Gotcha doesn’t get voters

July 29, 2014

John Armstrong writes on the disease of gotcha politics:

It sure ain’t pretty. It sure ain’t enlightening. It is most definitely insidious. It is a creeping cancer of the New Zealand body politic.

Regardless of whether it is John Key or David Cunliffe who has the numbers on election night to pick up the reins of power, so-called “gotcha politics” is almost guaranteed to be the big winner of the 2014 election campaign.

If it is voters will be the losers.

“Gotcha politics” is all about focusing voters’ attention on the gaffes and mistakes of opponents rather than trying to win the election by winning the battle of ideas.

It is personality-based politics, not issue-driven politics. It is all about wrecking your opponents’ campaign by landing major hits on their credibility.

It is also negative.

That’s what makes Labour’s exhortation to vote positive so oxymoronic because they’ve spent so much of this parliamentary term being so negative.

At its worst, gotcha politics can be an old-fashioned witch-hunt dressed up in modern-day notions of accountability. None of this new, of course.

What has changed is the extent and intensity of gotcha politics.

Even the Greens are not immune. Last Friday, that party joined others in stressing its campaign would focus on the issues, rather than the sideshows.

Was this the same Green Party whose co-leader Metiria Turei had spent much of the week demanding a prime ministerial apology for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs blunder regarding the granting of diplomatic immunity to a defence attache at the Malaysian High Commission charged with sexual assault?

No matter that various apologies had already been forthcoming. No matter that the State Sector Act and the Cabinet Manual set clear boundaries to prevent ministers interfering in operational matters – thereby begging the question of exactly what John Key was supposed to be apologising for. No matter that the Greens had politicised the whole affair to the point of jeopardising the prosecution of the Malaysian official.

When politicians get ahead of the judicial process justice for both the victim and the accused are the losers.

It is unfair to single out the Greens. Both National and Labour are just as guilty, if not more so. National’s being in Government makes it more likely to be a target of such attacks, however.

One reason “gotcha politics” is becoming more endemic is that Key has neutralised so many issues that Opposition parties are having to resort to personality-based attacks to make any kind of impact.

It’s the Opposition’s role to hold a government to account but it should be able to do that on issues rather than personalities.

If it can’t then it is not ready for government.

The other major factor is conflict-driven news media. The seemingly insatiable 24-hours-a-day appetite of internet news sites means quality has to be sacrificed for quantity when it comes to investigations and analysis.

In these circumstances, it is temptingly easier to manufacture the news through the media playing their own version of gotcha politics by trying to catch politicians out.

And an election campaign provides the happiest of all hunting grounds for such practices.

I am sure this is one of the reasons so many people are disenchanted with politics and that voter turnout is dropping.

Serious analysis and intelligent debate of issues has been replaced by a focus on personalities and sideshows.

Gotcha politics might be entertaining but it doesn’t get the majority of voters, on the contrary it turns many off.

 


Story behind story behind picture

July 26, 2014

The picture on the cover of Rugby News has caused a bit of controversy this week.

 

 

The editor explained the story behind the picture and the story on Facebook:

Dear readers,

Given the media exposure around the current edition featuring John Key – in the spirit of openness, I wanted to explain the thinking and reasoning behind the WHOLE process and be totally upfront about ALL aspects.
Firstly – as owner/editor, I am not aligned to the National Party in any way. I am undecided who my vote will go to. Rugby New standpoint (and mine) is that we are not wanting ,or trying, to endorse a candidate or party.

WHY THE ARTICLE?

Firstly – I think if you have any kind of opinion worth listening to you need to read the article too and put it in to context with the front cover.
Over the last 7-8 months, of me putting stories together, I have often come across popular pictures of the PM in the All Blacks changing room, after winning a game. The picture of the PM and Richie having a beer was one. I thought – from an editorial viewpoint – that this was an interesting picture and the seed for an article.
Some of my thoughts were: “Lucky bugger – how cool would that be having a beer with Richie and being in the changing room”. Closely followed by – “How come he gets that and everyday supporters don’t.” Unfair maybe, but that’s how things work.
From there I began thinking that like the PM, or loathe him, he does seem like a genuine rugby fan and obviously a proud Kiwi. This was the start point for the article, but I didn’t want that to be the main aspect.
The main aspect of the article was to see how big the All Blacks brand was overseas from our elected leader’s standpoint – not something that we would know about necessarily. Are we just big in NZ and rugby playing countries? Are we big, just in knowledgeable sporting circles, or does the All Blacks winning brand extend to business/politics in countries that weren’t large rugby nations? In short, the All Blacks brand and how global it is. I imagined that many Kiwi’s may not realise how big-a-deal the AB’s were globally – especially in non-rugby mad countries – and if they did, isn’t it nice to be that respected and in that position?
These two aspects underwrote the article content. It does state that ‘whatever your politics.’ Nowhere did it glorify the PM as a leader, nor did it mention the General Election, or National Party.
As such we wrote an interesting article. I stand by its journalistic credibility as one of a number of rugby themed stories that some people would identify with more than others.

THE FRONT COVER:

The front cover came about through a synergy of ideas. As the issue was about the Rugby Championships, it HAD to have the All Blacks on it. Another article (by Craig Dowd) highlighted the importance of the forwards in the Championship. Hence, the choice of all forwards in the cover picture. We also wanted the PM on the cover issue as having him in the magazine – regardless of his/you/our politics – was something of a coup.
The poses struck were showing the players in a ‘V’ shape – this was to symbolise ‘Victory’. Having the PM at the front of the V (in his supporters jersey) was symbolising all NZ rugby fans – from the lowest/youngest right up to the PM – were right behind our All Blacks, as they went for a world record of wins and in to the (very hard) Rugby Championships.
The title ‘Pack Leader’ was a play on words for the player i/c the forwards in a team and the ‘leaders’ being Richie McCaw (AB’s) and the PM.
#1 All Blacks fan – I am sure people would look at that and think ‘He’s not the number one fan, I am!’ This aspect was about getting people’s attention.
In truth what we set up to do was to produce what, on the face of it, appeared to be a typical, traditional Rugby News cover. What we were looking for is – as people walked through Whitcoull’s – they would walk past and glance, do a double-take, come back and then pick up the magazine to check it out and hopefully buy it. All magazine covers aim to try to draw people in and that is what we were trying to do here beyond our regular, staunch, rugby intelligent customers.

THE TIMING

This is the area where – in retrospect – I will concede some journalistic naevity in this regard and also apologise to anyone who was offended. Certainly not what I wanted. I am passionate about rugby at all levels and only interested in the development of the game at all levels and the New Zealand Rugby/All Blacks brand and value.
We started work on the magazine some 6 weeks before it hits the shops at this time there was nothing/very little around the election. Our thoughts about the election only surfaced very close to the actual print date – when the New Zealand Rugby (who were kept fully aware of the article and the cover. It was them who asked that we made it sure that there was a note saying: *Cover image Photo-shopped. Not an official All Blacks/New Zealand Rugby endorsement.

I made the decision that we would go with the cover – for the reasons outlined above. I didn’t for a second imagine it would be swallowed up by the political propaganda machine and make the headlines it has. If I had suspected this, I would not have had the same cover and opted for a quieter life! I simply believed it’s maximum impact would be the Whitcoull’s ‘double-take’ moment. I was wrong and as said before, I apologise to those who feel it was wrong and ill-timed.
I cannot change the decisions and issue now and hope that sincere apologies goes some way to expressing my concern at having upset some people.

PERMISSION

I chased the PM’s press secretary to do the story and take his photograph. The National Party/PM’s office did not offer nor give any financial incentive (or other kinds of incentive) and nor did they initiate the story/cover. The PM’s office was kept fully aware at all times.

We told New Zealand Rugby about the story, but only shared the final cover with them just before it went to print. They rightly requested a clarification to make it clear this was not in any way a cover photo endorsed by New Zealand Rugby or the All Blacks.

The New Zealand Rugby are fantastic supporters of Rugby News and outstanding guardians of the game. They are not in any way to blame, or responsible for this article and cover.

CONCLUSION

I hope that people can appreciate the openness that I have explained here and the thought process behind the article, cover and timing.
In retrospect – a great thing to have – I concede that I did not expect the adverse reaction that I have had from some people or the strength of feeling those people have around this issue. I have learned a valuable lesson there.
I am sorry that this magazine – which is my livelihood – and the game I love and the Rugby News brand may have been tarnished in some people’s eyes. However, the magazine remains highly relevant to Rugby fans and the breadth and quality of our articles is, I believe, the best in NZ as a pre-competition reference magazine.
I would ask that people respect this open and honest explanation and not seek to take parts of it and misrepresent it, me or the Rugby News brand. I would hope that this explanation and frank honesty could be respected – if not applauded by some – as an apology for misreading some people’s depth of opinion and an adult response from a real person and not a heartless, faceless corporate.

Hopefully this is and end to the matter and the focus can return to the Crusaders winning for Canterbury and NZ on Saturday and the All Blacks gaining a world record victory streak and winning the Rugby Championship. Now that really DOES matter!

The story behind this story is one of naivety.

A cover like this was bound to cause a stir at any time and more so this close to an election and anyone atuned to politics would have known that.

But the story behind the story behind the picture is that the editor wasn’t thinking of rugby not politics.

And that’s like a lot of other New Zealanders.

Shortly before the last election I made a comment about the front page story of the paper I was buying to the young man serving me.

It had something to do with the election and his response was, “is there an election this year?”

There’s political tragics like me who are focused on the election and there are a whole lot of others who aren’t .

Among them are people who rarely if ever think of politics and among them will be some people who don’t even know there’s an election in a couple of months.


What matters

July 26, 2014

Early in the week Labour leader David Cunliffe issued some more apologies then vowed to stick to what matters.

If we’re to take him at his word, what matters is who’s hosting the TVNZ debate between the Prime Minister and Opposition leader.

What matters isn’t that people in the media are biased but that we know what their bias is.

When we listen to John Campbell we know his personal bias is left.

When we listen to Mike Hosking we know his personal bias is right.

That is something we can take into account when thinking about what they say and how they conduct themselves and any interviews they do.

That is far better than having people in the media with a bias who aren’t overt about it and, deliberately or not, let it influence their work.

That’s when bias matters in the media.

But this issue isn’t what matters in politics and once more Cunliffe has fallen into a hole of his own making by complaining about something that doesn’t matter which leaves no oxygen for the big things that do – the economy, education, health and welfare.

 

 

 

 


Stop the suppression

July 9, 2014

The Sensible Sentencing Trust has launched a Stop the Suppression campaign and is asking New Zealanders to get in behind a campaign to overhaul the name suppression laws in NZ.

“Sadly all too often child sex offenders prey on unsuspecting victims because they have previously been granted name suppression”, says Ruth Money, Campaign Spokesperson. “The current law needs to be revised to ensure these offenders can no longer hide behind suppression that is granted to protect the victims of their crimes, not the offender”.

“We are encouraging media to stop reporting the relationship between the offender and the victim. This would then allow the offender to be named and the public to be aware and therefore more protected. No one needs to know a sex offender assaulted his niece for example, we just need to know his name so we can ensure he doesn’t end up harming our kids in the future” states Money.

“In New Zealand, on average, 30 convicted child sex offenders are granted final name suppression each year. Where these men and women now live or work is a complete mystery – we believe this is a public risk. Would you want them coaching your kids or running a motel for example?” . . .

Outspoken justice campaigner Derryn Hinch is visiting from Australia this week to assist with the campaign launch and will be encouraging kiwis to sign the Stop The Suppression Petition. . .

The petition is here.

The media often they give details of the case and the relationship with the victim which would enable the victim to be identified.

In some cases suppressing those details could allow the accused, or convicted person, to be named without risking the victim’s right to anonymity.

Sometimes victims are willing to be named but suppression orders prevent them from being identified and often as a consequence from telling their stories which could help others.

Victims should not be made to feel there is any reason for them to be ashamed and giving them the choice of whether their names are suppressed or not could empower them.

Another problem of publishing details without identifying the accused is that it can cast aspersions on other innocent people.

A few years ago, for example, a comedian was accused of child abuse and sufficient details were given to spread doubt over several other comedians who were innocent.

Suppression has a place, but there is a case for changing the law so that the guilty can be named without breaching victims’ rights, to decrease the likelihood of further offending and to stop publication of selective details incriminating innocent people.


Day of the journalist

June 9, 2014

Saturday was the Day of the Journalist, if not everywhere it was somehwere in the world where they speak Spanish.

"Sin periodistas no hay periodismo sin periodismo no hay democracia" #FelizDiadelPeriodista


Real problem is public funding

June 8, 2014

The Taxpayers’ Union is understandably aghast that the Electoral Commission is giving The Civilian Party $33,000 for election broadcasts.

David Farrar has a table showing the amount allocated to the main parties, and comparing it to their party vote last time, and the average in the public polls since the election (up until when the Commission met).

. . . These are not the only two criteria, but it is interesting to look at the results. Based on vote at the last elections National and Conservatives get a $1 per vote. Labour, Greens and NZ First $1.36 to $1.62 and the smaller parties $3 to $5. This is pretty standard that the smaller parties get proportionally a bit more.

In terms of dollars per average % in the polls, National gets $23,000 per %, Labour $28,000, Greens $33,000, Conservatives $38,000 and NZ First 38,000.

That doesn’t seem entirely fair.

However, my main concern is not who gets who much, but that political parties get any public money for campaigning at all.

They’re voluntary organisations and should fund their own broadcasts.


Oamaru There and Back

May 25, 2014

TVNZ Heartland’s There and Back aims to discover the real people behind television moments that put New Zealand small towns on the map.

A recent show featured Oamaru.


Covert’s the problem not overt

May 20, 2014

Maori broadcaster Julian Wilcox has no plans to stand for the Labour Party.

Maori TV said in a statement titled “Response to Media Speculation” that Mr Wilcox remained committed to his job as general manager of news and current affairs.

Chief executive Paora Maxwell said: “MTS accepts Mr Wilcox’s written statement and we will continue to value our editorial independence in providing impartial and independent news coverage of significant regional and national stories from a Maori perspective.”

Mr Wilcox was one of several journalists whose political ambitions or connections were questioned last week. . .

And a questions till remains – does he have any affiliation to or bias towards the Labour Party?

In the wake of the Shane Taurima furore, TVNZ has banned political journalists from joining political parties.

But as Karl du Fresne points out, the rules won’t eliminate the most troubling bias.

I struggle to accept that being a political journalist necessarily requires you to neuter yourself as a citizen. The crucial issue, surely, is how you do the job. Journalists should be judged on the fairness and impartiality of their reporting and commentary. It’s possible to be a party member and still be even-handed as a journalist.

I can think of relatively high-profile journalists who hold strong left-wing views in private but still manage to do their work with integrity, as the journalists’ code of ethics requires. There are also journalists and commentators (Paul Henry and John Campbell, for example) who quite openly lean one way or the other – but since their politics are no secret, viewers can decide for themselves how much weight to place on whatever they might say.

These are not the people who worry me. The ones we should really be concerned about are the journalists who hold pronounced political views that are not declared, but which permeate their reportage. There are a lot of them about, probably more than ever before, and they will never be controlled by arbitrary rules – such as TVNZ is now imposing – about declarations of political interest.

Last week news broke that lawyer and broadcaster Linda Clark, who is a political commentator for TV3 and occasional panelist on RadioNZ’s Afternoons, had been giving media training to David Cunliffe.

This wasn’t confirmed but du Fresne says she’s probably not the only one.

. . . If what I hear is correct, quite a few high-profile media figures have nice little undisclosed earners providing advice to politicians. In fact it’s an odd quirk of New Zealand politics that many of the commentators provided with media platforms for their supposedly objective views are hopelessly compromised.

If it’s fair to unmask Clark for grazing on both sides of the fence, then let’s complete the job by exposing all the others who are on the take. This could get very interesting.

It’s not the overt political leanings which are a threat to fair and balanced reporting, it’s the covert ones.

If we know the biases of journalists and commentators we can make an informed judgement on their work.

Without that knowledge we can only wonder.


No choice re Taurima

May 13, 2014

The Labour Party had been delaying the selection of a candidate in the Tamaki Makaurau electorate in the hope that Shane Taurima would be cleared of wrong-doing at TVNZ.

He wasn’t which left them with no choice but to disallow his nomination.

The former TVNZ manager and presenter was forced to resign from the broadcaster because of his involvement in Labour party campaigning.

The party’s ruling body met last night and decided not to grant a waiver to Mr Taurima, meaning his nomination cannot go ahead.

Mr Taurima needed the waiver because he’d been a party member for less than a year when he was nominated for the seat. . .

The report into his conduct found no bias but it did find misuse of his employer’s resources.

An independent review has found the former General Manager of TVNZ’s Maori and Pacific Programmes department did misuse company resources for political activities with the Labour Party.

But the panel cleared Shane Taurima of any political bias in his interviews and the editorial content he produced for TVNZ programmes. . . .

In the  full report released today , the panel said it scrutinised Mr Taurima’s first interview with National MP Paula Bennett on TVNZ’s Q + A programme in March 2012 in particular, after critics claimed he “browbeat the Minister”.

Mr Taurima said the interview was not his best work, but the panel found “it did not show evidence of bias”.

The panel also said the three other staffers involved had an “extremely limited ability to influence editorial content” and there was no evidence they had tried to do so.

‘Inappropriate use of resources’

The panel did find that TVNZ resources “were used inappropriately” for Labour Party political purposes by Mr Taurima and three members of his staff – none of whom are still employed by TVNZ.

The panel said the “financial cost was negligible but, aside from this, it should not have happened.”

The panel cited an instance where TVNZ funds were used to transport a TVNZ staff member to a meeting at Mr Taurima’s house “to establish two Labour Party branches”. The panel said it recommends TVNZ seek reimbursement for this expense.

Mr Kenrick says: “What happened was completely unacceptable. It’s an absolute necessity for our News and Current Affairs service to operate free from political influence.” . .

The sum of money might not be large but the blatant misuse of employer’s money in that way would be bad enough in itself.

That is was for political purposes when the employer is a a state broadcaster is far worse.

. . . Mr Kenrick says he accepts “that there were shortcomings in our management of Shane when he returned to TVNZ, and that won’t happen again.”

He says the company already has a number of checks and balances in place to protect the integrity of news coverage. But he says TVNZ will immediately take steps to tighten internal protocols, as recommended, to protect the editorial independence of its news.

The report has identified roles in TVNZ’s News and Current Affairs division where the review panel believes political party membership and active support for a political party is untenable. These are roles that carry significant editorial influence and include political reporters, senior content producers, editors and news managers, and the Chief Executive as Editor in Chief.

“We won’t be asking our staff to tell us who they vote for. But we think it’s reasonable to ask anyone who reports, edits or produces political content to be upfront with us if they’re a member of a political party. Anyone who creates news content for TVNZ should disclose any political activity beyond passive party membership,” Mr Kenrick says. . .

Freedom of association is important but so to is balance and fairness in a state broadcaster.

Active membership in a political party would give the perception of bias – whether or not it was real – and that is untenable.


Congratulations Cameron

May 10, 2014

Cameron Slater won the Best Blog at the Canon Media Awards last night.

The award recognises the impact he makes with Whaleoil.

It doesn’t condone all, or in fact any, of his posts.

I find some offensive and don’t bother going past the headline on many.

But some are well researched and break news  and make an impact in a way no other blog in New Zealand does.

Congratulations, Cameron, that’s why you got the award and you deserved it.

 

 


Blame the media

May 2, 2014

Trans-Tasman opines:

You can’t say anything critical about the Labour Party at the moment it seems, without being accused of bias. The party’s activists, both at MP and grassroots/social media level, have become extraordinarily chippy and defensive of late. The one big policy initiative this week, the compulsory savings and monetary policy announcement, was accompanied, in finance spokesman David Parker’s speech, by an extraordinary amount of defensive rhetoric about how much the party is being mis-represented.

It is not just the usual politican’s slag-the-media, get-your-retaliation-in-first tactic. There is a genuine and rising tide of bile among Labour folk towards what they feel is a biased and pro-National political media.

Labour keeps doing stupid things, not to report that would be bias.

Bias comes in many forms though: in media matters, the most important is narrative and confirmation bias rather than ideological. If you go back a decade, the narrative bias was Labour’s Helen Clark was all-competent, all-effective, while National had trouble finding its own backside with both hands. If an expectation has been created of a certain type of behaviour, journalists will go looking for it. As a matter of substance, Labour leader David Cunliffe’s bogus claim of a grandfather with a Military Medal is pretty trivial. Most of us have family oral histories with an element of embroidery about them. But against a background of playing too cute with the facts it was asking for trouble.

The medal claim wouldn’t have been perceived so negatively, and covered so widely, had Cunliffe not already had a reputation for gilding the lily.

Most of us are not political leaders, and most of us are not putting such matters of family history into speeches aimed at garnering political support. The only way to counter this bias is to stop doing things which feed it. . .

That doesn’t mean letting media training turn you into an automaton:

 

 


Interesting or important

April 17, 2014

Don Brash posts on Facebook:

What intrigues me about media reaction to the book so far is that almost all of it has focused on either (a) my personal life (which occupies a very small part of the book) or (b) my relationship with John Key, and what he and I may or may not have agreed in a motel room in Blenheim late in 2004. Oh yes, and Kim Hill spent quite a bit of time in her interview with me talking about the Exclusive Brethren.

I have seen no comment at all on my views on drug policy; or the importance of treating all New Zealanders as equal before the law; or the importance that we should attach to all immigrants signing up to key aspects of the New Zealand way of life (equality of men and women, access for girls to education, freedom to worship God or not to worship God, etc.); or my worries about religious fundamentalism; or my views on our relationship with China; or my concern that a very high rate of immigration in recent decades may be contributing to both our slow rate of growth in per capita income and our over-valued real exchange rate; or my overall assessment of the Key Government; or indeed my concern for the future of democracy.

It’s a slightly depressing reflection on what the media think interests the general public.

Only slightly depressing?

We do get some good analysis in the media but too often, as Brash observes, what might be considered of interest gets attention and what’s really important is ignored.

Andrei left this comment yesterday:

Good Lord – this is inane.

We are on the brink of the Third World War, perhaps the only hope of staving it off is a conference in Geneva due to take place
tomorrow and as we speak any hope of that conference taking place is being sabotaged by evil men

This is Holy Week and very unholy it is, blood is being spilled to advance the cause of darkness and chaos.

Apologies for the threadjack.

If you pray, pray for peace.

How many of us know what he’s talking about?

How many of us understand the issues?

How much coverage and analysis are we getting on them?

 


To be seen or not to be seen

April 16, 2014

Campbell Live wanted to do a series on party leaders at home.

It is the sort of publicity politicians can’t buy and an opportunity to show voters the people behind the politics.

John Key was first up last week.

Peter Dunne and Winston Peters declined to take part.

David Cunliffe was scheduled for Monday evening this week  but he pulled out.

. . . Mr Cunliffe has also cancelled an invitation for a second time to have television cameras in his home for an election year leaders series. Mr Parker says Mr Cunliffe has a young family and a right to privacy. . .

His family does have a right to privacy but if last week’s session at home with the Keys was anything to go by, there would have been no need for the family to be involved.

It is much more likely he doesn’t want people to see he doesn’t live in a modest house, in a modest suburb.

The family was a silly excuse and his decision an error of judgement similar to turning down the invitation for a weekly interview on the Farming Show.

It has been compounded by his not turning up in parliament at Question Time, choosing to address some business leaders instead.

We’re not hearing him on the Farming Show, we’re not see him on TV and we’re not seeing him in the House yet only last week he was complaining because he wasn’t going to be seen enough with the Royals.

Does he want to be seen and heard or doesn’t he?


Facebook fears, food fads and a furious pear

April 15, 2014

Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today was sparked by:

* Here’s what Facebook’s doing to your brain: it’s kind of shocking

* The Most Challenging Dinner Guest Ever: And 5 Delicious Meals To Feed Them (and yes I do understand that allergies aren’t fads, but let’s not the facts get in the way of an alliterative headline) from The Kitchen.Com

And

* The Furious Pear Pie

 

 


Press freedom

April 14, 2014

New Zealand’s in the top tier again:


When did you last see a topless Maori dancer?

April 6, 2014

The Telegraph reports:

Topless female Maori dancers will cover up when they greet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the start of their tour, according to a Maori expert.

Tredegar Hall, a member of the London-based Maori club Ngati Ranana, said male dancers wearing grass skirts had also been instructed to add underwear for the ceremonial welcome in Wellington on Monday. . .

 

It is possible Hall knows more about Maori protocol than I do but I can’t recall ever seeing topless Maori dancers.


Farming Show says no to Cunliffe

April 3, 2014

The Farming Show has interviewed the leaders of the National and labour parties each week for years.

When Jamie Mackay offered the spot to David Cunliffe he turned it down and Jamie wasn’t impressed.

Cunliffe has now had second thoughts:

CALLER PETER:   Good morning, Mr Cunliffe.
DAVID CUNLIFFE:             Morning.
CALLER PETER:   I was just wondering if you could explain why you’ve refused to appear on the Farming Show.
DAVID CUNLIFFE:             Actually, you know what? I’ll make an offer to you today. I’m happy to do that. I’ve changed my mind.
TIM FOOKES:     Why did you say no, though? This is…
DAVID CUNLIFFE:             Because I was told before I became leader that the particular show used to ridicule my predecessor in a way that was grossly unfair. Now, that may or may not be true, but that’s what I was told. I accepted that advice, and I declined to appear. This is…
CALLER PETER:   Russel Norman appears on it.
DAVID CUNLIFFE:             Yes, and I’ll tell you what, I’m making a commitment today: if I get a call from Jamie Mackay, invite me on, I’ll do it. There you go.
TIM FOOKES:     There you go, Peter. Look, the problem is, if you’ve said no, do you expect Jamie Mackay to come knocking on your door and saying, look, if you’ve now said yes, will you come back?
DAVID CUNLIFFE:             It’s a good offer. It’s up to him. Doesn’t worry me either way.
TIM FOOKES:     I mean, this is the thing – and I was very surprised when you said no, or when your office said no, because you need, it appears, to get out there and to get among people, especially farmers and people who want – you know, want a bit of a…
DAVID CUNLIFFE:             Yes, look, believe it or not, I actually kind of like farming. I grew up in a farming district, South Canterbury. I spent a year working on a shearing gang and on a cropping farm. And I got dirt under my fingernails. In fact, I spent a fair while mucking out pigpens as well, but that’s another story. Oh, I could tell you some stories about pigpens. But I won’t.

Mackay is a professional.

He sometimes asks tough questions and he is sometimes irreverent but I have never heard him treat a politician unfairly.

Cunliffe obviously realises he made a mistake and has had second thoughts but the Farming Show host has not.

Everyone makes mistakes and this one has come back to bite Cunliffe.

He’s missed an opportunity to speak to provincial New Zealand – and city people who tune into Radio Sport from 12 -1pm.

But worse for him, in the interests of balance and on the advice of Damien O’Connor, Mackay already invited Shane Jones to appear.


More coverage, new powers for Press Council

March 24, 2014

The New Zealand Press Council is to offer membership to new digital media and gain additional powers to deal with complaints against traditional print media.

The moves follow a review of the Press Council by its main funder, the Newspaper Publishers’ Association, which considered recommendations by the Press Council and a report last year by the Law Commission.

The Press Council was established in 1972 to adjudicate on complaints against member newspapers. Newspaper publishers decided to include magazines in 1998 and the council’s mandate was further expanded in 2002 to include members’ websites. Current chair is former High Court judge Sir John Hansen and the council has a majority of non-media industry members.

Newspaper Publishers’ Association editorial director Rick Neville, who chairs the Press Council’s executive committee, said most publishers felt the time had come to strengthen the Press Council’s authority, and to extend its coverage to handle complaints against digital media, including bloggers.

“The media world is changing and fragmenting. It’s important that a body set up to maintain high standards, and provide an avenue for reader complaints, keeps pace with those changes.”

Sir John Hansen welcomed the industry’s initiative in broadening the council’s remit by offering coverage to digital media while also providing more tools to deal effectively with complaints.

“It’s important that all consumers of media have an avenue for complaint, and for them to believe their complaint has been handled with fairness and professionalism. ”

Under the present structure, newspapers and magazines pay an annual membership fee to the Press Council. They are also required to abide by the council’s statement of principles and accept the council’s complaints processes.

The intention is to offer a new form of membership to other, non-newspaper digital media, conditional on their agreeing to the same conditions as those applying to current members. A new fee structure will be set based on the size of the digital entity and its commercial or non-commercial status. The new structure, including changes affecting current members of the Press Council, will take effect from May 1.

Among the new powers being taken on by the council is the right, in exceptional circumstances, to censure a newspaper, magazine or website. Such a move would require a unanimous decision from the Press Council.

The council is also assuming greater powers to direct where an adjudication should appear in a publication, and members will be required to regularly publicise the existence of the Press Council and how complaints should be pursued. For instance, where an offending article has been published on one or more of the first three pages of a newspaper, the council will be able to direct an adjudication to be published on page three. Similar placement requirements will cover magazines and websites.

Editors will be required to publicise the council’s complaints processes by way of a fortnightly item at either the foot of a news briefs column, or on the editorial or letters page. Regular notices will also have to be published in member magazines and websites.

Member websites will be required to provide an easy-to-find complaints channel, advising how viewers can make a complaint to the media organization, then onto the Press Council if the complainant remains dissatisfied.

Where the council believes the potential harm or damage to an individual or organization outweighs the need to keep the public record straight, it will have the right to direct the excising of elements of a story from an online article, or for an article to be taken down.

Last year, the Law Commission produced a report entitled The News Media Meets ‘New Media’. It recommended the merger of the Press Council, the Broadcasting Standards Authority and the broadcasters’ Online Media Standards Authority (OMSA) into a new, self-regulatory body to handle complaints against all media. The majority of print media opposed the recommendation, preferring instead to strengthen the Press Council.

The Government opted not to act on the Law Commission’s proposals but Ministers gave notice that they wanted to see media self-regulation continue to improve, and to cater for complaints against digital media.

This will be opt-in but will offer standing to non traditional media, including I presume blogs, which choose to take up the offer, and are accepted.

It will require responsibility and give some protection.

This move could also give credence to bloggers’ right to maintain confidentiality of sources as traditional media do.


How not to write a media release

March 18, 2014

A good media release should answer all the appropriate ws – who, what, where, when, why and how.

Labour’s announcement of its candidate for Tukituki tells us the basic who,  Anna Lorck, for where and when she was selected.

It also tries to say how:

She was selected today from a field of three strong candidates to represent Labour.

Moira Coatsworth said today:

“A great crowd of Labour members attended today’s selection meeting. . .

That is trying to put a positive spin on Labour’s undemocratic selection process which gives more power to unions and head office than local members.

But the glaring omission from the release is answering anything about what the candidate’s background and credentials are.

The party has had a run of SMOGs – social media own goals – and now it’s failing to get an old-fashioned media release right.

A selection announcement is a golden opportunity to promote a new candidate but all this release did is put paint-by-number platitudes in her mouth.


Sol3 Mio

March 1, 2014

Interview of the week

Jim Mora in conversation with Sol3 Mio  and obviously enjoying their music and humour.


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