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 on 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 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 organisation is at, where it has been and where it is going to. The utterances of a partisan politicians 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 journalist debate over public broadcasting to be anti-business, anti-conservative and pro-Left. That is a natural abbertion. But 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  Better Public Media needs to ensure that it remains bi-partisan and represents the values of all New Zealanders and show that it will 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 upon 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 if they wanted it to be kept quiet, as it is the most public place in Wellington. Barr said. 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’s plans to pump $38 million into the Radio New Zealand coffers and the opportunities that may arise, especially for those with a background in television  Maybe it was just an ‘over the coffee cups’ conversation. But given the state of media and the challenging times ahead for this government, these ministerial discussions should have been with the chairman of the board, Richard Griffin or the chief executive, Paul Thompso. Not 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:


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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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Muddled Facts On Middle Earth

I asked the expatriate American journalist Ben Mack for comment about his controversial opinion piece about New Zealand politics the was published in the Washington Post.

“Thanks for your message. I’m not entirely sure what I’d be able to add to the conversation at this point. Seems a pretty firm verdict on the piece has been reached and continuing to argue would only dig a deeper hole. The fallout has been interesting to see, and I think a valuable – albeit painful – lesson has been learnt.”


We knew we were in for problems when Mack said near the start that up till the elections NZ First had been an afterthought in New Zealand politics.


Ben Mack’s opinions about New Zealand politics may not be the most flaky thing ever said in a top-notch American newspaper. But the lack lack of fact checks raises questions about how much the paper that broke Watergate cares about its reputation.

Ben Mack

 Earlier this week the Washington Post published an article by Mack that claimed that Winston Peters was leading a right-wing poisoning in New Zealand. It was opinion – which is fair enough. But the item was also riddled with misconceptions about New Zealand politics and the role of Winston Peters inside of it. Mack works as associate editor of the Lizzie Marvelly website The Villainesse and writes lifestyle articles. So what was he doing giving very personal view one the state of ideological politics in sovereign country?

 “Like American white supremacists in the age of Trump, bigots in New Zealand have also been emboldened by New Zealand First’s success into taking action beyond ranting on Internet message boards and social media. In late October, clashes when white supremacists rallied in front of Parliament. Threatening fliers in public, calling on white people to “unify” in order to “preserve identity.”What’s happened in New Zealand isn’t just horrifying because of the long-term implications of hate-mongers controlling the country, but also because it represents a blueprint that the far right can follow to seize power elsewhere.”

The comments about Jacinda Ardern are somewhat embarrassing for Marvelly, She is great pals with Ardern. who Mack says should break with New Zealand first, a move that would bring down the hallowed new government. Not unexpectedly Marvelly says the story would not have been published in Villainesse.

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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, Zagzigger.com 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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Labour Stumbles Back Into The Unhappy Shire

It is very early days. But the new government looks headed for a fall in its relationship with mainstream media. They talk to the whole country, not just the true believers.

That includes the 44 per cent of the country that did not vote for Labour, the Greens or New Zealand First.

She needs to listen to the sceptics.

As it stands, Labour seems to be entranced by the euphoria of MPs and activists who are enjoying a new taste of power.

But the Government has to represent the whole country and it needs to stop ignoring sceptics.

Two incidents have highlighted  the problem in the early since the coalition was unveiled.

The Government appears to be ignoring political and media management over contentious policies

The first was the announcement of the Auckland petrol tax and the second is the implementing a reversal of the Hobbit Law,.

In both cases  Labour has charged ahead to implement policies without selling them.

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Choice Show On Netflix

CAPTION: Hamish Dodd and his wife Anita.

Millions of TV viewers worldwide are watching a new TV series Kiwi bach, under a deal with Netflix.

The 100 Day Bach’ features TV designer Hamish Dodd and his wife Anita, building their dream bach in Kuratau, on the western side of Lake Taupo.

The series was created and produced by Auckland-based media company Stripe Media. Managing Director Alex Breingan has successfully negotiated the screening rights with Netflix in the UK, USA, Canada, Ireland, Africa and India.Since the series began airing on Netflix, its Facebook page has received messages and comments from all corners of the globe.

The show is not being shown on Netflix in New Zealand because Choice has the rights through till the end of the year.

Breignan said the Netflix screenings had been a boost for the company and he was currently in talks with a broadcasters in. Australia and the UK and has suited two proposals for Netflix original content

He said that Stripe Media had approached Netflix about making content, and it skedaddles what else it had made.

“They liked what they saw and next thing we were updating it and removing the ad breaks.”

The 8-part series first aired on Choice TV in September 2015. A second series is now in development.

Alex Breingan is also Executive Producer of Three’s morning show The Café, and Co-Founder of Choice TV. The series was directed by Marcus Clayton.

Hamish Dodd is a Designer and TV presenter, and previously worked on eight seasons of the ‘My House My Castle’ series.



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