Margin of error changes

29/10/2013

People on the left hoping Labour’s rise in recent polls was pointing to certain success in next year’s election will have been disappointed by the results of two polls released yesterday:

The Fairfax Media poll, showed Labour and National were both up a couple of points.

. . . Labour is up two percentage points to 33.6 per cent since the last Fairfax poll, completed in August before the leadership spill that saw Cunliffe replace David Shearer.

But National is also up two points and holds a huge 17 point lead over Labour, winning the backing of more than 50 per cent of committed voters. . . .

Most of Labour’s support appears to have come at the expense of the Green Party which does nothing for the left block.

The One News Colmar Brunton poll showed a gap of only 11 between National and Labour:

Support for Labour and its new leader has stalled in the latest ONE News Colmar Brunton poll, with neither the party or David Cunliffe making any gains over the last few weeks. . .

But when it comes to preferred Prime Minister John Key still appears to have the golden touch, up one to 43%, while Mr Cunliffe hasn’t built on his strong start and is unchanged at 12. Winston Peters is steady on 4%.

In the Fairfax poll National had enough support to govern alone but that is very unlikely to be reflected by actual support in next year’s election.

Under MMP support for minor parties will determine which party governs.

In the second poll the right and left can both get to 60 but that’s not enough:

National has 58 seats and with one each from Act and United Future the centre right can muster 60.

But Labour’s 43 seats plus the Greens 16 and Mana’s 1 also gives the centre left 60.

The Maori Party with its three seats and New Zealand First could be the kingmakers.

This assumes NZ First doesn’t get over the 5% threshold and that Act and United Future both win a seat.

Before anyone gets too excited about the results, it’s only a couple of polls and the changes are in margin of error territory.

At best it shows that changing leaders hasn’t made much difference to Labour and if Cunliffe had a new leader’s honeymoon it’s over.

But we’ve more than a year until the next election.

Winning a third term was always going to be hard but not impossible for National and that hasn’t changed.


People will be losers if privacy not protected

19/11/2011

In respect for my blood pressure I don’t often listen to talkback but every now and then I tune in to hear what people are thinking.

This week the storm in a teapot story was a popular topic but I was pleasantly surprised that a majority of callers were saying it had all been blown out of proportion and were backing the Prime Minister’s stand on the principle of privacy.

This has been confirmed by a Fairfax Media poll:

Voters overwhelmingly think the “tea party tape” of the conversation of John Key and John Banks was a breach of privacy and should have been wiped without being made public. . . .

The Fairfax Media-Research International poll asked if the recording was a breach of privacy and should have been destroyed immediately.

A net 58 per cent agreed, with a net 29 disagreeing.

But respondents were equally divided when asked if the event was all about publicity, so all aspects should be available for reporting.

By a narrow margin – 45 to 41 per cent – voters polled said there was no such thing as a private conversation in public.

But 63 per cent felt politicians should be able to talk about controversial ideas without fear of those discussions being made public, with only 22 per cent disagreeing.

The poll of 507 people had a margin of error of 4.2 per cent.

The issue of whether or not the conversation was private is to be considered by the High Court on Tuesday.

If it decides that it wasn’t, we will all be the losers.

In New Zealand we have remarkably free access to politicians. If they know that anything they say in a conversation in a public place could be regarded as public they will be far less willing to engage with people and politics will become even more stage managed than it already is.

It could also hamper the media because politicians will be even more carful about off-record conversations and backgrounders.

Perhaps that’s why we’re now seeing what Keeping Stock calls mea culpe season.


All the news and just the news

07/04/2011

When I started working for a newspaper continuous feeds from the New Zealand Press Association kept us up with what was going on in New Zealand and around the world.

They gave us the news – just the news without comment or bias -and all the news. If it happened and mattered, NZPA reported it and it was up to newsrooms all over the country to use it as it was or give it a local angle, or not,  as we chose.

The decision by Fairfax Media to withdraw from NZPA is concerning.

Kiwiblog says: 

I think the decision is a disaster for parliamentary reporting, and bad for the overall news industry.

NZPA are the one news agency in Parliament that cover every bill before the House. When other media are safely home in bed, there will be a NZPA reporter noting what time the House rose, and what bill was being debated at the time. Likewise on select committees, they are often the only news agency there (apart from the excellent Select Committee News, which is subscription only).

What I also liked about NZPA is they complement the other press gallery agencies. The other agencies naturally focus on stories which sell – which will make for good television, can run on a front page etc. But NZPA are not about “sexy” stories. They just faithfully produce concise factual and relevant stories about what happened – reporters in the old fashioned sense.  And not just about Parliament, also from the courts and elsewhere. . .

Dim Post says:

It seems to have been standard practise in news rooms for time immemorial, for journalists and news editors to take a PA story and stick their own by-line on it and publish it, so PAs footprint on the media landscape is even larger than it may have seemed; even the media executives who closed it down after a hundred and thirty years probably don’t realise quite what they’ve destroyed.

 He also notes that NZPA is the only news outlet which isn’t dependent on advertising and  Peter Griffin says the closure of NZPA would hurt science:

The death of NZPA is really the end of an era in New Zealand journalism. NZPA for over one hundred years has been the agency of record for breaking news stories. Newspapers might write more fulsome and colourful accounts than NZPA produces, but the agency can be counted on for serving up short, concise, timely and generally accurate news alerts on a wide range of subjects – from general news and politics, to business sport and science.

A few weeks back I sat in NZPA editor Kevin Norquay’s office to talk about that last topic – science. NZPA is a bastion of decent coverage of science-related issues in New Zealand and that is largely down to one individual – NZPA veteran reporter Kent Atkinson. Part of the reason for my visit was to thank NZPA for its commitment to covering science issues and giving Kent the leeway to pursue a round he loves. . .

The great thing about NZPA is its reach. A decent science story, or any story for that matter, can run in numerous daily metropolitan and regional newspapers. While Stuff and the Herald Online will pile in to cover the populist stories – Darren Hughes’ night time exploits, the plastic waka etc , often with rolling coverage during the day, NZPA can be relied on to fill in the blind spots, with dispassionate reports. That safety net of coverage will soon be gone for our major mainstream news organisations. . .

But where some see a threat others see an opportunity:

In response, Fairfax’s main rival, APN, announced it would establish a new national news service to “counter the Fairfax move”, its chief executive Martin Simons said.

“We will have discussions with key NZPA staff and work with New Zealand’s independent publishers to tailor a news service to meet the nation’s content needs.”

The Otago Daily Times already shares content with APN titles such as The New Zealand Herald. This alliance was important to strengthen the company’s South Island bases in Christchurch and Oamaru, Mr Simons said.

Until 2006, New Zealand newspapers shared stories through NZPA, but commercial tension between Fairfax and APN forced NZPA to become an independent news source.

Allied Press managing director Julian Smith said, depending on the review, it was likely Allied Press, which publishes the Otago Daily Times, owns numerous southern community newspapers and has an interest in the Greymouth Star, would join the APN-led service.

The new service would be more like NZPA’s original model of newspapers sharing all content and could lead to an improvement in quality, he said.

I hope he’s right.

The internet gives us access to more news than ever before but unlike NZPA it isn’t always just the news which we can trust to be factual and unbiased.

Without an organisation like NZPA it won’t be all the news either.

UPDATE: Karl du Fresne calls it a seriously retrograde step and says:

Even more worrying is that the existing “black holes” in news coverage will become wider and blacker still. Under the old co-operative model, NZPA had the entire country covered . . .

The net result is that New Zealanders will know less about themselves. Parts of the country that have already faded from view since 2005 because of attenuated news coverage may become damned-near invisible, other than when a catastrophe occurs (as at Pike River).

Try as I might, I can’t see this as anything other than a seriously retrograde step. If the creation of NZPA in 1880 helped bind the country together, then its demise is likely to have the reverse effect. . .

Already sparse national coverage of provincial and rural news will become sparser.

The media is one of the bridges over the urban-rural divide and the death of NZPA will tear up several of its planks.


Otago business pioneers in Hall of Fame

17/07/2008

Two Otago business pioneers were inducted into the Business Hall of Fame last night.

Sir George Fenwick (1847 – 1929) and Shariffe Coory (1866 – 1950) were given posthumus awards.

Previously, the hall of fame had only a virtual presence, but yesterday its new home on a 12m wall at the Owen G Glenn building at the University of Auckland was officially unveiled, followed by a gala dinner hosted by Governor-General Anand Satyanand.

The Coorys were among the first Lebanese to emigrate to Australia where they employed 1500 people in their wholesale and manufacturing business before selling and moving to Dunedin in 1892.

One of Mrs Coory’s great gransons, Malcolm Farry said that she she worked hard to break down barriers and did philanthropic work with the Lebanese community. She set up a workshop where Lebanese women made shirts and aprons for hawkers to sell; and also invested in property.

One of her greatest gifts was passing on her belief in entrepreneurship and “she had a significant influence on her grandchildren”, he said.

Her success is even more notable given that female entrepreneurship was even more of an achievement in her day.

Sir George came to Otago with his family in 1856 and took up a printing apprenticeship with The Otago Witness when he was 12. He later joined the Otago Daily Times and eventually owned both papers.

He edited the ODT from 1890-1909.co-founded the New Zealand Press Association in 1878; founded the Otago SPCA in 1882, the first in the country and was knighted in 1919.

The Hall of Fame, which is sponsored by Fairfax Media,  is a good way to recognise business success which doesn’t usually get the same recognition as sporting and artistic achievements.


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