Tame Barry versus Henry Henry Henry

This morning TV One will have a new look as far as presenters go, with Hilary Barry and Jack Tame taking over. A while ago Barry was newsreading on Newshub and trying to soften Paul Henry’s look on TV3’s morning programme.

I don’t watch ‘the Henry show with a bit of news’ unless there’s something of particular interest on (I watch Twitter to see what’s coming up) because I find him distracting, too opinionated and too disrespectful of the opinions of others.

I generally liked Barry’s presentation in the past because she was unobtrusive, as I think any news presenter should be. I’ll see how she goes when she is the focal point of a morning ‘show’.

So for morning news and associated fluff we now have Tame Barry versus Henry Henry this is all about me Henry.


Weldon: done, or done in?

Mark Weldon resigned as CEO from MediaWorks today. There seems to have been as much online interest in this as there was for Hilary Barry’s resignation a few days ago.

Barry certainly seemed interested, seen going into the office with a half dozen box of Moet after Weldon’s announcement.

What is not clear (and may never be clear) is whether Weldon had done his required job – get rid if high paid media presenters like Barry and John Campbell – or if he was done in by the MediaWorks board dismayed with the havoc he wrought.

Duncan Grieve at The Spinoff “looks back at the brief and blighted Mark Weldon era at MediaWorks” in What Mark Weldon never understood about TV3.

The resignations of first Jennings and then Barry this year were ample evidence that you cannot remove one cog and expect the others to keep on whirring away as they did before. Newsrooms, like all work environments, are an ecosystem – one that breaks down if subjected to change on a swift and seemingly callous basis.

This then, was Weldon’s chief failing: that he didn’t understand either the value of news to TV3, or the importance of relationships within the whole organisation. The channel was always the plucky upstart, its culture the stuff of legend. But as waves of those who had made it so departed, at every level of the business, so that culture eroded even as flash new studios were built and new brands pioneered. And if the public hates your channel for what you’ve done to its longstanding faces, they’re going to struggle to get excited about your reality shows and your radio stations.

Does this really matter?

In one way probably not much. More and more people are deserting old fashioned repackaged media.

But if it further depletes serious news coverage then we all suffer to an extent, whether we listen to their talking heads and watch their news shows or not.

Embarrassing error

On Saturday NZ Herald reported an embarrassing error:

MediaWorks CEO Mark Weldon’s embarrassing error when announcing Hilary Barry’s departure

In what might be considered as adding salt to the wound, the head of MediaWorks has made an embarrassing gaffe in an email to staff – in which he wrongly spelled Hilary Barry’s name.

Chief executive Mark Weldon, currently overseas, sent an internal email today, following Barry’s shock resignation this week.

In the subject line was simply: “Hillary Barry” – showcasing an extra L in her first name.

Today NZ Herald must have had different editorial staff on. They reported:

Senior MediaWorks staff ready to revolt following Hillary Barry’s resignation

They have since corrected this error here but they had also repeated it on Twitter:


That must have been a bit embarrassing.


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.



When the news reader is the news

It’s not unusual for news readers and television presenters and especially political reporters/repeaters to appear to think their profile and influence are at least as significant as the news they share.

I think Hilary Barry was an exception, she was generally a professional, pleasant, unobtrusive news anchor. That’s before she joined Paul Henry anyway.

But the rest of New Zealand’s media has put her at the top of the news for several days now – they seem to like promoting stories about their own (with some notable exceptions where they bury awkward inside-media information).

Her resignation from MediaWorks is an NZ Herald headline today (the Herald and NZME are competitors of MediaWorks).

Source: Why Hilary really left TV3

Popular presenter’s departure from network follows string of exits of long-serving and respected colleagues.

The shock departure of TV3 star Hilary Barry is down to “the Axe-Factor” rather than lucrative offers of work elsewhere, a trusted associate says.

The camaraderie and esprit de corps of the channel’s news team kept Barry in place when she could have gone elsewhere, the source revealed.

Her departure after 23 years follows the loss of some of the channel’s longest-serving staff – and the associate says many of the reasons for Barry’s long-time loyalty have already left the broadcaster. “She has watched as key journalists, presenters and teams of people she respected and admired [have been] axed, pushed or resigned because their jobs had become untenable.”

This isn’t even news, it’s been talked about online since Barry’s resignation announcement on Friday. But David Fisher provides some more details. And he lists the notable losses from MediaWorks over the past few months.

The “Axe Factor”

  • Hilary Barry, news anchor
  • John Campbell, Campbell Live
  • Carolyn Robinson, news reader
  • Hamish McKay, sports presenter
  • Mark Jennings, head of news
  • Terrence Taylor, current affairs editor
  • John Hale, 6pm news producer
  • Pip Keane, Campbell Live producer
  • Paula Penfold, 3D journalist
  • Melanie Reid, 3D journalist

That’s a fairly damning list. CEO Mark Weldon is either doing what was required of him, or his position must be under considerable pressure.

Meanwhile Barry has to work out her notice on the Paul Henry Show. She looked quite tired and things seemed a bit tense when they went on air at 6 am.


In other news…a bit of sport from the weekend and a few bits and bobs carried over from last week.

Oh, and NZ Herald filed their story about the news reader under  ‘Entertainment’. That probably says more about the status of news in the media these days than details of Barry’s resignation.

Weldon and Ralston on Barry’s resignation

The official word from MediaWorks boss Mark Weldon on Hillary Barry’s resignation:

“On behalf of MediaWorks, I want to thank and pay tribute to Hilary. She is a brilliant broadcaster, highly respected journalist and much-loved personality, who will be missed by myself, colleagues and audiences.

“She started with TV3 as a news reporter in Christchurch in 1993 and has become one of New Zealand’s favourite personalities on television and radio.
“This was a personal decision made by Hilary. We are disappointed to lose her but also acknowledge that, after 23 years, it’s very reasonable she might wish to make a change. So, we respect her decision, thank her for her enormous contribution, and wish her the very best.

“She leaves the company on a high, with Paul Henry and Newshub Live at 6pm both performing extremely well.”

Time will tell whether they continue to perform as well without Hilary.

NBR quotes Bill Ralston on the resignation:

Former TVNZ head of news and current affairs Bill Ralston tells NBR that Ms Barry’s departure “Is going to have a huge impact. She’s a superb talent. Probably one of the best newsreaders in the country if not the best and it’s a massive blow.”

He adds, “She’s the old TV3. She’s lost Mark Jennings who was her boss and a mentor. She’s lost a lot of friends from the current affairs show [3D] that basically got sacked. John Campbell, she was cut up about that when he went; I think she’d just had enough.”

This is from Speculation over Hilary Barry’s next move

Could Ms Barry turn up at TVNZ?

“I wouldn’t be surprised, but it’s a matter of where they put her,” Mr Ralston says.

“If they put her into the six o’clock news, that means they have to move Wendy Petrie and we could have a replay of the John Hawkesby thing. They could have her on the weekends as a way of easing her in.”

Who could replace Ms Barry on TV3 and RadioLive?

“Only Heather du Plessis-Allan,” Mr Ralson says.

“And that would leave a big hole in their seven o’clock show. So they’ve got a real problem there. They’ve got other news readers, but no one of her stature — and I mean that kindly, because they’ve got some good young news readers – but there’s no one of her stature to replace her from within.

“From without, I’m scratching my head to think who they could bring in.”

Why is news presentation apparently so reliant on the newsreaders? Should a change of newsreader matter?

The thing I liked about Barry was she was relatively unobtrusive and didn’t appear ego driven or self opinionated.

It shouldn’t matter that Barry is going from Newshub and from the Paul Henry Show.

What will matter (for Newshub) is who she is replaced with.

du Plessis-Allan is someone who likes to be more prominent in her presentations, she would have to learn to not be the focus of the news, as would anyone who replaces Hilary.

UPDATE: Duncan Grieve at The Spinoff on Why Hilary Barry’s resignation is the climax of TV3’s red wedding

The shock resignation of Hilary Barry from Mediaworks represents a bigger blow than any of the other high profile TV3 newsroom departures, says Duncan Greive.

Last night, just before 9pm, news broke that Hilary Barry had become the latest and biggest casualty of the Mark Weldon era at Mediaworks. It’s a cataclysmic event for the organisation, a multi-pronged nightmare with implications stretching from dawn to dusk and across all platforms.

Barry is the most universally beloved figure in New Zealand television, a woman who managed to embody everything TV3’s brand once stood for – smart, funny and relatable in a way that TVNZ’s slightly aloof figures have struggled to match.

Yet if the rumours of her recruitment to One are true – and it seems near-certain – then this is one of the most audacious and admirably ruthless coups in recent broadcast history.

Barry quits, Henry speechless

Hilary Barry has quit TV3/Newshub/Mediaworks/whatever. Paul Henry was reported to be “momentarily speechless” when asked to comment.

Far from speechless are all the people talking about this on Twitter.

This will be a big loss to the struggling Mediaworks. Barry was one of the best more often than not.

Perhaps she was trying to do too much and was burnt out – starting early for a 6 am on air start and also anchoring the 6 pm news made each day a long day for her.

Maybe she has just had enough. Whatever, she’s a loss to broadcasting, unless the rumour that she is jumping to TVNZ is true. I don’t know how she will fit in there.

Sad face of politics

One of the things I like least about politics is seeing politicians humiliated and having to deal with it in a very public glare, regardless of the reasons for their fall. It’s a sad face of politics.

Associated with this is a distaste for the glee and smugness of opponents, journalists and people in social media at the misfortunes and embarrassment.

We’re getting a double does of all this at the moment with Judith Collins and Maurice Williamson. Both are largely responsible for their situations, but I wonder how much of that is due to missteps and how much is misfortune. Most politicians would struggle to maintain perfect records and most would  have difficulty dealing with the degree of scrutiny they receive.

Holding to account by opposition politicians is an important part of democracy. The degree to which some politicians and their staff go to destroy careers regardless of the relative seriousness of circumstances is not pretty. Winston Peters has a long history of dishing out dirt and rubbing it in, or trying to.

In Collins’ case an otherwise decent looking man, Grant Robertson, seems to be revelling in the ritual burning of a witch as the culmination of what at times looks more witch hunt than holding to account. I wonder how he feels when he reflects on the carnage. If he reflects.

Many people in social media, especially those who are anonymous/pseudonymous, enjoy putting the boot in. Abusing, discrediting, lying seem to be the main online occupation of some. So it’s not surprising to see applause, derision and ongoing hostility when a victim succumbs to the pressures of their job.

(For the record I have not liked the bloodsport part of politics no matter what party or leaning the political victims belonged and I have spoken against the excesses for years.)

Journalists are major players in the holding to account. When they smell political blood they can be relentless, merciless. I guess they have to be.

Some of them seem to really enjoy it when they claim a victim. To some it seems to be just business as usual. But it can be surprising and disconcerting to see some of the gloating.

One image that stood out for me last night was on 3 News last night when Patrick Gower was discussing Collins and Williamson with Hilary Barry.

Gower has a record of being a media hound with fangs. His self congratulatory look of satisfaction is normal. It was very ironic of Gower to blog:

Collins’ gutter politics a liability for Key

Judith Collins is engaging in gutter politics and John Key has let her off with a slap on the wrist with a wet Oravida donation receipt.

Gower in Parliament

While Collins was totally out of order with her attack on Katie Bradford gutter journalism jumped out at me from that comment. Collins overstepped once, journalists often test the limits of the footpath they tread on.

What stood out though was Barry, who normally anchors 3 News with decency and usually looks reasonable and nice, rubbing her hands together and appearing to celebrate the political discomfort with glee.

Gower and BarryJudith Collins says apology was ‘genuine’

Barry seemed very happy with the story they were able to tell. To me it was a very sad face of politics.