Brian Edwards Media

Posts Tagged 'Journalism'

On Shane Taurima, Linda Clark and Conflicts of Interest Left, Right and Centre

Linda Clark

Shane Taurima 2






There was nothing terribly complex about Shane Taurima’s situation with regard to his job as Head of TVNZ’s  Maori and Pacifica Department once he had, albeit unsuccessfully,  sought the Labour Party nomination for the Rawhiti Ikaroa seat following the death of Parekura Horomia. Taurima had very publicly nailed his political colours to the mast. In doing so he had effectively disbarred himself from any further involvement in News or Current Affairs broadcasting with the state broadcaster. The potential conflict of interest could not have been more clear.

Television New Zealand apparently did not see it that way. Perhaps they thought that Taurima’s failure to actually win the nomination made all the difference. He had been a would-be Labour candidate, not an actual Labour candidate.  (And, as it turned out, would be again.) That rationalisation is so facile as to be laughable. Taurima was politically tainted. He should not have been re-employed in his previous role. But he was.

When he took things even further and  turned his TVNZ office into a Maori/Pacifica Labour Party branch, Taurima did his employer a favour.  Without actually hanging portraits of Savage, Fraser and Kirk on the walls, the conflict of interest in which he and others in his department now found themselves could not have been more patent. To his credit, Taurima had the grace and good sense to resign.   Read the rest of this entry »


Is this journalism or a party political broadcast on behalf of the National Party?










The following report by TV3 political editor Paddy Gower appeared on the channel’s 6pm bulletin last night. Setting aside as best you can your political prejudices, please answer the following question: Is this journalism or a party political broadcast on behalf of the National Party?


Of knuckleheads, long-running stories, media beat-ups and Judith Collins parting the waters

images (13)

Referring to John Key’s current dissatisfaction with the ‘knuckleheads’ of the Fourth Estate, a prominent journalist, who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty, observed to me recently, ‘No Prime Minister who ever attacked the media got re-elected.’ He was evidently out of the country during both Rob Muldoon’s and Helen Clark’s three terms, but his remark was less than flattering to the members of his own profession. Journalists, it seems, will revenge themselves on politicians who criticise them, in the process abandoning their duty to report objectively and dispassionately.

Key’s response to media attacks on his credibility, and to the Press Gallery’s  dealings with him during ‘stand-ups’ in the corridors of Parliament, has been to suggest that he’ll either abandon the stand-ups altogether or at least greatly reduce the number of questions he will take.

I would suggest the former. It makes absolutely no sense to throw yourself into a pit of hungry bears who have been practising tag-team mauling while they waited for your arrival. It would be hard to think of a more uncontrolled, uncontrollable or  dangerous arena.    Read the rest of this entry »


That odious non-journalist, Jonathan Marshall, is up to his old tricks in Australia and it’s not a pretty story.

Over the last couple of weeks Judy and I have  received phone calls and an email from Cathy Barker. Cathy is the wife of former  Spliz Enz  drummer Michael Barker.  Cathy and Michael are the parents of  teenager Tristan Barker who has become infamous in Australia –  where he has just finished school  –  and beyond for his anarchic and generally offensive rants on Facebook and Twitter.

According to Australian media reports, Tristan has ‘hundreds of thousands’ of teenage fans who hang on his every word. His Twitter page reveals that he currently has just under 15,000 followers, so I suspect his fan numbers may be exaggerated. But that’s still a lot of people and his on-line presence is undoubtedly significant.

Tristan’s methodology, by his own telling, is to slaughter as many sacred cows and offend the sensibilities of as many people as possible in order to make us all think. He is clearly highly intelligent and writes well.

But his outpourings are properly unacceptable, I would have thought, to even the most liberal mind. Here in New Zealand, Netsafe Executive Director Martin Cocker has described Tristan’s actions as ‘inciting of acts of hatred’. Whether that is Tristan’s intention or not,  I think Cocker may well be right.

Unsurprisingly, Tristan who is a Kiwi and whose parents live in Rotorua, has attracted the particular attention of the Australian media, most recently for allegedly assaulting Channel Seven’s Today Tonight reporter Dave Eccleston who had travelled to Rotorua to interview him. Eccleston required medical treatment. Tristan appeared in Rotorua District Court this morning, charged with common assault. He was remanded on bail until April 3.    Read the rest of this entry »


New Zealanders “outraged” by blithering idiot’s racist stereotyping of Muslims.

This is an OUTRAGE!

This is an OUTRAGE!

If we are to believe the papers, the radio and television news, New Zealanders live in a perpetual state of outrage. The nation’s blood pressure is never less than 180 over 110, so outraged are we by the egregious sinning of our fellow man and woman, at home and abroad. Our outrage can be singular or plural. An individual may be outraged by a neighbour’s cat walking across his lawn and want to damn the breed. In response an entire community of cat-lovers, numbering millions,  may declare themselves outraged at such a perfidious suggestion. Occasionally the entire nation is said to be outraged, most commonly by something said or done by an Australian. An under-arm ball comes to mind.

The connection between the seriousness of an action and the public outrage it occasions is tenuous at best. Where outrage is concerned, actions need no longer speak louder than words. Indeed, as sources of outrage, words seem to have surpassed actions altogether.   Read the rest of this entry »


Missing in Action: The Wisdom of Crowds in New Zealand

Missing in Action: The Wisdom of Crowds in New Zealand

by Alan Wilkinson 

Are New Zealanders well served by our mainstream print media websites?  The two major ones are APN News & Media’s NZ Herald and Fairfax Media’s Stuff.  

As the Internet brings the world to our screens at the click of a mouse, we have access to worldwide news from any international source we choose. So it is inevitable that the role of local media websites is changing from the print versions.  Rather than try to compete with the major international news gatherers or simply relay world news from them, our local media have to add value by selecting items of particular interest and relevance to New Zealand.  A cursory scan of the world news on either the Herald or Stuff websites shows the impact of this localisation and loss of general coverage in favour of human interest trivia with a scattering of regional and NZ interest stories.

At the national and local level, the coverage is much more detailed, competitive and complete.  The Herald website is more directly accessible, while most of Stuff’s coverage is buried deeper in regional or sectional web pages.  Obviously print journalism everywhere is under financial pressure as readers switch to online sources rather than buying paper versions, and as advertisers follow suit.  Furthermore, the Internet provides direct access to the best expertise on specialist subjects. General journalists cannot hope to compete at that level, nor can their newspapers generally afford such expertise.  In consequence, where local news stories require specialist input or insight our media are generally limited to what can be obtained readily and for free. So it is patchy in both coverage and quality.  Read the rest of this entry »


Unseemly and unhelpful speculation from the Herald on balloonists’ last moments


It is entirely appropriate that every possible effort should be made over the coming months to determine what exactly led to the ballooning accident that claimed 11 lives on Saturday. That knowledge may make a similar accident less likely in the future.

Less appropriate is ghoulish speculation on the victims’ last moments alive – were they electrocuted, incinerated or killed when they plummeted to earth? The events are simply too raw for the relatives and friends of those who died to see such horrific scenarios canvassed in the media.

The Herald, however, had no such qualms, sending its reporter Amelia Wade off to interview a clinical psychologist, one Barry Kirker, on what might have been going through the minds of the eleven people as they faced certain death.  

Mr Kirker of course doesn’t know the answer to that question. No one does. But he was willing to speculate at length not merely on what would have been going through the victims’ minds, but on how their friends and loved ones must be feeling as well.

Mr Kirker’s speculations, the Herald tells us, included the observation that “the scenario was similar to that of the 9/11 victims, and the terror attacks might have put the thought to jump in Chrisjan Jordaan’s and Alexis Still’s  minds.

“A bit like the people who jumped from the Twin Towers in New York, they might have thought, ‘What the heck, we’ve got nothing to lose – if we don’t jump, we’re definitely going to die.’”

And he had another fascinating piece of psychological ephemera to offer:

“Mr Kirker said it would usually be the man who would take the lead in that situation and would suggest jumping from the basket to the woman.”

Mr Kirker doesn’t actually know who told whom to jump or indeed whether  any “telling” was involved, but his  theory will certainly give the couple’s parents pause for thought.  Read the rest of this entry »


Find an adjective to describe the New Zealand media’s coverage of what happened at Queenstown’s Altitude Bar last Saturday

I’ve been trying to come up with a few adjectives to describe the New Zealand media’s coverage of the alleged impropriety between English rugby player Mike Tindall – husband of the Queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips – and ‘an unidentified blonde woman at Queenstown bar Altitude last Saturday’. You may care to add some of your own, but here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

  • voyeuristic
  • sad
  • infantile
  • grubby
  • salacious
  • sick
  • destructive
  • cheap
  • keyhole
  • smutty
  • intrusive
  • tabloid
  • prying
  • squalid
  • pernicious
  • pornographic
  • sleazy
  • worthless

So that’s a start to describe coverage of this particular non-story on One News, 3 News, on commercial and non-commercial radio networks, in the New Zealand Herald, the Dom Post, the rest of the Stuff stable, the ‘women’s mags’ and every other ‘news’ outlet in the country, excepting those who might like to put up their hands and say, ‘Wouldn’t have touched it with a barge pole!’ I’ll happily print your denial.

What a tragic indictment of journalism in this country. What a badge of dishonour against the names of every journalist whose by-line or name appeared in one of these print or video nasties.

Turns out the ‘mystery woman’ was an old friend of both Mike and Zara.  Still, Rupert would be proud of you, ladies and gentlemen.

[I’m told that Prime did not cover the story. Well done, Prime.]


News of the World

You cannot hope to bribe or twist
(thank God!) the British journalist.
But, seeing what the man will do
Unbribed, there’s no occasion to.
                           – Humbert Wolfe


New Zealand media invent new word, but stick with same old journalism standards

A new word has entered the English language courtesy of the New Zealand media. The word is “urinator” and it doesn’t appear in any dictionary in my bookshelf, which is full of dictionaries. Spellcheck hasn’t heard of it either, but then Spellcheck hasn’t heard of “spellcheck”.

So what is a “urinator”? Presumably someone who passes urine, which includes every man, woman and child on the planet and – I may be corrected on this – all animals.

What distinguished Michael Aitken from most urniators was that he urinated in the aisle of an aeroplane, spraying himself and other passengers. He was drunk and out of it and has no real memory of the event.

Is this news? Well, it probably is.    Read the rest of this entry »


Dishonest journalism from Campbell Live and why Alasdair Thompson should refer it to the BSA

Photo: Richard Robinson

Here’s a little quiz: Who said this?

“I believe that in life most women are more productive totally than most men. I absolutely believe that. When you take into account the things that women do in their lives compared to most men. They often do all the arranging of the finances for the whole family, they run the household, they care for the children, they do all manner of things and they go to work. Their total productivity in life, in my opinion, is higher than most men.”

The answer? Alasdair Thompson. Where? In an interview with Mihingarangi Forbes for Campbell Live.

How come you didn’t know that? Because that part of the interview wasn’t shown on the programme. In fact only 4’18” of this 27 minute interview was shown. Read the rest of this entry »


A new low in the standard of Media Releases

This Media Release from International Ice Hockey was passed on to us by Kerre Woodham.  English as a Second Language?

Press Release Tuesday, March 22, 2011


No broken ice for International Ice Hockey

 After the devastating earthquake which shock Christchurch businesses to a holt on 22nd February the future of events in the city looks bleak as many venues have been left in tatters and most events planned for Canterbury have pulled out. But not for the promoters of International Ice Hockey USA vs Canada who vow that the event will go on.

 International Ice Hockey’s game two is set for Christchurch’s CBS Arena on 30th July and with the venue coming out un‐scaved the event promoters see no reason for Christchurch residents to miss out on the action sport event of the year. Read the rest of this entry »


The tacky side of journalism.

A few minutes ago I was phoned by a young Fairfax journalist. She told me that an Auckland broadcaster had  been diagnosed with melanoma and had taken leave from her job. Would I like to comment as a close friend?

Comment?  On what, for god’s sake? The prevalence of melanoma, the latest research I’ve read on the subject – or the unfairness of one’s friends getting sick? Ah, has to be the third one, doesn’t it?

This type of lazy journalism gets right up my nose. Ring around for horrified/tear-stained/saccharine utterances from anyone close to the victim/sufferer and feed those morsels into an overblown story. The ‘close friend’, of course, is supposed to let slip all sorts of titbits of indiscreet information about the victim/sufferer and talk about his/her sterling qualities – it beats doing research any day.

I hate this tabloid trashiness. Whatever happened to the simple announcement that allowed a person to retain a little privacy and dignity?  If you’re sick, surely that’s the least you deserve.

I’m saddened and worried for the broadcaster. As it happens, I know her well and have worked with her, but I could hardly be described as a close friend.

So, could I give the young journo contact details for someone who is a close friend?

Yes, I could.  And no, I didn’t!


I am offered but reject a six-figure-sum from several media outlets. The reasons why.

six-figure-sum broadcaster with (real) icon


Over the past week several media outlets have offered me a six-figure-sum. It’s not the first time they’ve done this. In fact it’s being going on for years. It won’t surprise you to know that they want me to keep quiet about this. But, as an iconic broadcaster and media commentator, I refuse to be muzzled. I intend to speak out. So here goes.

Ladies and gentlemen of the mass media, I reject your repeated offers of a six-figure-sum. They are tiresome and stupid. I will never accept them. And I invite you now to cease, desist and stop.   Read the rest of this entry »


I receive and respond to an email from Amanda Hotchin

I have written four posts on Mark Hotchin. The first Reflections on not caring in Hawaii was highly critical of Hotchin’s and his wife Amanda’s seeming inability to comprehend why New Zealanders were offended by the contrast between the Hotchins’ current lifestyles and the current lifestyles of the thousands of Hanover investors who had lost not merely huge sums of money but their happiness and peace of mind as a result of Hotchin’s and Eric Watson’s greed and, by the most generous interpretation, mismanagement of the their investments.  

My comments had been largely triggered by a front-page report in the Sunday Star Times headlined Inside Hotchin’s Hawaiian Hideaway, in which Amanda was quoted as having said, “We don’t have to justify where we get our money from or what it is spent on to anyone. I don’t care what anyone says.”  

I concluded:  

It really is quite an extraordinary statement, exemplifying as it does all the characteristics of Level 1 moral development – absolute selfishness, lack of conscience and indifference to the welfare of others. I don’t doubt for a moment that these people love their children and are kind to animals. But the misery which their actions have brought to thousands of ‘mum and dad’ investors seems for them to fall into the category of ‘long-distance impersonal harm’, all the more distant from a lounger by the pool in Hawaii.    

I have nothing but contempt for most of the finance company shysters, whether on Wall Street or Queen Street, who have wreaked such havoc in the lives of those who put their trust in them. But really my contempt is wasted. They don’t care. And it is their not caring that is the unforgivable crime.   Read the rest of this entry »


Extra! Extra! Read all about it – Newpaper editor sets out to prove blogger right!


Some of you may have thought I was overstating the descent of the New Zealand Herald from quality broadsheet to trash tabloid in yesterday’s post. If so, today’s front page might just give you pause for thought. The style of the Hotchin headline – provocative quote from bad guy, screamer fonts, cut-through red for the damning evidence – combined with a photograph of Hotchin looking like someone you might expect to see on America’s Most Wanted and body copy which essentially says, ‘Filthy rich bastard wants even more!’ – all of this would sit perfectly comfortably on the front pages of the News of the World or The Sun.

There is  just a slight problem with the headline  which is clearly intended to convey the idea that the words ‘I need $7000 a week’  are a quote, that they were actually spoken by Hotchin. But there’s nothing in the story to support that at all. Indeed, the third para of the story reads: ‘But that’s not enough for Mr Hotchin and the Herald understands he has sought to increase that limit to between $6000 and $7000 so he can pay for rent, living costs, a hire car and private school fees for three children.’  Unless I’ve misunderstood the story, Hotchin didn’t speak the words in the headline at all.  Read the rest of this entry »


Shock! Horror! Front page Herald investigation reveals Mark Hotchin is wealthy man!!!!!

Herald/Brett Phibbs

The Herald devotes most of today’s front page to a story headlined ‘LUXURY HIDEAWAY – Mark Hotchin hot and bothered as Herald calls in’. There’s a large photo of Hotchin looking ‘hot and bothered’, a photo of the ‘luxury hideaway… overlooking the golden sands of Mermaid Beach’ on the Gold Coast and a sidebar reminding readers (How could they have forgotten?)  of other properties owned by Hotchin, including ‘the $30 million extravagant Paritai Dr home in Auckland’.

From this story you will learn that Mark Hotchin is a very rich man with lots of expensive real estate in nice places, whose assets have been frozen but who has been granted a $1,000 a week living allowance.

In other words, from this story you will learn absolutely zip, except perhaps that nothing delights journalists so much as the opportunity to climb on a bandwagon, even if that involves flogging the dead horse pulling it. (Sorry!)

But I did like the use of the term ‘calls in’ in the headline and, later in the story: ‘He’s unhappy that the Herald came calling on his multi-million-dollar Gold Coast property during the weekend.’ I had no idea that Hotchin and the Herald or its reporter Andrew Koubaridis were on such friendly terms that they could just ‘call in’ or ‘come calling’ on their old buddy Mark.  But it does make his angry reception of them all the more bewildering.

As with Tristram Clayton’s airport ambush of Hotchin on Campbell Live, the only sensible words spoken in the Herald story came from Hotchin himself: ‘Leave it to the courts, they’ll sort it out.’  Read the rest of this entry »


Campbell Live’s Tristram Clayton: Bloody Awful; Totally Superb!

Campbell Live team member Tristram Clayton has begun to make something of a name for himself as a slightly quirky, off-beat reporter. He’s very good at it, as a superb little television vignette he appeared in on Tuesday made abundantly clear. Sadly, there was Wednesday to come, bringing with it a lesson for Clayton and his producer – the cobbler should stick to his last.

So as not to finish on a sour note, I’ll start with last night’s appearance. 3 News had obviously got wind of the fact that Mark Hotchin was returning from overseas and had dispatched Clayton to meet him at Auckland airport. They no doubt expected two bites off this particular cherry, a clip for the 6pm bulletin and a longer piece for Campbell Live. The tone of the interview which Clayton was expected to deliver was made clear in a promo for Campbell Live by Rachel Smalley at the start of the bulletin:

‘And we’ve got him! Campbell Live speaks exclusively to Mark Hotchin about his extravagant holiday as he tries to slip back into the country.’

This is a disgraceful statement to appear at the front of a news bulletin. All pretence of objectivity is abandoned. A businessman returning home from overseas is effectively cast as a criminal, attempting to avoid the authorities: ‘And we’ve got him … as he tries to slip back into the country.’ Hotchin’s holiday, if it were indeed a holiday, is defined as ‘extravagant’, a largely irrelevant concept in the case of a multi-millionaire, but more importantly a matter for the viewer to decide, not the reporter to prejudge.

I don’t have much time for Hotchin myself, as a post I wrote in May makes clear. There are questions I’d like to see put to him, but not by a nervous reporter, clearly out of his depth, pursuing him through an airport arrival area. The outcome is an embarrassing mess, in which Clayton manages to look inept and wetly offensive while Hotchin keeps his cool, remains determinedly polite and comes across as remarkably forbearing in fending off this irritating gnat.

Clayton’s problem is that he isn’t sure of his ground. Hotchin corrects almost everything he says and he can’t come back. After Hotchin replies to an accusation that Hanover was over-valued at the time of sale to Allied Farmers, Clayton says, ‘Right, well that’s good to know.’ I think that’s called a retreat.

When he tackles Hotchin on the mansion at Paratai Drive, Hotchin matter-of-factly replies: ‘I can’t hide it. It’s there. It’s going to be finished and it’s going to be sold.’

Clayton: ‘That’s fair enough.’

I’ve got firsthand experience of Clayton’s difficulty, of being faced with a rather daunting interviewee, being expected to take a fairly aggressive line and knowing full well that you’re out of your depth. (The name Muldoon springs to mind) This accounts for Clayton stammering and stuttering his way through the interview and for those soothing verbal gestures he makes to Hotchin, who barely looks at him.

When Hotchin finally said, ‘Why do I keep talking to you?’ I thought this was the best question in the interview.    Read the rest of this entry »


Getting it Right. A Bouquet for Close Up’s Coverage of the David Tamihere Case

Sarah Ivey/NZ Herald


I spend a fair amout of time on this site taking the New Zealand television networks to task for their generally abysmal prime-time coverage of public affairs. So it’s appropriate to be equally generous in praise when they get it right.

Following David Tamihere’s release from prison, Monday’s Close Up featured a background report by Hannah Ockelford on the murder of the Swedish tourists, the subsequent arrest,  trial and conviction of Tamihere, his unsuccessful appeal to the Privy Council to overturn his conviction and his 20-year imprisonment during which he continued to assert his innocence.

This was not a long item, perhaps five or six minutes, but it was a model of television storytelling. I have long been an admirer or Hannah Ockelford, who is an excellent interviewer, brings a quiet maturity to her reporting and, as a bonus, both looks and sounds good. Her report included archival footage of the police hunt for Tamihere, who was then on the run, a summary of the evidence both for and against him, and interviews with Tamihere’s wife Kristine, his son Jon and journalist Pat Booth. All three impressed.

Pat Booth is without question the most admired  investigative journalist in New Zealand.  He is a crusader for justice. And, as it happens, he understands the art of persuasive communication, no better illustrated than in his interview with Ockelford. At a technical level, he sits forward, holds intense eye-contact with his interviewer, speaks quietly – this is an intimate format – and listens intently to the questions. I doubt that he thinks about any of this. It’s instinctual. He presents his case entirely without hyperbole or histrionics. He is utterly reasonable. And, most important of all, he willingly concedes any weakness in his argument. When accused by the interviewer of having just as blinkered a view of the case as the police, he simply replies, ‘Oh yes, yes, I agree. We are all victims of our environment and what we know.’   The effect is not to undermine but to enhance his credibility. This is an object lesson in the art of the interview.

At the end of the five or six minutes, I feel that I have been given a clear, concise, low-key and even-handed summary of the issues surrounding the arrest, trial,  conviction and imprisonment of David Tamihere. I have been informed. And I have been left to make up my own mind on where the truth actually lies. That is what I mean by ‘getting it right’.

Take another look

And look for the line of the week – Pat Booth talking about hard-line detective John Hughes, who headed the investigation: ‘He was known in the underworld as The Gardener, because he planted so well.’


Tabloid Herald misleads again.

I measured the front page of the NZ Herald this morning. Excluding the top and bottom margins, 25cm was taken up with advertising and glaring promos. Only 29cm was news content, and if you exclude the photos and headlines, there was precious little of that –  a mere 47.5 column centimetres of copy.

The front page of the Herald has become a travesty of journalism.  Today the headline screamed:  KIWI UMPIRES CAUGHT UP IN CRICKET SCANDAL.  The implication is clear: our umpires were in the thick of the match-fixing.

Squinting at the front page while I made the first cup of tea I wailed, “Oh no, not Billy Bowden!”  I’ve always been a fan of the outrageous Bowden and the concept of him being involved in match-fixing damn near curdled the milk.

So it was both a relief and an anticlimax to discover that Bowden’s  involvement in the “cricket scandal” amounted to umpiring the fourth test between England and Pakistan, and calling the staged no-balls  for what they were. Read the rest of this entry »