How not to apologise

writes in the Herald:

A source said another option canvassed was the notion of a show in the style ofJono and Ben, or Hard Copy. In this column last week – based on a conversation that looked at the review of Campbell Live, I mistakenly attributed this idea to a TV3 document.

So the column was wrong. So is this an apology for the column being wrong? Nope, don’t apologise – just attack.

My source said this was not the case, but that such ideas had been discussed. responded with vigour, accusing me, and the Herald, of “fabricating” the story. That would be unethical behaviour that I have not been, and will not be, involved in.

“The statement in John Drinnan’s articles in relation to the Jono and Ben show, which is attributed to ‘TV3 bosses’, is a complete fabrication and is not based on fact.

“Jono and Ben has never once been mentioned in any MediaWorks management forum, discussion or document as a possible replacement for Campbell Live.”

While I made, and corrected, an error about where the idea came from – it was actually from a discussion, not in a document as I believed – that statement implies dishonesty. The allegation represents the aggressive approach at MediaWorks since the middle of last year, which a source say represents a paranoia about other media. There is an increasingly tense relationship between that company and NZME., publisher of the Herald, which is a direct competitor with MediaWorks.

So attack Mediaworks for pointing out that the column was wrong.

There is a huge difference between something being in a formal document, and someone saying this came up in a conversation. A world of difference. One is provable, and one is not. A document has been formally signed off by a number of people. A conversation could be a couple of people in the staff room thinking aloud.

The column that stated Mediaworks had a document which proposed possibly replacing Campbell Live with Jono and Ben did huge damage to Mediaworks. They were attacked for it, and ridiculed. Until I read this column today, I did not realise the claim was false. It is a very grudging back down.

When I make mistakes (which can be often), I’ll generally quickly apologise and correct.

I accept that Drinnan made a mistake, and did not deliberately get it wrong. But it was a serious mistake, and as Mediaworks knows for 100% certainty there is no document that mooted Jono & Ben as a replacement, it is no surprise they would denounce a story that claimed there was.

I am a regular reader of John Drinnan’s columns as they often provide great insight into the media, which you don’t get elsewhere. But a media commentator who takes to task other sections of the media when they get it wrong, should perhaps live by the standard they set for others.

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