Assertion as fact

November 23rd, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Waikato pensioners are starving and raiding their KiwiSaver accounts to pay back mounting credit card debt.

This is a badly written story. It takes an assertion of a financial adviser and reports it as fact. It should report it as an assertion and credit it to the financial adviser.

Hamilton Budgeting Advisory Trust manager Clare Mataira said financial abuse of the elderly is a growing problem and she is pushing for banks to tighten their lending policies.

“We’re seeing people use credit cards for living expenses.

“I’ve seen more superannuitants in the last four to five years using credit cards for living expenses than in my whole career,” she said.

Not sure why, as the pension has increased well beyond the rate of inflation. Every year the purchasing power of NZ Superannuation tends to increase. We have the most generous superannuation scheme in the world – universal, linked to the median wage, no means or asset testing etc.

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Most mentioned issues in September 2013

October 22nd, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

iSentia blog on the most mentioned issues last month:

  1. Emirates Team NZ
  2. Syria
  3. Ranfurly Shield
  4. Kenyan mall terror attack
  5. Labour Party leadership

Not a month where political stories dominated. I think I can guess the most mentioned issue for October!

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A confused story

October 4th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Domestic spying agency the Security Intelligence Service is looking for a new deputy chief executive who will advise Prime Minister John Key on internal and foreign threats.

No they’re not.

It is not an SIS job. The job is for a Deputy Chief Executive of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, who will oversee their Intelligence Coordination Group (ICG), National Assessments Bureau (NAB) and the Security and Risk Group (SRG).

While the SIS is New Zealand’s domestic spying agency the successful candidate will provide leadership and coordination of both the domestic and external security sector.

Again the job is not an SIS job. It is a DPMC job.


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Most mentioned news stories in August

September 16th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

iSentia blog the top news stories for August. They were:

  1. Fonterra scare
  2. GCSB
  3. Earthquakes
  4. Syria
  5. Egypt

Will be interesting to see for September if the Labour leadership contest was the most reported story.

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No unified media regulator

September 13th, 2013 at 10:09 am by David Farrar

Isaac Davidson at NZ Herald reports:

Justice Minister Judith Collins has given the New Zealand news media a vote of support by rejecting proposals for a single, independent media regulator which would have had the power to demand corrections and removal of news content.

Mrs Collins said that unlike the UK and Australia, there was no crisis of confidence in mainstream media in New Zealand and no pressing need for changes.

She said the Government would not establish a “one-stop-shop” media regulator – a merger of the existing Press Council, Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) and Online Media Standards Authority – but said it could be considered again if reform was called for.

My reading of this is that the Government thinks the status quo is working well enough, that a change wasn’t justified.

They are right that the status quo is working, and unlike the UK, there is no crisis or even anything close to it.

However I still thought the Law Commission model was worth pursuing, for two reasons:

  • It would get the Government out of media regulation, by moving broadcasters (for news purposes) from the Government appointed BSA to an independent regulator where board members are not appointed by Government
  • It would mean one regulator, instead of the three we have at the moment, which would be easier for those with complaints to use

I note the Government has not said the model proposed is unsuitable, so it may happen at some stage. But for now it seems the decision is to not fix it, as it isn’t broken.

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Journalese definitions

September 4th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

An amusing article from The Independent:

Journalese definitions

Acolytes Supporters of someone with whom we disagree

Arcane Rules ones we can’t be bothered to explain

Bed What love rats and lotharios do to their conquests

Boffin Anyone with a job at a university, a science GCSE, or a lab coat

Bonk Casual sexual relations

Booze-fuelled rampage What vile thugs go on, to the dismay of revellers

Bubbly How friends described the victim. She may also have “loved life”

Budding Someone under 20 who’s good at something

Calculated snub The worst kind of snub

Champagne lifestyle Typically, what someone “plundered bank accounts to fund”

Draconian The Government is proposing something with which we disagree

Foul-mouthed tirade Someone has said a Bad Word. This event is always “extraordinary” or “astonishing” to newspapers, whose staff are well known for their delicate sensibilities

Innocent bystanders The people who look on in horror when bad things happen. If injured themselves, they become “innocent victims”, to distinguish them from the victims who pretty much had it coming

Jekyll and Hyde character No one predicted he’d go on a killing spree. Probably because neighbours described him as a “loner” who “kept himself to himself”

Love rat One who has “two-timed” a partner. Almost always a man. If he’s a celebrity, his exploits should be recounted with a slight air of admiration, and he should be described near the start as a “bad boy”. Also used of adulterous politicians and men on welfare who’ve fathered six children by five women. If writing about a woman, try “marriage wrecker”.

Raft The standard unit of “measures”. Under the imperial system, a “cocktail of measures” is an eighth the size of a raft. A “whole raft of measures” is a raft plus a cocktail

Rapped In March 2013, several outlets including the BBC offered the headline: “Police chief rapped over Hillsborough”, conjuring the image of some kind of appalling duet with Jay-Z

Red-faced What council chiefs usually are after a “humiliating U-turn” over parking charges

Rushed The only way anyone gets to hospital, typically after ambulances raced to the scene

Sex session One or more bonks

To put it another way (newspaper euphemisms)

Bon viveur Drunk

Confirmed bachelor He’s gay

Flamboyant He’s gay

Fun-loving She put herself about a bit

He never married He was gay

Well turned out He’s gay

Feel free to add to the list below!


The truth at the end of the story

August 19th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar
  1. The Herald spends ten paragraphs on a story that claims WINZ purchase cards exclude tampons as a non essential expense. The first 10 paras are:

A financially strapped job seeker says she was told by Auckland Work and Income staff she could not use a supermarket card for tampons or sanitary pads because they were considered luxury items.

The Ministry of Social Development has said the only items that cannot be bought on payment cards are electronics, appliances, alcohol and cigarettes.

The allegation has ignited a storm on social media after blogger Tulia Thompson wrote about it and described it as “institutionalised sexism”.

Ms Thompson said the incident happened about six weeks ago at the Queen Street Winz office.

The woman was provided with a supermarket card and told it was for “necessity items only” and she could not use it for various “luxury items” including tampons and pads, she said.

“Supermarket cards are only given out when the beneficiary is in serious financial hardship. Nevertheless, the exclusion of tampons and pads from the list of ‘necessity items’ that beneficiaries can buy when in financial hardship is a fairly extreme example of institutionalised sexism,” she said.

Ms Thompson said another woman tried to use a Winz supermarket card at the check-out at her local supermarket, and the card didn’t work.

“The cashier called Winz to find out why the card wouldn’t work, and found out it was because she had tampons amongst the items she was purchasing. She had to return them.”

Ms Thompson said another woman had contacted her in response to the blog to say the same thing had happened to her at a supermarket and the reason her card was rejected was because her sanitary item had been incorrectly labelled in the supermarket system to “pull-ups”.

Ms Thompson said clearly there needed to be better communication between supermarkets and Winz to ensure women were not embarrassed at the check-out counter.

Only if you make it all the way past 10 paragraphs of allegations, do you get the response:

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Social Development said any claims that female hygiene products could not be purchased using the Work and Income payment card were “totally untrue“.

Individual items are not tagged on payment cards. If someone’s card doesn’t work, it would be for a system reason and not because of what the person bought.

“The only items banned from purchase on the payment cards are electronics, appliances, alcohol and cigarettes.”

So the entire story is based on a false allegation. I would have thought you either then don’t run a story, or you make it very clear at the beginning of the story that it is a false allegation. The mention in paragraph two doesn’t actually refute the story to the degree that paragraph 11 does.

The story headline is:

Tampons a ‘luxury item’ – Work and Income staff

That makes it look like a direct quote from a WINZ staffer, when in fact it is an third hand allegation.

Just for good measure, the story includes half a dozen outraged tweets from people, based on the false allegation.

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August 14th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar
  1. Graeme Edgeler fisks Gordon Campbell multiple times
  2. Stats Chat fisks Stuff for saying pet owners have a 29 fold increased risk of breast cancer
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Latest newspaper readership stats

August 10th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The latest Nielsen data is here. Major papers are:

  • NZ Herald 539,000 (-27,000, -6% drop in last year)
  • Waikato Times 87,000 (-17,000, -17%)
  • Dominion Post 234,000 (-7,000, -4%)
  • The Press 209,000 (-29,000, -13%)
  • ODT 98,000 (-4,000, -5%)

Significant that despite a growing population, all major dailies dropped.


  • Sunday News 203,000 (-60,000, -23%)
  • SST 432,000 (-82,000, -17%)
  • HoS 366,000 (-28,000, -8%)
  • NBR 51,000 (-4,000, -9%)

The two Fairfax weeklies are plummeting. We may see the HoS beat the SST in the next few years – remarakable as the HoS was only created a few years ago.


Media coverage of baby vs music vs politics

August 9th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

iSentia blogged:

It’s often argued that in the modern news cycle the mainstream media (MSM) can downplay “hard news” issues in favour of lighter topics that appeal to a celebrity obsessed culture. This is said to decrease coverage of “hard news” topics when they are forced to contend with “distractions” for agenda dominance.

The GCSB Amendment Bill, currently before Parliament, would grant broad powers for the Government Communications Security Bureau to spy on New Zealanders, while at present their remit extends only to foreign intelligence. This is controversial, and it is widely agreed that the GCSB Amendment Bill constitutes an unusually large imposition of state power. At the 27 July “Stop the GCSB Bill” protest in Wellington, a speaker cited the MSM’s reluctance to cover the GCSB Amendment Bill as one of the barriers to its opponents mobilising against it.

So the GCSB bill is a serious “hard news” topic of major public interest, and recently it has had to contend with “distractions” like the birth of the “Royal Baby” Prince George, and the high-rating talent show X Factor. To see whether the MSM did indeed ignore the GCSB story, I compared nine weeks of New Zealand press, broadcast and internet news coverage of these three issues, comprising almost 5,000 unique media items.* This is a quantitative analysis – no assessments were made about the tone or accuracy or completeness of coverage, or whether it tended to support any ideological position. That’s another project. Here we’re just looking at the media space given to each issue across news media outlets.

This is what I found.

GCSB led by volume, with more than half the coverage. In terms of reach, the Royal Baby was the winner in the end, garnering close to 50% of the total audience due to extensive syndication on commercial radio and television coverage in late July. The GCSB story was much more prevalent in press and low-audience internet media. By either metric, X Factor coverage was the lowest by a considerable distance.

So good to see the hard news story did get more stories than the silly stuff.

Headline vs substance

July 20th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The headline:

Schools fail to meet ambitious Government targets

The first para:

National education data shows schools are not meeting ambitious targets set by the Government as part of its better public service targets and Maori and Pasifika students are still trailing in achievement.

The second para:

Only four of the 16 regions across New Zealand are meeting a target of 98 per cent of children participating in early childhood education by 2016.

Is it 2016 yet?

The story is fine in that it reports 12 out of 16 regions are not yet at the target, three years out from it. But you can’t label that a failure.

Note sub-editors do the headlines, not the story authors.


Another non-disclosure

July 2nd, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

 For Max Coyle, increases to his student loan repayments and KiwiSaver contributions have hurt his pay packet the most.

The 29-year-old media sales and marketing consultant, who rents a three-bedroom central Hamilton home with one other, said the increases wiped about $60 off his fortnightly pay.

Max Coyle. That name rings a bell. Surely not the same Max Coyle who also had the Waikato Times do a sob story on the exact same issue in 2011, but with his partner. They didn’t disclose to the Waikato Times that Max was a Green Party candidate.

He says the increase in tobacco prices means an occasional cigarette was a luxury so he’s switched to smoking a pipe “as it works out cheaper in the long run”.

Such crushing poverty – being forced to smoke a pipe instead of cigarettes.

In the earlier non-disclosure case, it was Coyle and his partner who didn’t disclose he was a Green Party candidate to the Waikato Times. But who is at fault this time? Did the NZ Herald know he was a Green Party candidate and activist and simply just decide not to tell us?

Well as Whale discloses, he is actually employed by APN. So surely they were aware he was a Green Party candidate.

So in summary the Herald interviewed one of their own staff members, so he could complain about his poor pay and conditions, yet blame it on the Government without disclosing his political affiliations.

I hope the Herald will correct their non-disclosure, as the Waikato Times did.

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Most mentioned issues May 2013

June 18th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

iSentia blog on the five most reported issues in May 2013. They are:

  1. Budget 2013
  2. Aaron Gilmore
  3. Mighty River Power
  4. Syria
  5. Food and milk in schools
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Another misleading headline

June 11th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Herald headline:

Christchurch super school set to be privately funded

Set to be privately funded? Really? So it is going to be a private school is it?

The lead para says:

The Education Ministry’s $41 million proposed year 1-13 super school for Christchurch is set to be funded by the private sector, a document reveals.

Set to be. Note the phrasing again.

The document, obtained by APNZ, outlines advice given to Education Minister Hekia Parata and shows she signed off on five of eight recommendations.

Ms Parata added in her handwriting that four Christchurch eastern suburb schools should close a year later, in December 2016, to allow for “considerations of public-private partnership procurement.”

Wait a second, how did “considerations of” become “set to be”. That is quite misleading.

The privately funded school, known as a public-private partnership (PPP) school, would be the second in New Zealand after the Hobsonville Point primary school opened this year in Auckland.

A PPP is not a privately funded school. It is a state funded school. The difference is that the capital costs of the school are paid for by a private firm, and repaid over time.

Last year the Government announced a multimillion dollar deal for the primary school at Hobsonville Point.

The ministry owns the buildings but had no responsibility for their design, construction, finance or ongoing maintenance.

It is understood the consortium behind the Hobsonville school, Learning Infrastructure Partners, would earn $100,000 over its 25-year contract.

Oh goodness, an average of $4,000 a year!

The Ministry of Education’s deputy secretary for regional operations Katrina Casey said a business case for a public-private partnership would be developed later this year.

She said the business case would analyse the PPP cost against the ministry’s standard procurement model.

“The Ministry is required to assess the requirement for PPP for all capital projects using Treasury guidelines. At this stage the ministry is not aware of any specific interest from the private sector to build the campus.”

The ministry already uses the private sector to build schools, but a PPP extends the responsibility to include design, build, finance and maintenance of the school over a long-term contract of up to 25 years.

“One of the main benefits for a school is that that the board of trustees and school leadership no longer have to worry about maintaining school property as this is the responsibility of the private partner,” Ms Casey said.

“This means the Board can focus on teaching and learning and improving educational outcomes.”

So it is clear that no decision has been made. The Ministry will looks at the costs of PPP vs standard procurement.

There are pros and cons of a PPP. No problems with a story focusing on those. But a headline announcing a school is “set to be privately funded” is misleading.

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Stuff to go paywall?

June 10th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Press reports:

Fairfax Media is looking at paywalls for its online publications in New Zealand, plans to cut staff and may close some publications as it faces the strains from falling advertising.

The Fairfax Media business in New Zealand includes newspapers such as The Press, magazines and online news websites, such as Stuff.

In Australia yesterday, parent company Fairfax announced plans to cut total group costs by A$60 million (NZ$72m), above the A$251m already promised to the market following a restructure of its print and digital operations.

As part of the update yesterday, Fairfax released details of digital subscription for its news websites in Australia with packages from A$15 to $44 a month.

In New Zealand, acting managing director Andrew Boyle said just when or how paywalls would be brought in here remained to be seen.

I’m sort of looking forward to the paywalls coming to New Zealand. I’d say it will lead to many more people coming to blogs, as they won’t be able to get their news from the main media websites.

It will be a good opportunity to boost resources at the blog, and try to fill the gap left by the newspaper sites.

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June 7th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Just like leemings, watch the media in Australia at a press conference rush off when they sight a MP they’ve been trying to interview, and then head back to the press conference they were at.

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Five top NZ issues April 2013

May 27th, 2013 at 7:50 am by David Farrar

iSentia do media monitoring in the Asia-Pacific. They have blogged the most mentioned issues in NZ in April 2013. They are:

  1. NZ drought 4,892
  2. Boston Marathon bombing 3,964
  3. Mighty River Power 3,031
  4. North Korea nuclear threat 2,642
  5. Marriage Amendment Bill 2,546

I wonder what May will be? The London killing? The Budget? Don’t seem to have had as many big issues this month.


Australian journalists four times more likely to be left-wing

May 24th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Conversation reports:

Conducted between May 2012 and March this year, the University of the Sunshine Coast’s representative survey of 605 journalists around Australia found that more than half (51.0%) describe themselves as holding left-of-centre political views, compared with only 12.9% who consider themselves right-of-centre.

I’m not surprised. Would NZ differ?

When asked about their voting intentions, less than two-thirds of the journalists we surveyed revealed their voting intention. Of those 372 people, 43.0% said they would give their first preference vote to Labor; 30.2% would vote for the Coalition; and 19.4% said they would choose the Greens – about twice the Australian average.

55% of Australians are supporting the Coalition, compared to 30% of journalists.

Yet, among those who arguably matter most – the journalists in senior editorial ranks who have the most power to decide news agendas – a dramatically different picture emerged.

Among the 83 senior editors who took part in the survey, the Coalition was the party of choice on 43.2%, followed by Labor (34.1%) and the Greens (11.4%).

So at a senior level they are more representative.

An interesting finding emerged when we compare journalists from the three biggest news organisations in the country – News LimitedFairfax Media and the ABC.

The national broadcaster has repeatedly been attacked for having a seemingly leftist bias, while others have accused News Limited – and particularly its flagship newspaper The Australian – of being overly conservative in its political views.

At first glance, the findings do not support this assumption, with no significant differences in the way journalists from the ABC and News rate their political views on a scale of 0 (left) to 10 (right).

However, 41.2% of the 34 ABC journalists who declared a voting intention said they would vote for the Greens, followed by 32.4% for Labor and 14.7% for the Coalition.

In contrast, 46.5% of 86 News Limited journalists who answered this question said they would vote for Labor, 26.7% for the Coalition, and only 19.8% for the Greens.

So most journalists support Labor, including those at News Corp. But at ABC they love the Greens, and less than 15% support the Coalition. Would Radio NZ differ?

Hat Tip: Cantabrians Unite

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300 protesters made TV lead item

April 28th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

300 people marched in Auckland against asset sales. A miniscule number – 0.02% of the population of Auckland or 2 in 10,000.

Despite that, it was the lead item on TV news.

Slow news day?

Manufacturing news?

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The Knuckleheads vs Politicians debate

April 23rd, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

On Thursday May 9th, the annual EPMU media freedom debate will be held in the Backbencher. These debates are to raise money for the Media Safety and Solidarity Fund which provides support to journalists and other media workers under threat in the Asia-Pacific region. Just a month ago three Pakistani journalists were murdered in a single day.

The previous debates have been hilarious. with only vague references to the topic, they are a cross between a roast and a debate.

The moot is “That you can trust a blogger, a lobbyist and a journalist, but not a politician.”

Patrick Gower is chairing the debate, and it is safe to predict there will be as many insults and jokes at his expense, as there will be at the participants.

The knuckleheads team is:

  • Myself
  • Chris Bishop, lobbyist for Philip Morris
  • Andrea Vance, Dominion Post

The politicians team is:

  • Annette King
  • Tau Henare
  • Grant Robertson

If you want a great nights entertainment, then order tickets from Brent Edwards at or 04 817 9564. Tickets are $25 each and turn up  after 5 pm for dinner and drinks with the debate starting at 7.30 pm.

The tickets often sell out fast, and the venue gets packed to the brim so I recommend getting in quick.

I’m looking forward to a fun night for a good cause.

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Lacking disclosure

April 3rd, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Lawyer and social policy expert Michael Bott said the plan showed the Government’s hatred towards those who were passionate about the environment.

That’s very strong language from Mr Bott, who is described as a social policy expert. I’m not sure how you get such a title, but they have missed out a more relevant title.

Mr Bott was of course the Labour Party candidate for Wairarapa. A fact that should have been disclosed.

This continual non disclosure on the part of media really annoys me, because it happens so consistently and in just one direction.

I honestly can not recall the last time I saw a National Party candidate, office holder or even activist quoted in the media without reference to their party involvement. While Labour Party people pop up in various guises so often, I have lost count.

Either the Herald were unaware Mr Bott was a Labour Party candidate, or they thought the public don’t need to know that this “social policy expert” who says the Government hates people who are passionate about the environment stood for Labour at the last election.

I’m not sure what answer is worse – that they didn’t know, or that they did no and decided not to say.

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Final Law Commission report on new media and news media

March 26th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Law Commission has published its final report as part of their review of regulatory gaps and new media.

I blogged on their draft report in December 2011, and said I thought their draft report was excellent.

I also blogged my submission on the draft report in March 2012.

Their final report is not hugely different to their draft report, but there have been some useful changes, especially around the key area of having any media regulator totally independent from Government (unlike the current Broadcasting Standards Authority).

The report is a welcome dose of common sense and respect for a free media, which avoids the excesses recommended in the UK an Australia.

The Law Commissions cites four policy objectives in their report:

  • recognise and protect the special status of the news media, ensuring all entities carrying out the legitimate functions of the fourth estate, regardless of their size or commercial status, are able to access the legal privileges and exemptions available to these publishers
  • ensure that those entities accessing the news media’s special legal status are held accountable for exercising their power ethically and responsibly
  • provide citizens with an effective and meaningful means of redress when those standards are breached
  • signal to the public which publishers they can rely on as sources of news and information.

They note:

Finally, there is a strong public interest in ensuring that any accountability mechanisms for the news media encourages rather than stifles diversity. It must therefore provide a level playing field for all those carrying out the functions of the fourth estate, irrespective of their size, commercial status, or the format in which they publish or distribute their content. In other words it must be technology neutral focusing on content and context rather than the format or delivery platform.

I agree, and that is why I support their key recommendation of just one self-regulatory standards body, rather than the existing three bodies (one Govt regulatory, and two self-regulatory).

Some of their recommendations are:

  • A news media standards body (the News Media Standards Authority or NMSA) should be established to enforce standards across all publishers of news.
  • Membership should be entirely voluntary and available to any person or entity that regularly publishes or generates news, information or current opinion.
  • To gain the full legal rights of news media (which are extensive), an entity or person must be accountable to a published code of ethics and the NMSA.
  • The NMSA should be chaired by a retired Judge who is appointed by the Chief Ombudsman and the majority of complaints panel members should be representatives of the public who are not from the media industry.
  • The NMSA will have a code of practice and may also have sub-codes for different mediums (I think is is important as I think online media should focus more on correction, which is less of a remedy in broadcast or print media).
  • NMSA powers will include publishing of their decisions, website take downs, corrections, right of replies, apologies, censure and ultimately termination of membership. However no power to fine.
  • A three person appeals body is also recommended.
  • No state funding of the NMSA for its regulatory function – will be entirely industry funded.
  • A working party of seven people to establish the NMSA, with the Chief Ombudsman appointing the Chairperson and the Chairperson the other six members – with industry representatives in the minority.
  • NZ on Air funding of news and current affairs will only be open to media that are members of NMSA.
  • BSA would have its role reduced to good taste and decency and protection of children standards only.

I think this report is an opportunity for the media to move from a mixed model of partial government regulation and partial self-regulation to effectively full self-regulation. I also like the opening up of opportunities for non traditional media to gain the legal privileges of the media, so long as they are willing to sign up for a code of practice and complaints procedure.

To some degree the status quo isn’t broken, so I wouldn’t call this a legislative priority for any Government. We’ll see a formal response in 120 days (off memory). But it does represent a sensible way forward and is worth pursuing.

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A misleading headline

March 24th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The SST headline:

Call to ban ministers from share float

Except they already are. Ministers absolutely can not take part in the share float.

In fact the conflict of interest obligations are taken so seriously that when Contact Energy was sold in the late 1990s, I was one of those banned from buying shares when it floated as I worked in the PM’s Office. Now I had zero involvement in the float, saw no papers about it, but still was banned.

So a headline that suggests Ministers are not already banned is absolutely misleading.

We asked our readers if they wanted a similar rule to Australia’s “Standards of Ministerial Ethics” that require ministers “to divest themselves of all shareholdings other than through investment vehicles such as broadly diversified superannuation funds or publicly listed managed or trust arrangements”.

That is a very separate issue to the suggestion that Ministers can take part in the Mighty River share float.

Incidentally I think it is a good idea for Ministers to follow the lead of the PM and put their shareholdings in a blind trust. But a one size fits all rule may be overly prescriptive  You may have a Minister who has say 10,000 shares in one company prior to becoming a Minister and requiring them to set up a Trust for such a minor shareholding could be a bit over the top.

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The decline of newspaper advertising

March 20th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 2.21.37 PM

This graph from The Atlantic tells a powerful story.

Print advertising is dying (but more slowly than a few years ago) but it is not being replaced by online advertising.

This is partly I think because of online alternatives to advertising such as auction sites, social media pages and free sites such as Craig’s List.



Labor’s media regulation

March 15th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Michelle Grattan writes:

After an immensely long labour, Australian Communication Minister Stephen Conroy has produced a media policy mouse with a modest roar. …

It has a number of aspects but let’s deal particularly with some core controversial ones. A “public interest test” would be invoked when mergers or acquisitions threatened to reduce diversity. A Public Interest Media Advocate would make decisions on the basis of the test.

This advocate would also ensure that bodies dealing with media standards, most notably the Australian Press Council, met certain benchmarks for credible and effective self-regulation of print and online media.

Sounds a powerful role this Public Interest Media Advocate.

Whatever one thinks of the content of the policy, its preparation and presentation has been a shambles.

It was due months ago but held up by internal argument. Now minister Conroy has presented a take-it-or-leave-it package that he says must be through Parliament by the end of next week or the Government will drop it. The actual legislation will only be presented today.

That is outrageous, especially on an issue such as this.

The public will put the Government out of its misery in six months time.

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