity: English eyes a 2014/15 budget surplus

Interest.co.nz: Finance Minister prefers not to spend taxpayer cash to avoid Sky City ‘eyesore'; no money in Budget 2015 for it

Wikipedia: Northland (New Zealand electorate) – 2014 Election

Previous related blogposts

Northland by-election – a damning poll and a damnable lie?

Letter to the editor – Northland voters have been warned


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 The Nationalmobile

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 30 March 2015.

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