3rd biannual media opinion statistics

In April I published my inaugural data looking at the opinion of editorials and columnists at the two major sites of Stuff and NZ Herald and in October, the 2nd set of data.

Another six months has passed since then, and I can now publish an update. This will allow us to see both what the sentiment has been, but also has it changed from the six months previously.

Again some notes on the data:

  • It covers six months – from 1 October 2015 to 31 March 2016.
  • It only covers “opinion” columns and editorials. It does not cover news stories. It is designed to shed light on what the newspaper or journalist/columnist thinks – rather than what the story is. Of course it is influenced by the stories of the moment.
  • Data is collated from the NZ Herald and Stuff websites every morning, checking the main pages, news pages, politics pages and opinion pages. It is possible some columns and editorials have been missed if they were not on the websites until later in a day. However if seen on subsequent days they are added to the table.
  • Where a journalist or columnist has done fewer than three columns that reference the Government or political parties, they are not personally included in the six month summary below, but they may be included in summaries over longer time periods.
  • An editorial or column is assessed against whether someone reading it will feel more positive or more negative about the Government/National, Labour, Greens or NZ First.
  • If an editorial or column is not on a political issue, or just talks about an issue in a way that is neither supportive nor critical of a party, then they are not included. This is just an analysis of columns and editorials that are positive or negative for a political party or the Government. This is deliberate, it is about seeing the balance between positive and negative for those that do take a stance.
  • This is not an analysis of bias. This is an analysis of opinion. It is quite legitimate for columnists and editorials to have views that are not split 50/50 between the parties. And it is fair to say one would generally expect an incumbent Government to be criticised more often than it is supported.



Turning first to the editorials of the three metro newspapers (only they were included), the Dominion Post remains the most relentlessly critical of National. Of 19 editorials referencing the Government or National, 16 are critical and only 3 supportive, so 84% negative.

Thee Herald is 67% negative and 33% positive.  This is more critical than the previous six months when it was 62% negative.

Turning to the columnists, the one who has written the most critical of National remains Brian Rudman with 7 negative and no positives. Next in line is Bryan Gould, then Stacey Kirk, Dave Armstrong, Paul Little, and Toby Manhire.

Of those with a mixture of positive and negative, Tracy Watkins is 88% negative, Duncan Garner 75%, Vernon Small 67%, Barry Soper 50% and Audrey Young 29 (last six months was 83%)

Combining columns and editorials, the Herald website is 79% negative and 21% positive in its opinion, while Stuff is 87% negative and 13% positive.

Compared to the previous six months, the coverage has been slightly more negative, with the Herald going from 77% to 79% and Stuff from 83% to 87%.

I remain amused some left wing blogs insist that the media (and especially the Herald) is pro-National and too soft on it. In terms of editorials and opinion columns, it simply isn’t true.



Turning to coverage of Labour they have received better coverage in the last six months, with 33% of columns and editorials positive compared to 23% the previous six months.

The most negative columnists are Larry Williams and Tracy Watkins, while the most balanced have been Audrey Young and Vernon Small.


Turning to the Greens, they had had almost only positive columns – six positive and one negative. So 86% positive.

NZ First

NZ First have had only three columns on them, one positive and two negative.

Comments (32)

Login to comment or vote