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.


Bias in business as usual?

February 26, 2014

TVNZ has announced the panel to review the misuse of company resources and alleged political bias.

It includes media law expert Steven Price and broadcasting figure Bill Francis.

Price is a barrister specialising in media law and lectures at Victoria University of Wellington’s law school. Francis is the Chief Executive of the Radio Broadcasters Association with more than 45 years broadcasting experience. . .

The review panel will be chaired by Brent McAnulty, TVNZ’s Head of Legal and Corporate Affairs, and be joined by others as needed – to provide Maori language expertise, for instance.

The panel will investigate the inappropriate use of TVNZ resources within its Maori and Pacific Programmes department for political means between February 2013 and February 2014.

It will also determine whether any obvious political bias can be identified in the department’s programmes during that period or in Q+A interviews conducted by the former General Manager of Maori and Pacific Programmes, Shane Taurima, during his time on the show (March to November 2012).

Stephen Franks has a defence for Shane Taurima whose activism in the Labour Party sparked the investigation.

He and his colleagues may have grounds to claim to the just announced enquiry, that they thought the employer had acquiesced in their activism, or tacitly approved it. In other words they were simply getting with the programme.

Employment Courts often over-ride terms of employment contracts and express workplace rules, if they’ve been ignored in practice.

State broadcasters work in a milieu of implicit support for the left, and barely suppressed contempt for and suspicion of others. Maori in State broadcasting have been allowed for decades to act as if they’ve had an exemption from Broadcasting Standards requirements for balance. They’ve almost universally acted on a right to promote “Maori aspirations” (often equated to the Maori Party), to call the ‘race card’ on anyone who questions those “aspirations” irrespective of the legal orthodoxy of the question or challenge. . .

It would not take much diligence to find plenty of examples of decades long practice from which Maori broadcasters might assume that the obligations of objectivity and political neutrality were waived for them.

Any regular audience members of Maori and Pacific programmes on TV and radio could find examples to support this view.

Topics chosen, the angle taken on issues, the people chosen to comment on them as well as the questions asked and the way they’re asked can all result in a lack of balance and fairness.

Business as usual can easily be biased, intentionally or not, if a particular world view is accepted without question.

 

 


Debates for PM and would-be not minor players

February 24, 2014

The Green Party wants to be in the main leaders’ debates on television:

. . . The Greens have made a formal request to TV One and TV3 for a co-leader to join the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition, rather than take part in the minor parties debate – which has been the typical election format.

The Greens say their 12 percent polling position puts them in a different league to the other smaller parties which are polling around 5 percent or less.

They might be the biggest of the wee parties but neither of their co-leaders is going to be Prime Minister nor lead the opposition.

The National and Labour leaders aren’t invited to debate just because of their parties’ size or popularity but because the winner will lead the country and the other will lead the opposition.

The debates are designed to allow us to see and hear from the PM and the one trying to replace him and mercifully neither of the Green co-leaders will hold either of those positions.


Being human

February 23, 2014

Quote of the day:

“. . . The country’s best-read blogs are all political, they’re all partisan, and they make no apology for it. Indeed, journalists in the mainstream media might learn a thing or two from that: television viewers and newspaper readers would prefer that journalists be transparently partisan than pretend to some high-and-mighty objectivity that nobody can ever really achieve. Everyone has a world view, and it affects how they interpret and report the events around them. That’s called being human. . . . ”  Jonathan Milne

Journalists in the mainstream media, especially if it’s state owned, have a duty to be balanced, fair and objective.

That doesn’t mean not having views, it means not letting those views cloud their judgement or influence their work.


TVNZ reviewing programmes for bias

February 19, 2014

Using facilities at a state-owned broadcaster for Labour Party meetings and communications was a serious lapse of judgement.

But the bigger concern is whether there was political influence in editorial and programming decisions and interviews.

TVNZ’s Chief Executive Kevin Kenrick says:

. . . TVNZ will now launch an investigation into staff use of TVNZ resources to support political party activities. It will also review the editorial independence of the Maori and Pacific Programming division during Shane Taurima’s time as manager (February 2013 to February 2014).

The investigation will be led by Brent McAnulty, TVNZ’s Head of Legal and Corporate Affairs and report to me, as TVNZ’s Editor in Chief. Brent will head up a review team that has access to all TVNZ internal resources, and a search has begun to identify a suitably qualified external person to provide an objective and independent critique of our editorial performance. 

This investigation will be conducted as a matter of priority but it won’t be a rush job – we’re focussed on carrying out a robust and comprehensive investigation that looks into this matter thoroughly. 

The review findings and recommendations will be made publicly available.

Given our position as New Zealand’s most watched news provider we hold ourselves to the highest standards of editorial independence and balance. Clearly a line has been crossed here – it’s unacceptable and we make no excuses for what’s happened.

Our focus now is to clearly and fully understand what has happened; how this happened; and what we need to do to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said she was treated unfairly by Taurima.

. . . Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says she was treated unfairly by TVNZ interviewer Shane Taurima.

The TVNZ unit manager resigned from the state broadcaster yesterday after it was revealed he took part in a Labour Party hui, and that TVNZ property was used to hold party meetings.

Bennett was grilled by Taurima on youth unemployment, in April 2012 on Sunday morning current affairs show Q+A.

“I felt that it was actually really biased,” Bennett told reporters this morning.

“I came out of there and couldn’t work out whether it was anti-National, anti-me, I don’t know what it was.

“It was one of the worst and the least-informative [interviews] for viewers, to be honest, that I’ve ever done in my career … I always felt that he was much tougher on National Maori women … but you have got to be careful that you don’t start over-thinking things, as well.” . .

Good interviewers don’t badger and interrupt.

They ask intelligent questions, listen to the answers and ask more questions.

They are firm, they can be tough, but they must be fair.

Taurima isn’t the only broadcaster who’s had political allegiances, but John Armstrong explains why they are different:

What about Paul Henry? Inevitably questions are being asked – especially by some in a smarting Labour Party – as to what difference in political terms there is between Shane Taurima, who has been forced to resign his management position at TVNZ, and Henry, who unsuccessfully stood for Parliament for National in 1999 but yet has been given his own late-night programme on TV3.

Well, quite a lot actually.

For starters, Henry is but one example of someone starting or resuming a career in broadcasting after a dalliance with politics. You can go back to Brian Edwards who stood for Labour in 1972 but lost narrowly, and Pam Corkery who also briefly hosted a late night TV show, in her case after leaving Parliament.

Labour’s John Tamihere became a talkback jock after losing his seat. John Banks has regularly interchanged political and broadcasting roles, even to the point of holding both at once.

However, all were hired because of their larger-than-life personalities rather than their politics which they were anyway totally upfront about.

Along with Corkery, Henry has shown no inclination to return to politics.

Taurima stood down from his TVNZ role while he sought nomination as the Labour candidate in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti byelection last year. After failing to win selection, he returned to work at TVNZ where he was head of the Maori and Pacific unit.

Given his management role in news and current affairs, TVNZ’s senior management should have sought assurances he had no intentions of standing for Parliament again.

TVNZ was aware, however, that Taurima was considering standing in another Maori seat at this year’s election. At that point, Taurima should have been confronted with two choices: either sever your political affiliations or quit TVNZ. . .

Act MP John Banks has used the issue to ask a very good question – why do we have state television?

TV3’s revelation that Shane Taurima, TVNZ’s former manager of the Maori and Pacific Programmes unit, hosted a Labour Party meeting last year on the broadcaster’s property and involving other TVNZ staff, shows another good reason why TVNZ should be sold, said ACT MP John Banks.

“This issue is not Mr Taurima’s politics. It is the fact that he and some of his staff wrongly used taxpayer’s property to further his political objectives” said Mr Banks.

“The easiest fix is for the taxpayer to get out of the television business. TVNZ should be sold.

“There is no reason for the State to be in the risky television business. We should sell now because TVNZ will soon be worthless as a result of technology changes.

“In private media if a journalist pursues a political agenda using company resources that is solely a matter for the management, shareholders and advertisers.

“If TVNZ were in private ownership no one would care about Mr Taurima’s Labour Party activities on the premises” said Mr Banks.


Labour TV

February 18, 2014

Are Maori and Pacific programmes on television politically neutral?

Several times when I’ve watched the Maori news programme Te Karere, or Tangata Pacifica I’ve wondered if they were biased towards the left in general and Labour in particular. Revelations by TV3  add fuel to my suspicions:

3 News can reveal state broadcaster TVNZ is being used as a campaign base by Labour Party activists.

They’ve even held a meeting in TVNZ’s Maori and Pacific Unit aimed at fundraising for Labour.

The unit’s manager, Shane Taurima, has held ambitions to become a Labour MP and his staff have been arranging Labour Party business, using TVNZ facilities like email.

Mr Taurima has resigned following the revelation.

Mr Taurima’s a Labour Party activist. He could be standing as a Labour MP this election.

Documents obtained by 3 News show the state broadcaster is being used to help Labour’s cause.

Labour’s electorate committee for the Auckland Maori seat Tamaki Makarau has been using TVNZ as a base.

Last year, a meeting was held at the Maori and Pacific unit’s Hobson headquarters, next to TVNZ’s main building, with Labour Party activists swiped through security.

On the agenda was “fundraising” – making money for the Labour Party.

The unit produces news, current affairs and documentary programmes like Te Karere, Marae Investigates and Waka Huia. Mr Taurima has managerial and editorial control. . .

Using a workplace for political, or any other activity, without the employers’ permission is wrong but that would be between the employer and staff in a private business.

This employer isn’t a private business. It’s a publicly funded state broadcaster which is supposed to provide fair, balanced and politically neutral reporting.

Is it my bias which makes some of the Maori and Pacific programmes seem biased or has the political activism of some employees influenced what’s been broadcast?

The national in RadioNZ National has nothing to do with the party, it’s used in the sense of nationwide.

TVNZ’s board and management must ensure that anything to do with labour at the state broadcaster is in the sense of work, not the party or politics.


Dotcom’s reverse Midas touch

January 24, 2014

A media release on Scoop:

Alastair Thompson resigns from Internet Party role

Friday, 24 January 2014, 5:35 pm
Press Release: Alastair Thompson

January 24 2014

MEDIA STATEMENT

Scoop website co-founder Alastair Thompson has resigned as interim general secretary of the Internet Party.

Mr Thompson is not available for further comment.

(ends)

Kim Dotcom used to enjoy favourable media attention which gave the impression he could do no wrong.

But since the announcement of his party he seems to have the reverse Midas touch – turning everything the party touches into dross.

 


Arguing better, Good Wolf & dullest blog

January 21, 2014

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

*   Three destructive behaviours we all fall back on when arguing and how to fix them.  The suggestions solutions sound easy in theory, the challenge will be to remember and apply them in practice.

* The Good Wolf Manifesto – food for mind, body and spirit (check out the story behind the blog name on the about page and what success looks like on signing off the Good Wolf for 2013).

* The Dullest Blog in the World - 393 comments on tidying some pencils - I can only shake my head in wonder.


Put down the sherry

January 19, 2014

Andrea Vance calls time on the silly season:

Everyone, please, put down the sherry and get a hold of yourselves. A dose of reality is necessary as the political year really kicks off this week. In the vacuum of the summer season, some fantasies about the outcome of this year’s election have taken seed.

Smacking is not going to be a defining election issue just because Conservative Party leader Craig says it is. He is the leader of a minor party, outside of Parliament.

Once the election campaign proper starts, and the mainstream party machines kick into gear, Craig will find he has to do more than put on a tinfoil hat to get media attention.

Speaking of crackpot strategies, was it the electoral roll of a parallel universe that was going to return Martyn Bradbury ahead of cabinet minister Nikki Kaye or Labour high-flier Jacinda Ardern in Auckland Central?

And since when did left-wing activists like Bradbury start whoring themselves out to businessmen who want to use their vast wealth to exert influence over the political and justice system? . . .

But perhaps we could wait until his policies and candidates are unveiled before prophesising his likely effect on the polls? . . .

Thankfully other commentators have failed to swallow whatever it is that blinds some to Dotcom’s faults.

Duncan Garner also recognises the silly-season affect:

There’s a reason why Kim Dotcom, Brendan Horan and Colin Craig are getting so many headlines right now: All the other politicians are on holiday, and simply don’t give a stuff.

They’re either at their beach houses or overseas, and politics is the last thing on their mind. . . .

So, right now those three are taking their chances with the media, but they will soon have to compete with the big boys and girls for space. It will get that much harder. . .

An internet party got seven percent in Germany, so his Internet Party can’t be written off. But it’s had a woeful start with a hopelessly organised failed launch. Still, it kept him on the front page, I suppose.

The Internet Party will be a place to put your protest vote against John Key, the spies, the establishment and the ruling elite. It could well be a party for those that feel disconnected to the mainstream, disconnected to politics and disenfranchised overall. That makes it a potential threat. But what will it ever achieve? Who will lead it? If Bomber Bradbury is its main advisor – where the hell is it heading? . . .

Sean Plunket says the internet party is amateur and vain:

The imminent but aborted birth of the country’s newest political party this week has been one of the most bizarre non-events in recent political history.

From the first tweet-fuelled rumblings of the human headline that is Kim Dotcom to the ignominious cancellation of the launch party, it has been a study in the politics of naivety and a glowing example of the gullibility of certain sections of the New Zealand news media and public. . .

What shortens the odds however is an uncritical celebrity-obsessed media full of self-appointed pundits and commentators who seem more than happy to entertain the idea that Kim Dotcom and his cronies might actually represent some meaningful and significant change in New Zealand’s political landscape.

Whilst it might rob the tabloid headline writers and breathless young television reporters of meaningless fodder for their daily dross, the cruel truth is as it stands the Internet Party is little more than an amateurish exercise in vanity politics perpetrated by a publicity-seeking convicted criminal. . .

Colin Espiner also says vanity is driving him:

. . . behind the ice creams and the fireworks, the offers to fund our next America’s Cup challenge or a new submarine fibre-optic internet cable, the extravagant parties to which we’re all invited and promises of free wi-fi for all, lies a narcissist desperate for popularity, relevance, and above all, respect.

It’s my opinion that Dotcom’s constant quest for omnipotence stems from his desire to make us – and the rest of the world – understand the value of his achievements (and they are many) while forgetting his criminal past as a computer hacker and convicted fraudster. . .

Fortunately for him, there was a ready audience, thanks to worldwide alarm at the antics of the US over its multi-national bulk spying via mass data collector PRISM and its subsequent exposure by whistle-blower Edward Snowden – and other spying scandals uncovered by WikiLeaks and its publisher Julian Assange.

Dotcom has been quick to associate himself with both.  . .

Dotcom likes the parallels: all are fugitives from justice; campaigners for freedom of information; anti-state and pro-privacy.

The difference, however, between Dotcom and Assange and Snowden is that they released top-secret information held by governments and corporations because they believed it was in the public interest. They did it for free and they did it knowing they were likely to be arrested for it.

Dotcom presided over the world’s largest pirate website, which was shut down for repeated copyright violations he claimed to know nothing about. He made a fortune from it, and he has claimed that while he suspected Hollywood would come after him in the civil courts he never anticipated criminal prosecution.

Many seem to have missed the distinction. Dotcom to them is a hero, a wronged man, a champion of cheap internet and free speech. Money has helped him get the media onside. He cooperated with Herald journalist David Fisher for a largely favourable book about him, thus also ensuring ongoing coverage from the country’s biggest newspaper.

He’s courted other journalists, too . . . 

But assuming it does eventually arrive, will Dotcom’s Internet Party wreak havoc on the election result? Actually, I don’t think so.

Dotcom’s political publicity vehicle is likely to appeal to internet-savvy young people alienated from mainstream politics who haven’t voted before. Therefore it’s unlikely to pull support off the existing major and minor parties. So unless it reaches the 5 per cent threshold – a huge hurdle – or wins an electorate seat, that first-time vote will simply end up wasted.

Because Dotcom himself can’t stand, the chances of any other candidate put up by him winning a seat in their own right are extremely slim.

But that won’t bother Dotcom. His endgame is not a career in politics. . . 

Matt McCarten picks up on the vanity too:

Cynicism suggests Dotcom’s motivation is more about ego and self-interest. . .

By naming his party the Internet Party Dotcom ghettoises himself around a narrow set of issues. . .

Until now, Dotcom has had a dream run from the media. He has become a folk hero. But now he is in the political arena, he’ll get a rude shock. He’ll be treated like every other politician.

The perception Dotcom will have to overcome is that the Internet Party isn’t some plaything of a rich egotist who made mega-millions exploiting other people’s talent and creativity without paying for their work. . .

Dotcom hopefully knows voters want their political parties to serve the people, not platforms for rich men seeking self-aggrandisement. New Zealanders are old-fashioned like that.

Dotcom wouldn’t be the only would-be politician to be driven by vanity but those who make it have a lot stronger foundation on which to build their campaigns than that.

Now the silly season is about to close he’ll find the media have a few more serious contenders and issues on which to focus too.


An earlier election?

January 19, 2014

It’s election year and one of the topics exercising the media and political tragics is the election date.

Electoral law dictates the last day on which an election can be held, there is no legal barrier to an earlier one.

The Herald says parties are preparing for an early election:

. . . Sources say Key wants to hold the election before November’s G20 leaders’ meeting in Brisbane and Apec Summit in Beijing.

He will also want to avoid clashing with home All Black games in August and early September, the final Bledisloe Cup test on October 18, and Labour Weekend, the final weekend of October. . .

Pundits are betting on September 27 or one of the first two Saturdays in October.

The All Blacks play Argentina on the first of those dates – although it will be in Argentina which will make it a Sunday morning game here.

But those dates are all in school holidays. The last day of term three is September 26th and the first of term four is October 13th.

More people are likely to be away from home during that time which would necessitate more special votes or make it more likely people wouldn’t both to vote at all.

Three years ago Prime Minister John Key announced the date in February, a welcome change from the game-playing which previous governments usually indulged in over the announcement.

Whichever date it is, an early announcement puts all parties on an equal footing and makes it much easier for the Electoral Commission which runs the election and has employ and train staff, and book venues for polling booths.

Back to the Herald story – the only people interviewed are Labour leader David Cunliffe and Kim Dotcom.

The former is already admitting that his party won’t be as popular as National:

. . . Cunliffe said he would be happy to be sworn in as a Labour prime minister with fewer seats than National, relying instead on the support of the Greens.

“The prime minister should be the leader of the governing coalition. The governing coalition should have the most seats in Parliament. That is the constitutional position and the proper one.” . . .

Ignoring all other party leaders and going for one whose party isn’t yet registered and whose attempted launch turned into a farce says more about the media’s fascination about Dotcom than it does about the likely election date.


Media must be open about bias

January 17, 2014

The strong links between Scoop journalist and the Internet Party have raised questions about its claim to be the leading independent news publication in New Zealand:

Scoop.co.nz is New Zealand’s leading news resource for news-makers and the people that influence the news (as opposed to a news site for “news consumers”).

It brings together the information that is creating the news as it is released to the media, and is therefore a hub of intelligence for the professionals (not just media) that shape what we read.

Scoop.co.nz presents all the information driving the news of the day in the form it is delivered to media creating a “no spin” media environment and one that provides the full context of what is “reported” as news later in the day.

It’s audience has a circle of influence far greater than the number of reported readers, which averages more than 450 000 a month, and it is a key part of the New Zealand media landscape.

Scoop.co.nz is accredited to the New Zealand Parliament Press Gallery and fed by a multitude of Business, Non-Government-Organisation, Regional Government and Public Relations communication professionals.

We are the leading independent news publication in New Zealand and value our independence strongly. . .

It does present media releases as they are written without editing.

But anyone familiar with opinion pieces from the likes of Gordon Campbell would be aware of a left-wing bias.

There’s nothing wrong with a bias in a media organisation like this providing it is declared.

Apropos of which I note that in the on-line version of Josie Pagani’s tale of two stories she is described as a political commentator, communications consultant, and former Labour candidate.

The print edition just called her a political commentator and communications consultant.

Omitting the reference to her former candidacy in the print edition did a disservice to readers who are entitled to know the bias of a political commentator.


Another depositary for disenchanted left-leaning votes

January 16, 2014

The Internet Party hasn’t even been launched and it’s already getting headlines for all the wrong reasons - Whaleoil has a scoop revealing its strategy:

The strategy paper (below) reveals that Martyn Bradbury is working for Kim Dotcom and is charging him $8000 per month plus GST for political strategy, on top of a $5000 payment to allow him to upgrade his computer, cellphone and tablet devices. . .

Further, the strategy document, which Trotter so clearly expands upon, shows that Martyn Bradbury intends to stand in Auckland Central as the Internet Party candidate, and be paid for the privilege of doing so. His strategy document outlines the need to establish an office.

The media compromise:

However the subterfuge is deeper than that. Sources have revealed that Scoop Media’s General Manager Alistair Thompson is to be the Party Secretary and has already registered the domain names under the Scoop Media banner. Scoop Media is also the name server registrant for the domain name and also that of internetparty.co.nz . . .

Summary:

  • Martyn Bradbury to stand in Auckland Central
  • Martyn Bradbury on payroll for $8000 per month plus $5000 advance payment for technology upgrades
  • Graeme Edgeler produced a report, allegedly for $3000
  • Plans for so far unnamed candidate in Upper Harbour, reputedly a broadcaster.
  • Focus on Auckland Central and Upper Harbour
  • Plans to win at least 3 seats

If I was drawing up a long list of people to attract votes from the right in general and National in particular, Bradbury’s name wouldn’t be on it.

If he stands and gets any votes he’ll be getting them from the left.

This isn’t a party that is likely to threaten the right, it’s another depositary for disenchanted left-leaning votes.

It’s also one that can’t even get it’s launch right:

https://twitter.com/KimDotcom/status/423307834827100160

https://twitter.com/KimDotcom/status/423307985939492864

Presumably someone told Dotcom about that the party to launch his party would be considered treating which is an offence under electoral law.

The scoop though, is great for Whaleoil who has already  collected another scalp with it:

Journalist Alastair Thompson has resigned from internet-based news service Scoop this afternoon in the wake of claims he was to be Internet Party general-secretary and had registered a domain name.

Scoop’s controlling shareholder, Selwyn Pellett, confirmed he had not previously been aware of the extent of Thompson’s involvement with the party.

After the blog became public, Thompson tendered his resignation.

Pellett said that while he understood Thompson’s passion for internet freedom, there was a clear conflict of interest with his journalism. . . .

Cameron Slater is defending a judgement that he isn’t a journalist and therefore doesn’t have the protection journalists do in not revealing sources.

If publishing a scoop like this isn’t journalism, what is it?

Update: – tweet of the day on this issue:

https://twitter.com/robhosking/status/423290461747306496


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