Category: Politics And Media

Jacinda Should Not Gossip To Comedians

Jacinda Ardern needs to be more careful talking to her media mates about government business. There was a kerfuffle this week when the PM  blabbed to her comedian mate Tom Sainsbury at the Vodafone Music Awards. She suggested Donald Trump at the APEC conference had mistaken her for Justin Trudeau’s wife.

Jacinda’s pal Tom Sainsbury

She says she was just passing on what she heard. It’s not clear whether Trump did think that. But after publicity this week that was the embarrassing story picked up by international media. Its unfortunate for a capricious man like Trump. At the very least, the loose lips episode makes New Zealand look hokey.

Ardern’s partner Clarke Gayford host’s an outdoor show.. Jacinda and Clarke are also matey with Jesse Mulligan, the RNZ afternoon host and TV3 “The Project” co host. Gayford is an occasional panelist on RNZ’s “The Panel” and was actually on today.

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Jack And Jacinda Went Up The Hill …

CAPTION. Some think Jack Tame has been too mean to Jacinda.

Jack Tame’s interview with Jacinda Ardern on Breakfast this morning was not great television.

Jack Tame and Jacinda Ardern

Tame interrogated the PM for six minutes on how she incorrectly recounted hearsay – how Donald Trump had purportedly mistaken her for Justin Trudeau’s wife. It was a lot of time for what Tame admitted was a trivial matter. But the PM wrongly relaying gossip about the President of the US is not wholly trivial. Ardern could have reduced the wasted time by fronting up straight away instead of fudging.

As I say, it was not great television. But it was good journalism from the TVNZ breakfast host. Labour should be grateful for the lesson that Ardern has to move from being a cheerful MP chatting to her mates behind the scenes at the music awards. She has to be especially careful gossiping to media mates, like comedian Tom Sainsbury.

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NZ “Asleep At The Wheel” Over Chinese Whispers

US human rights campaigner Sophie Richardson has added to alarm bells about Chinese government and Communist Party propaganda targeting New Zealand. Washington-based Richardson is the China director for Human Rights Watch. She says that New Zealand has been “asleep at the wheel” over the growing influence of the People’s Republic of China.

Sophie Richardson

Richardson was responding to a report “Magic Weapons” issued in September by Canterbury University professor and china specialist Anne-Marie Brady. There is nothing secret about the strategy. But it has been expanding and has not been challenged in nine years of National, and amid growing economic ties.

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Maniapoto Leader Tipped For Maori Television. Changes Ahead.

CAPTION: Maori businessman Keith Ikin is tipped to lead Maori TV

The Maori TV board is expected appoint Maniapoto Maori Trust deputy chairman Keith Ikin as its new chief executive. He replaces Paora Maxwell who resigned on May 8 ending his contentious term on August 31. Ikin has a background in management. He is currently general manager of Landcare Research, and deputy chief executive of the Waiariki Institute of Technology.

Challenges at new Maori TV studio

On May 8, wrote:

Paora Maxwell has resigned as chief executive of Maori TV just as the channel moves to a new base in East Tamaki. Maxwell’s resignation comes part way through his contract and is attributed to unspecified “changes in his personal and business circumstances.”  Maxwell had previously been head of the Maori unit at Television New Zealand and the process for his appointment – championed by Maori TV chairwoman Georgina te Heuheu  – was at the centre the centre of controversy.  Maori TV sources linked his resignation to tensions in the relationship between management and Maori TV board over the selection of long-term commitment to a new leasehold building in East Tamaki. a source said. The building (which has an out-of-the-way location) has required substantial spending on a fit out and has limited studio space.

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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.




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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JT’s Quiet Hunt For A New Maori TV Studio Reprised: June 2 2016.

The selection of a new base for Maori TV coincides with the departure of CEO Paora Maxwell. This article shows that the board has been looking for a new building for more than one year. There was an intense push to keep it in Auckland after a push to move to Rotorua. John Tamihere was appointed to the Board of Maori TV in March 2016.

Time is starting to run out for finding a new studio for Maori TV. The lease on Newmarket studios doesn’t run out for nearly a year – but there are a lot of requirements for a TV studio. The foundation CEO Derek Fox chose the present location back in 2004 and it has served the channel well, but the building is expensive and the five-year lease runs out in May 2017. (The lease has since been extended)

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Who Goes There? – Holt Opinion

Caption: Hayley and the Greens

The United States will soon be run by reality TV star Donald Trump. And in little old New Zealand, we’ve seen wannabe politicians who happen to have been on the telly.

The latest “star” political wannabe is Hayley Holt, a talented snowboarder and a presenter of two niche TV shows “The Crowd Goes Wild” and “Back Benches. Name recognition matters for a party like the Greens and you wonder if there are any more media people waiting in the wings.

But Holt does not have the celebrity power of Tamati Coffey who fronted the weather forecasts for many years and who will be standing for Labour in the Waiariki seat in 2017.

Holt is said to be an environmentalist and have a degree in politics and that means a lot for some Green voters.

She may well be be a brilliant advocate for the Party. Holt had indicated that she was interested in winning the candidacy for the Helensville electorate. Maybe that will be less attractive now that John Key is no longer standing and there would be fewer promotional opportunities.

The Greens insist they will follow their normal practices is selecting her place on the List, . But announcements of star candidates like Holt raise the question whether high profile people have a place ahead non- celebrity candidates,


Tamati Coffey has genuine star appear and is standing for Labour in Wairariki

Holt told the NZ Herald she is not yet sure how many votes her star power could be worth.”I don’t want politics to be boring. It looks boring at the moment and we’ve got some really fresh, exciting faces with the Greens coming through …” she said.

Another recent recruit looking for a place on the Greens list is high profile politician Chloe Swarbrick who had worked with alternative radio station Bfm.

Chloe Swarbrick
Chloe Swarbrick

She has been backed by media on the Left in Auckland and would likely draw votes in the city. Indeed when she recently announced her intentions to stand for Parliament it seemed like the Greens were joining Swarbrick, not vice – versa.



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Shhh … Secret Squirrel Thank heaven for unnamed sources

The Guardian wrote this week

“Deep antipathy to Hillary Clinton exists within the FBI, multiple bureau sources have told the Guardian, spurring a rapid series of leaks damaging to her campaign just days before the election.

Current and former FBI officials, none of whom were willing or cleared to speak on the record, have described a chaotic internal climate that resulted from outrage over director James Comey’s July decision not to recommend an indictment over Clinton’s maintenance of a private email server on which classified information transited.

“The FBI is Trumpland,” said one current agent.

This atmosphere raises major questions about how Comey and the bureau he is slated to run for the next seven years can work with Clinton should she win the White House.”


Secrecy has become entrenched in institutions while they promise transparency. We have come to rely on anonymous sources to tell us what is really going on. They can expose dysfunction at powerful institutions – as it did with the Guardian report (above) about FBI antipathy to Hillary Clinton.  It seems like personal views in influencing the use of state power right on the eve of an election. It could aid the election of a dangerous man, and that sense the secret policing agency is anti-democratic.

Shhh - Secret Squirrel
Shhh – Secret Squirrel

The use of anonymous sources look like increasing rather than shrinking, as institutions claim transparency while taking steps to shut the public out. We know that if people in the FBI and security agencies and big corporates people also leak – about one another and sometimes about private citizens. Media organisations can lap that up as well. It’s the new media world and it requires a lot of faith in journalists at a time the profession is in deep doo doo.

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How Will Media Cover The Class War?

US media covering the election face a troubling task establishing its role in the first battle for a Trump-inspired class war. Many loyal followers have valid beliefs they are being ignored by a corrupt elite aided by a smug, disconnected liberal media. They are partly right, and they are not going to go away if their messiah loses.


Many in the media doubt Trump wants to deliver to his followers or that that he is capable of doing so. A vast swathe of ordinary Americans – a majority of them working class – believe the media and liberal bias. It is basic journalism that Trump’s people deserve a voice and should be listened to, even if you believe they are dead wrong. Media have had to balance the widely held view that Trump is dangerous, egocentric and dishonest against the fact a significant part of the country believes he is right,and so are his views that media are part of the problem.

A classic example of the media dilemma can be seen on CNN and its approach in covering the election. The three main debates have been covered by panels led by relatively independent anchors like Anderson Cooper and political journalists who try to cover both sides objectively – succeeding to a greater or lesser extent.

VaN Jones - Aggresssively pro Clinton
Van Jones – Aggressively pro Clinton

But objectivity is unfashionable. If it is too fair it risks limited the size of the audience. Far better to have a shitfight between Clinton and Trump partisans Its panel for the third debate includes Obama staffer Van Jones and former Obama aide David Axelrod. Both clearly support Clinton Among those boosting Trump we have had former press aide Corey Lewandowski and Right wing commentator Jeff Lord. The format means that CNN actively considers Trump talking points that are clearly wrong. It’s not easy when the candidate blatantly lies. Traditional media are clearly on one side. The issue was covered comprehensively in the Columbia Journalism review on  October 21, after Hillary Clinton got in to trouble referring to Trump’s supporters as “deplorables” which was partly true, but an ill-defined term that summed up her view on a wide segment of the population.

“Journalists have had to grapple with the most consequential questions surrounding the issue: Once you have established what class of people Clinton was referring to, how do you write about them? How do you cover their lives, their opinions, their judgments, their values, especially when their values fall outside the pale of what is socially and morally acceptable? Predictable contrarian takes have emerged in response, arguing that not all of Trump’s followers are economically hard-pressed.

This may be true, but that doesn’t change the fact that many of them are. The idea that a substantial number of Trump voters don’t fit the socio-economic mold of the “deplorables” might satisfy journalists’ ceaseless appetite for new angles on new angles, but the Gallup study by Jonathan Rothwell upon which it is based concludes that the majority of Trump’s supporters are poor, almost poor, or blue collar. The pressing issue here was whether journalists who, regardless of their backgrounds, enjoy a privileged existence relative to the “deplorables”—and often hail from rarefied backgrounds themselves—possessed the sensibility and/or the morality to cover their new subjects without elitist prejudice, elitist condescension, or elitist sentimentalilty.

The last CNN debate saw Jones and Lord going g hammer and tongs where Corey Lewandowsky blatantly made false claims.

Chris Wallace
Chris Wallace -immaculately fair

These issues about representing voters opinions will become more important after the election, whether Trump is elected or not. His threats to media freedom and civil discourse are a warning to the media to be careful and to not dismiss distrust against them. Trump supporters are not going to go away and primed up by Trump there may be a lot of disgruntled people about. Several factors make this relevant to New Zealand politics. The media is only now coming to grips with a wide level of dissatisfaction at a time when the media is struggling to survive financially. There is no revolution happening her, but the country is ancy. Real issues such as poverty and housing are getting a lot of attention n in the volatile echo chambers of social media. New Zealand is small enough that local media might be able to see the writing on the wall and make the necessary changes.



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More Taxpayer Cash For Expanding Digital Video Firms Includes Official Release


New Zealand On Air has released plans for a big shake-up in the way it hands out public money to producers and it allow digital media a bigger share of the funding pie. The New Zealand Herald media column this morning previewed the proposals which gives expanding digital media firms digital businesses such as  as NZME and The Spinoff. Currently digital video players are at a distinct disadvantage to established broadcasters. Under NZOA proposals the networks will still control big budget projects and allocations more than $500,000. That means the big dramas.  Networks have the ability to deliver on linear TV platforms (the main TV channels) and digitally through On Demand platforms. Combined these two provide big audiences. The focus on the number of bums on seats will also mean that they have big advantages for accessing the next run of allocations for taxpayer allocations of $100,000 to $500,000. The fundamental change to allocations has been inevitable for some time and TV networks have accepted the change. But two TV producers I spoke to were wary. Some believe it will open the door to content with lower production values and said thatNZ ON Air needs to improve its oversight on quality. Others reject that view as self serving and believe change – while substantial – is a stopgap measure, and more expansive change to the role for NZ ON Air will be needed the future. The new proposals are planned to take effect in mid 2017

The Herald media column speculating correctly on changes and is attached below:,





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