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.

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.

 

 

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.

HilaryBarryonHenry

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.

Mark Weldon, Medaworks, Campbell Live, John Key

Highlighting some interesting things in relation to the reported ‘review’ of Campbell Live by MediaWorks, and especially about the relationship between Mark Weldon and John Key.

Curious to see Rex Widerstrom do a guest post at The Daily Blog. In the past this sort of post would probably have been reposted at The Standard, but Prentice and Bradbury are feuding. As it’s done it’s dash at TDB It’s worth a repost here.

Rex Widerstrom – Thirteen things you (probably) didn’t know about Mark Weldon (CEO of Mediaworks)

1: He’s the man John Key picked to chair the “Summit on Employment” in 2009
http://pundit.co.nz/content/the-weldon-factor

2: He’s also the man John Key picked to lead The Christchurch Earthquake Appeal
http://www.johnkey.co.nz/archives/1162-Mark-Weldon-to-lead-Govt-Appeal.html

3: He’s also the man who used that position to breach the Bill of Rights Act and force “the advancement of religion” into the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust’s constitution.
http://norightturn.blogspot.co.nz/2011/03/against-government-promotion-of.html
http://norightturn.blogspot.co.nz/2011/03/against-government-promotion-of_18.html

4: And he’s the man Cameron Slater (Whaleoil) characterises as “allegedly a friend of John Key”
http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2012/05/what-the-national-party-needs-now/

5: Slater also asked on October 15 last year “Who will be the first (of many) casualties under Mark “I’m the boss” Weldon at Mediaworks?” with one commenter on that story saying “The man is a tyrant who doesn’t play nicely with others. Frankly, I love the idea of Weldon and John Campbell having to work together …”
http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2014/10/earth-happening-inside-mediaworks/

6: He’s also the man whom insiders were picking as a potential National Party candidate for the safe seat of Tamaki.
http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2011/10/weldon-for-tamaki/

7: And he’s a man who praised John Key’s program of asset sales announced in 2011 as “bold, it was clear, it was early – and very positive…” and called those who were cautious about it “fearmongering”. That’s the same assets sales program that had to be drastically cut back and became something of an embarrassment to the government.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/4595769/Key-gambles-on-privatisation

8: He’s the man who made a substantial personal gain ($6 million) as a result of Key’s asset sales announcement.
http://werewolf.co.nz/2011/09/ten-myths-about-asset-sales/

9: He’s also the man who, as CEO of the NZX, characterised those who voiced concerns about aspects of the Exchange’s operations as mentally ill.
http://www.odt.co.nz/news/business/57590/weldon-building-something-empire

10: He’s the man who’s already got rid of two of Mediaworks’s main financial watchdogs – chief financial officer Peter Crossan and company secretary and lawyer Claire Bradley.
MediaWorks parts with more executives

11: He’s the man of whom blogger Cactus Kate (business lawyer and commentator Cathy Odgers) noted “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” and that “NZX was the greatest reality soap opera in town under Weldon’s leadership, the casting couch of characters was enormous as disgruntled staff left and new bright eyed disciples were employed”.
http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2014/08/mediaworks-chopped-sold-bits/

12: He’s the man Odgers also described (in a blog post now deleted by referenced by another, also right wing, blogger) as a “weasel word corporate-welfared CEO…” and a “shallow self-promoting tool”.
http://pc.blogspot.co.nz/2011/08/just-like-self-promoting-shallow-tools.html

13: He’s the man who said there was no conflict of interest in allowing the NZX to be the provider of NZX services, the supervisor of its members, a listed participant on its own exchange and the market regulator… a statement one broker described as “utter balderdash”.
http://www.chrislee.co.nz/newsletter/display.php?list=2&year=2012&month=May

WeldonKeyWeldon was also appointed by Key, or one of his Ministers, the Capital Markets Development Taskforce in 2009/10; the Tax Working Group in 2009; and the Climate Change Leadership Forum in 2007.

Key gave him a QSO in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Now remember that Slater, Odgers and Cresswell are all considered right wingers. They’re certainly not the type of people who’d be found cheering John Campbell’s advocacy journalism on behalf of the less fortunate.

Generally, you might expect them to be quite supportive of a man with Weldon’s background who’s chaired the NZX and is friends with the Leader of the National Party.

So, you be the judge… is the move to axe Campbell Live motivated by ratings (it’s not advertising revenue, as advertisers strongly support the show) or by something else altogether?

– Rex Widerstrom, as posted at The Daily Blog, with functional links located and added.

Trinder’s Key/Campbell conspiracy

Mana News editor Joe Trinder has made some ‘claims in Key: I want that left wing bastard gone:

Last year Prime Minister John Key and Mark Weldon had a phone conversation in regards to John Campbell.  Mr Key was overheard saying “I want that left wing bastard gone”. The prime minister had insidiously conspired with Mark Weldon to end John Campbell’s broadcasting career and have Campbell live taken off the air.

That someone overheard a phone conversation between between John Key and Mark Weldon is a bit of an odd claim. There must be some evidence. Or at least a credible witness.

Mark Weldon’s crony appointment as the CEO of media works was made by John Key.

That’s just as bizarre. Mediaworks is a privately owned company and I’m not aware of any evidence that Key has any financial or management connection.

After the Campbell live exposed the exploitative Zero Hours contracts a letter was sent from Burger King to Campbell live and Mark Weldon was mysteriously CC’d into the email.  The email was from someone at Burger King who obviously has a relationship with Mark Weldon. Burger King has used its influence to help terminate the  Campbell Live show.

Another weird claim with no evidence.

The decision was made by the National party caucus with strong influence from former radio works CEO MP Steven Joyce. This is another attempt by the National government to control the media and any criticism of its policies.

So the National caucus is ion the board of directors of Mediaworks? Yeah right.

So where is the evidence? Trinder appears to have been asked on Facebook:

TrinderEvidence

This is one of the dumbest attempts at a political hit job I’ve seen. Winston Peters might get away with this sort of thing but Trinder’s trash talk has even been treated with dismay at The Standard – I want that left wing bastard gone – why ‘Notices and Features’ wanted to associate The Standard with this is, ah, interesting.

But maybe not surprising, given this comment from Te Reo Putake:

Well, this is rubbish, isn’t it? I’m reminded about the discussion here on the weekend about corruption. The takeaway from that chat is that whenever the left makes overblown and unprovable allegations like this, we look weak and it makes the right stronger.

I agree, it does look like rubbish, especially after Trinder’s ‘prove me wrong’ response. It’s ironic that Putake can see rubbish claims from others but is oblivious to his own – unless of course he does it deliberately.

I don’t agree that this makes ‘the right’ stronger.

But overblown and unprovable allegations that are rife on the left do make them look like wallies – in this instance at Mana News and at The Standard.

Trinder is a unionist and socialist who stood for Mana in Manukau East last election.

And is a wishful thinker.

 So, you’re the liberal equivalent of Whale Oil, and post whatever you want with no evidence or actual facts to support?

No I protect my sources I leave it to the Mainstream media to investigate to prove me wrong.

So far the media don’t appear to have picked up on Trinder’s lame attempt at dirty politics.