A new media venture

May 27th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stoppress reports:

The departures of Tim Murphy and Mark Jennings from their respective roles as the editor in chief of the New Zealand Herald and head of news at MediaWorks were both mourned as casualties of the changing media landscape.

However, the social media anguish seems to have been pre-emptive. 

Earlier today, Jennings and Murphy told StopPress that they were launching a media consultancy called Jennings/Murphy, which would provide strategic media assistance to businesses or individuals looking for advice across editorial, video production, strategic comms and media.

The pair will shortly launch their new website, and Jennings invites those interested in their services to approach them.

With decades of experience between them, countless contacts and inside knowledge of the challenges facing modern media companies, the pair do seem well suited to providing strategic advice for corporates struggling in this space.

The launch of the consultancy does not, however, imply that the newsmen have departed journalism for good.  

In addition to starting this business, the pair also unveiled—cue widespread journalistic cheers—plans to start a news site together.

“We are hoping to develop a home for quality news journalism here that will hopefully fill the gap from which mainstream media has withdrawn a bit,” says Murphy.

Sounds a good plan. Good luck to them.

Murphy says the aim is to develop a site that’s led by editorial judgement rather than web analytics. “We’ve got to turn away from clicks to clocks,” he says quoting a speaker at the recent International News Media Association Awards in London.

“We certainly don’t think there’s a market for something that’s dull or unworthy either. We’re not interested in setting up something that’s straight-laced niche play. It’s got to be broad and it’s got to have high appeal.

“There will be news, current affairs and investigations. And it will be about communicating in a more conversational way than traditional news.”

At this point, Jennings steps into the conversation and reminds me that the website hasn’t launched yet.

“I was smiling when Tim was saying, it’s going to be this and it’s going to be that, because we’re not off the ground yet,” Jennings says.

Like Murphy, he does, however believe there’s a clear gap in the market for the type of stories they’re hoping to tell.

“There’s constant feedback coming to us, with people saying, ‘Why can’t we have this sort of news? Why do we have to scroll to the bottom of Stuff or NZ Herald to find the stories we want? We don’t want the car crashes, we don’t want the Bachelor stories and we don’t want the lost dogs.’.

And half the stories on the main sites seem to be from overseas newspapers, but you only discover that at the very end.

Tim Murphy on Victoria Crone

April 18th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Blogger Tim Murphy writes at The Spinoff:

Tim Murphy was a sceptic when Victoria Crone’s candidacy for the Auckland mayoralty was announced. But watching her form at a public meeting on Thursday has him questioning that judgement. …

On a Thursday night at the Takapuna Boating Club, six months from election day, Crone is showing many signs of someone with the bit between her teeth. Months ago, when she announced her bid, she seemed one-dimensional: vote for me because I’m a CEO and young and businesspeople get it.

It’s clear she’s spent the intervening period getting to grips with Auckland issues and some of the intricacies of the Auckland Council and its Council-Controlled Organisations. Talking to some of the players. Poring over the numbers. Looking for points of weakness in the status quo, and in Phil Goff’s personal platform.

To an audience of about 50 mainly middle-aged to older voters, she impresses with her knowledge of things city-wide and local.

The full article is worth a read.

Incidentally Tim has written a number of good pieces for The Spinoff. The site is worth regularly checking out.

Murphy the bigger loss to journalism?

April 17th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Transtasman writes:

In the same week, there was a much more significant event in NZ journalism, with the editor-in-chief of the NZ Herald Tim Murphy announcing he is stepping down. The question might well be asked why somebody in his prime (Murphy is just 51) is leaving what many in the trade believe is the top journalistic post in the country. While the John Campbell story got a front-page lead in the Weekend Herald with another full page devoted to it inside, the Murphy departure rated a single column on page three of the paper. Murphy, who took the helm at the Herald when he was 37, is the youngest person to edit the paper, the 18th editor in a publication 151 years old and for long enough with the largest circulation in the country.

I do think Tim Murphy leaving is a big blow to journalism, but hopefully he will pop up elsewhere in the media world.

Murphy is very very popular with the Herald staff, and under his reign the Herald has significantly boosted their investigative journalism capacity, and also expanded well into data journalism.

He’s also very approachable, and interacts well on Twitter, in a way few other major editors do.

He’s as impartial as any media figure I know. Couldn’t even guess how he votes. He took a principled stand to campaign against the Electoral Finance Act in 2007 and 2008, but has also not held back in holding this Government to account.

His departure is a loss, but also an opportunity for others to step up.

So what really happened

September 18th, 2008 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I blogged yesterday on what Winston claims happen. It is fit only as a bedtime story for five year olds, or the Prime Minister.

Today I am going to blog what I think actually happened, and how Winston created this trouble for himself. This is based on the evidence to date, and some guesswork.

He started off only being hypocritical, but in hiding that hypocrisy he eventually told a lie, and then to cover that lie up, he had to tell many many more. Here is my timeline of events:

  1. In August 2005 Peters asked for a meeting with Glenn. They met, and then his staffer Roger McClay asked for a donation to NZ First which was declined. It is fascinating that NZ First tried to solicit money from Labour’s largest donor prior to the 2005 election. One can speculate on why they thought this would be productive and whether this indicated they had already decided to back Labour, but that is not germane.
  2. In late November 2005 a staffer (probably Roger McClay) approached Glenn again for a donation to the petition. That staffer probably had the discussion with Glenn, that Henry claims he had. They do not want to reveal that it is probably Roger McClay as the thought of Winston not knowing the fundraising details of his own staff is even more unlikely than their other stories.
  3. In December 2005 Peters directly solicited a donation for the Tauranga electoral petition, pretty much the way Owen Glenn describes it with a phone call on 5 December, another call after that, and then the 14 December call. All the evidence supports this. The reason Glenn now said yes is because he saw it as helping Labour, and he checked with Mike Williams who said it would not be unhelpful.
  4. Peters obviously took the call from Glenn, and then told Henry to send the bank account details.
  5. The request to Glenn to keep the donation confidential was important. The NZ First brand was built on anti big business donations, and accepting $100,000 for legal expenses would weaken their brand.
  6. If Glenn had said yes to the original request to donate to NZ First, then that would have been paid to the Spencer Trust I am sure. It was vital that the public never know of the funding from big business. Peters and Henry had constructed things very carefully so they could avoid disclosure (arguably) legally. At this stage nothing has been done wrong, save the hypocrisy and maybe the failure to disclose on the Register of Interests (the way they structured it gives them an arguable case though).
  7. Then on 15 February 2008, Owen Glenn revealed he had donated to another political party (which is how he saw it). That got some minor interest in the media as to which other party.
  8. Even worse on 19 February 2008 he revealed he was in line to become Honorary Consul to Monaco, that Helen had already approved it, and he was just waiting for Winston to “get off his arse and do the paperwork”.
  9. At this point Peters would have realised it would be a bad look if the public realised Glenn had donated $100,000 to benefit Peters, and he was under consideration for Consul. Plus it undermines their no big donor brand. So he would be worried. But as long as Glenn kept the confidence it was al okay. Only Peters and Henry (and maybe McClay) knew of the donation. The media could guess but could not prove.
  10. But then disaster struck in the form of Dail Jones on 20 February 2008. He revealed to the media that there had been a large mystery donation to NZ First in December 2007 and that it was closer to $100,000 than $10,000. Owen Glenn also refused to rule out donating to NZ First, saying through his PR firm that people should speak to the party. This created huge media interest.
  11. Now people (including me) started adding 2+2 together to get 5, and thought the December 2007 donation was from Owen Glenn. Peters furiously denied it. Peters was right ironically.
  12. Peters was furious as the allegation was wrong. There were two secret donations – not one. And Dail Jones had accidentally come close to exposing both of them. The allegation that the Nov 2007 donation was from Owen Glenn was wrong, but to prove it wrong would have meant revealing the Spencer Trust. No wonder he was furious at Jones (to be fair to Jones he just told the truth and if you run a secret trust without your Party President in the loop, you run the risk he may blunder into it)
  13. Now again at this stage no lies had been told. It was all hypocritical but Peters denials had been correct.
  14. The next day Helen talks to Owen Glenn and he informs her of the donation. She rings Peters and he denies it to her. Now probably in Peters’ mind he did not lie, only deceive. He would have been careful to use language which ruled out a donation to the party or to him, but not to his legal fees.
  15. The fact he doesn’t contact Glenn to ask what this is about, is incidentially proof he obviously knew. If he did not know, he would have asked. Now again at this stage no major lie, just some deception.
  16. On 24 February he does another half lie denying there was any mystery donation at all. In fact there was – from the Spencer Trust. Peters probably justifies this because the Spencer Trust is not a mystery to him, and he knows the $80,000 was made up of individual Vela cheques of $10,000 into the trust, so in his mind there was no big anonymous donation.
  17. On 28 February 2008 we have the infamous “No” press conference. In hindsight this was a fatal mistake. By going so over the top, he cut off his wriggle room for later. He thought he was on safe ground denying Owen Glenn donated to NZ First, but he also said No to Guyon Espiner saying “Can I just clarify with you. Are you saying you have never received one dollar from Owen Glenn or any associate of Owen Glenn” and that was right on the edge of being a lie. The trouble with having a big No prop, is you can’t suddenly stop using it, so he waved the No sign again. A big mistake.
  18. Now at this stage Peters has not told a fully formed lie – many half lies, but he looks to have got away with his denials as no one asked exactly the right question. Again it is because Peters knew exactly what the donation was about, that he could so carefully deny it.
  19. Then in July 2008 someone leaked to Audrey Young the e-mails between Owen Glenn and Steve Fisher where Glenn says “Steve – are you saying I should deny giving a donation to NZ First?? When I did?”. She published these on 12 July 2008.
  20. Peters responds that Glenn did not donate to NZ First. This is technically true. Glenn referred to NZ First when he should have said Winston’s legal bills. Winston is a great nit picker and puts huge reliance on the difference. At this stage again no outright lie from Peters.
  21. But he again becomes his own worst enemy when on 14 July he attacks the NZ Herald can calls on Tim Murphy and Audrey Young to resign. He offers them a look at the party books. He does this because he knew the donation went into Brian Henry’s account. But he is most unfair in attacking the Herald. He knows that email is from Owen Glenn, and they reported it in good faith. It is not the Herald’s fault that Glenn used loose language around his donation. His attack is over the top and Peters at his worst. It is one thing to deny the accuracy of the e-mail by playing semantic games, but it is another thing to try and take the moral high ground as Peters did.
  22. On the 16th of July he again reassures Clark again there has been no donation to NZ First. Still not lying (but certainly deceiving) as the donation was to his legal fees.
  23. Around this time Peters and Henry would be terrified that Glenn will eventually speak to a journalist and reveal details of his donation.  The Herald also prints a further leaked letter from Glenn to Peters and they must wonder what else is still to emerge. I have little doubt phone records will show them in constant communication that week. So they decide to pre-empt it by announcing it on 18 July 2008.
  24. That day Peters’ mother dies. I do not think so badly of them that they choose to announce it that day because of her death. I think they had already decided on that day (Peters had been overseas and they wanted to do it when he was back in NZ) and decided to carry on, even after she died. That’s still pretty low though. With the NZF conference starting the next day they needed to get it out of the way.
  25. Peters and Henry had a big big choice ahead of them. Do they reveal that Peters knew of the donation? They could argue that he had never denied a donation to his legal fees. Technically he had never lied until then – only deceived. But Peters would know that having waved that no sign around at the press conference and called on the Herald staff to resign and apologise, he would get somewhat crucified if he revealed he was playing at semantics and he did know of a donation – but it was to his legal fees, not him or his party (as he saw it). Ironically in hindsight that would have been the path of less pain.
  26. So they made a fatal mistake. They told a bare faced lie. They both did. On 18 July 2008 they announced that Brian Henry only informed him of this at 5 pm that day. Peters explictly said that up until then he had been “unaware of the source of any of the donations for legal expenses”. That was the start of the end. Up until then they were only half lies, or deceptions (in politics there is a difference).
  27. They had to ten resort to further lies, to back up the big lie. How did Henry get in touch with Owen Glenn?  On 20 July they claimed a tip off from someone whose name Henry could not recall, but was not Peters or Mike Williams. Another deception which turned into a lie. They probably mean McClay, and he probably was involved at first but as the e-mails and phone calls prove Peters was in the loop the whole time. It was not a case of McClay or Peters knowing – they both did.
  28. Incidentially on 21 July the Vela donations came to light, but that is a story for another day.
  29. Peters lied again on 25 July when he said in a written statement “The Glenn contribution went to my barrister Brian Henry. As soon as I learned of it I informed the Prime Minister and alerted the media.” Once you tell one lie, you have to keep lying.
  30. Peters and Henry both lied again to the Privileges Committee on 19 August 2008, saying again he never knew of the donation. Note neither of them gave testimony under oath, so they can not be done for perjury.
  31. Henry also claimed on 19 August “I phoned Owen Glenn and he forwarded $100,000 which was paid to me on account of my fees”. This has been proven false. Glenn phoned Peters.
  32. Owen Glenn’s letter was published on 26 August 2008, along with one from Peters’ respomding to it. Peters again lies repeating that he had no knowledge of any donation.
  33. On 28 August Helen Clark reveals she knew back in February 2008 of the donation, from Owen Glenn.
  34. On 4 September another Glenn letter is published. He details the phone call and e-mail. Peter Williams tables a statement claiming Brian Henry spoke to Owen Glenn on two occassions.
  35. On 9 September Glenn testifies and provides proof of the phone call from him to Peters and the e-mail seven minutes later from Brian Henry.
  36. On 10 September, Peters testifies again. Peters admits to conversation with Glenn but denies money discussed.
  37. On 16 September Henry testified again. He admits that the client in the e-mail was Peters but still insists somehow Peters never knew of the donation. Phone records also prove Peters called Henry straight after the Glenn phone call.

I am pretty confident that this is close to what happened. It explains everything. Peters at first did not lie but he then realised he had gone too far in playing semantic games with the media to reveal he knew of a donation to his lawyer. So on 18 July he told a lie. And that one lie on 18 July led to dozens and dozens more lies as they tried to concoct a story about how Glenn could have donated without Peters knowing. I suspect they also exchanged conversations with McClay for conversations with Henry.

The moral of the story is the same as for Richard Nixon – it is the cover-up that gets you in the end!

Yes yes yes yes yes!!

August 27th, 2008 at 11:10 am by David Farrar

Owen Glenn has told the truth in his letter to the Privileges Committee.

Mr Peters sought help from me for this purpose in a personal conversation, some time after I had first met him in Sydney.


I agreed to help in the belief that this step would also assist the Labour Party, in its relationship with Mr Peters. I supported the Labour Party.

Of course having Labour’s major donor fund Winston, helps Labour. This might explain why Labour has been trying so hard to not have the facts come out.

There is a wider issue I will return to about the propeity of Labour’s major donor also donating to Winston’s legal expenses and allegedly attempted to the Maori Party, and the pressure it can put on them to keep Labour in office.

I understand that Mr Henry is Mr Peters’ lawyer. I do not know Mr Henry. I do not believe that we have met. I do not recall that I, or my assistants, had any discussion or communication with Mr Henry other than to receive remittance details.

If Glenn is correct, this means Henry has not told the truth in saying he contacted Owen Glenn and solicted the donation himself.

Mr Peters subsequently met me socially at the Karaka yearling sales, I believe in early 2006. He thanked me for my assistance.

This has Peters dead to rights.

One has to remember that Winston has not just told a minor fib to get out of a situation.  He (if you beleive Glenn) has lied massively and repeatedly to everyone. He feigned outrage at his press conference. He held up the no sign. He demanded Tim Murphy and Audrey Young be sacked for exposing the truth. He defamed them by suggesting they fabricated the e-mail.

I’ll be writing a lot more on this, but for now I just want to say thank God Owen Glenn told the truth, when there would have been huge pressure on him to be evasive or even deceptive. For that alone, he should be made Consul to Monaco 🙂

Savage attack by Peters on Audrey Young

July 14th, 2008 at 7:16 pm by David Farrar

NZPA reports on Winston’s comments at the airport:

Today Mr Peters again said there was no donation.

“I don’t know whether there are any emails at all, whether they’ve been doctored whether they’re in part. I’ve never seen them,” he told reporters.

“The editor of the New Zealand Herald and the Herald journalist Audrey Young can see NZ First’s accounts and talk to our independent auditors, but when they find nothing I want them to both apologise to the public and then resign…

“Don’t you guys get it one of your colleagues is a liar and if she doesn’t like that tell her to sue me.”

In a statement to NZPA, Herald editor Tim Murphy said the paper stood by the story and Young.

“The issue here is simple: Owen Glenn says he donated to New Zealand First. Winston Peters has said and continues to say that Glenn didn’t. The story, based on explicit emails, highlights that gap,” he said.

“The responses by Mr Peters, while strident, do not explain that gap and continue to leave open to interpretation all kinds of possibilities for funding assistance for his party and its interests.

“In the circumstances, we see no value in the offer of examining New Zealand First’s `annual accounts’.”

This is an extraordinary attack on Audrey Young. He seems to be basically accusing her of fabricating or doctoring the e-mails. Now the problem with this theory is what Steve Fisher and Owen Glenn have said:

The Dom Post has comment from Steve Fisher:

Mr Fisher confirmed to The Dominion Post yesterday that he had been in email contact with Mr Glenn in February, though he no longer had copies of those emails.

Advice quoted in the emails was in line with what he been advising Mr Glenn at the time, though he could not recall “the exact wording” and did not know if Mr Glenn had given money to NZ First. He did not know how the e-mails had entered the public arena.

So Fisher is saying the e-mails are in line with his recollection.

And what some have overlooked is Audrey Young actually managed to talk to Owen Glenn on Friday about the e-mails and here is what he said:

Last night, Mr Glenn was in Monaco, and when asked why he had not said in February that he gave money, he said: “I made a decision not to say anything to anybody because there was so much controversy about everything. I was just there to open the business school so I just didn’t want to get caught up in anything … I elected not to say anything.”

So Glenn didn’t use that opportunity to deny the e-mail is authentic or that he donated.

The stakes are very high. Peters has called for the Herald Editor (Tim Murphy) and Political Editor (Audrey Young) to be sacked. But quite what for, I am not sure.