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.


Voters veer but not too far

April 27, 2011

Quote of the week:

If you’re going in for politics, one of the key attributes to cultivate is patience. Sure voters veer from centre-right to centre-left over sequential electoral cycles. But parties don’t, because they are founded – the enduring ones, anyway – on firm principles.

                                 – Jane Clifton in The Listener (preview here, full column online May 16).

One of the reasons Act is floundering is because the public isn’t sure what it’s principles are or worse suspects the party itself isn’t sure.

There is no doubt about Don Brash’s principles – he’s been quite clear about what he wants and why. He’s genuinely concerned about the state of the nation.

He wants to do something about it and has said if Act won’t have him he’ll start his own party.

It might not be hard for him to find 500 members, a name, constitution and meet the other requirements for registering a political party. But there’s a long way from forming a new party to getting into parliament, especially when a party’s principles are far further to the right than most voters are comfortable veering.

Of course under MMP you don’t need many voters – just enough to win an electorate or 5% of the vote. But it takes more than 500 members and a lot of money to do that, especially for a new party.


Bad business for good man

June 21, 2010

Allan Hubbard is Presbyterian by both faith and nature.

Although he features on the NBR’s rich list, he lives a modest life, spends little on himself and drives an old VW car.

The story of his modest beginnings  and what he’s achieved is inspiring and a  few weeks ago he talked about it to The Listener.

He grew up in the Depression, one of five children in a very poor household and the poverty he experienced then was a strong motivating factor in his life.

He did well at school but his father wouldn’t let him go to Otago Boys’ because they were working class and Allan might get ideas.

He gained School Certificate and University Entrance at night school while working fulltime, put himself through university then set up an accountancy firm in Timaru.

His company prospered and as it did he used his business acumen and wealth to help others.  Some of his business dealings and philanthropic acts are a matter of public record – including underwriting the Opuha Irrigation Scheme by buying all its shares which he  sold to farmers at the original price once the scheme was operating.

The rural grapevine tells of many other acts of generosity which aren’t public, stories of people he’s helped into farms or businesses. He backs people he trusts, who are prepared to make sacrifices to get ahead, as he did,  and , very few have let him down.

Hubbard’s company South Canterbury Finance has been the subject of several bad-news stories in recent months. Now Aorangi Securities, seven trusts and Allan and his wife Margaret ( but not  it is important to stress, SCF) have been placed into statutory management.

I know little about his business dealings but have always been impressed by him as a person.

Principals of other finance companies and organisations which have attracted negative headlines have been criticised for extravagant living at the expense of their creditors.

This is not a criticism that can be made of the Hubbards.

A fact sheet on the statutory management is here.

The NBR covers the story here.

Interest.co.nz covers it here.

UPDATE: The Timaru Herald has a statement from Hubbard here.


Long blinks

May 17, 2010

The speaking spot immediately after lunch is one many presenters dread and for good reason.

That’s when at least some members of the audience are likely to find the inside of their eyelids more compelling than the speaker.

Long blinks aren’t so bad if you’re not in the speakers’ line of sight but snoring is a give-away. So is the jolt of the head when you come to, even if you try to cover it up.

The Worsdworth column in last week’s Listener sought names for pretending you weren’t nodding off after you wake with a jolt.

Answers included: power (point)-napping, dishonestedium and a rued awakening.


Key tops Listener power list

December 1, 2009

It’s no surprise that Prime Minister John Key tops the Listener’s top 10 in its 2009 Power List.

The panel says he is:

being identified by leadership scholars as pioneering an entirely new style of political leadership in this country. Sceptics may cite his pragmatism as evidence of overt risk-aversion, but so far his reasonable, moderate demeanour and light-handed management has worked magic for the Government’s standing. He has been the polar opposite of Helen Clark, resisting both the micromanagement of others’ portfolios and playing favourites in the caucus. His cheerful tolerance of coalition partners’ ructions – “The bulk of people who come into politics have type-A personalities!” – has saved National from being embroiled in their crises.

Bill English is second followed by Alan Bollard, Rodney Hide, Steven Joyce and Rob Fyfe.

Then comes Michael Stiassny, the country’s senior receiver. The introduction to the list explains:

Perhaps the most telling detail about this year’s Power List . . .  is that a receiver (Micahel Stiassny) comes in at No 7. Yes, it has been a tough year; a year when debt became a dirty word, when old power bases were weakened by the recession. . .

Tariana Turia is ninth then John Whitehead and Peter Jackson. The top 10 has an 11th place – it’s filled by Phil Goff.

Then there’s those who have been delisted:

Craig Norgate who was 4th in the Business and economy section last year; Andrew West who was 3rd in agriculture  and Pat Snedden who was 4th in health and medicine.

The panel that selected the 2009 almanac of influence was chaired by Listener senior write Rebecca Macfie. Members were Lynn Freeman who hosts Radio NZ’s arts programme; Karl Du Fresne, Chris Wikaira, director of PR firm Busby Ramshaw Grice; Jane Clifton; Jacqueline Rowarth, Director of Agriculture at Massey; Bernard Hickey, Alan Isaac who chairs NZ Cricket, is a director of Wakefield Health, trsutee of NZ COmmunity Trust, chair of McGrathNicol & Co and advisor to Opus International; and Stephen Franks.

The full list and commentary won’t be online until Boxing Day. I subscribe to the magazine and if I didn’t I’d fork out the $3.90 for this issue.


Questions on nil returns

August 13, 2008

What might you expect to show on a political party’s annual return to the Companies Office for the structure through which the party exists?

Some of the things I’d expect to see are membership, donations and fund raising coming in and rent or rates, wages, stationery, postage, advertising, power and GST going out.

But as Keeping Stock points out an article in this week’s Listener by David Fisher explains New Zealand First Incorporated has been filing nil returns for 15 years.

I read the whole story in the magazine which is not yet on line and was left wondering:

1) Does the party have another vehicle which does have income and expenditure?

2) If so who knows about it?

3) If not how are the party’s operations funded?

4) Do party officials know anything about the running of NZ First?

5) If not who does?


Wordsworth’s words for non-voters

August 12, 2008

The Listener’s Wordsworth column search for words to describe people who choose not to vote elicited some gems:

Neglectors and poll faulters were suggested to describe the unmotivoted and unballotable.

Then there was non compos electis and dyselectic.

One of the people who came up with non voters were suffering from electile dysfunction suggested it could be treated with Keyallis.

The prize went to ballot-proof and electshuneers.


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