New ODT website

May 29th, 2008 at 10:55 am by David Farrar

A few people have mentioned to me the ODT has a new website, with their articles going up the same day now. Excellent, and I will add them to my daily read, so may start linking more stories from them.

In the interests of fairness, I should provide a link to an column by Assistant Editor , who scrutinises work my polling firm did for Family First.

I am actually working on a dedicated polling blog, where issues around polls and pollings can be discussed in more detail. As that is not yet ready for public release (I am planning some nifty features such a a semi-automated daily update of the public poll average, seat projections, even which candidates will make up the next Parliament – all based on public polls) I include over the break some extracts from an e-mail I sent in response to Simon’s column. Simon has given a pleasant reply by e-mail also. All polling companies get scrutiny, and with my profile on some issues, it is to be expected.

Hi Simon,

In reference to your column today regarding the poll did for Family First, I would like to offer the following for your consideration:

Firstly Curia does work for a number of clients regardless of whether or not I have expressed views on my personal blog that concur with their own. In the last local body elections I did polling for mayoral candidates from the left (including a Labour Party member) and right. Also you may have noted from my blog that there are many many issues on which I disagree with Family First. They chose Curia presumably because of our competitive rates as a smaller agency.

I would also make the point that the vast majority of our polls for clients are not for publication. They are for their internal decision making. The quote about making sure the questions asked will be of maximum benefit is not in relation to getting the result you want, but having non-leading and non-biased questions. It is in fact the exact opposite of what you imply. One of the largest parts of my job is rewriting draft questions from clients into more neutral language. I could regale you with stories of questions clients have wanted to ask.

Family First have published my full report to them, which allows you to see the exact questions asked. Rather than imply biased questions on the basis of my personal views, why not actually critique the questions asked as they were available to you. If someone wants to argue the questions are leading, then I would happily debate that, but it is hard to debate implications.

As it happens, when the results are going to be made public by a client, and it is on an issue which I have expressed personal views (and there are few issues I have not expressed a view on) I work extra hard to try and make the questions as “bullet proof” as possible because of the natural suspicion you have expressed. In relation to the first question I was insistent on mentioning the Police prosecutorial discretion and that it only relates to smacking for correctional purposes (one can still smack for other purposes).


13 Responses to “New ODT website”

  1. glubbster (352 comments) says:

    I look forward to your poll blog that is great news 🙂

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  2. RRM (12,579 comments) says:

    It’s nice to know there are a few people out there who can give “a pleasant reply” to criticism!

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  3. Bevan (3,399 comments) says:

    I wonder if Simon Cunliffe is any relation to the resident parliamentary sheriff?

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  4. rolla_fxgt (311 comments) says:

    Thank god they got with the times is all I can say. Even though I had access to a subscription to the old website & back issues, it was painful to use to say the least. The new one is very easy to use by comparison & similar to other NZ news websites. Even stories from the otago region can be found, most excellent if you just want to know what the Gore weavers have been up to 🙂

    And looking forward to the polling blog too

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  5. insider (938 comments) says:


    Did Simon contact you before writing his piece? As an opinion piece he doesn’t ‘need’ to, but it seems a few conclusions have been drawn that might have been different with a bit of research.

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  6. Nigel Kearney (1,991 comments) says:

    Journalists need to employ a modicum of thought before using the word ‘right’. There are certain groups who will always try to use it to link Hitler with anyone who suggests our taxes are too high, but journalists should know better. I’d be surprised if David Farrar and Bob McCoskrie agree on much apart from the anti-smacking law (along with a big majority of the rest of the country). They can’t both be ‘right’.

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  7. Fletch (9,017 comments) says:

    Hmm, looks like they’ve taken their design cues from the NZ Herald site.

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  8. larryq (66 comments) says:

    The ODT implied that David & McCrostie are politically close. I think this is false. Likewise I don’t think that the poll results have been skewed by David’s company to support his views on smacking. However, given David’s liberal social views , I do think he is soft on the public expressed atittudes of McCrostie and his people in Kiwiblog. I find it hard to imagine that David would be as harsh on McCrostie et al as he was just today over complaints to the BSA on Southpark & Eating Media Lunch.

    The obvious reason for this is that he, quite rightly, doesn’t want to upset a paying customer. Let’s face it David you wont be slagging them as long as they continue to pay. I wouldn’t either. Given the prominence of this blog I think you should drop them as customers otherwise you will continue to be compromised.

    [DPF: Being a customer of Curia does not get you immunity from my views on my blog. In fact I have criticised many of my clients at one stage. I would probably have many more clients if I did not run the blog, but I’m prepared to take the drop in income as the cost of exercising my rights to free speech.

    Incidentially looking through the last seven times I have mentioned Family First on the blog, seven have been critical or disagreeing with them – one Dim Post satirical quote, one on Grand Theft Auto IV, one on Californication and BSA, another on Californication, one on Naked News, one on Hells Pizza. There has been one positive post on their intervention in a radio competition.]

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  9. larryq (66 comments) says:

    Thanks for responding, and I take you at your word when you say in effect that you think you have been even handed with them. I’m not entirely convinced that you wouldn’t take the piss out of them more if you didn’t have a business relationship with them. I have a suspicion that the media generally give them an easy run because they are media savvy, whereas fellow travelers like SPUC and Gordon Copeland are done over by the likes of Mary Wilson because they are poor performers when faced with a pro.

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  10. Graeme Edgeler (3,241 comments) says:

    one on Hells Pizza

    Is that what John Keys eats? 🙂

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  11. Jack5 (9,298 comments) says:

    Mr Cunliffe, in writing as though he is “outing” the Curia survey as coming from Mr Farrar and outlining some of Mr Farrar’s political history, says:” He (Mr Farrar) worked in the Prime Minister’s Office for Jenny Shipley and in the Leader of the Opposition’s office under Jenny Shipley, Bill English and Don Brash.”

    Then Mr Cunliffe goes on to say of himself: “… this columnist … was contracted by Ministerial Services for about 10 weeks as a temporary ministerial press secretary.”

    What Mr Cunliffe does not say is that he was employed as a PR man for his brother, Cabinet Minister David Cunliffe.

    When you are in effect pointing the bone at someone because of their political affiliations etc you should disclose ALL and the MOST SIGNIFICANT of your own. Surely the fact that you had worked for your (Labour) Cabinet Minister brother is relevant when you are writing about political work and links of someone, in this case Mr Farrar.

    I don’t suggest it’s invariably wrong for a Cabinet Minister to bring in a family member, but its relevant to Mr Cunliffe’s column.

    [DPF: I think they are cousins, not brothers, and to be fair I’m not sure that cousin represents that strong a relationship]

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  12. Jack5 (9,298 comments) says:

    Fair enough Mr Farrar, though the question remains whether he would have got work for Minister Cunliffe if he wasn’t a relative.

    But as Mr Cunliffe’s column mentions the Family Court, should Simon Cunliffe have mentioned that his wife is or was a Family Court Judge?

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  13. liz_shaw (24 comments) says:

    Yeah I noticed the new website a couple of days ago and it’s actually really good compared to what it used to be like but I think the Stuff website is the most user friendly news site of the lot followed by the Sydney Morning Herald.

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