More redundancies at the Herald?

September 19th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

NBR reports:

It’s now understood that other senior staff at the NZ Herald being ‘consulted’ about the proposed plans to facilitate the creation of NZME’s “world-class integrated newsroom” (ie, more than likely being made redundant) also include Canvas deputy editor Greg Dixon, feature writer Alan Perrot and columnist John Roughan.

They seem set to join veterans John Drinnan, Brian Rudman and Michele Hewitson (see below) on today’s casualty list.

Must be tough times for those at the Herald.

If John Drinnan goes, it will be a pity. As a writer who focuses on the media, I read all his columns religiously and often learn stuff I didn’t know. I didn’t agree with everything he wrote (of course) but found him far more balanced that Mediawatch on Radio NZ (which I also listen to always, but find it has such an anti-commercial flavour). He also engages regularly on Twitter, in a useful way.

I’ve never understood why anyone ever agrees to be interviewed by Michelle Hewitson, as she generally skewers them not so gently. But I almost without fail read her interviews as they can be insightful in a way few are.

Rudman’s views are always pretty predictable, but his focus on Auckland issues was good. We need more scrutiny of local government.

John Roughan writes far less than he used to, but I like his columns as he would often go against the prevailing mood, and argue something unpopular.

One NZ Herald staff member says, “It’s a bloodbath.” Another tells NBR that 30% of editorial staff are getting the chop. The number is unconfirmed, but would still mean editorial is getting off more lightly than sales where sources suggest that up to 40% of staff could receive their marching orders.

The print media commercial model is failing, and online media revenue is not in the same league. Eventually business models that work will come through, but until they do it’s a hard time for those in the media.

Laila gets a salary and a clothing allowance!

June 29th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Life is pretty gear when you get handpicked to lead a multi-millionaire’s pet political party. Michelle Hewitson reveals:

She looked swish in the Internet Party official pics and I wondered whether she’d also been seeing a stylist but she said, no, she just “did a big shop”. Where did she do her big shop? “At Smith & Caughey’s.” Good heavens. Who paid? Dotcom? “Um, I’m being paid for the work that I’m doing.” I hope she spent a lot of Dotcom’s money. How much did she spend? “Oh, look, I don’t want to go into that. It’s expensive looking nice. You know. I’ve spent very little on clothes over the years.”

I wonder what other perks of the job she gets? Does Uncle Kim also give her a car?

She says Dotcom’s values are “aligned” to her own, but really? I asked if he was left-wing now — he did give 50 grand to the right-winger John Banks’ mayoral campaign — and she said she doesn’t go around asking people whether they’re left or right and he says he’s neither, he’s “up”.

Anyway, his wealth is okay because he made it as an entrepreneur and “I do think there’s a very big difference between the kind of person who’s climbed the corporate ladder to the top of the bank, making several million dollars a year off shareholders and workers … ” She said she wasn’t suggesting Dotcom’s money was made in an honourable way and John Key’s wasn’t. “No. But now that you mention it … “

What twisted values. She suggests that Dotcom made his money honourably despite being a convicted criminal, and facing extradition, while she regards someone who makes money for a corporate as somehow being an exploiter of shareholders and workers.

 was busy biting my tongue at the time. I’d had to put the recorder back on because she’d made me turn them both off and refused to say Another Word until they were. This was over an innocent comment made by the press sec, which I agreed not to mention because it was, honestly, of so little consequence, in my view, that it doesn’t require mentioning.

But, kaboom, a tremendous fuss blew up and I’m buggered if I know how it all came to be my fault. We might have got to some questions more to her liking if not for this carry-on. But by then we were all entirely fed up which each other — at least I was — and there was little point in going on.

Sounds like Harre is getting pretty brittle. She thinks she can accept Dotcom’s money, effectively be his paid advocate, yet not answer questions about him. Doesn’t work like that.

Little speaks the truth

October 30th, 2010 at 9:23 am by David Farrar

Michelle Hewitson has interviewed Andrew Little. Quite amusing, as normal for Hewitson. One extract to highlight:

I’m not sure who (as in which hat he was wearing) he was being the day I saw him. He is, I think, practising for his campaign. I was initially surprised that he slagged off (he would not, of course, put it quite that way) another union: Actors’ Equity. I’d said that it had been a bad week for the unions, thus, to pinch a bit of union lingo, collectively lumping all unions in together. He said, “It’s been a shockingly bad couple of months for Actors’ Equity. It’s been a difficult week for unions … And I’m not going to defend the Actors’ Equity because the handling of it has been an absolute disaster.” Is it helpful of him to say that? “I’ve spoken to people in Actors’ Equity. They know my view.”

Andrew has spoken the truth, as no other unionist has been willing to do so – he is smart enough to know you do not defend the indefensible.

He has been what I call interfering and what he calls trying to help, behind the scenes. He spoke to John Barnett, and to Robyn Malcolm, whom he flatted with years ago when they were both at Victoria University.

Trying to help behind the scenes is what Helen Kelly should have restricted herself to doing, rather than calling Peter Jackson a spoilt brat. It is a pity Andrew is standing for Parliament – he could do more good arguably as the CTU President.

He has long been seen as not Left enough by some factions of the Left; as too friendly with big business. An indication of where he sits is that he is equally scathing about Fran O’Sullivan and Chris Trotter. In other words: he is firmly in the centre.

Andrew is not centrist, but he is not extreme – he is mainstream centre-left.

Hewitson on Slater

August 28th, 2010 at 8:16 am by David Farrar

Michele Hewitson interviews Cameron Slater for her weekly interview.  Some extracts:

spoke to him during the lunch break on Wednesday and, during that phone conversation, he said he thought the judge would reserve his judgment, which proved to be the case.

He then proceeded to say, mildly for him, rude things about the judge.

When we met on Thursday (he’d suggested we meet at the zoo, which was tempting but he would have enjoyed being photographed outside the monkey cage far too much) I asked whether it was clever to slag off a judge to a journalist.

He said: “He’s been rude to me!” But was being rude about him clever?

“Probably not. But then again, you know, do I trust … the justice system and that the judge will put aside personal feelings … ? Am I stupid? Probably.”

I’m quite sure the Judge will put aside personal feelings.

I asked if he was a bully and he said: “Yep. I admit that.” That’s not an attractive trait to admit to. “No, it’s not.” He says the drugs he was taking for his depression caused the “self-limiting mechanism” that most people have to “disappear”. …

He used to earn, he says, probably $150,000 a year and did so for years and now he’s on a sickness benefit and the family home has gone.

He is in a prolonged battle with his insurance company over a cancelled income protection policy.

He says he has been “a complete arsehole to live with” and “rude, abrupt, thoughtless, uncaring” to his wife.

He hasn’t been happy and hasn’t liked himself for years now. He is working on happiness and is now off the drugs he says his insurance company “made” him take and which he believes made him madder.

He said, perhaps hopefully, that he thinks the blog has become more temperate. “I’m not using nicknames and derogatory terms.” (He was still calling North Shore mayor Andrew Williams a “clown” last time I looked, but that’s almost affectionate for him.)

I’m not sure most people would term “corpse fiddler” temperate, but that was off-blog.

For Cameron, corpse fiddler is temperate!

Garner interviewed

April 3rd, 2010 at 10:39 am by David Farrar

A very amusing interview of Duncan Garner by Michele Hewitson. An extract:

So, I’ll tell you what he had to drink: the best part of a bottle of wine and five beers, plus two more after I left. Northing would give me greater pleasure than to be able to tell you he was rolling, and indiscreet.

Alas, the only discernable effect was that his cheeks turned a fetching shade of pink (which exactly matched his shirt) and he swore more, but no great surprise there, now, is there?

Duncan can hold his piss.

He’d sent an email suggesting we book the table under Mark Sainsbury’s name, so as to get star treatment.

Now that is a good idea.

He is relentlessly competitive. He talks about going head-to-head with his great mate and competitor, Guyon Espiner, at TVNZ, like the sports journo he used to be: “We’re here to knock each other out.” I asked about a rumour that he and Espiner collude on story angles which earned me one of his eruptions: “Complete crap. It’s bullshit. I’ve heard this rumour. It comes from print hacks.”

Both TV and print bosses hate it when one of their competitors runs an exclusive, which they didn’t have.

All about Hone

November 14th, 2009 at 5:31 pm by David Farrar

First an interview with Michelle Hewitson. I think the interview is in fact very perceptive, and worth a read.

I asked her son if only his mother was allowed to keep her shoes on. “Pretty much.” How does that work? “She can pretty much go wherever she likes.” …

Because of that surprising show of nerves – it’s not a question you ordinarily think to ask of a Harawira – I asked whether anything frightened him.

“I guess … not really. I don’t think so.” Except his mother? “Ha, ha. Yeah, I guess. She always will, I suppose. She’s my mum.”

All of the above tells you what you need to know about being raised Harawira. You can do what you want and you don’t have to take your shoes off. It’s one definition of being a rebel.

And Claire Trevett:

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira yesterday defended himself against the call for him to resign and took a thinly veiled swipe at the party’s leadership, claiming the wider party was being “dictated to” by a few individuals.

This has the potential to get very messy, especially as the MPs seem to now be communicating through the media with each other, not directly.

And Audrey Young:

Maori Party president Whatarangi Winiata’s bombshell in asking MP Hone Harawira to resign will throw it the party into unprecedented turmoil.

But Winiata and co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples knew that when the request was put to Harawira at a hui in Kaitaia on Thursday.

The fact that they are willing to accept the internal grief, and possibly a permanent rift with the north, shows how strongly they feel about him going.

It has been a decision reached more in sorrow than anger. And it is more an act of self-preservation than of punishment.

If it has been this difficult, they’ve done well to keep things so tight for so long.

The Maori Party represents a broad church of views, from left to conservative. It is not Harawira’s radicalism per se that is the problem but the way he expresses his views in a polarising way.

And can a leopard change his spots?

It was clear from the press conference Turia and Sharples held at Parliament yesterday that their tolerance for Harawira is an at end. The possibility of his remaining a colleague seems remote at this stage.

There can be no mistaking the message: Harawira is not a team-player and is not suited to the disciplines of a political party. The hope is that he recognises that himself.

But Harawiras don’t do humiliation, and the default position would have to be on his fighting expulsion – which in itself could be damaging to the party.

It is a battle the party’s leaders calculated is worth risking.

I hope there is a way forward, because there are some big issues to be resolved such as the Foreshore & Seabed Act, and schisms within the Maori Party will make it harder to find a solution.

More “confusion” from Williams?

April 26th, 2008 at 9:58 am by David Farrar

Michele Hewitson interviews Mike Williams in the Weekend Herald. He agreed to it before he got told to stop giving interviews.

He says that of course some good ideas came out of the congress but that it’s a big party and there are always going to be some dumb ones. “You cannot stop people coming up with idiotic ideas and if I’d heard what he’d said I would have said, ‘That’s a bloody stupid idea’.” At the time he said this he didn’t know that “he” was Ruth Dyson’s husband.

Didn’t he? I understand that he did refer to him by first name. It would be extraordinary not to recognise someone who has been a long-time member of the ruling NZ Council.

They also discuss the song, which he thinks was “quite good”:

I am fixated on another amazingly silly moment from the congress: the god-awful sing-song by four lady Labour MPs.

“Well, I thought it was quite good.”

He must, I say, be lying through his teeth.

“Well, I thought the words were quite good. I thought the singers were vocally challenged.”

That is one way of putting it, although I was too engaged in snorting into my coffee to put it that way.

He says, “For God’s sake, we’ve got to chill out a bit. You’ve got to have a bit of fun. I thought it was funny.”

“It wasn’t funny. It was appalling,” I say. “The only thing that could have been a worse look would have been morris dancing.”

Michelle – he wasn’t lying through his teeth, he was merely confused through his teeth!

John Banks interview

March 15th, 2008 at 10:30 am by David Farrar

A fairly amusing interview by Michelle Hewitson with the transmogrified (that term always makes me think of Calvin and Hobbes) John Banks. An extract:

To tell you the truth, I have been waiting for him to stuff up before going to see him in his second incarnation as mayor. He would not be offended by this: “You’re always remembered for your mistakes, not your achievements.”

But he seems to have been running along rather smoothly. He says he learned from his “three years in the wilderness” that his leadership style had to change and, amazingly, he seems to have managed it. I did ask around a bit and heard “obliging, transparent, inclusive”. He says, “It is still important to disagree but it is not necessary to be disagreeable”. Which suggests that he does now agree that he was disagreeable. “Of course.”

The interview also touches on how well he is working with ARC Chairman Mike Lee, despite their different political outlooks.