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.Tags: Media
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.
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.Tags: Media
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.Tags: astroturfing, Greens, Max Coyle, Media, NZ Herald
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.Tags: Media, PPPs
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.Tags: Fairfax, Media, paywalls, Stuff
iSentia do media monitoring in the Asia-Pacific. They have blogged the most mentioned issues in NZ in April 2013. They are:
- NZ drought 4,892
- Boston Marathon bombing 3,964
- Mighty River Power 3,031
- North Korea nuclear threat 2,642
- 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.Tags: Media
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.
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 UniteTags: Media, media bias
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:
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.Tags: debating, EPMU, Media
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.Tags: Media, Michael Bott, NZ Herald
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.
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.Tags: Law Commission, Media, new media
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.Tags: Asset Sales, Cabinet Handbook, Media, shares
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.
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.Tags: Australian Labor, Media
I had to giggle. Scoop’s Werewolf has a patsy interview with Green Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown.
I wondered who interviewed her. It was former Green MP Sue Kedgley!
One commenter suggested next they could have Joe Karam interviewing David Bain!
Almost as bad as the recent fellating interview with Russel Norman the Daily Blog ran, where the first question was:
The first thing I want to ask is how frustrating is it to be the co-leader of a political party that is constantly criticized for challenging the orthodoxy, only to be vindicated in that challenge later down the track?
Yes I’m serious, that was the first question!
It’s like asking someone “How do you cope with being so awesome and right on everything”. If that is journalism, God help us.Tags: Media, sycophancy
It’s another case of she said, she said. Labour MP Jacinda Ardern was yesterday bemoaning record benefit numbers during National’s reign.
DPB, sickness and invalid beneficiary numbers were at the highest since records began in 1940, she said.
It didn’t take long for Social Development Minister Paula Bennett to respond with her own gloating statement.
The number of people on the DPB, unemployment and invalids benefits all decreased last year, she said. It seems statistics are everyone’s friend.
Rather than just report that both MPs are claiming different things, it would be nice if the media actually provided the full data and allowed people to decide for themselves.
I blogged yesterday that the numbers cited by the HoS and Ardern were over a year out of date. That’s not opinion – it is fact.
The excellent Stats Chat site also gives people the full data, in graph form. Sadly the number of people who read that site is far far less than those who read newspapers.
Lindsay Mitchell also has some useful fisking of Ardern’s claims.
Ironically Anthony Robins at The Standard is also unhappy with the article. Not for the misleading claims, but because a Labour MP is suggesting that it would be a good thing to have fewer people on welfare!Tags: dodgy stats, Jacinda Ardern, Media, welfare, welfare reform
The HoS reports:
Paula Bennett’s reputation for being tough on beneficiaries is in jeopardy as figures reveal record high numbers on state financial support.
Labour spokeswoman for social development Jacinda Ardern said the highest unemployment numbers were at around 10 per cent in the early 1990s but support for solo parents and invalids have hit record highs during Bennett’s reign as Social Development Minister.
“When it comes to the worst DPB, sickness, and invalid benefit numbers, these have all been since 2010 and under Paula Bennett,” Ardern said. “Interestingly, the two highest figures for the DPB were both after the introduction of Bennett’s welfare reforms, which mostly targeted DPB recipients by increasing their work obligations.”
Ardern provided the Herald on Sunday with figures which showed:
Between January 2009 and January 2012, the number of people on the DPB rose by 13.2 per cent. During the same period, the number of people on the unemployment benefit rose by 82 per cent. “The Government seems to be clamping down on DPB mums in an effort to show ‘action’ to mask their ‘inaction’ in employment and job creation,” Ardern said. “But neither figure will budge unless the core issue of job availability is first addressed.”
The moment I saw this story, I had a fair idea of what the actual data would show. Yes more people on those benefits between those two dates, but not a linear pattern. Of course Jan 2009 was as the GFC was in full force, and hence job losses occurring. Also the comparison stops 12 months ago. Why?
Let’s look at the actual data, in terms of increase or decrease each year. For DPB they are
- 2008 +2,128
- 2009 +9,007
- 2010 +3,576
- 2011 +1,365
- 2012 -5,112
I think we now understand why Jacinda left the 2012 figures off. What I don’t know is why the Herald on Sunday did.
Let’s do the same with Invalid’s Benefit numbers.
- 2008 +3,419
- 2009 +1,537
- 2010 +67
- 2011 -1,062
- 2012 -472
And for those interested in the Unemployment Benefit.
- 2008 +7,760
- 2009 +35,820
- 2010 +756
- 2011 -7,120
- 2012 -6,217
They all show the same thing. The increase in benefit numbers started in 2008 (under Labour) and worsened in 2009 as the Global Financial Crisis struck. Despite patchy economic growth since 2009, benefit numbers in all three categories have fallen in the last two years.
One has to congratulate Jacinda for getting the Herald on Sunday to run an entire story based on selective cherry-picked data. That’s a good achievement for an Opposition MP.Tags: Media, welfare reform
Whale has done some good research on a family highlighted in the media as being unable to afford a house. He did some basic research and found out they did have enough money for:
- Playboy branded paraphernalia
He also reveals that they simply paid no rent at all at the place they were previously living at.Tags: Media, Whale Oil
What an admission from Brian Rudman in the NZ Herald:
With job lay-offs, unaffordable housing and a call for better public transport, Labour should be making inroads.
Despite the best efforts of Opposition politicians, single-issue campaigners and me and my colleagues in the media, most Kiwis seem resolutely unconvinced that this country is heading for hell in a handcart.
A stunning admission by Rudman. Not a huge surprise that he admits to trying to convince people the country is heading for “hell in a handcut” as Rudman is well known as a left wing columnist. But his inclusion of his colleagues in the media speaks volumes.
They see their role to convince New Zealanders that their country is fucked, with the implication being unless of course they change the Government.
Will the NZ Herald let Rudman’s comments stand that the role of his media colleagues has been to use their best efforts convince people the country is damned?Tags: Brian Rudman, Media, NZ Herald
Well again on Friday they have run a blog post by Dann (of course attacking the Government again). Once again they do not mention that he is a Labour Party candidate.
How can the Herald justify not telling its readers that the blogger whose work they reprint, who constantly attacks the Government, is in fact a political party candidate?Tags: James Dann, Media, NZ Herald
The broadcasters have announced:
Broadcasting Industry to Launch Online News And Current Affairs Self Regulatory Body
New Zealand’s major radio and television broadcasters today confirmed the launch of a new industry funded, self-regulatory body, the Online Media Standards Authority “OMSA”, which will oversee online news and current affairs content standards.
Since the Law Commission’s paper, The News Media meets ‘New Media’ was published in December 2011, NZ television broadcasters TVNZ, SKY/Prime, MediaWorks TV, and Maori Television have worked together with Radio New Zealand, The Radio Network and MediaWorks Radio to provide an industry led, cost effective and consumer friendly solution to regulate online news and current affairs content. OMSA will publish a code of standards and provide a free complaints process overseen by the OMSA Complaints Committee.
The OMSA Complaints Committee will be chaired by retired Court of Appeal Judge, Sir Bruce Robertson and including the Chair; will comprise four public members and three broadcasting industry representatives.
The new body will use a similar format to that used by the Advertising Standards Authority and the NZ Press Council, as they are excellent examples of industry funded, self- regulatory regimes working effectively. OMSA acknowledges the advice and guidance that was provided by both organizations. OMSA Chair, Clare Bradley, said
“OMSA enjoys the total support of New Zealand broadcasters and the OMSA code and complaints process will apply to the websites operated by all OMSA members. The Authority has its genesis in the report of the Law Commission which identified a regulatory “gap” in the oversight of news and current affairs content solely published on line. We are delighted to be able to provide the solution to the Law Commission’s “gap”.
This does help plug a gap. Currently broadcaster’s websites are not covered by any code or body. Print media websites are covered by the Press Council.
It’s a step in the right direction, but a poor substitute to what we should have – which is a converged standards regulator for all media – totally independent of Government.
What is no clear is what the membership eligibility for OMSA will be, and associated fees. Should online publishers who wish to be seen as media join OMSA or the Press Council? Will the fees be affordable for non-commercial entities.Tags: Media, OMSA