Media agreement on coverage of Tarrant trial

David posted this comment:

Kiwiblog also covers this. Its an outrage that the press has self censored itself as a collective with the government complicit.

“The Kiwi editors don’t appear to trust their readers and viewers to handle the difficult and disturbing material that’s sure to billow out of the Tarrant trial. They regard New Zealanders as children who must be sheltered from the heinous and despicable lest they become tainted with its influence.”

Its worth reading the story from an outsiders point and shines a light on the paternalistic overview that our “betters” in the media exhibit. I would like to see full coverage without sensationalizing the bits that irresponsible media usually do, I want the different perspectives of a varied and uncensored free press usually give. And its appalling that the government and the press think that if we hear what this loon says we will see it as a call to arms. Bloody ridiculous.

Here are the “agreed editorial guidelines” – Reporting the Trial of Brenton Tarrant

[1 May 2019]

Senior editors of the major accredited news media companies in New Zealand (TVNZ, Stuff, Mediaworks, NZME and RNZ) have committed to a united approach in reporting the trial of Brenton Tarrant following the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch on Friday, 15 March, 2019. The group of editors, representing the New Zealand Media Freedom Committee, has agreed a set of protocols to ensure that the outlets they represent cover the upcoming trial comprehensively and responsibly.

A group statement and a copy of the agreed editorial guidelines is attached for your information.

Requests for further information or comment should be directed to the respective media organisations.



We are the senior editors representing the major accredited news media companies in New Zealand (TVNZ, Stuff, Mediaworks, NZME and RNZ).

As a group and as individual editors we are committed to ensuring the outlets we represent cover the upcoming trial of Brenton Tarrant comprehensively and responsibly.

We have agreed to abide by these guidelines throughout the trial.

Brenton Harrison Tarrant is charged with 50 counts of murder and 39 charges of attempted murder relating to shootings carried out at two mosques in Christchurch on Friday, 15 March, 2019.

Victims of the terror attack include citizens of twelve different countries.

We represent accredited New Zealand media organisations that plan to attend the trial and associated proceedings for the purposes of reportage.

As editors we are mindful of the public interest in the trial, in New Zealand and internationally.

We are also mindful of our role as the “eyes and ears of the public” in the context of court reporting. In this instance, we acknowledge the particular importance of this function, given the many victims’ friends and families outside New Zealand who may otherwise be unable to engage in the trial process.

We are aware that the accused may attempt to use the trial as a platform to amplify white supremacist and/or terrorist views or ideology.

We agree that the following Protocol will apply to our outlets’ coverage and reportage of the trial:

(a) We shall, to the extent that is compatible with the principles of open justice, limit any coverage of statements, that actively champion white supremacist or terrorist ideology.
(b) For the avoidance of doubt the commitment set out at (a) shall include the accused’s manifesto document “The Great Replacement”.
(c) We will not broadcast or report on any message, imagery, symbols or signals (including hand signals) made by the accused or his associates promoting or supporting white supremacist ideology.
(d) Where the inclusion of such signals in any images is unavoidable, the relevant parts of the image shall be pixellated.
(e) To the greatest extent possible, the journalists that are selected by each of the outlets to cover the trial will be experienced personnel.
(f) These guidelines may be varied at any time, subject to a variation signed by all parties.
(g) This Protocol shall continue in force indefinitely.

Miriyana Alexander (NZME and chair of the Media Freedom Committee)
John Gillespie (TVNZ)
Shayne Currie (NZME)
Mark Stevens (Stuff)
Paul Thompson (RNZ)
Hal Crawford (Mediaworks)

This is an unusual approach for what is an extraordinary situation.

Media always make judgements about what court cases they will report on and what they will report. What is different here is agreement between all the major media organisations.

Thins could change if circumstances change – “These guidelines may be varied at any time, subject to a variation signed by all parties.”

Dumbed down news and shallow opinionating by celebrities

We all know how dumbed down the news has become, how sound bite and click bait and chat show dominated it has become. Pablo at Politico is scathing of it in detail, particularly the shallowness of editorial and opinion writing,  in Peddling drivel.

Over the last decade or so there has been a pernicious two-track trend in NZ media that has not only resulted in the dumbing down of the “news” and public discourse in general, but the substitution of informed and considered debate by shallow opinionating by celebrities and charlatans.

The ‘celebrities’ are often self made media marketing constructs.

In NZ the two big players are Mediaworks and NZME. The former controls TV3, Radiolive and various pop culture radio stations. NZME controls Newstalk ZB, the NZ Herald and various pop culture outlets. It has connections to TV One (at least when it comes to newsreaders), while the Mediaworks TV News platforms appears to episodically share personnel with Prime News. Fairfax Media is also in the mix, holding a portfolio of print and digital vehicles.

Because the NZ media market is small and saturated, the “race to the bottom” logic for getting readers/viewers/listeners in a shrinking print advertising market is akin to the “bums in seats” mentality that pushes academic administrators to demand easing up of marking standards in university courses.

Although in the latter instance this creates a syndrome where unqualified people are admitted, passed and receive undeserved (and hence meaningless) degrees, in the media realm this means that scandal, gossip, “human interest” and other types of salacious, morbid, tragic and otherwise crude and vulgar material (think of terrorism porn and other prurient non-news) have come to dominate the so-called news cycle.

This is accelerated by the presence of social media and 24 hours global news networks, which makes the push for original content that attracts audiences and therefore advertising revenues increasingly focused on sensational headline grabbing rather than in-depth consideration of complex themes.

In the editorial opinion field what we are increasingly subject to is the often inane and mendacious ruminations of celebrities, “lifestyle’ gurus  or media conglomerate “properties” who are used to cross-pollinate across platforms using their status on one to heighten interest in another.

That squeezes out op-ed room for serious people discussing subjects within their fields of expertise. What results is that what should be the most august pages in a newspaper are given over to gossipy nonsense and superficial “analyses” of current events.

It must be what people click on so they keep[ getting bombarded with it.

…The Herald also offers us the received (and sponsored) wisdom of lifestyle bloggers  (“how to have the best sex at 60!”) and buffoons such as the U Auckland business lecturer who poses as a counter-terrorism expert (she of the advice that we search every one’s bags as the enter NZ shopping malls and put concrete bollards in front of mall entrances), gives cutesy pie names to the (often sponsored) by-lines of real scientists (the so-called “Nanogirl,” who now comments on subjects unrelated to her fields of expertise) or allows people with zero practical experience in any given field to pontificate on them as if they did (like the law professor who has transformed himself into a media counter-terrorism and foreign policy “expert”).

That extended sentence oozes personal angst – Pablo is a real media counter-terrorism and foreign policy, who one might presume doesn’t get called on by media much to share his expertise.

The pattern of giving TV newsreaders, radio talking heads and assorted media “personalities”  column inches on the newspaper op ed pages has been around for a while but now appears to be the dominant form of commentary. Let us be clear: the media conglomerates want us to believe that the likes of Hoskings and Hawkesby are public intellectuals rather than opinionated mynahs–or does anyone still believe that there is an original thought between them?

The only other plausible explanation is that the daily belching of these two and other similar personages across media platforms is an elaborate piss-take on the part of media overlords that have utter contempt for the public’s intelligence.

I think that a significant part of it is that intelligence isn’t the target market. People who don’t see things critically. and don’t think much about what is shovelled in front of them, are more susceptible to being sucked in by all the advertising.

The evening TV news and weekend public affairs shows are still run as journalistic enterprises, but the morning and evening public affairs programs are no longer close to being so. “Human interest” (read: tabloid trash) stories predominate over serious subjects.

The Mediaworks platforms are particularly egregious, with the morning program looking like it was pulled out of a Miami Vice discard yard and staffed by two long-time newsreaders joined by a misogynistic barking fool, all wearing pancake makeup that borders on clownish in effect.

Its rival on state television has grown softer over the years, to the point that in its latest incarnation it has given up on having its female lead come from a journalistic background and has her male counterparts engaging as much in banter as they are discussing the news of the day.

The TV3 evening show features a pretty weathergirl and a slow-witted, unfunny comedian as part of their front-line ensemble, with a rotating cast of B-list celebrities, politicians and attention-seekers engaging in yuk yuk fests interspersed with episodic discussion of real news.

Its competitor on TV One has been re-jigged but in recent years has been the domain of–you guessed it–that NZME male radio personality and an amicable NZME female counterpart, something that continues with its new lineup where a male rock radio jock/media prankster has joined a well-known TV mother figure to discuss whatever was in the headlines the previous morning.

What is noteworthy is that these shows showcase the editorial opinions of the “properties” on display, leaving little room for and no right of rebuttal to those who have actual knowledge of the subjects in question.

They are largely talk shows promoting ‘personalities’/properties, using selected news as props.

These media “properties” are paid by the parent companies no matter what they do.

It’s part of their job description. There is nothing on the line but ratings and future employment negotiations.

Non-affiliated people who submit op ed pieces to newspapers are regularly told that there is no pay for their publication (or are made to jump through hoops to secure payment).  That means that the opinion pages  are dominated by salaried media personalities or people who will share their opinions for free. This was not always the case, with payments for opinion pieces being a global industry norm.

But in the current media environment “brand” exposure is said to suffice as reward for getting published, something that pushes attention-seekers to the fore while sidelining thoughtful minds interested in contributing to public debate but uninterested in doing so for nothing. The same applies to television and radio–if one is not a “property,” it is virtually impossible to convince stations to pay for informed commentary.

Should expert analysis of news and current affairs be a paid for commodity? That risks getting the opinions of the lowest bidders.

…people of erudition and depth are increasingly the exception to the rule in the mass media, with the  editorial landscape now populated in its majority by “properties” and other (often self-promoting) personality “opinionators” rather than people who truly know what they are talking about.

Rather than a sounding board for an eclectic lineup of informed opinion, editorial pages are now increasingly used as megaphones to broadcast predictably well-known ideological positions with little intellectual grounding in the subjects being discussed.

I thought that editorials were either the opinion of the editor, or more commonly a composite opinion of the editorial board or team. Has that changed?

With over-enrolled journalism schools churning out dozens of graduates yearly, that leaves little entry room and few career options for serious reporters. The rush is on to be telegenic and glib, so the trend looks set to continue.

Style over substance, with new recruits being a lot cheaper than seasoned old hacks. With radio and print media branching out into video presentations, and with the multi-tasking across platforms of the personality properties, and with the continued fragmentation of media, this is likely to continue.

This is not just an indictment of the mass media and those who run and profit from it. It undermines the ability of an educated population to make informed decisions on matters of public import, or at least have informed input into the critical issues of the day.

Perhaps that is exactly what the media and political elites intend.

I don’t think it’s a plot involving media and politicians, it just suits both their aims to dumb things down.

Most of it revolves around marketing. They are selling sound bites and trivial entertainment in order to buy business or votes.

Modern capitalism doesn’t work well with news telling or informing democratic choices.

Paul Henry no show?

MediaWorks is trying to avoid speaking about this but it’s been reported that the Paul Henry Show may soon be no show.

NZ Herald: Paul Henry to leave TV3; Duncan Garner to take over morning show

Less than two years after he launched his eponymous breakfast show, Paul Henry is understood to be stepping down from the role.

The outspoken broadcaster will leave the network at the end of the year, according to sources, with Duncan Garner taking over his morning hosting duties.

Insiders have told The Herald an official announcement is due to be made on Thursday, following the US election and the release of the final radio survey results for the year.

A Henry exit wouldn’t surprise me after an outspoken Henry interview recently – Paul Henry’s most offensive interview yet.

In that it sounded like Henry was talking himself out of his job.

During the interview, Henry admitted he was not loving his job. When asked why he continued to do it, he replied: “Because I’ve boxed myself into it and because I have an obligation to do it.”

Sometimes Henry can be very good, and often he can be awful. I wouldn’t be surprised if his minion hosts question fronting up so early in the morning to be a part of his dissatisfactions.

I find TV1’s Breakfast bland and boring, but Henry is too often too opinionated and makes it too much about him. I want to be informed, not be an audience for an ego.

I won’t be disappointed if it becomes the Paul Henry No Show. Garner would have to be better, unless Newshub tries to copy TV1’s banality.

UPDATE: Spinoff – When Paul Henry let rip that obnoxious Herald rant he was already through with TV3

Former Mediaworks news chief Mark Jennings writes on the background to the departure of TV3’s heaviest hitter, the huge hole it leaves, and the challenge ahead for heir apparent Duncan Garner.

When Paul Henry’s expletive-laden interview appeared in the New Zealand Herald eight days ago it looked like a clear case of presentercide.

By deliberately labelling people as “morons” and suggesting to the Heraldreporter that he check out the “perfect titties” of the woman at the next table, Henry was performing a kind of career kamikaze act – openly saying to his bosses at Mediaworks, “C’mon, shoot me now!”.

The fact that they responded with a weak “we don’t condone offensive behaviour” was telling.

They knew, of course, that he was already gone.

It’s dollars to doughnuts that Henry had quit before his verbal rant in the Federal Deli made its way into print.

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.


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.

Budget lockup, grumpy journalists

I don’t think I’ve seen journalists in Twitter so grumpy for so long, especially at some of their own.

A number of them were very annoyed with the news that someone from Mediaworks who were in a Reserve Bank lock up leaked details of an OCR announcement an hour early, and someone else from MediaWorks passed on the information to a blogger.

There was also annoyance with the MediaWorks response, with a distinct lack of contrition and an absence of obvious repercussions.

In the weekend long time ourno Rob Hosking slams MediaWorks over leak.

The grumping was still going on today, with Hamish Rutherforsd writing at Stuff MediaWorks must explain RBNZ leak

According to those who visited, Mark Weldon virtually celebrated the fact that there was no television in the Wellington apartment he lived in while he headed the NZX.

But heading the NZX, at a very minimum, would leave him well qualified to understand one area of modern media better than most: the integrity of market sensitive information.

Yet the company he now heads, Newshub owners MediaWorks, has not only committed a serious breach of trust, it is still to give any real account of what went wrong. It owes a better explanation of what exactly it gets up to.

No sign of an adequate explanation or action yet,

The lock-ups are extremely useful for the media organisations, especially when the interest rate decisions are accompanied with the quarterly monetary policy statements. These are essentially a novella of the Reserve Bank’s outlook for the economy, which generally contain complex messages. The Reserve Bank has admitted that misinterpretation of its intended message will increase without the lock-ups.

As a result of the leak, the Reserve Bank called an immediate end to the lock ups, not just for MediaWorks, but for the dozen or so organisations which attended every six weeks

That in particular annoyed journalists who value the lock ups. And they feelings continued today when the Treasury Secretary said the budget lock up next would be allowed but couldn’t be guaranteed to continue, subject to journalist responsibilities being met.

Hamish Rutherford@oneforthedr
Treasury secretary Gabriel Makhlouf decides “on balance” to hold up embargoed lock-up for Budget

Fuuuuuuuu, problems with Reserve Bank embargo breaches has led to a “review” of the embargoed Budget briefing.

For now, Budget 2016 goes ahead. (THANK GOD.) But future Budgets, and which news orgs can attend, will “continue to be reviewed”.

Chris Bramwell@ChrisBramwell
@FrancesCook I had a minor panic when I saw the email arrive … PHEW
Frances Cook@FrancesCook

In other words, no more messing up. Hard stare at those involved in Reserve Bank mess.

So there is obviously still ill feeling in the ranks of journalists, left festering because MediaWorks failed to address the issue adequately.

They obviously value getting privileged information in advance.

Hosking slams MediaWorks over leak

NBR journalist Rob Hosking has been scathing of MediaWorks after it was revealed today that at least two of their employees had been responsible for a leak of a confidential OCR announcement from a lock-up.

“…frankly a contemptible lack of integrity all round”.

He is also scathing of modern shock-horror journalism.

Rob Hosking blasts Mediaworks’ OCR leak on


NBR article (paywalled): The Reserve Bank leak – a matter of integrity

Hosking also made some comments in a thread on Twitter:

Well for a start people lied. Call me old fashioned.

Secondly, its a breach which could have led to a crime.

I didn’t see it as defending Mediaworks, only the value of lockups but lock ups are clearly of more value without Mediaworks in them. Can’t be trusted.

This wasn’t just stupidity. This was an absence of integrity.

If you’re cool with insider trading – whether or not it’s a crime – this is no big deal I spose

First, a disclosure. I’ve been covering Reserve Bank monetary policy statements for 19 years. I was in the lock up last month when a journalist from Mediaworks’ radio outlet, Radio Live, sneaked the decision out an hour before the embargo was lifted.

The intro calls the Reserve Bank OCR as one of the country’s most sacrosanct embargoes.

Andrew Paterson: Well the decision by the Reserve Bank to discontinue it’s six weekly OCR media and analyst lock-ups in the wake of an embargo  breach by a junior  MediaWorks reporter has raised the ire of seasoned business journalists who have condemned the actions of the reporter in question for breaching what had been one of the country’s most sacrosanct embargoes.

The Reserve Bank took the action after preparing a detailed report into the breach.

Joining me to discuss this is NBR’s political and economic correspondent Rob Hosking.

Rob you’ve obviously been a veteran of these lock-ups, you must be disappointed in this action by the Reserve Bank.

Rob Hosking: Disappointed puts it mildly. I’m more disappointed in the actions of MediaWorks, because look, it was their actions that triggered this, right. They had the choice.

I don’t think the Reserve Bank had any choice but to take some drastic action, I think they’ve gone too far and we’ll come back to that a little bit later, but the point about these lock-ups is they’re a contract, which each journalist, and the organisation they represent, enters into when they go into that lock-up.

And that basically is you do not communicate with the outside until the embargo is lifted.

And the reason for that contract is not some cosy little stitch-up or anything, the reason is you have two hours, absorb in the case of the monetary policy statement, what is often a quite complex document, it often contains significant changes in the outlook for the economy, and it certainly often contains changes in the Reserve Bank’s thinking on the economy and where it’s next move might go.

And it’s the opportunity to quiz a couple of Reserve Bank economists on just sort of what they mean by some of the material that’s in documents, and it means you can report on it fully and accurately and you can actually not only just report on what’s in there but you can give some analysis of it.

And that is very very important the conduct of the economic debate in this country, which for a long time when i was growing up was very very poor.

And i think those lock-ups have helped contribute quite significantly to the quality of economic debate in this country.

And don’t forget one of the things the Reserve Bank acts as is as a sort of referee on the Government policies of the day no matter who that Government is, and that role which is not actually written into the Reserve Bank Act.

But it is effectively because of what the Reserve Bank does it often has to respond to bad Government economic policy, and it will say it is doing that, not in quite as blunt terms as that, but if you know, you understand monetary policy and you understand why the economic and fiscal policy, you will be able to report on that.

So it’s all a part of the accountability process in New Zealand. So that’s very very important.

But what has happened in the past few years is more and more coming into that lock-up being journalists from organisations who are interested in a quick shocking grab, they’re not there to do the analysis, they’re not there to absorb the contents of that document.

They want a shock horror, and they want to beat each other by nanoseconds.

And that’s what’s driven this action  here.

This was from an organisation that in no way provides in depth analysis of anything apart from maybe Kim Kardashian’s backside.

It’s completely, and what the Reserve Bank should have done, is first say ok MediaWorks, I mean this is obviously an organisational and cultural problem within MediaWorks, right, because this wasn’t, nobody at the news desk when this reporter contacted them said ‘whoa, what’s going on here’.

They simply said ‘ok, let’s start lining people up.

So this is not one reporter, right. And so MediaWorks would say ‘look, ban him for a couple of years’. No question about that.

But secondly they should have said, look ok, the risk is in these organisations that do not report the full flipping statement anyway, so keep them out until the press conference, which happens about five minutes after the embargo, and still have you know the analysts and the journalists in there who do do that analysis to do their job.

Andrew Paterson: So the question is should a relatively junior reporter with no background in business or economics, should have been in that situation in the first place.

Rob Hosking: Yeah exactly. And even if look you know sometimes people do go in there young, and look there have been very smart young reporters I might say, we’ve got one or two on NBR staff, but you know there are some wiser heads sitting on the news desk where if something like this does happen they firstly make sure it doesn’t cause any damage, and secondly they kick the young reporter’s backside.

Ah and none of this seems to have happened in this case. It just seems to have been you a, look frankly a contemptible lack of integrity all round.

“Do you think this also reflects in the case of MediaWorks, the fact that when you don’t train journalists appropriately, these accidents, these sorts of mistakes will happen?

Rob Hosking: That’s partly it. But again I come back to that contract, and a basic matter of integrity. You should not need any training as a journalist to know that when you agree to something you stick to that agreement.

That’s got nothing, I mean that’s not about being trained as a journalist, that is basic integrity.

Andrew Paterson: Now you’ve written to the Reserve Bank yourself?

Rob Hosking:Yeah I’ve suggested that they do something along the lines of what I’ve suggested and that they reconsider the decision. I’m not hopeful.

But I think that you know there needs to be some, if you want to see the quality of economic debate improve effectively,and you know there is a level of knowledgeable economic debate in the country that just wasn’t there  when I was growing up in the seventies when we desperately needed some I might add, then it should be reconsidered.

As I say I’m not hopeful, but we’ll have to wait and see.