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Branding Checkpoint

CAPTION. Mary Wilson would have conducted a more rigorous interview with Renae Maihi.

The Checkpoint interview:


RNZ star presenter John Campbell has worked hard to diminish the worst excesses of celebrity journalism from his days at Campbell Live on TV3. The editorialising. The personal takes.

Sir Robert Jones.

This week he interviewed a Rotorua filmmaker and writer Renae Maihi who is organising a petition to remove Sir Bob Jones knighthood because of his comments in a scrapped NBR column, deemed racist by some.  In my opinion the interview was deficient. It was more about identifying the branding of Campbell and Checkpoint than it was about debating an issue. Maihi was articulate – a media person – and capable of dealing with challenges to her position. It was a debate on free speech not feelings and Campbell should have challenged her assumptions. That is what Checkpoint would have done before Campbell when “Scary Mary” Wilson was in charge.

Checkpoint has some serious wins under Campbell, but Campbell reverts to chat when he agrees with protagonists.  I understand a change in approach to the show had been recognised when senior executive Gael Woods was at RNZ. Woods was made redundant last year and has lodged personal grievance case was due to be heard by the Employment Relations Authority in Wellington in April. A different approach seems to have won approval from senior management at RNZ.

Two weeks after the brouhaha over Bob Jones’ offending column in NBR. Checkpoint revisited the issue with a Skype article on Maihi who had organised the petition with 58,000 signatures. Jones has a reputation as a stirrer and publicity seeker.

Renea Maihi – writer and film-maker.

His column that included a small segment suggesting Maori should use Waitangi Day to show their gratitude to their colonisers. Jones’ insists it was satire. It was only online for a day before the NBR responded to criricism and took it down.  Jones resigned his commission with NBR.

Jacinda Ardern has said the government was not going to remove Jones’s knighthood. In that context, the ongoing story is a debate on freedom of speech . The main problem with the column was that I was not very good. Screen grabs of the offending article were on the internet. But it’s still not clear how many people actually read it in full; Maihi  is entitled to her view. But for seven minutes on Checkpoint we had the state broadcaster examining the hurt she felt – that people were saying such things 250 years after colonisation that hurt Maori people’s mana. She felt media should not publish material that was disparaging toward Maori. She did not buy the satire argument.

“We have to be very responsible what we are putting out in the media, We want people feeling good about it. To which some would say. that’s the price of freedom of speech.

“You just get to a point where we are still having to defend out mana, and we need to sort this out because it has to stop.  Messaging is very important,” Maihi said.

So this will no doubt add to the campaign for those who believe some things cannot be said.

Campbell related to Maihi’s angst, and that seemed to colour his interview. We were treated to an insight into the morals of Campbell household which he said had a policy to “not be a dick”. But it was a soft interview on an important topic. Freedom-of-speech versus the right to not be offended. There was no debate on the premise of the campaign: That the state should punish people who say things that cause offense to others. Checkpoint did not question whether opinion should be regulated.

In my opinion, this interview was more about branding for RNZ. Signalling its priorities. It’s what you would expect from The Project. The Wireless, and The Spinoff,  not Checkpoint.








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“Bloody Proud” Hayley May Interrogate Jacinda

CAPTION: Hayley Holt on the campaign trail with the Greens.


I know its easy to dismiss breakfast TV and the 7pm magazine shows as fluff. But they are still a part of the news eco-system, and I worry that – based the pr5e-Christmas Jacindamania – broadcasters are prone to giving the new Labour government an easy ride.

TVNZ looks to be joining RNZ Digital in a drift to the Left, and TV3’s “The Project”  is aimed at the young urban Leftie set.

Things have changed at TVNZ. On Seven Sharp, TVNZ allowed Mike Hosking to mouth off his pro-National opinions.

He is entitled to his views, and his bias would not have been an issue on a privately-owned TV channel.

But TVNZ allowed him to take over the editorialising for a TV news programme on a state channel.

Now Labour is in power, Hosking has been replaced with Hilary Barry and TVNZ has hired former Green candidate Hayley Holt to take over her job co-hosting Breakfast.

Its odd.  A few months after Holt was the Greens was beside herself, talking about Jacinda Ardern on twitter.. 

“Sometimes I get choked up thinking about how bloody proud I am to have @jacindaardern as our PM. NZ is on the right side of history today”

She “totally” agreed with another correspondent that she loved the Prime -Minister.


I guess that is just social media hyperbole, but its hard to see how you leave that idolatry behind. TVNZ confirms Holt may be interviewing the PM on nationwide breakfast TV. TVNZ says that Holt – unlike Hosking – is a journalist.

I’m sure that Holt will provide the fun an fizz that is required for breakfast TV.

She has left the Green Party. TVNZ believes Holt’s politics need not interfere with her journalists role and is aware of the requirements of the job,.  

I’ll be pilloried by her legion of young fans and journalists, 

I just think that TVNZ they should try hard for the political interviews to be conducted by Jack Tame. 

TVNZ tried to convince us that the bias to the Right was okay for Hosking. Not it is doing the same hiring a former Green candidate, TVNZ ending his gig was widely applauded by Lefties. Holt may well turn out to be a great breakfast TV host, but the public deserves more care with political interviewers. With all the challenges facing journalism a former Left Candidate interviewing Labour MP undermines the credibility of TVNZ’s politics coverage.RNZ tried the same trick with a Young Greens activist interviewing Chloe Swarbrick and a Labour Party consultant opining about what question could be asked of Ardern, We don’t need TVNZ to join in.


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Bauer’s Paperboy Falls Over

Bauer has ended Paperboy the Auckland city giveaway.  It was launched in November 2016 and the next issue was due out on 25 January.

But in a statement, Bauer said the cost of producing the free magazine in a “highly competitive market” exceeded the advertising revenue generated … and it will no longer be published.

Bauer said the magazine “championed a positive vision” for Auckland and the move to shut it down was a tough decision.



And so, thank you Bauer, for Paperboy, your ambitious attempt to provide a giveaway weekly paper-magazine for central Auckland and its suburbs. I was only a sporadic reader, picking one up from the empty bus seat next to me, or after passing one of the inner city distribution bins. I seldom actively sought out a copy. To be honest, it seemed aimed at people who were younger and cleverer than me.

There were always some interesting stories. New magazines take awhile to become  established in their market. Bauer said it had been doing okay for he last three months.  But it was not making a profit and had not provided the advertising revenue to sustain its future. The company decided to pull out.

To its credit, Bauer had taken a risk with Paperboy. It had invested a lot to develop the title for new audience of Auckland city and city fringe dwellers, with plans to expand to other centres. This at a time when all media – let alone print- have been going through upheavals.  It’s magazine-style layout was nice, as befits a magazine company, and the stories were well written.  In my opinion the newsprint quality seemed a bit low rent  considering the subject matter.  Bauer published 100,000 copies a week, so improving paper quality might have added a lot to its production budget. But the paper quality detracted from the product and would have made it harder to make a splash with advertising.

I am probably too old for the target demographic, but I sometimes found the font size for the body type a too small for easy reading.

The upmarket home décor, architecture and the arts focus would have made sense to Bauer. That was probably the speciaist where Bauer thought the advertising revenue would come from.

Paperboy received good feedback from media folk about town and many people have lamented the loss of the magazine later this month.

But I wonder if Bauer aimed it too upmarket. For ad revenue it would have been competing against mainstream newspapers and radio stations. Editorially it appeared to aim at the clever set consumers that reads The Spinoff. Staff  are being redeployed at Bauer, and the hope is that Bauer will be prepared to take other risks in the future.




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Weatherman Sam or Jack Tame Might Take Over From Hosking

CAPTION: Sam Wallace on The Hits. My sources believe he will replace Mike Hosking on Seven Sharp?

It is understood that Wallace – who works with Street on NZME”s The Hits radio station and who holds roles including Breakfast weatherman is well liked  and assured a place on Seven Sharp if he wanted it. He is regarded as a telleenic young face for the network. He will likely lead a shift back to even lighter content on the magazine show, sources say.

The other alternative is Jack Tame who has not really worked with Hillary Barry on Breakfast.

Continue reading “Weatherman Sam or Jack Tame Might Take Over From Hosking”

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I Love British Drama, but Happy Valley is Too Bleak Caption: Calderdale, is part of W. Yorks

I doubt viewers of Netflix and Lightbox’s Happy Valley will have missed it – but there is an unsubtle irony in the naming of this TV series set in the hard-scrabble towns of the Calder Valley, West Yorkshire.

Sarah Lancashire n

Like many of the towns and cities of the North, the Calder Valley towns have been ravaged by drugs and poverty, and life for many is far from happy. Indeed, the bleakness seem to have congealed. Even those of us who fondly remember northern dramas  – like The Boys From The Blackstuff – and the stories set in Thatcher’s Britain – may find it a bit much. Those us who loved the first series of this police drama would have been challenged to see out the entire second series. I’ll admit to having a soft spot for the North. My wife grew up in the industrial Halifax. There is something unique in the way that New Zealanders  can relate British towns excuse of their familiarity due to the early focus of TV,


Continue reading I Love British Drama, but Happy Valley is Too Bleak Caption: Calderdale, is part of W. Yorks

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Let’s Keep Labour Politics Out Of The Public Media Debate

CAPTION: The former PM and the new leader. Campaigners for public media made a bad call promoting Helen Clark as it’s champion.


You have to admire any organisation that makes the effort to help debate an important topic like the need for better public media. I have the greatest respect for Mark Jennings, and some of the other panelists for the Better Public Media Trust debate, and their role in eliciting responses for change to the way we promote journalism. Panelist Mark Jennings in brings the credibility of a working journalist to bear, and more power to his sword, I say.  However. the focus on Helen Clark in a press statement today raises questions about where this is organisation is at, where it has been and where it is going to. The utterances of a partisan politician are surprising. Are there no people in the community who can address the need for independent journalism other than a former Party political leader, let alone one who has associated herself so much with the new government?  There has long been a tendency in the journalist debate over public broadcasting to be anti-business, anti-conservatism and pro-Left. That I a natural abbertion, there is no need to get a Labour politicians in to emphasise the bias. As PM, Helen Clark led a whole army of people in government to manipulate the views of journalists and the public. That was her job  BPM needs to ensure that it remains bi-partisan and represents the values of all New Zealanders and  it does not get caught up with other agendas. The Better Public Media Trust and the allied group the Coalition for Better Broadcasting was an organisation that contributed to the Labour Party policy on broadcasting that includes an emphasis on Radio New Zealand and the development of an RNZ TV service. The new service to be called RNZ Plus will be funded with an extra $38 million from taxpayers this year.

This is an abridged version of the press release today the Better Public Media Trust today.


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Minister And RNZ News Boss Breakfast At The Astoria

Ministers of the Crown are supposed to deal with Crown enterprises through boards and CEOs, to ensure they follow the chain of command. So folk were a little surprised to see the new minister of communications, Clare Curran breakfasting with RNZ head of content (including news) Carol Hirschfeld, at the well known Wellington eatery, The Astoria,.

Carol Hirschfeld RNZ has assembled a team of “stars” led by John Campbell..


RNZ spokesman John Barr played down the meeting, saying the minister happened on the senior news executive while at the restaurant. Hirschfeld was wearing her gym gear at the time. Clearly they wouldn’t have been meeting at the Astoria inn they wanted to kept quiet. The Astoria is the most public place in Wellington., The Minister’s office was more open, and confirmed the two had breakfast together. They discussed “a range of issues about the future of media in NZ”.

Clare Curran, minister of broadcasting and communications.

No doubt these will include Labour plans to pump $38m million into the Radio New  Zealand coffers and the opportunities that may arise, especially of those with a. background television  Maybe I was just n over the coffee cups conversation. But given the state of media and the challenging times head for this government, these ministerial discussions would have been the chairman the board Richard Griffin or the chief executive, Paul Thompson, rather than with the head of news, relaxing in her gym gear over breakfast at the Astoria.

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RNZ: From Red Radio To Celebrity Radio Spinoff

All Media have gone a little haywire since the advent of Jacindamania, with a leftward slide that reflects the more liberal mood under a Labour government. Mainstream media are catering to the new mood. but RNZ is leading the pack.

Third wave feminist activism is in fashion and we older men who purportedly run the world are ruling it as well,  even if the main critics are are just younger pale folk from well-heeled suburbs.

Under head of content Carol Hirschfeld RNZ has assembled a team of “stars” led by John Campbell. with Jesse Mulligan and to a lesser extent Guyon Espiner and Susie Ferguson.

A public broadcaster needs to think about reflecting a range of views, some of which will not be shared at journalist get togethers at nice city restaurants or dinner parties in Grey Lynn and Parnell.

I sense this a phase we are going through – this madness of activist led media and twitter virtue signalling each day – it Is inevitable after nine years of a conservative government with knives out for media.

While the new Government settles in and we wait for somebody to take charge. – we are living in a nether world of twitter storms and Facebook outages. Remember the election campaign:


Continue reading “RNZ: From Red Radio To Celebrity Radio Spinoff”

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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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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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