MediaDoesn’tWorks

It sounds like problems are escalating for MediaWorks following Hilary Barry’s resignation.

The Spinoff reports Coup on at MediaWorks?

In the aftermath of news of Hilary Barry’s shock resignation on Friday, The Spinoff understands insurrection is in the air at MediaWorks. Executives, senior staff and on-air talent are said to be furious with the company’s embattled CEO, Mark Weldon, and are planning a series of individual actions being referred to by some as ‘operation take him out’.

“There is a threat of mass resignations across TV and Radio, not just news,” said a senior Mediaworks source. “If there are no actions by the Board in the next 48 hours then resignations at the executive level – and throughout the rest of the company – are expected within days.”

While there have been rumblings from MediaWorks for a long time, Barry’s resignation is being seen by a number of key staff as a bridge too far. A senior source says the problem is company-wide – contrary to the idea dissatisfaction is isolated to the newsroom – and that Weldon has lost the confidence of a number of members of the executive.

“Company leaders are very anxious and unhappy about the way he handled Hilary’s resignation,” another senior MediaWorks figure says. “There’s been concerns about his leadership for a while – but this feels like a tipping point.”

The stage is now set for an explosive board meeting, scheduled for today, featuring two new members who have recently joined the tight four-person board.

A number of senior staff are said to be waiting on the outcome of that meeting to determine their course of action. Anything short of Weldon’s resignation will likely be viewed as an inadequate response to their concerns.

This is shaping up as a major disaster for MediaWorks.

Details of their recent problems in When the news reader is the news.

While Barry is seen as just a news reader by some – and many, especially younger people, are probably barely aware or unaware of who she is – this is a major loss of prestige by MediaWorks.

And the damage to the morale of remaining staff seems to be plummeting. This could be difficult for MediaWorks to recover from, especially the Newshub television bit.

Ironically Weldon was allegedly critical of MediaWorks’ legendarily low staff turnover on arrival: “There’s not enough new blood,” he is said to have told members of the executive. That is one problem he seems to have solved.

Our sources allege that turnover has soared to between 20 and 30 per cent under his watch, with Stuff citing “hundreds of redundancies and resignations”. This has lead to retention and recruitment becoming a far more arduous and expensive task company-wide – a bitter blow for an organisation that was once the most coveted employer in the industry for on and off-air talent.

There seem to be plenty of sources prepared to let rip at the moment.

Weldon has what was described to the The Spinoff as a suspicious nature. It wasn’t always justified. “When he arrived, everybody did have an open mind,” a Mediaworks insider said.

Now, the same source says, he’s absolutely right to be paranoid – senior staff really are out to get him.

Not a happy place.

 

 

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15 Comments

  1. It’s not as if there are hundreds of jobs out there. Who is going to absorb the Rats as they desert the ship for pity’s sake , Freed? Spin off?? There’s really only TVNZ, Radio NZ and a couple of other radio platforms. I’m sure people are very proprietorial about their jobs at the competition.

    • Gezza

       /  2nd May 2016

      Sounds like a whispering campaign and action by the Board might be the way it goes.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  2nd May 2016

        I would presume the major shareholder will deal with it purely from a commercial perspective and the Board will act accordingly.

        • Gezza

           /  2nd May 2016

          I didn’t mean the two would be connected.

          The stage is now set for an explosive board meeting, scheduled for today, featuring two new members who have recently joined the tight four-person board.
          A number of senior staff are said to be waiting on the outcome of that meeting to determine their course of action. Anything short of Weldon’s resignation will likely be viewed as an inadequate response to their concerns.

          Guess we’ll know more tonight or tomorrow morning.

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  2nd May 2016

    Interesting. Weldon was rather controversial at NZX too. Seems to be a bit too full of himself for his own good.

    • Joe Bloggs

       /  2nd May 2016

      Agreed. He comes across as having mastered the art of self-promotion. I’ll always remember Cactus Kate’s comment from a couple of years ago:

      “Mediaworks currently does not employ anyone on your television or radio with a larger ego than Weldon. Even Willie Jackson, Sean Plunket and Duncan Garner combined can’t compete”

      • There’s trouble at mill. I’m not privy to anything, but that HB was allegedly on 500k is unbelievable. If I was a boss charged with restructuring I’d be wondering at that salary and bang for buck. Getting rid of a long termer on that ridiculous sort of salary is two things. It’s 5 for 1 cheaper and it encourages aspirants to be less demanding (position over salary. There’s also the story he’s on record as wanting to invigorate the team and a higher turnover keeps people on their toes.

        • Klik Bate

           /  2nd May 2016

          Quite right there Trav. When you’re running any sort of business that employs staff, you must always work on the basis that no one is indispensable.

          • Quite right. When you’re running any sort of business that employs staff, you must always work on the basis that staff are dispensable …

            I reckon people will generally fall in love – or whatever it is they do – with whoever they see on TV or hear on radio, provided the ‘media personality’ is reasonably competent and vaguely attractive (if seen). The ‘celebrity’ phenomenon has always been a mystery to me. There’s any number of young graduates or ‘journeyman’ journos who could fill Barry’s shoes for a fraction of the money. Although, having said that, they’d have to be able to work with Paul Henry, which probably narrows the field down to one or two?

            The question for me is more along the lines of – To what extent do people want the media to reflect some sort of stability in their lives? If as I suspect this is the case, the constant turnover of staff and general instability of contemporary media is somewhat problematic, governed as the media are by ‘market forces’ which may not be as suitable in the ‘public domain’ as they are in say a private or lower profile manufacturing or processing industry? MediaWorks does more than just ‘process information’ surely? I refer to the greater role of the Fourth Estate.

            I know I’m not making myself clear but at least I know what I mean. The media, which almost have an ‘obligation’ to be level-headed, impartial, stable … have become frenzied, slanted and crazed … in almost every way …

            Signed, Not Ingham …

        • jamie

           /  2nd May 2016

          $500k does seem like a lot. I wonder what sort of wicket Paul Henry is on then.

      • If there s anyone who knows about self-promotion it is Cactus Kate 😉

        • Joe Bloggs

           /  2nd May 2016

          Aye, and that makes her uniquely qualified to comment to Weldo too… 😀

          • Joe Bloggs

             /  2nd May 2016

            Arghh….uniquely qualified to comment on Weldon… Roll out an editing function some time soon huh, Pete?

        • Blazer

           /  2nd May 2016

          has been keeping a very low profile of late…in fact has been deleting her ‘work’ on the internet for some time.

  3. If one looks at the sort of jobs the National Government have given to Weldon over the years, and the results achieved by his interventions, I reckon it is too soon to make a judgement about what he may or may not achieve with Media Works. For instance, if he has been placed there to “balance” the Left’s control of the media, then that is one thing. But I believe he has been put there on the grounds of reshaping the business into an efficient and effective organisation?