Press Freedom Debate

May 3rd, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

To mark Press Freedom Day, there is a debate tonight (7 pm) at the Backbencher on the moot “That politicians pay the price of a free press”.

The cost is $25, which includes finger food. Proceeds go to the Asia-Pacific Solidarity and Safety Fund which basically provides welfare to the families of journalists killed doing their job.

The debaters are:


  1. Annette King
  2. Darren Hughes
  3. Simon Bridges


  1. Tom Scott
  2. Jane Clifton
  3. Barry Soper

They are all very amusing speakers, so should be a fun evening.

You can pay at the door, but if you do plan to go, it is useful to e-mail Brent Edwards so they can cater for the right numbers.

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The ASPA Awards

September 14th, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

I was one of the judges for the Best Website section of the Aotearoa Student Press Association Awards, so went along to the awards ceremony on Thursday night.


Barry Soper (left) was the Awards MC and Guest Speaker. Laura McQuillan was the Awards organiser.

I knew a few of the other Judges, and got to meet some I hadn’t already met, such as the Dom’s Post Greer McDonald, and Nicky Hager. No doubt Whale and Cactus will expel me again from the VWRC for fraternising with Nicky. I did ask Nicky to consider revealing one day in the future (as in many decades time after the people involved are dead) who or how he got the National Party e-mails,for the sake of accurate history.


The Salient team accepting the Publication of the Year award, with editor Jackson Wood next to Barry.

The full list of awards was:

  1. Best Website – Craccum
  2. Best Headline – Critic for “Students spitroasted at CoC fight”
  3. Best Cartoonist – Robyn Kenealy of Salient and Maria Brett of Critic
  4. Best Original Photography – Clinton Cardozo of Debate
  5. Best Sports Writer – Brad Kreft of Critic
  6. Best Education Series – Joshua Drummond of Nexus
  7. Best Humour Content – Joseph Harper of In Unison
  8. Best Reviewer – Joseph Harper of In Unison
  9. Best Columnist – Dr Love of Magneto and Liz Willoughby-Martin of Critic
  10. Best Cover – Salient
  11. Best Editorial Writer – Ryan Boyd of Debate
  12. Best Feature Writer – Sarah Robson of Salient
  13. Best News Writer (unpaid) – Jessy Edwards of Salient
  14. Best News Writer – (paid) – Stacey Knott of In Unison
  15. Best Feature Content – Nina Fowler of Salient
  16. Best Design – Chaff
  17. Best Small Publication – Magneto
  18. Best Publication – Salient

Was a fun night. It wound down a bit before midnight when some headed into town. Thanks to Fairfax for sponsoring it, and well done to the winners and finalists.

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Campaign 08 on Winston

October 21st, 2008 at 8:12 pm by David Farrar

For professional Winston watchers, the Campaign 08 discussion on Peters is worth a watch – just click play on the main page. Peters refused to appear but Phil Kitchin, Duncan Garner, Vernon Small, Bill Ralston and Barry Soper discuss his highs and lows.

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Eye to Eye

October 13th, 2008 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

I’ve waited a long time for someone to actually point out the reality behind Winston’s bluster, and both Matthew Hooton and Barry Soper did so on Eye to Eye, which you can watch below in three parts.

If you do not have time for the full show, just watch this part.

Part Two.

Part Three.

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Soper on Winston and John Rowles

October 3rd, 2008 at 11:02 am by David Farrar

Barry Soper at Newstalk ZB had an amusing piece of Winston’s upcoming campaign launch with John Rowles:

It was with great fanfare that Luigi Peters vroomed on to the stage on the back of a big Harley through a cloud of dry ice three years ago.

On the stage before him was the mouthy comedian Mike King who’d slagged Head Girl Helen with such venom that the audience was left squirming. So it was with some relief that the Harley thundered on to the stage with its pin up cargo.

This time this Sunday’s campaign launch for the Peters Party promises to be a little more sedate with the old crooner John Rowles agreeing to do the honours.

He’ll have to be careful with his repertoire though. One of his early big hits, If I Only Had Time, may be a little inappropriate in the circumstances. His first hit, The End of The Rainbow, could hold out some hope for Luigi, providing he doesn’t include his second money maker Please Help Me I’m Falling.

It’s going to be difficult not to read too much into what The Rowler will deliver. Forty years ago he hit the British charts with The Night We Called It A Day which came out just before That Lovin’ Feeling which he clearly has for Luigi.

There’s one of his hits that Luigi would relate to though and that’s The Pain Goes On Forever although The Rowler had better not belt out his other chart topper Say Goodbye.

If he croons Hush Not a Word to Mary, she’s bound to be seen as some sort of relation to Owen Glenn.

To take the job in such a heated political environment seems appropriate when you consider another couple of Rowles’ foot tappers, I Must Have Been Out Of My Mind or It Takes A Fool Like Me.

But then for Luigi to make it back into the bear pit the Rowles album of 20 years ago In My Wildest Dreams springs to mind.

But after the November 8 poll Luigi could just be left with a more recent, but popular Rowles album From a Distance.

Barry obviously knows his John Rowles songs!

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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
Newsroom 5.8 6 5 1 10 9
Trans-Tasman 5.5 6 6 0 8 8
NZ Herald 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
NBR 4.9 4 4 1 8 7
Radio NZ 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
John Armstrong (NZH) 6.4 7 2 2 10 8
Peter Wilson (NZPA) 5.8 5 5 3 8 5
Audrey Young (NZH) 5.7 6.5 7 0 10 10
Ian Templeton (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
Tim Donoghue (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
Duncan Garner (TV3) 3.7 3.5 3 0 8 8
Gordon Campbell (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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Cactus Kate on hot male journalists

September 5th, 2008 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

I’m sure all the media will be reading Cactus Kate’s comments on what she calls the Soper Syndrome – hot aging male journalists.

Kate proclaims the following as hot:

  • “Baron” Barry Soper
  • “Gorgeous” Sean Plunkett
  • “Pitt-Clooney” Stephen Parker
  • “Chess Champion” Vernon Small
  • Richard Long
  • Richard Griffin

The only one she marks down is Duncan Garner who gets “not hot yet”.

I think Kate is protesting too loudly here. Those of us who knew Kate before she was a blogger recall a small period of time when she had a small crush on Mr Garner. And when I say small crush, I mean raging stalker like obsession. Luckily Duncan got married, and Kate got distracted!

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Minor Party Leaders on Agenda

August 31st, 2008 at 11:07 am by David Farrar

An interesting discussion on Agenda this morning.

Jeanette Fitzsimons said Peters has shown a contempt for the public and the public’s right to know. It is not just a matter of illegality.

She was asked if she could work with NZ First in a governing arrangement. Fitzsimons said that the party decides that but her personal viwe is you have to be able to trust someone around the cabinet table, you have to be able to trust and take their word and know it is not going to take weeks and weeks before questions are answered and only under coercion. She personally would be uncomfortable in a governing arrangement with NZ First.

Good on Jeanette for saying that. Not as strong as Key, but if the Greens won’t back Labour if they keep clinging to Winston, then he has no power even if makes 5%.

Peter Dunne hedges his bets and says he does not think either major party will want Peters and that NZ First will not be re-elected. However says he will decide on policies only, and not rule Peters out.

Jim Anderton says issue for Peters is not so much legal but hypocrisy of railing against donations from big business and taking them secretly.

Fitzsimons says she is most concerned about the fihsing issue, and wants it investigated.

Barry Soper has ripped into Anderton for saying the media have tried and convicted Peters in public.  He points out that teh media have been unable to get a single useful explanation from Peters for months on end and it is thanks to the media these issues have come to light. Says Anderton should applaud media if they believe in transparency. Anderton responds weakly.

Anderton now talking about the Brethren. Yawn. Now he is alleging the SFO is compromised as investigating Peters keeps them alive.

Dunne says he has no problem with Key ruling Peters out, and suspects he has wanted to for some time. Says he “fully understands” that John Key needed to put a marker in the sand.

UPDATE: A friend points out to me that Jeanette is a very polite person, and her comments indicating diffculties serving with Winston was Green Speak for “Fuck Off” :-)

I hope so! Removing Winston from power (only the public can remove him from Parliament) is something all parties in Parliament should agree on. It should not be a partisan issue.

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Another fun night watching Back Benches

May 1st, 2008 at 8:06 am by David Farrar

After missing it last week, popped in again to the Backbencher last night for the usual live filing of Back Benches. The MPs were Rodney Hide, Jacqui Dean, Te Ururoa Flavell and Russel Norman (not quite an MP yet).

Rodney joined our table before the show and loudly proclaimed the he figured the Nats were pushing fibre to the home for broadband just so I could get better quality porn. I jokingly corrected him that it was so I could get faster porn, not better porn. Rodney then started practising his parliamentary speech about how any Bill for fibre to the home should be called the Faster Farrar Porn Bill. Others started joining in until I pointed out to them all that only Rodney gets parliamentary privilege :-)

The show went well. The funniest moment for me was when Wallace asked Russel about biofuels, and a few seconds into what appeared to be the start of a very long explanation, Rodney rang the bell to cut him off.

Around halfway through the show Wallace announced they are giving away a luxury item in a quiz, and he held up a 1kg block of tasty cheese which he said was now a luxury item at $15. And the question was what sort of car has replaced the Ford Fairlaines as Ministerial cars.

I couldn’t resist and stuck my hand up and shouted out “BMW 720is”. Wallace was so impressed (or appalled by my nerdiness) he awarded me the cheese. At this stage someone sitting with the Green supporters yelled out loudly “Who is that bald cunt”, Now I have been called a cunt several times before, but never on live television on a news show. I joked afterwards to Guyon Espiner that being called a cunt on live television had never happened to me before, and he replied that it had to him! I forgot to ask whether it was an MP :-)

Being serious for a second, I do think it is grossly inappropriate to use the cunt word on a live television news show. Not at all worried that it was directed at me, but it was boorish in the extreme. “Who is that bald bastard” would have worked just as well without actually exposing TVNZ to the Broadcasting Standards Authority (which I jokingly threatened them with).

Anyway my cheese victory was short lived. Barry and Heather Soper (I can’t be bothered trying to spell her actual surname) popped in after the show and I boasted of my victory in winning the cheese. Barry immediately says I got the make wrong and they are BMW 730Lds. I don’t think I am wrong, so I fire up the Blackberry and search on my blog site as I know I blogged the model when they were announced.

Sadly I did get the make slightly wrong (hey 730 is close to 720) and they are BMW 730Lds. So what does Barry do, he reaches across the table and takes my cheese claiming he is the real winner of it, despite not even being there for the show.

I then drown my sorrows at my lost cheese in another Speights.

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