4th biannual media opinion statistics

This is the fourth set of six monthly data.

Again some notes on the data:

  • It covers six months – from 1 October 2015 to 31 March 2016.
  • It only covers “opinion” columns and editorials. It does not cover news stories. It is designed to shed light on what the newspaper or journalist/columnist thinks – rather than what the story is. Of course it is influenced by the stories of the moment.
  • Data is collated from the and Stuff websites every morning, checking the main pages, news pages, politics pages and opinion pages. It is possible some columns and have been missed if they were not on the websites until later in a day. However if seen on subsequent days they are added to the table.
  • Where a journalist or columnist has done fewer than three columns that reference the Government or political parties, they are not personally included in the six month summary below, but they may be included in summaries over longer time periods.
  • An editorial or column is assessed against whether someone reading it will feel more positive or more negative about the Government/National, Labour, Greens or NZ First.
  • If an editorial or column is not on a political issue, or just talks about an issue in a way that is neither supportive nor critical of a party, then they are not included. This is just an analysis of columns and that are positive or negative for a political party or the Government. This is deliberate, it is about seeing the balance between positive and negative for those that do take a stance.
  • This is not an analysis of bias. This is an analysis of opinion. It is quite legitimate for columnists and to have views that are not split 50/50 between the parties. And it is fair to say one would generally expect an incumbent Government to be criticised more often than it is supported.



Turning first to the of the three metro newspapers (only they were included), the remains the most relentlessly critical of National. Of 30 editorials referencing the Government or National, 25 are critical and only 5 supportive, so 83% negative.

is 80% negative and the Herald is 77% negative in its editorials.

Turning to the columnists, the one who has written the most critical of National remains Brian Rudman with 9 negative and no positives. He is joined by new columnist Raybon Kan with a 0 to 8 record and Jane Bowron also has it 0 to 8. Next in line is Bryan Gould, then Paul Little, Bernard Hickey, Jane Kelsey, Claire Trevett and Chris Trotter.

The media have a large number of columnists who do nothing but rage against National. By contrast there are no columnists who go the other way.

Of those with a mixture of positive and negative, Duncan Garner is 88% negative, Fran O’Sullivan 86%, Vernon Small 83%, Barry Soper 83%, Stacey Kirk 80%, Rodney Hide 80%, Audrey Young 80%, 67% and Lizzie Marvelly 67%.

Combining columns and editorials, the Herald website is 85% negative and 15% positive in its opinion, while Stuff is 84% negative and 16% positive.

The overall proportion negative on National for each six month period has been:

  • Mar 15: 83%
  • Sep 15: 79%
  • Mar 16: 67%
  • Sep 16: 84%

So the last six months has been profoundly negative in the opinion columns and editorial lines.



Turning to coverage of Labour they have received much better coverage in the last six months, with 45% of columns and positive compared to 33% the previous six months.

The most negative columnists are and Rodney Hide.

The overall proportion negative on Labour for each six month period has been:

  • Mar 15: 42%
  • Sep 15: 77%
  • Mar 16: 67%
  • Sep 16: 55%


Turning to the Greens, they have five positive and four negative. So 56% positive.

NZ First

NZ First have had six positive and three negative. So 67% positive.

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