MPs survey of the media

September 29th, 2008 at 3:20 pm by David Farrar

Last week I set up an online survey for MPs, asking them to rate various media organisations and senior gallery journalists on a scale of 0 to 10. Just under one quarter of MPs responded, and the results are shown below.

As the media often rate how well MPs are doing, I thought it appropriate to reverse this and ask the questions in reverse. The media are a hugely powerful filter, and it is appropriate (in my opinion) to have some focus on how well they are perceived to be performing.

The questions were:

  1. For each media organisation please give them a rating from 0 to 10 for how well you think they do in their parliamentary reporting. This should take account of all relevant factors – accuracy, fairness, thoroughness, relevance, substance etc.
  2. Now for some individual senior members of the press gallery, please rate from 0 to 10 how well you think they perform at proving fair, accurate, unbiased and informative reporting on Parliament. You can skip any that you do not feel able to rate.
  3. Finally can you indicate your party grouping as National, Labour or Other. Your individual identity is not sought by us, and we have no way or interest in identifying individual respondents. However we would like to summarise results for all MPs and by the three groupings to see if they vary by party grouping.

It is important that these be read in context, so make the following points:

  1. This is the opinion of MPs only. It does not set out to be an objective rating, and should not be seen as such.
  2. MPs get reported on by the gallery. While this makes them the group of NZers potentially best able to have an informed opinion on the media (which is why I surveyed them), it also gives them a conflict of interest. MPs may score journalists lowly due to personal run ins with them, or the fact they are too good at their job! This should be borne in mind.
  3. I only e-mailed the survey to the 121 MPs, but it is possible that one or more responses was filled in by a staff member who has access to the MPs mailbox. I think this is unlikely, as most staff are very professional. However MPs were not required to prove their identity to vote, as confidentiality of individual responses was important. You need to know the Survey URL to be able to vote.
  4. National MPs made up 43% of responses, slightly above their numbers in Parliament. Minor Party MPs were also slightly over-represented, Labour MPs under-represented and some MPs did not give a party identification.
Media Mean Median Mode Minimum Maximum Range
NZ Press Assn 6.1 6 6 4 9 5
5.8 6 5 1 10 9
5.5 6 6 0 8 8
5.3 6 6 0 8 8
Scoop 5.2 5 5 0 10 10
Newstalk ZB 5.1 6 7 1 8 7
Listener 5.0 5 3 1 8 7
4.9 4 4 1 8 7
4.8 6 3 1 9 8
Radio Live 4.4 5 1 1 8 7
Sky/Prime News 4.3 5 5 0 7 7
The Press 4.2 5 1 1 7 6
TV Three 4.1 5 6 0 8 8
Dominion Post 4.1 4.5 1 1 7 6
TV One 3.9 5 5 0 6 6
Maori TV 3.7 4 5 0 6 6
Herald on Sunday 3.5 3.5 7 0 7 7
Sunday Star-Times 2.7 3 3 0 5 5

NZ Press Association tops the rankings with a mean or average 6.1 rating – and received no very low ratings from anyone. The two Internet agencies were in the top five, indicating MPs like the fact their releases are carried in full. Trans-Tasman also does well.

Television generally gets ranked lowly with all four stations in the bottom half. Sky News actually ranks highest.

Radio is middle of the field with NewstalkZB being the highest ranked radio broadcaster.

The newspapers range the spectrum. The NZ Herald is up at 5.3, Press at 4.2 and Dom Post at 4.1. I would have them all higher, but this is a survey of MPs, not of my views.

Now the sample sizes are of course very small (but of a limited population) but let us look at how National MPs ranked media compared to all the other MPs:

Media All Mean Nats Mean Others Mean Difference
TV One 3.9 6.3 2.2 4.2
TV Three 4.1 6.2 2.6 3.6
Maori TV 3.7 5.2 2.5 2.7
Sky/Prime News 4.3 5.5 3.3 2.2
Sunday Star-Times 2.7 3.5 2.1 1.4
Radio Live 4.4 4.8 4.2 0.6
Radio NZ 4.8 5.0 4.6 0.4
Dominion Post 4.1 4.2 4.0 0.2
Herald on Sunday 3.5 3.5 3.5 0.0
Newstalk ZB 5.1 4.8 5.4 -0.6
The Press 4.2 3.8 4.6 -0.8
NZ Herald 5.3 4.2 6.1 -1.9
NBR 4.9 3.3 6.1 -2.8
Listener 5.0 3.3 6.3 -3.0
NZ Press Assn 6.1 4.3 7.4 -3.1
Trans-Tasman 5.5 3.3 7.1 -3.8
Scoop 5.2 2.8 7.0 -4.2
Newsroom 5.8 3.0 8.0 -5.0

National MPs ranked the four TV channels much higher than other MPs did. Maybe this is minor parties upset that they do not get on TV much?

Despite the generally accepted lean to the left of Radio NZ, National MPs ranked Radio NZ higher than other MPs did. And while some on the left attack the NZ Herald at favouring National, National MPs actually ranked them lower than other MPs did. The Listener and NBR also get accused of leaning right, but again get ranked lower by National MPs.

The Nat MPs also rated the online media very lowly.

Now the journalists. I decided not to list all members of the press gallery, but only those who are relatively senior, and are more likely to have a reasonable number of MPs have formed opinions about them. Looking back I could have included more.

If any journalist is unhappy about being missed out, happy to include you next year. Now again it is worth remembering these are only the opinions of those MPs who responded to my survey – it is not an objective rating.

Journalist Mean Median Mode Minimum Maximum Range
(NZH) 6.4 7 2 2 10 8
(NZPA) 5.8 5 5 3 8 5
Audrey Young (NZH) 5.7 6.5 7 0 10 10
(TT) 5.6 7 7 0 9 9
Jane Clifton (Listener) 5.6 6 6 2 9 7
Barry Soper (Sky & ZB) 4.9 5.5 7 1 9 8
Ian Llewellyn (NZPA) 4.9 5 5 1 8 7
Vernon Small (DP) 4.6 5 6 1 8 7
Colin Espiner (Press) 4.5 5 6 0 8 8
Guyon Espiner (TV1) 4.4 5.5 7 0 7 7
(DP) 4.1 4.5 2 1 9 8
Brent Edwards (RNZ) 4.1 4 4 0 7 7
Tracy Watkins (DP) 3.8 4.5 6 0 7 7
(TV3) 3.7 3.5 3 0 8 8
(Scoop) 3.6 5 5 0 7 7
Ruth Laugeson (SST) 2.7 2.5 2 0 6 6

John Armstrong tops the ratings, followed by the NZPA Political Editor Peter Wilson. Generally MPs ranked journalists slightly higher than media organisations. As can be seen by the minimum ratings showing, some MPs were very harsh handing out zeroes. Did WInston multiple vote? :-) (Note I have no idea if Winston did vote)

And once again we compare responses between National MPs and other MPs.

Journalist All Mean Nats Mean Others Mean Difference
Laugeson 2.7 4.2 1.6 2.6
Clifton 5.6 7.0 4.5 2.5
Soper 4.9 6.2 4.0 2.2
Campbell 3.6 4.8 2.8 2.0
Edwards 4.1 4.8 3.5 1.3
Llewellyn 4.9 5.2 4.7 0.5
Young 5.7 6.0 5.5 0.5
Garner 3.7 3.5 3.9 -0.4
Espiner G 4.4 4.2 4.6 -0.4
Wilson 5.8 5.5 6.0 -0.5
Armstrong 6.4 6.0 6.8 -0.8
Watkins 3.8 3.0 4.4 -1.4
Donoghue 4.1 3.2 4.9 -1.7
Small 4.6 3.2 5.6 -2.4
Espiner C 4.5 2.8 5.8 -3.0
Templeton 5.6 1.8 8.5 -6.7

Again very interesting. The SST is generally seen as hostile to National, but Ruth Laugeson is ranked much higher by National MPs, than by other MPs. Likewise the Gordon Campbell and Brent Edwards (both left leaning) are ranked higher by National MPs than other MPs.

Also for some reasons National MPs ranked Ian Templeton very lowly. Maybe they don’t like his weekly chats with Clark and Key, ignoring the lesser MPs?

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22 Responses to “MPs survey of the media”

  1. Danyl Mclauchlan (1,070 comments) says:

    How fascinating. Do you know what the party weighting was of the different MPs who responded?

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  2. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,903 comments) says:

    Does this mean that National’s MPs are more socialist leaning than their Labour counterparts?

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  3. petal (706 comments) says:

    … and “Thanks” to the MPs who took the time to do this.

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  4. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    Illuminating to see that the Nats themselves rate TV1 the most unbiased Media organisation (by mean – 6.3) and that their rating of TV1 is so much higher than everyone else’s.

    By rights this SHOULD once and for all put to bed the near-constant whinging from some quarters about how our “socialist” state broadcaster is “a mouthpiece for” or “in the pocket of” or “just a bunch of sycophants of” the Gummint…?

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  5. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “Does this mean that National’s MPs are more socialist leaning than their Labour counterparts?”

    Quite possible, but more likely that they’re just too frightened to say what they really think. The Nats have always been hopelessly cowed by the media. Its one of the main reasons the left are so socially ascendant.

    The Nats seem so infuriatingly reluctant to come to grips with the fact the NZ’s media are by and large an extension of the Labour Party, or the global socialist movement. National politicians never (in my experience) even use the word socialism. Never even utter any criticism of it as a political concept. Never even use the term leftist. Or communist. So afraid of offending the left’s de facto cultural police (the mainstream media). So intimidated by the ploy of political correctness. So hopelessly behind the times. So out of touch with NZ’s working middle class. Too timid to even say what people are begging them to say. A bunch of disgusting eternally disappointing wimps.

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  6. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “By rights this SHOULD once and for all put to bed the near-constant whinging from some quarters about how our “socialist” state broadcaster is “a mouthpiece for” or “in the pocket of” or “just a bunch of sycophants of” the Gummint…?”

    You’d like it to be put to bed wouldn’t you you anti free speech communist ghoul?

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  7. keithng (22 comments) says:

    Campbell/Scoop’s result is really interesting – the Nats rating Scoop so badly, but Campbell well. I don’t understand how there can be such a strong reaction against Ian Templeton/NZPA, either.

    And if the TV vs internet divide sits on big vs small party lines, then does it mean that your sample is skewed towards minor parties? Come on David, fess up. 8-)

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  8. David Farrar (1,899 comments) says:

    I said that minor party MPs were over-represented.

    And yes some of the results were surprising. It isn’t a scientific sample, so I wouldn’t read too much into it, but the data I did get gives plenty of food for thought.

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  9. big bruv (13,929 comments) says:

    No prizes for guessing what party gave Audrey Young a zero rating.

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  10. PhilBest (5,125 comments) says:

    Redbaiter, have you read:
    “Our Political Parties are Corpses and Democracy as we know it is quite Dead”
    by Peter Hitchens?

    Here’s the last 4 paragraphs:

    “The rule nowadays is that you cannot become the government unless you bow to the views of the ‘Centre-Left’ media elite, especially the broadcast media elite. That elite speaks for the 1968 generation which fanned out in the Seventies into the civil service, education, entertainment, the law, the arts, rock music and – above all – the media.

    We no longer have elections where two evenly matched parties go into a fair contest with competing ideas and it is over only when the last vote is counted. Instead, we have wild swings in which the approved party goes into the Election with a giant poll lead and then wins the Election with a mad, crushingly enormous majority over the unapproved party.

    And the winner is always the ‘Centre-Left’, which claims to be moderate but is in fact a swirling cauldron of wild Sixties Leftism – anti-British, anti-family, anti-Christian, anti-education and pro-crime.

    But if you dare to oppose this stuff, they’ll call you an extremist. British democracy, as we used to know it, is quite dead. It just needs to have a new funeral every few years.”

    Will attempt to post a link separately.

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  11. PhilBest (5,125 comments) says:

    http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2008/09/our-political-p.html

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  12. Rakaia George (313 comments) says:

    “That elite speaks for the 1968 generation which fanned out in the Seventies into the civil service, education, entertainment, the law, the arts, rock music and – above all – the media.”

    Very true, but I’ll point to myself and give some hope for the future – the famously apathetic Generation X may just be beginning to wake up.

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  13. Ian Llewellyn (20 comments) says:

    That is interesting David, just out of curiosity were the very low and high rankings scattered around or did a few people just vote all very low and/or very high.
    The Ian Templeton/National one is very weird.
    I remember the NBR tried a similar exercise some years ago, but got a small sample as well. Can’t remember the results, but the organisation ratings were pretty similar from memory.
    If you got 30 responses and say 14 were from National and the minor parties were over represented, there must be very few Labour. This could partly be because of you party affiliaton, but still interesting.
    I think if you asked the questions differently you would get different answers as well.
    Who do you most fear getting a phone call from?
    Who is the most accurate?
    Who is best at breaking stories?
    All the numbers would change and I would like compulsory voting as well of course.
    I couldn’t describe myself as senior, despite the wrinkles I am just a baby.
    Very pleased to see that Redbaiter believes I can multi-task as part of both the VRWC and the VLWC at the same time, just wish it paid better

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  14. Ross Miller (1,704 comments) says:

    Wasn’t Ian Templeton a senior gallery journo when Mickey Savage came to power in 1935?

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  15. David Farrar (1,899 comments) says:

    Ian: There were a few who gave almost everyone a very low score. One or two who gave everyone a 5 or better. But most had a significant range between the media.

    I am sure different questions would get different responses. To try and get participation up I tried to keep it as short as possible – just a simple overall 1 – 10.

    What I would really like to do repeat the survey, but amongst media themselves!

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  16. PaulL (5,987 comments) says:

    DPF: you didn’t show results for Labour (although with a bit of stats I presume I could reverse engineer). Is there a reason for that?

    Surveys of this nature tend to be a combination of expectation and outcome. So, if I expect the Listener to be a bunch of feral lefty loons, and they turn out to be mildly left, I might give them a good score. It doesn’t mean they’re now right wing, just that they aren’t as left as I thought they would be. Similarly the NBR – if I expect them to publish everything I say because they should be supporting the right dammit, then I may take offense at even the slightest niggle.

    Certainly there are some interesting outliers in there – but I wonder if they are an artefact of the small sample size (a couple of Nats with a bad experience with one journalist could drive the numbers quite a bit).

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  17. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    Thanks for the links Phil. Quite true and very sad.

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  18. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    The stand out point of course is that nobody got a mean higher than 6.4 Whatever my job might be, if someone rated me at that level out of 10, I’d take it as an insult.

    BTW, apart from Jane Clifton, name the right wing journalists.

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  19. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    “You’d like it to be put to bed wouldn’t you you anti free speech communist ghoul?”

    Ratty, Ratty, Ratty…

    I’ve been against all sorts of PARTICULAR THINGS PEOPLE HAVE SAID that I think are a bit sh*t, but when have I ever been anti free speech?

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  20. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    Jezuz the NZ Herald is a commie rag. Utterly useless. A gaggle of cultural Marxists doing all they can to hide truth. Lying deceiving distorting exaggerating and betraying the profession of journalism. A pack of contemptible bastards. Having a quick flick through their pages tonight, and what do I come across but another hit piece on Sarah Palin.

    They won’t ever give us the truth on Palin of course. Why not? Because she’s a Republican for one thing, but worse, she’s a Conservative. So like every Conservative from Ronald Reagan to Dan Quayle to Margaret Thatcher, to the slimy creeping little commie cowards filling the pages of the NZ Herald with their worthless crap and who dare to call themselves journalists, she’s a target.

    Not satisfied with just bashing Palin at every opportunity, (see the editorial a few weeks ago, full of second rate left wing slander) they have to publish today an article by one of the biggest left wing pieces of journalistic shit out there. Leornard Doyle is a left wing arsehole. Why the fuck would what he thinks of Sarah Palin be worth more than a pinch of goat shit?? Why would any editor think that Leonard Doyle’s views on Sarah Palin would be more than an example of stinking rank politically partisan bigotry.? Christ I am just so sick of these contemptible lying manipulative left wing journalistic swine and their deceit. What a disgusting blight on the democratic process these vermin really are.

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  21. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    Mmm. I was a graduate from UC Berkeley in 1970 so theoretically I am member of the left wing elite.

    Funnily enough, although I was raised in a Communist Household it was at Berkeley that I began to really open my eyes.

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  22. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    A commie would say that!!

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