Author: John Drinnan

Is It Wrong To Want Neutral Reporters?

After the Three political debate, Newshub brought in analysis from right wingers and lobbyists Jenna Raeburn and Matthew Hooton. There was Left wing pundt  Morgan Godfrey, and one journalist, Fairfax political editor Tracey Watkins.

 

I’ve been thinking about media coverage of the election – the good the bad and the ugly.

Media have made impressive attempts to focus on policies and sensible analysis, and in my opinion, we have been pretty well served. There has been plenty happening and media coverage of the 2017 campaign was not hi-jacked the way it was in 2014 with “Dirty Politics.”

For two or three weeks. media were fawning over Jacinda Ardern and it seems that the personal enthusiasm of some reporters managed to slip past the eyes of TV sub-editors. Meanwhile, TV coverage focused on the views of partisan pundits.

The worst example was in the MediaWorks coverage of the second leaders’ debate where two of the three “commentators” were lobbyists and Right-wing pundits. One – Jenna Raeburn – was later seen on Facebook dancing the National Party campaign bus with deputy PM Paula Bennett. One was from a union Morgan and only one was a journalist, Fairfax political editor Tracey Watkins. Elsewhere as a participant in Three’s “The Project” Ardern had been soft interviewed by the team including her pal, Jesse Mulligan. The Project is clearly aimed at a liberal audience. It’s relationship with Ardern is too cosy, in my opinion,

For two or three weeks. media were fawning over Jacinda Ardern and it seems that the personal enthusiasm of some reporters managed to slip past the eyes of TV su-editors.. Meanwhile, TV coverage increasingly focused on the views of partisan pundits. The worst example was in the MediaWorks coverage of the second leaders’ debate where two of the three “commentators” were lobbyists and right-wing pundits. One – Jenna Raeburn – was later seen on Facebook dancing the National Party campaign bus with deputy PM Paula Bennett. One was from a union (Morgan), and only one was a journalist- Fairfax political editor Tracey Watkins. Elsewhere as a participant on Three’s “The Project” Ardern has been soft interviewed by her pal, Jesse Mulligan. The Project is clearly aimed at a liberal audience and its relationship with Labour is a bit too cosy.

Who we trust with political coverage? It’s a personal thing. People will see media bias at both ends of the political spectrum with journalists accused of all sorts of malfeasance.

Who can we rely on? My starting point is far from exhaustive, and it reflects my age – and my centrist personal politics. It also reflects a view objectivity and neutrality are valuable traits in journalism. Here are my reckons on some of the mainstream commentators who try hardest to remain neutral.

Corin Dann, political editor TVNZ

Corin Dann, TVNZ

Dann has always impressed as unrelentingly and palpably neutral in his coverage of politics. This was particularly the case when his “Three” counterpart Paddy Gower became infused with his tabloid styl, campaigned against Labour. But he also avoids tabloid tricks – placing voters and not voters at the centre of his interviews. TVNZ Q & A interviewer Jessica Mutch has also established a strong reputation remaining straight in her coverage of politics.

 

 

NZME head of business, Fran O’Sullivan.

Fran O’Sullivan. The NZ Herald.

O’Sullivan is clearly focused on the business world, so, naturally gets lumped in as a commentator from the right.  She comes with a clear perspective on how politics affects the sector. But she has been around long enough to know that there are nuances in issues like overseas trade, Her political and economic columns in the NZ Herald have taken a non-partisan perspective and reflect on issues like trade. She has been fair at handing out brickbats and bouquets, Other business writers mentioned in despatches include NBR political writer, Rob Hosking.

 

 

Duncan Garner, Mediaworks The Dominion Post.

Duncan Garner, Mediaworks

Duncan Garner’s positioning as a journalist and commentator appears to be as a swing voter sat between the Left and the Right. That means he has detractors from both extremes can both bay for blood. I like the fact that he attacks political coverage from the perspective of ordinary people and in my opinion has a handle on what is important to New Zealanders. He is vigilant and like all good journalists, an equal opportunity stirrer. Also mentioned in despatches is The Nation presenter Lisa Owen, who may be our best political interviewer overall.

 

Guyon Espiner, RNZ Morning Report co-host.

Guyon Espiner

Espiner has not really got the best voice for radio, but he has shined this year covering the election. A close friend of Garner he has a reputation for remaining politically neutral, and not backing one side or the other. RNZ Caucus podcast series paints him and fellow political broadcaster, Tim Watkin and Lisa Owen as insiders. But he is persistent and supremely confident up against politicians. Espiner’s recent interview with Winston Peters will go down as one of the best altercations ever between a politician and a journalist. John Campbell clearly has a great talent, but I have trouble separating him from the political views he espouses.

 

 

PUFFERY

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/96870203/dont-underestimate-a-green-with-it-back-against-the-wall

Finally a postscript for what for me was the most disappointing aspect of the campaign coverage so far. A tendency for media companies to allow journalists to editorialise . The political reporter came close to PR puffery, in my opinion.

Stacey Kirk hosted a cosy chat between Greens founder Jeannette Fitzsimmons and candidate Chloe Swarbrick. This might be okay six months out. But it was a poor show eight days before an election.

 

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Media Get in Behind With Dog Whistlers, PR and Lobbyists

Awhile back. the National Party election campaign co-ordinator, Clark Hennessy, spent 12 months working at the right-wing website “The Daily Caller,” reporting directly to its owner, the conservative commentator Tucker Carlson. Nowadays, Carlson is on Fox News offering full frontal support Donald Trump. He is a front man for the Right. So far we have not seen a brazen, populist campaign. Far from it. The Nats have been a damp squib so far against a media obsessed by Jacinda-mania.

Clark Hennessy has been press secretary to Deputy PM Paula Bennett, who was this weekend involved in the campaign kerfuffle over the Nats crime policy, where Bennett said P distributors had fewer human rights than others. To me it seemed like populist media tactics were in play,

Bennett’s comments were a dog whistle to National’s core base and to New Zealand First voters who are not fussed on ensuring human rights to criminal gangs. The main dog whistle was to lthe good people on social media and social media, They wanted THE PARTY that they supported human rights to everyone including drug pushers and criminal gangs. Bill English talked it back the next day, and Bennett backed down. But in my opinion it was a success electorally. Nat voters were reminded that in the mind of their followers the Left was the Party of Gangs and trouble makers.

TVNZ RULES

Act gets generous coverage from the TV networks despite its tiny support, . Meanwhile, The Opportunities Party – which has more support in polls is not allowed to take part in TVNZ election debates, because it has no MPs. In theory the TVNZ policy makes sense, But the reality is that it can accused of bias in supporting National – adding fuel to the fire over the Mike Hosking furore,

MAD

The late arrival of Jacinda Arden has given hope to Labour activists and zeal for Left activists, Some media seem to have followed suit,  drifting into bizarre identity politics traps with PC hand-wringing like the Lipstick On a Pig Dispute, Zealotry can be fun in an election campaign. But Lord help us if Labour and the Greens get in and we end up with political correctness gone mad.

PR

Broadcasters need to jack up their ideas using about lobbyists and PR people in coverage of the election campaign. Michelle Boag was a shocker on Q and A last week and did not even try to deliver a semblance non-partisan analysis. Lobbying firm Exceltium is represented on numerous media. It is all part of this notion that we must depict the world as the Left versus the Right.

Michelle Boag

Meanwhile, the lobbyist sometime political commentator for The Nation Jenna Raeburn appeared in Facebook item with National Party singalong on Paul Bennetts campaign bus. Is any other country this loose with its TV coverage of elections?

 

 

 

 

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Aussie Scribbler Rod Emmerson Previously published in Mediaweek Australia

Rod Emmerson did his homework before he took up his job as cartoonist with the New Zealand Heraldin 2003.

Kiwis and Australians can be like blood brothers, but he says the New Zealand population is more diverse and that means he has to keep a watch on his own preconceptions. He learned that early on with a controversial cartoon about Maoris and violence against children, during a legislative push against smacking.

It caused an uproar, to the point where it became a problem for the paper. But as it turned out the furore was resolved in his favour. An influential Maori elder stepped in and said Emmerson’s work may have prevented a child being assaulted and that it opened up a valuable debate.

Journos and media execs have been crisscrossing the Tasman for years. Kiwi cartoonists including The Sydney Morning Herald’s Alan Moir are household names. But Emmerson is a rare beast – an Aussie cartoonist who has moved here.

He had worked out of provincial Rockhampton drawing for APN daily papers in Queensland while selling images to non-competing titles in Australia, the US and Europe. He was poached by APN’s New Zealand Herald.

Read the full article at Mediaweek

Mediaweek NZ: Cartoonist’s journey from Rockhampton to New Zealand

 

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Red Faces Over Blackface at Maori TV

The Maori TV board of directors has intervened to kill the satirical comedy show Jonah of Tonga, which was due to start this week. It’s not clear whether viewers would have hated or loved the show. Amidst complaints from community leaders and politicians, the board is not letting viewers decide.

Black facing on white actors has been controversial a long time.

The title character Jonah of Tonga is a troublesome potty-mouthed Tongan student. played by the white Australian actor Chris Lilley. He wears blackface, and his depiction has raised heckles in the past with some viewing him as a stereotypical Pacific
Island youth. The fact he is white, adds insult to injury for some.

The character has appeared on TV One with little uproar, but there has been criticism of the Jonah of Tonga character overseas. Was it a smart decision the decision of management to run the show when the use of white people in blackface was always going to upset someone. Were Maori TV staff looking for trouble? Or is the board timid current fear of offending?

Alfred Ngaro was critical of Jonah of Tonga

Secondly, how can the politically appointed board in reversing the staff decision when it is expressly prevented from doing so. In the past, the Maori TV board has been criticised for lack of support for the staff of the current affairs show Native Affairs, kowtowing to Maori Establishment figures. Has it happened again?

Mihi Forbes

 

Radio New Zealand’s Mihi Forbes reported:

“An email document obtained by RNZ has revealed high-level board concerns about the show, where a white Australian comedian dresses up as a Tongan student.

The draft document, which has been shared between Māori Television’s current board members, says they “regret not being made aware in time to prevent the first programme from going to air”.

It said Māori would “feel insulted if non-Māori painted their face and proceeded to belittle our people”.

“We unequivocally apologise to our Tongan whanau,” said the document, which added that the broadcaster would never play the show again.”

The email also discussed concern over politicians questioning “our processes and judgement”, and suggested moving quickly.

Pacific Island politicians have expressed their concern over the screening of the show, with Minister for Pacific Peoples Alfred Ngaro saying it perpetuated negative stereotypes of Pacific people.”  the RNZ report said.

 

It may be significant that the controversy has coincided departure of controverss=sial CEO part way through his contract.He resigned on May 8. Maxwell had been set to stay on until August. It is understood he has now left the Maori TV studios.

 

 

 

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TVNZ’s Ed Kindred: The Aussie Gent Behind Duke

CAPTION: Ed Kindred used to programme UKTV and BBC World channels for New Zealand.

 

Ed Kindred arrived in New Zealand last May with a nuanced understanding of the local TV market. Plenty of Australian media folk jump across the ditch, but Kindred was better prepared than most.The young Sydneysider is programming manager for Duke, a free-to-air channel that has a solid start in a slowed ad market.

How many times can you watch Seinfeld reruns? A few more times on TVNZ’s Duke.

As Sydney-based BBC Worldwide programmer for New Zealand, he was drawn to the idea of having his own free-to-air channel and being able to commission content. Duke has had a good start. One year after its March 20, 2016 launch Duke is distinguished as the only channel on Freeview with a majority male audience. Its audience is 64% male compared to the average 42%.

When it startedDuke was positioned somewhere between male-skewed 7mate in Australia and the similar Dave channel in the UK.

 

For full story: http://www.mediaweek.com.au/mediaweek-nz-profile-ed-kindred/

 

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Ryan Rathbone: Leaning Over The Edge

CAPTION: Ryan Rathbone is National Content Director for the top rating music station, The Edge FM.

Ryan Rathbone was headed for Canadian radio, but detoured to New Zealand instead to take up an offer overseeing youth stations at MediaWorks. Rathbone later took over as national content director the Edge, a jewel in the crown for MediaWorks, the top-rating radio network nationwide.

The Edge FM breakfast teams a ratings winner,

Rathbone had given it a big makeover and the quarter three survey from GfK saw a big boost.“When you make change to a heritage brand you usually go down, not up, so it was a massive relief,” he said. The gods were on his side. The new GfK ratings system incorporated smaller provincial centres, which had been ignored in the past, and The Edge had an unrecognised big following. MediaWorks has been on the ascendancy lately in Auckland, taking audience away from NZME, which controls the other half of New Zealand’s commercial radio duopoly.

Three years after leaving his job programming 2Day FM in Sydney, Rathbone sees subtle differences in the two markets.

For the rest of the story. read Mediaweek: https://www.mediaweek.com.au/mediaweek-nz-profile-mediaworks-ryan-rathbone/

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RNZ Confirms Lloyd Scott Will Leave Soon

As announced in the column a week ago, eteran broadcaster Lloyd Scott has announced that he is leaving Radio New Zealand in August after a career spanning more than 53 years. He has spent the last 13 years as one of RNZ National’s regular overnight hosts. It is understood that RNZ will soon announcment a replacement for his overnight slot.  “I’ve been in broadcasting for more than 53 years after joining the old NZBC back in 1963 as a technician. Sometimes I’m excited about the freedom I’ll have, but it’s tinged with feelings of loss as well.Radio is a wonderful medium and RNZ has offered me lots of opportunities over the years to be part of it. I’ve been a commercial DJ, an actor in radio drama, news reader, hosted a programme called Lloyd Scott’s Family Holiday. (In fact the only things I haven’t done are RNZ Concert and sports commentaries). I have loved every minute of it.” Lloyd Scott will continue to host overnight programmes on RNZ National until mid-August.

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Kiwi Magazines Maestro To Run Bauer Australasian Empire

Bauer New Zealand chief executive Paul Dykzeul has been put in charge of Bauer Media Australia and New Zealand, the company has announced. He replaces Nick Chan who has left the company. Dykzeul has been CEO of Bauer Media New Zealand (formerly ACP Magazines) since 2007, returning home after spending 11 years in Sydney. During his time in Australia he held roles as director of international business and publisher for ACP.

Bauer NZ title NZ Woman’s Weekly

Prior to that he was managing director of Murdoch Magazines before moving to Pacific Magazines in 2000 where he held the position of director of international licensing and operations, and publisher. He starts in the New Australia NZ role immediately and will relocate to Sydney.

Dykzeul was recently profiled by the Australasian media publication Mediaweek, excerpts below.

Bauer New Zealand chief executive Paul Dykzeul has split his career evenly on both sides of the Tasman working around 14 years in NZ and Australia. He returned to New Zealand in 2009 as chief executive of ACP, which was subsequently bought by Bauer in 2012. Straight-talking Dykzeul has a unique perspective on the similarities and differences between the two markets. The smaller more intimate Kiwi market is dominated by Bauer. Meanwhile, Australia is far more intense.

“It would be quite a different media landscape if News were here,” he told Mediaweek.

Bauer NZ title The Listener has stood up well.

Dykzeul has a reputation as an old-style media manager in a local media scene mostly led by newcomers. When he returned he gained a reputation as a digital sceptic, closing a fashion website Runway Model which was popular in the fashion world but not a commercial success.

For the full Mediaweek profile:

http://www.mediaweek.com.au/mediaweek-nz-profile-paul-dykzeul

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The Edge FM: Cruise, Crotchgate And Cucumbers

The Edge breakfast crew  – Dom Harvey, Jay Jay Harvey and Chris Randell – are such a big revenue earners for MediaWorks they are even allowed to undermine colleagues at More FM. In case you missed it, last week, The Edge tricked More FM Christchurch breakfast co-host Simon Barnett into thinking he was interviewing Tom Cruise, when it was a Tom Cruise impersonator. Barnett looked silly and sounded devastated. He did not get the joke.

Simon Barnett – tricked.

His co-host, Gary McCormick, was furious and producer Samantha Baxter started sobbing and told her fellow The Edge hosts to “Get a life.  It’s embarrassing. But its hard to be upset for them. Fake celebrity calls are a standard for commercial breakfast radio. But it was surprising they were duped by their own colleagues. In the last survey The Edge had the country’s biggest weekly cumulative reach of 662,300 listeners, ahead of More FM om 517,000.

With The Edge ratings so high Dom, Jay Jay and Chris might feel unstoppable. But there is an old maxim in the media business – be nice to people on your way to the top, because you might meet them again on the way down. They are obliged to be outrageous but they are in the unusual role as husband and wife shock jocks.

Occasionally, the quest for outrage has seen the Edge Breakfast show lose the plot.

In August 2015 the Edge crew had contestants in the  Bachelor competition – women who under contract to Mediaworks – to swallow a cucumber. in my opinion it was demeaning and sleazy at a network that has a lot of kids and teen females innit audience. In April Dom Harvey had published a crotch shot of Bachelorette Chrystal Chenery with a lewd comment.

In October last year the NZ Herald’s Spy reported:

Jay-Jay Harvey disappeared from her morning radio show yesterday morning and hasn’t returned since.

This morning, co-hosts Clinton Randall Dom Harvey opened up about her mysterious disappearance.

“It’s probably time to address the elephant in the room, what is up with Jay-Jay… She was here with us yesterday morning and then mysteriously mid-show she just disappeared.

“It turns out Jay-Jay was in one of the toilet cubicles crying at the time,” the hosts explained.

“Jay-Jay is a sufferer of depression and exhaustion I guess as well. She takes a lot on and she gets to the point where things can get a little bit too much,” said Dom, who said there was “a lot of family stuff going on” in their lives.

Jay Jay cancelled a book tour at the time which described her battle with depression. Media have rightly g0ne out of their way to respect Harvey’s condition and its challenges. It can’t always be easy being a shock jock.

 

 

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News Director Exits RNZ Amid Angst

RNZ news boss Brent Edwards is leaving amidst tension in the Wellington newsroom.  Edwards is the news director and head of newsgathering at RNZ. He was formerly political editor, working from parliament. And he has also been a key player in E tu journalist union.

Barry ended funding freeze

His resignation was announced yesterday and it will be effective after the election. The move has shocked new staff and comes at the same time as a contentious restructuring with key news roles moved from Wellington to Auckland. RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson said Edwards’ resignation was a big loss. He did not know whether his news director role would stay in Wellington, or whether it will be moved to Auckland. RNZ has restructured the role of another senior executive Gael Woods.

RNZ CEO Paul Thompson

Her future is unclear. I am told Auckland chief executive Eileen Cameron is also stepping down soon. though this is not directly related to the restructuring. RNZ claims that a move to Auckland is necessary due to the high risk of an earthquake in Wellington. This view makes some sense. But staff said the implementation has been clumsy and harsh and appears to have “come from nowhere.”  Thompson had told staff that around 50 positions will move north over several years.

Richard Griffin: Journo turned RNZ chairman

Edwards did not return a call. But sources say that he – long with the director of news programmes – Mary Wilson –  questioned news restructuring plans. In the Budget the government rannounced an end to athe punishing funding freeze at RNZ. Negotiations were with Minister for Culture and Heritage, Maggie Barry, a former presenter on RNZ Morning Report. The RNZ negotiator was Richard Griffin, a former RNZ political editor.

 

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