Maori News Shakeup Beckons

Shane Taurima – the Maori Party candidate for Tamaki Makarau in the last election – is working on a big shakeup at Maori TV. The onetime Q & A interviewer and Labour candidate had been found holding a Labour party meeting at TVNZ, so he changed parties. Alas, the Maori Party went belly up and Labour formed the government. Last month Taurima was appointed deputy-chief executive and head of transition of Maori TV.  

Shane Taurima. Former candidate for Tamai-Makarau, now deputy chief executive of Maori TV

Big upheavals are expected with speculation that the news operation will be shifted to an outside organisation servicing different Maori media. Options have not yet been spelt out. But the Maori TV head of news, Maramena Roderick is leaving next week after keeping the news operation afloat.

Overall, Maori TV has suffered from internal politics, personalities, low staff morale and from previous management signing a questionable long-term lease for new studios at an isolated location in East Tamaki. The worst setback has been the lack of progress in its key aim increasing uptake of te reo, which was the main reason for it being set up.

Continue reading “Maori News Shakeup Beckons”

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Radio NZ Can’t Afford To Become Red Radio Opinion

CAPTION: The ABC was at war with it;s government. Radio NZ has the opposite problem. It is too close to Labour and The Greens, 

The ABC fiasco across the Tasman is a timely warning about the potential for political meddling in New Zealand state media. The circumstances are different.  RNZ is too aligned with the liberal agenda. The ABC has been embattled with political masters. But the dangers are there nevertheless.

 Hands-on broadcasting minister Clare Curran is gone, and that will be a relief to many at RNZ. But the government giving RNZ a central role to more “diverse” content,. In the current mood i would expect that to mean a drift to the Left, which RNZ does not need.

Broadcasting and communications portfolios are insignificant. But media and the dministyration of media frequently get politicians into trouble. The sacking of the ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie and the resignation of the bungling chairman Justin Milne is a reminder hoe hard it is to keep public media independent.

Michelle Guthrie

The ABC fiasco goes to the heart of independence for state media. The chairman Justin Milne – a pal of Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull – told Michelle Guthrie to sack a journalist that  Turnbull did not like.

Rightly or wrongly public media is most often accused of being biased Left, That was certainly the perception of the Australian coalition against the ABC. 

New Zealand has had own less dramatic scandals over questionable dealings and RNZ has long suffered the  abusefrom National that it is biased. Usually it is not, but RNZ needs to take care to not go don this road, 

In theory Curran was sacked was due to failure and murky process for appointment of Derek Handley as CTO. Curran’s replacement as broadcasting minister Kris Faafoi is competent and a former reporer for the Holmes show, so will be aware of the need for independence.  Jacinda Ardern was implicated in the Handley decision. It appears that IT initiatives were being mixed with personal friendships. Handley even approached the president of Labour Party. This government is prepared to dabble in purportedly independent processes

Carol Hirschfeld

Plus there are links to and more prescient meeting she organised with Carol Hirschfeld who was the the head of content at RNZ.

One source suggests that the secret meeting between Hirschfeld and Curran was linked to government wishes to boost Maori content on National Radio – an initiative that was already underway.

Hirschfeld left after repeatedly misleading RNZ bosses about the planning for the unrecorded meeting. She is now a senior executive at Stuff.

While RNZ is often accused of being biased to the Left, in my opinion TVNZ commentary tends  biased to the government of the day.

TVNZ news tends to be straight. But was it coincidence post-election when the PC Hilary Barry replaced Right wing Mike Hosking on Seven Sharp. When Helen Clark was PM TVNZ gave Pam Corkery her own news show. political attentions 

Labour broadcasting policy – shambolic as it is – puts Radio NZ front and centre of its deological mission. Not least a call  to increase Maori content. In my opinion RNZ needs to keep this government at arms length. The National Party was accused of trying to damage RNZ – the way the Liberal Party has with it’s the ABC. The danger for RNZ is being hugged to death by the Labour and Green Party.

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The Importance of Being Close To Jacinda (Photo RNZ)

The kerfuffle over the Meka Whaitiri allegations has highlighted the perceived importance of party-political solidarity line-ups. Whaitiri is the MP for Ikaroa-Rawhiti and was very unhappy with her press secretary when she learned she had missed out on the photo-op with Jacinda Ardern in Gisborne. Whaitiri’s response – allegedly leading to to bruising of the press secretary’s arm – led to Ardern’s sacking th minister. No doubt Whaitiri will be back. The Maori caucius is strong, Ardern cannot afford to annoy the Maori caucus too long. Missing a photo op might with the popular PM will have been annoying for Whaitiri, She is the local MP seeking recognition for an outpost in a far- flung electorate. Carmen Sepuloni took the coveted position position on Jacinta’s wing. Maybe the press secretary cocked up. Maybe she did not. Maybe she was poorly trained. You wonder of the PM’s phalanx of minders had any role  ensuring that the local MP was around, especially when Whaitiri had a rookie press secretary. Beyond that, why do media allow politicians to create line ups of supporters? It has become like wedding photographer lining up the bride’s family. If it implies solidarity. I’m not sure the public buys it. Solidarity shots have been around for a long time, but it seems to have become formalised for most political gatherings outside Parliament. I guess it offers a better backdrop for TV networks. More importntly it is a publicity shot keeps the TV networks in good fvour with the parties. Maybe it is not as important to the public as Meka Whaitiri thinkw.

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TVNZ Must Try Harder With Q & A

TVNZ deserved credit for shifting it’s politics show Q & A from the Sunday morning boondocks to primetime. The state broadcaster showed it was not abandoning current affairs and prepared to take a commercial risk. If episodes one to three seemed a little – well – dull – Episode 4 on Sunday was muddled. Studio shots looked flat. The make up on the guests was sometimes poor and some subject matter was poorly handled.

Peter FitzSimons

Rebecca Wright’s interview with former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright was paint-by-numbers stuff, asking nice open question. Albright was there to plug her new book, and that is fair enough.

Alas, she delivered another treatise on how Donald Trump was an abomination. Wright nodded enthusiastically. But there was no attempt to challenge the Democratic Party version of events. or its past oversight of world events. 

Media blaming Trump are dime a dozen. it is available 24/7 on CNN. The other international story on Q & A was coverage of the Liberal Party upheavals across the Tasman. It was a chance dig in with some good analysis of a story that directly affects New Zealand. This week;s show must have been pre-recorded very early, because it did not mention the news that day that Julie Bishop was standing dow from her Foreign Minister post.

It is always an easy to call in journalist, but it is second-hand view. Someone like Michelle Grattan might show the gravity of the story. 

But the Sydeny Morning Herald Peter FitzSimons responses were top the head stuff. He appears to have been chosen for the Rugby connection. He as the wrong person for the job.

Corin Dann even made that hoary old joke about not talking about the Rugby results. 

Corin Dann

I have praised Dann in the past for providing some objectivity, especially when he was head of the TVNZ Press Gallery and competing with Paddy Gower. Objectivity is good, but he seems to make up for the lack of rancour by creating breathless urgency his delivery.

I’ve always preferred Q & A over The Nation on Three, which plays on Saturday Mornings and was repeated opposite Q& A on Sunday mornings. It is good to have politics in prime time. But Sunday night  seems too late for me to catch up on the week’ s politics.

Lisa Owen

With The Nation interviewer Lisa Owen about to leave Three for Checkpoint on Radio New Zealand this may be the time that TVNZ can own the TV politics brand.

Both shows are taxpayer-funded. Owen aside, The Nation has always seemed down at heel to me.

That low rent feel has its use of PR people and lobbyists its panel. But if The Nation is bound to be a dead duck, Q & A is not yet shooting for the stars.

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Why Did Jacinda Ardern Go Soft On Curran?

Labour is pushing ahead with a shake-up of public media – leaving the forgetful broadcasting minister Clare Curran at the helm. This follows the second incident where Curran has forgotten to declare meetings with industry players or nofified staff. Labour’s broadcasting policy is already a mess. We need to look at where its muddy amd strategy is headed. Do want the State more involved in journalism?

On Friday, Prime-minister Jacinda Ardern removed two of Curran’s four portfolios and took her out of Cabinet. She left the errant minister with broadcasting, and associate minister for ACC. Chris Hipkins will take over Curran’s bizarrely inapproriate role as “minister for open government.”  Dr Megan Woods will take over as minister of government digital services, the portfolio that got Curran into trouble when she forgot to declare an interview with a potential job applicant.

Labour true believers and government-friendly journalists have sought to portray Ardern’s move as quick decisive action –  a counter to the  nagging doubt about her leadership skills. Ardern had her concern face on. But PM go easy on Curran after her second failure of the year. 

Ardern says she learned of Curran’s latest transgression on Monday. She chose to announce it at 4pm on Friday, in the middle of big political changes in Australia, and debate source of a leak against Opposition leader Simon Bridges. In my opinion was an old-fashioned news dump meant to avoid media attention and should have been called out as such.

Derek Handley

The latest debacle where Derek Handley, the high-profile entrepreneur Derek Hadley who was interested in a new position of the government’s Chief Technology Officer. In an unusual move  Curran had restarted the search for a CTO, after she was not impressed enough by the applicants,

Handley, by the way. is a director of Sky TV.

Ardern noted this is the second time that the minister’s note keeping and liaison with staff. On December 5, Zaqzigger.com broke the story of Curran’s meeting at the Astoria cafe with Carol Hirschfeld, who headed news at Radio New Zealand. The pretense had been the meeting was accidental. In fact it was pre-planned.

Hirschfeld had misled her RNZ bosses about the meeting, who had subsequently misled a select committee. She was dismissed from Radio New Zealand and hired at Stuff.

Hirschfeld clearly made a mistake, and paid for it  Curran, apologised,the Government supported herand Hirschfeld was thrown to the wolves.

RNZ chairman Jim Mather

After the latest debacle the CTO appointment has been taken over by the state services Commission – which I where it always belonged all along, not with Curran’s office.

Why Ardern chose to retain Curran as minister of small but sensitive portfolio.

Labour is setting up a structure to more public media. journalists and media love the idea of more public cash. Labour relies on Maori support, and Radio New Zealand is to get closer with Maori TV.  Former Maori TV CEO Jim Mather – was appointed chairman of RNZ.

What is the crossover between Curran ‘s role as the minister of broadcasting, and Ardern’s role as minister for arts, culture and heritage. The PM’s portfolio drifts into media 

The public need to know that the survival of the minister (against the odds) is due to a wider Labour strategy.

We need a clean slate with Labour’s failed media strategy, and an explanation on why the Prime Minister is not prepared to provide one.

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RNZ Too Shy-Shy On Another PR Tie Four days and Morning Report still hasn't explained it's lack of disclosure

Radio New Zealand Morning Report is using the director of a public relations company – Kerry-Anne Walsh – as its Australian correspondent.

Walsh has had a long career as a political journalist. In 2009 she left Rupert Murdoch’s Sun-Herald reviving and her Canberra- based PR firm, called KA Communications.

The question is not why public radio uses a PR person for a significant editorial role as a ” correspondent”.  A lot of people straddle journalism and PR. (Though you would hope public radio analysis of Australia would be handled carefully? Walsh is clearly knowledgable.

The question is why RNZ – once again – feels it does not to spell out PR links for its correspondents.

Remember post-election when Morning Report used soft questions for an undeclared media adviser to the PM to declare journalists had to censor the questions they asked the PM. Continue reading RNZ Too Shy-Shy On Another PR Tie Four days and Morning Report still hasn’t explained it’s lack of disclosure

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Dog Whistles And Golriz Riding A High Horse It's not creepy to challenge politicians

CAPTION Green MP Golriz Grahraman.

 

I am ambivalent about the Green MP Golriz Grahraman and questions about her refugee background.

Simon Jeans – A high-profile Australian immigration lawyer – has questioned her take on freedom of speech, and her refugee status. It is not my intention to work out what is right or wrong. She should answer the claims.

Golriz and partner Guy claim high ground on moral issues.

 

But if you are going to ride a high horse, you have to be prepared to show you belong there. Some disagreed with Jeans’ claims. The co-editor of Newsroom – Tim Murphy – is one sceptic who is non-partisan.

“That thing by the Australian lawyer about MP Golriz Ghahraman: -tries to be all magisterial on a case built from a few news clippings makes assumptions about assumptions and argues with them to give a verdict no one sought. Odd.”

  Continue reading Dog Whistles And Golriz Riding A High Horse It’s not creepy to challenge politicians

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Update: Free Speech Coalition Withdraws Goff Complaint Claims victory

CAPTION: Coalition says Morning Report wanted Brash for a Punch and Judy show.

The Free Speech Coalition has studied Auckland Council’s defence to the application for judicial review of the Mayor’s claim to ban Molyneux/Southern from Council-owned venues. There is no attempt in the response papers to substantiate any politician’s right to decide who can and can’t be heard in Auckland’s ratepayer provided facilities.

“Free Speech has unequivocally won on the key issue,” says Dr David Cumin, a Free Speech Coalition member. “The arrogant claim of power to block what the Mayor calls ‘repugnant’ speech (speech that might offend a person’s religious prejudices) gets no defence from the Council lawyers.”

The Council Response concedes: Mayor Goff did not make the decision;

He had no right to intervene or make the decision;

Regional Facilities Auckland made the decision;

RFA would not have acted on the Mayor’s instructions if he had given them;

He did not influence the decision-makers;

RFA do not and will not discriminate among users on grounds of political preference or concern about causing offence;

The decision was instead based on security concerns;

Ultimately it was due to fear of what protesters could do;

RFA thought that safety was paramount so they did not believe they needed to do more to mitigate the threats or otherwise ensure the Thug’s Veto did not prevail.

“With the Council indicating so clearly that it can’t support the Mayor’s claims, the Free Speech Coalition has won,” says Dr Cumin. “New Zealanders have put together their $20s and $50s and $100s, and they’ve called the politician’s bluff. They’ve told him they get to decide who they can listen to – not a Mayor spouting slogans about people he’s never met.”

“The Free Speech Coalition’s main purpose for next Monday’s urgent application hearing has therefore gone. As such the request for urgent orders and a hearing, has been withdrawn. Focus will now be on the remaining question relating to the Council’s duty to stand up to the ‘Thugs’ Veto’.”

“The Coalition was never about supporting the particular speakers, it was about principle, which now the Council has conceded.”

“The second issue remains – will officials who want to gag unwelcome political speech now manufacture “safety concerns” to evade the NZ Bill of Rights Act, and the Human Rights Act?”

“All fair-minded New Zealanders will be upset by the apparent effectiveness of the Thugs’ Veto in this case. It may have been against a Council whose Mayor was happy to be threatened, but it has implications throughout New Zealand.”

“We think Free Speech Coalition supporters will want us to ensure that a court tells Councils to ensure the Thug’s Veto does not rule in their cities. But that is an issue for a later day, and will be the key issue in the substantive proceedings later in the year, if we decide to press on.”

“Auckland Council’s incompetence on this occasion would make it hard for the Court to order that the particular event go ahead, at least at the planned time and venue. We are advised that the compressed urgent timetable and rules about interim applications such as ours mean that it will not be possible to get sufficient evidence before the Court on security/safety issues, and test it.”

“Unless the Police volunteer that they can handle anything unlawful the protesters might threaten, a court would be wary of unmanageable interference with the event and its attendees.”

“The promoters are responsible people. They see the greater risk created by the Mayor’s incitement. Celebrities without any direct knowledge have been falling over each other to distance themselves from the manufactured bogeymen they were prompted to hate, by the Mayor.”

“While it may be fair to tar Auckland Councillors with cowardice in failing to reassert control of Mayor Goff, it is not fair to blame the RFA officers. They have stated their adherence to the non-partisan principles the Free Speech Coalition defends. We welcome this significant victory.”

“Both sides should now agree that the question is whether unexamined safety fears can trump fundamental values of free expression. We should agree that defining a duty to overcome the Thug’s Veto is vitally important. That should now be the main issue in the eventual substantive hearing.”

Melissa Derby, another spokesperson for the Free Speech Coalition, says “The Mayor was wrong in the decision he made and we’ve ensured no legal precedent was set that makes it okay for an elected official to decide what we can or can’t hear. That is precisely what we wanted to achieve.”

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Free Speech Coalition Challenges Morning Report Was Brash Choice RNZ Payback Time?

Don Brash – a politicised choice.

A Morning Report focus on Don Brash for the freedom of speech issue raises questions about its motivations. The public broadcaster went to extraordinary lengths to place Brash – a contentious but minor player at the Free Speech Coalition – front and centre of the debate. The Guyon Espiner interview ran on July 11.

According to the coalition, Brash told Morning Report he was not the best person to front. But Morning Report insisted and turned away six suggestions from the coalition, including academics and two official spokespeople. The coalition includes a dozen lawyers and academics and journalist Chris Trotter, Williams said. 

TVNZ’s Cori9n dean was objective on Goff issue

The coalition is legally challenging Auckland mayor Phil Goff, and his ban on Canadian right wing activists – Lauren Southern an Stefan Molyneux – from using Auckland Council venues Subsequently many agreed and disagreed with Goff’s stance. some of the anti criticism focused on Brash. The coalition has raised more than $100,000 for its legal challenge.

According to Williams, it was made apparent that if Brash did not front for the Coalition, no-one else could. Brash initially turned Morning Report down – but eventually demurred. On air Brash, maintained a reasoned stance, but Espiner focused on his personal background and conservatism, including his stance criticising Radio New Zealand for use of te reo in news.

Jordan Williams(right)

Jordan Williams said: “They insisted on having Don Brash to take an agenda-driven approach to an interview that did not serve the listener.

The approach deliberately chose to ignore a fundamental issue for the purpose of short-term gamesmanship. Williams said.Morning Report used to be authoritative and credible and yet more and more it plays these silly games,” he said.Morning Report wanted the actor to play the Punch and Judy role, and that does not suit the listener, Williams said. Then then they chose to mock him for being the spokesperson.

The upshot was that the public broadcaster portrays the freedom speech is issue as about a personality and politician.

To be fair, the coalition could have handled it better, calling Morning Report’s bluff.

The use of Brash created a political edge, and he should have stayed away, in my opinion.  Media must be free to take the angle and the people they like. That is freedom of the press. Media always likes fireworks. But we are taught RNZ is better than that.

But in my opinion this item looked like a stitch up – and a payback to politician who had publicly challenged RNZ, and Morning Report in particular. Radio New Zealand was invited on Tuesday to respond the the criticism.

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Freedom From Offendarati Rule

Image Pinterest.

Debates about freedom of speech often lead to academic and legalistic arguments. Important people try to define what mere mortals may listen to, who needs to be protected, and from whom.

It is important and abstract. So it is handed to right-minded activists, lawyers and journalists – and to politicians like Phil Goff. He imposed his view on what political view is acceptable – in public venues at least.  The thing is, freedom of speech is an antidote to authority. And so it is annoying for some.  At heart many of us don’t want to be bossed around by people who are sometimes-irrational, sometimes self- indulgent, virtue-signallers, and zealots. We are capable of making up our own minds without their censoring us.

Phil Goff on Q&A. He decided what you can hear.

I’m weary of being lectured that freedom of speech is not an absolute. We all know that. There are valid restrictions on incitements to violence and personal hatred. Defamation laws are a rich person’s tool, but they also constrain freedom. But in the current weird world, protection from abuse and the threat of violence has morphed into stopping views that offend – halting language that is deemed “unsafe.” We are being protected by people who hate being offended. The Offendarati. 

It’s a white hat- black hat mentality. The Goodies and Baddies, Some groups are involved in white hat groups have special status. Some are beyond the pale and are irrelevant or to be silenced. This is understandable given the viciousness of social media and the partisan wars on twitter.

Some folk on the Left – once advocates for free speech – now insist that “hurtful” opinions must be stopped in the future for the good of Society all and the protection of the vulnerable. White knight social justice warriors have assigned themselves to protect specified minorities from people who are defined – somewhat fanatically – as fascists, Nazis and racists. One new term of acceptable abuse, is to deride Terfs, people who will not accept official institutions proclamations on gender politics. The Goodies and the Baddies, 

It is bizarre that some journalists – who have complained about the restrictions of libel laws an authority – should now actively seek the extend restrictions into the discussion of ideas, religion and politics.

Goff says Southern and Molyneux are beyond the pale.’

We have seen examples of over-eager outrages recently like the attacks on Israel Folau – and Phil Goff’s “captain’s call” intervention into the Lauren Southern Stefan Molyneux event. I find Southern too much of a careerist and Molyneux tedious, but they are not so frightening they should be banned from Council venues. “Who is next,” Corin Dann asked Goff on Q&A,” Donald Trump”? 

We see the same intervention by authority in the gay community with attempts by media and politicians to shut down individuals – people who disagree with the new orthodoxy,  transexuals self identifying as women – many of them penises. They argue that biology is irrelevant to gender. It has become mainstream thought, but quite mad/ These are vexed issues. There is no doubt about that.

Minister. “Terfs” must treat transexuals with penises as women.

But in the current environment, activists and media followers believe discordant options are to be shut down. People who disagree with authority from so called “Terfs” can be shut down.

Last week on Q&A Woman Affairs Minister Julie Ann Genter chided feminists who did not accept transsexuals with penises were women.Should the state be policing these matters?

It is part of the continued breakdown into cultural niches under identity politics, where authorities will define what is and what is not acceptable.

The Human Rights Commission should be a haven of fairness and rationality in these debates. Alas, the publicly funded body has taken sides and become a home for state sponsored activism. 

The Commission has brushed off its’ scandal over an executive harassment of an intern and privately it is working to expand a push for more restrictions on free speech.

During nine years of a National governments there have been growing signs of ideological biases were ignored and promoted in media.

Radical feminist Renee Gerlijh has been attacked by trans-activists – but that is allowed by authorities

Now with a Labour government – and despite the Human Rights Commission dysfunction –  pressing ahead with controls on what it calls “disharmonious speech”  for likely new hate speech rules at the end of the current Labour term. 

 

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