Reserve Bank leak and MediaWorks

In March a journalist from MediaWorks leaked information about an OCR announcement that could potentially have resulted in insider trading, and another MediaWorks employee passed the information on to a blogger.

This was a serious breach.

Journalists had been brief on impending announcements so they cold prepare stories on the condition secrecy was maintained until the official announcement was made.

Yesterday the Reserve Bank issued this press release:

Reserve Bank takes action after investigation confirms leak

Thursday, 14 April 2016, 2:15 pm

Reserve Bank takes action after investigation confirms leak

An independent investigation has confirmed that highly sensitive and valuable market information on the March Official Cash Rate (OCR) cut decision was leaked by a journalist ahead of the official release, the Reserve Bank said today.

Following the investigation, the Bank will tighten its procedures for the release of confidential information. The Bank will discontinue embargoed lock-ups for news media and analysts ahead of announcements of interest rate decisions, Monetary Policy Statements and Financial Stability Reports.

The investigation by Deloitte’s forensic unit found that, contrary to the rules of the lock-up, information on the Bank’s decision to cut the OCR was transmitted by a Newshub Mediaworks reporter to several people in the Newshub office from the media lockup for the Monetary Policy Statement on 10 March.

This information was then passed on by another person in Newshub Mediaworks, well before the MPS official release, to an economics blogger. The blogger only alerted the Bank to the leak after the MPS was officially released.

Deloitte was assisted in its investigation by Mediaworks’ legal team, who undertook an internal investigation, uncovered emails that confirmed the leak, and reported these to Deloitte.

Governor Graeme Wheeler said: “The leak is a serious and disappointing breach of many years of trust. It created the opportunity for improper gain on financial markets and damage to the integrity of the Bank’s communications. I am extremely disappointed that the information was leaked initially and then communicated more widely.

“The fact that several people outside the Bank, who had access to the information improperly, failed to alert the Bank immediately, was irresponsible and left open a significant risk that the Bank could have closed down quickly with an immediate official release.”

No evidence has emerged that the leak gave rise to any financial market impact.

The Bank has considered alternative arrangements relating to information security. However, none completely mitigated the technology and human risks, said Head of Communications Mike Hannah.

“We have reviewed the procedures of several central banks. None provide lock-ups for analysts prior to major policy announcements, and the few that provide embargoed lock-ups for media representatives take extensive measures to control the media environment in the lock-up that are not viable for us. Most central banks do not provide embargoed lock-ups.”

Mr Hannah said that from the 28 April OCR statement release, the Bank will issue OCR and MPS statements via its pages on Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg screens at 9:00am, as is currently the case, followed by release on its website and to email subscribers. In the case of the quarterly MPSs and six-monthly FSRs, the release of a news release and these documents at9:00am will be followed an hour later by a press conference.

“The decision not to provide lock-ups for media or analysts means that these parties will receive the information at the same time as other financial market and public audiences.”

More information: Investigation into leak of March 2016 OCR announcement

MediaWorks issued their own press release:

MediaWorks Response to Reserve Bank Statement

Thursday, 14 April 2016, 2:07 pm

Mark Weldon, Group CEO, MediaWorks said: “MediaWorks unreservedly apologises to the Reserve Bank for this incident. Once MediaWorks was aware a leak had taken place, it conducted its own investigation to determine whether the leak had come from within MediaWorks and self-reported that to the Reserve Bank.”

Regarding the specifics of the matter, Richard Sutherland, Acting Chief News Officer, said: “The leak was caused by a failure within News to follow proper process and changes have already been made as a result. We are addressing the breach with those concerned and new policies and training will be implemented moving forward.”

There was a strong response on Twitter from journalists from other companies who were very annoyed their privilege of lock-up provide information in advance had been removed.

Some suggested that MediaWorks only should be penalised, which is a fair point.

Others said that much stronger action would be appropriate from MediaWorks, with sackings amongst the suggestions.

It was pointed out that if a Reserve Bank employee or politician had leaked information like this the media would be all over the story, they would have identified the people involved and named and shamed them.

Instead they muttered on Twitter where it was also suggested that they protect their own.

Except Rob Hosking from NBR who was scathing. See next post.

 

Firearm purchase warning

The Police have given what are now Newshub staff (from Story on what was TV3) a warning over the forgery involved in illegally purchasing a firearm to demonstrate how it could be done.

This is about when Heather du Plessis Allen and Story forged a police signature to obtain approval to purchase a firearm.

And Newshub have apologised for what they did.

I think this is a reasonable result, as long as it’s seen as a warning to journalists not to break the law in doing stories or prosecutions could eventuate next time.

The police statement from Superintendent Richard Chambers – District Commander, Auckland City District:

Outcome of investigation into TV3/MediaWorks staff

Police in Auckland City District have concluded the investigation into the actions of some TV3/MediaWorks staff involved in the purchase of a firearm for a television report broadcast in October 2015.

Police became involved as a result of those staff seeking to surrender a firearm that had been illegally purchased from a licensed Auckland firearms dealer.

The Police investigation focussed on the actions of staff members in the creation of a forged document and the use of the document to obtain a firearm.

Having completed a thorough investigation, an independent review of the case has been undertaken by a Detective Superintendent.

Police have now issued formal warnings to three TV3/MediaWorks staff.

In reaching this decision, the Solicitor-General Prosecution Guidelines were considered, together with independent legal advice.

Police are satisfied that in this instance, there is no evidence that the acquisition of the firearm was for a sinister purpose, a factor which was taken into consideration in reaching this decision.

Police is aware of some commentary suggesting that the television report was in the public interest and should not have been investigated.  Police would like to make it clear that for any investigation, public interest considerations are applied at the conclusion of an investigation and in accordance with the Solicitor-General Prosecution Guidelines, when prosecution is being considered. The public interest test does not determine whether Police should commence a criminal investigation or not.

Police view this case as no different to any other matter where criminal offending is disclosed.  The circumstances of individual cases are routinely assessed to ensure that an appropriate investigation is initiated.

We would also like to be clear that the freedom of journalists to report on any matter is fully accepted without question by Police. The law, however, applies equally to everyone, including members of the media and Police do not accept that it is appropriate to commit a criminal offence purely to publicise the ease with which something can be done.

The outcome of the investigation has been communicated to the individuals involved and to TV3/MediaWorks, which brings this matter to a conclusion.

END

There will be no further Police comment or interviews on this matter.

Media note: A formal warning does not result in a criminal conviction against an individual. However a record of the warning is held by Police and may be used to determine eligibility for any subsequent warnings, and may also be presented in court during any future court proceedings.

So no prosecution or conviction but a warning on their records. And a warning to other journalists and media organisations.

And Newshub have apologised in this report:

MediaWorks warned over Story’s gun item

Police have decided not to lay charges over an item on TV3’s Story programme last year in which a firearm was purchased online.

A number of MediaWorks staff have been warned, and the Story team has apologised to Gun City, the store at the centre of the item, and its owner David Tipple.

“The intention behind the story was to put a spotlight on an issue rather than any one individual business,” a MediaWorks spokesperson says in a statement.

“Story regrets any impact that may have inadvertently been caused to Mr Tipple as a result of the story.”

Superintendent Richard Chambers says there is no evidence to suggest obtaining the firearm was for “a sinister purpose”.

He says police are aware of suggestions the television item was “in the public interest” and shouldn’t have been investigated.

“The public interest test does not determine whether Police should commence a criminal investigation or not.

“Police view this case as no different to any other matter where criminal offending is disclosed.”

Following the item, which aired in October, police were quick to close the highlighted loophole.

That there was no malicious or ”sinister’ intent will have helped kept this at a warning level.

More twists in Mediaworks firearm purchase

While journalists generally have been supportive of Heather Du Plessis-Allan over the Story rifle buying story, and scathing of the police for searching her home David Fisher and NZ Herald have been doing some actual investigative journalism.

Fisher reveals a number of very pertinent facts in The Big Read: Twist to TV gun-buying tale.

Elements of TV3’s gun buying story were contrived as documents show a production manager on the show may be directly implicated in the purchase and delivery of the .22 rifle at the centre of a police inquiry.

The Herald also understands Mark Weldon, the boss of TV3’s owner MediaWorks, appears to have personally approved the gun buying story.

During broadcast of the story, du Plessis-Allan was shown holding a piece of paper to the camera saying: “Normally you take this form down to the police station along with your firearms licence. The police officer checks that you actually do have a firearms licence and signs at the bottom of the form. We can tell you we didn’t take the form to a police station.”

In the wake of an outcry over the search, police put out a press release saying TV3 staff would not be interviewed so detectives took “steps necessary to obtain the information required to progress the investigation”.

Du Plessis-Allan told viewers that night TV3 had handed over information sought by officers.

“They asked me for the original mail order form – I handed it over. They never asked me for my handwriting samples and know that had they done it, I would have handed them over.”

The Herald has studied the copy of the mail order form used to buy the rifle from Gun City and compared it to the form shown in the broadcast on October 21. The documents are different – the “B” in “bolt”, the “R” in “rifle” and the “AC” in “action” most strikingly so.

It means detectives were confronted with the possibility of more documentation other than that which was used to purchase the weapon.

The existence of two forms would compel detectives investigating the gun buy to search for other documentation, according to Criminal Bar Association president and former police detective Tony Bouchier.

The search warrant of du Plessis-Allan’s home was for more than handwriting samples:

The single reference to the “original mail order form” by du Plessis-Allan has been the only comment about the documentation used to buy the rifle. Both Story hosts have spoken repeatedly of the search being to obtain handwriting samples, referring to police “looking for handwriting samples”.

There has been no reference to the second part of the search warrant – of which the Herald has a copy – and its second stated objective. The warrant specifically seeks “all copies of the Gun City mail/online order form, or other sheets of paper that have Justin Devine’s signature on it,” referencing a copy of the actual order form used to buy the weapon and the false name adopted for the purchase.

Another person involved:

Along with the order in the name of “Justin Devine”, the form carried a credit card number said to be in the name of “J Devine”.

Story’s production manager is Jayne Devine, according to her LinkedIn page. The address on the Gun City mail order form to which the rifle was delivered has been matched by the Herald with Ms Devine’s home address.

So the Story story was a packaged story that left out a few of the details. As has coverage of the search.

While a jail term is a possible outcome for forgery and impersonating a police officer I don’t think that would an appropriate penalty. But it seems reasonable for the police to investigate this.

And it’s good to see journalists like Fisher doing some hard core investigating rather than just jumping on the media bandwagon (and mutual defence wagon).

 

Media changes

There’s been a number of media changes lately, indicating companies are looking at ways of reducing costs and trying to get sufficient revenue to survive in the modern media world that has been turned upside down by the Internet..

The Spinoff has been promoting themselves madly on Twitter. There are some familiar names amongst them.

The Spinoff is a New Zealand website covering television, sports, books and more. Founded in 2014 as a television site, in September 2015 it relaunched with a broader remit, but the same sensibility.

We also have a business-focused division, The Spinoff Custom, which creates content for brands, with the ability to generate high quality text, video or audio in a variety of formats. Our products include 1972 magazine, created for Barkers, and premium travel writing for Flight Centre.

Lightbox.co.nz are major sponsors of the television content on this site, and we are incredibly grateful to them. Part of their sponsorship involves us covering their shows – but only those we genuinely love. They understand for a site like this to work we need to be able to cover the entire TV universe, too. Which we do – and always with complete editorial independence. That’s a big part of how we can bring The Spinoff to you for free, while still paying our writers.

Our sports coverage is sponsored by PGA Tour Live and Premier League Pass. So we’ll pay extra attention to golf and the EPL, while also discussing the wider sporting landscape. Books are brought to you by Unity Books. Without any of these sponsors we simply wouldn’t exist, so please support them whenever you can.

Staff:

  • Editor & Publisher: Duncan Greive.
  • Commercial Director: Fraser McGregor
  • Television Editor: Alex Casey
  • Sports Editor: Scotty Stevenson
  • Books Editor: Steve Braunias
  • Politics Editor: Toby Manhire
  • The Spinoff Custom Editor: Catherine McGregor
  • Staff Producer: José Barbosa
  • Staff Writer: Calum Henderson
  • Staff Feature Writer: Don Rowe

MediaWorks with Rachel Glucina launched Scout, an entertainment/celebrity news/gossip website on Monday.

The most entertaining thing about the launch was seeing non-Mediaworks journalists rubbishing it, which gave Scout some helpful promotion.

Midweek Scouts New Zealand announced that they were completely unassociated.

And on Friday Scout actually broke some news – about media competitors NZME:

Redundancies expected at NZ Herald

A huge shake-up is under way at the New Zealand Herald with several high-profile names facing redundancy, SCOUT has learned.

On Wednesday, staff at NZME – owners of the Herald – were invited to attend a company presentation announcing expansion plans to integrate its print, digital and radio news teams in a 24/7 operation. Lunch was served and staff were feeling positive. 

The next day, however, the restructure axe fell and several consultation meetings were held in offices off the Herald newsroom floor with employees affected by the redundancy news.

SCOUT has been told high-profile columnists John Drinnan, Brian Rudman and Michele Hewitson are facing redundancy.

NBR has expanded on this:

It’s now understood that other senior staff at the NZ Herald being ‘consulted’ about the proposed plans to facilitate the creation of NZME’s “world-class integrated newsroom” (ie, more than likely being made redundant) also include Canvas deputy editor Greg Dixon, feature writer Alan Perrot and columnist John Roughan.

One NZ Herald staff member says, “It’s a bloodbath.” Another tells NBR that 30% of editorial staff are getting the chop. The number is unconfirmed, but would still mean editorial is getting off more lightly than sales where sources suggest that up to 40% of staff could receive their marching orders.

This looks like a major culling of staff and restructuring of a mutli-faceted media company.

So print, broadcast and online media are going through major changes.

But no sign of any action from Freed since a minor sign of something insignificant from them a month ago.

Stink bombing Mediaworks

Martin Bradbury seems to be very sour about Mediaworks – in fact bitter about media in general.

How’s this for a stinker of a bombing?

Rachel Glucina, Pebbles Hooper and Cameron Slater – the MediaWorks dream team?

While the total meltdown at Mediaworks continues, it seems apparent that Duncs Garner and Heather Duplicitous aren’t going to be enough to stop TV3 from imploding under it’s own self mutilation.

Paul Henry has been a total flop, the axing of Campbell Live for political purposes ratings suicide, newsworthy? and the manner in which management have conducted the entire fiasco a lesson in how to destroy your brand in 6 weeks.

I am suggesting MediaWorks a saviour – why pretend to be anything other than what Mark Weldon and Julie Christie really wants TV3 to be – an unquestioning mouthpiece for the National Government.

Put hate speech merchant and part time fascist Cameron Slater on with pretend journalist Rachel Glucina to host the 7pm timeslot and call it ‘Open wide’. Each weeknight Cam and Rach spit on poor people and laugh at books. Pebbles Hooper can join in half way through with fashion advice for the homeless which always ends in her making jokes about dead babies.

For MediaWorks they can drop the pretence of being a reputable news organisation and for Rachel, Cam and Pebbles, they get to do what they love, voice ill informed right wing nonsense which is so hip with the kids these days.

Between climate change denial and kissing John Key’s arse, they can cut the crap and get to the big issues like ‘why are feminists hairy trolls’, ‘why are Unionists commie scum’ and ‘why are Maori’s so smelly’.

Cam can give weekly updates about conspiracies on who from the Labour Party is plotting to goad him into suicide while promising a big new news blog that never arrives, Rachel can tell everyone she’s in PR while turning journalistic tricks for the PM and Pebbles can mock people with disabilities.

TV3 and RadioLive seem to be still functioning to me, perhaps the meltdown was a bit of projection.

In comments Dave Head challenged Bradbury on some of his bitterness expressed as personal insult:

Actually Martyn her name is Heather du Plessis-Allan and I think she deserves a bit more respect than you just gave her by mutilating her name. In the last 6 months the results of her investigative reporting has certainly been seen by more people than anything you have written.

I thought you might have modified your style after getting dropped from national radio. I have in the past agreed with most things you have commented on. But this TV3 thing has warped your sense of proportion and detracted from the real broadcasting issues in NZ.

Bradbury responded:

I recall her atrocious piece sucking up to Cameron Slater on Seven Sharp one week before Dirty Politics broke – I tuned out after that Dave.

If every media organisation he does a story he disapproves of is forever after condemned then he will be left with nothing but himself in the debris.

The Garner and du Plessis-Allan Story

Mediaworks have announced hosts for their Campbell Live replacement. Duncan Garner and Heather du Plessis-Allen, who will front a 7 pm current affairs programme called ‘Story’ on TV3

I think this will be worth checking out when it starts. I rarely watched Campbell Live but could be more interested in this combination, depending on what they cover and how they cover it.

Garner will stay on his RadioLive slot from 3-6 pm. That could work quite well with Story able to be a television follow-up on stories of the day.’

And du Plessis-Allen, rated one of their better journalists, has been nabbed from TV1.

I wonder if the Left Mob who campaigned to boycott Mediaworks after Campbell Live was scrapped will campaign for viewers to support double the front line journos on story.

The proof of Story will be in their stories, but they should at least be given a chance to prove their worth.

Press gallery claim on Rachinger/Williams pics doesn’t stack up

There have been many claims but scant evidence surrounding the photos of RadioLive political editor Jessica Williiams that were published by Lauda Finem on Monday.

It was very curious that they should surface just after Ben Rachinger had featured on The Nation in the weekend where his month’s old claims Cameron Slater paid him to hack The Standard finally got an MSM airing – that timing in itself is curious.

Rachinger has been dumped on by Twitter warriors, who claimed that Martyn Bradbury had seen the photos some time ago which to them condemned Rachinger.

However even Bradbury’s clarifications aren’t completely clear. He had posted:

I will say this about Rachinger, if the comments from a certain female political journalist ever see they light of day, they will never work in the industry again

I sought further clarification and he confirmed “they will never work in the industry again” referred to the journalist.

But he also ‘clarified’:

I’d heard many different things after that blog, I was surprised by their release, not their existence

I had seen nothing, I had heard something that a Journalist had said to Rachinger, that was what I was referring to in the blog. Suggestions by Coley and Tiso that I did are a lie

Confused? It sort of sounds like Bradbury had heard about the pictures but hadn’t seen them.

If information was out there then surely it would be widely known about. Lauda Finem posted:

Suffice to say the allegation is that mainstream media journos (the entire parliamentary press gallery in fact) had been sent these images. Further, that Williams herself had then approached those same journalists requesting that they ignore Rachinger.

That seems to be allegations that don’t stack up. I did a bit of checking out.

One reliable source in the press gallery:

I never received the photos, I never had any contact from Rachinger.

And another:

I did not know anything about this in December or at any other time until the Herald briefly reported about Rachinger’s post.

So “the entire parliamentary press gallery in fact” is not fact. So how much, if any, is fact?

Obviously the photos exist. There’s been no denials about them being associated with Jessica Williams and Ben Rachinger. But I haven’t seen any evidence this is anything but a private matter between the two of them.

How the photos went beyond the two of them is unknown to me. Where did Lauda Finem get them from. And when? Just in time to publish just after The Nation went to air? Or had they been sitting on them waiting for a time that suited them? I think those are questions deserving answers.

On this whole Rachinger issue there are many claims, accusations, insinuations and possibly a few legends thrown into the mix.

There seems to be quite a few people who seem to have an interest who are not prepared to back up their claims. And others doing their best to keep a lid on it – including some media and Cameron Slater.

Rachinger has made a number of claims and many vague implications peppered with contradictions, so what he has tweeted and blogged has to be viewed very sceptically.

This story (or collection of related stories) may keep chugging along but there’s a lot of unknowns still.

There’s nothing to suggest Rachinger and Lauda Finem are colluding (and there’s some suggestions they aren’t) but they share one thing in common – habits of drip feeding supposed scandals amongst a mish mash of hubris.

Rachinger denies everything on Williams

Ben Rachinger took to Twitter again to totally deny anything to do with RadioLive political editor Jessica Williams.

The Phone put up as proof on that blog. It’s a Blackphone. As owned by one Mr Cameron Slater.

It’s a sad day when one can bring a story to light after having been smeared repeatedly and parents doxed by a pseudo-anon blog….

… But this is the first credible connection between Mr Slater and the blog LF. This was beyond dirty. Mr Slaters phone should be examined.

I would encourage everyone to lay a complaint with the credible evidence that the LF source has a blackphone, Slater has a blackphone and…

… Only Mr Slater benefits from the actions and timing of the actions of that blog. There is no way the LF source should remain Anon.

I never dated the victim of that websites actions and nor have I ever contracted to MW. I never messaged those pics to Press Gallery.

I was never involved in some plot to blackmail the victim of that blog. I was never informed there was allegedly a plot involving me.

I respect the space of the victim of LFs posts and don’t wish to have any comment beyond a Wow at depths to which some parties have sunk.

I’ll close with saying… The story came out about TS hack job and suddenly this comes out. A++ Hit Job. Bye.

If this is all true (I’m sceptical at this stage)it makes the apparent acceptance of the story by Williams and Williams supporters (there were no denials nor challenges to any detail that I saw) as very strange.

If true this would mean Slater obtained risque photos of Williams, simulated Rachinger’s phone, and colluded with Lauda Finem to dump on both Rachinger and Williams at the same time.

It would mean that NZ Herald was incorrect in the article they posted and then later pulled down – except that it’s still online via syndication overseas and at the ODT:

Journalist’s private photos published

Intimate photographs purporting to be of a leading journalist have been published online, revealing gaps in laws protecting people from having personal images used against them.

The pictures were understood to have been taken and sent in a private context to an individual not involved in the blog which published the images.

It claimed it had obtained the images when they were circulated with the intent of embarrassing Williams and harming her career but gave no explanation for why it had published the pictures.

A MediaWorks spokesman said the company was aware of “certain matters relating to the publication of private images” of Williams.

“The matters at issue are not ones MediaWorks will comment on. Jessica is a senior journalist with significant responsibility for RadioLive and will be on leave until these matters are worked through.”

The pictures emerged following a story broadcast on TV3’s The Nation last weekend in which claims were made that Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater had paid someone to hack into a left-wing website.

If MediaWorks or NZ Herald thought this story had been a total fabrication by Cameron Slater I would have expected them to deal with it quite differently.

But the media have generally been very quiet on this whole topic, and thee has been a succession of weird turns in this saga, so it’s difficult to know what is the truth and what isn’t.

And it continues in response to others:

Dude, those Photos are damning proof of how easily trust is destroyed with you, hey? You made a massive mistake sharing those.

Where is the source? Where is the Threema ID proof it’s me? I never dated the victim and never attempted to blackmail her.

k.they are spreading the muck thin, if this is the categorical truth then I withdraw my accusation. huge collateral dmge tho

And:

… Only Mr Slater benefits from the actions and timing of the actions of that blog. There is no way the LF source should remain Anon.

Did you share the pics im question with Slater, Ben? You’re inferring it but should state so I believe, if that is tje case.

Can Mr Slater prove that? Or does he just send whatever he wants to LF and get them to release at his bidding? Where’s the proof?

Just trying to understand how, if Slater had those pics, he came by them? It reads that you are certain he did have them.

And:

Don’t infer anything. I’d like to see the LF source front up and show their evidence/proof and for LF to prove their allegations.

I’m not having a go just trying to understand context, evidence and implications.

And:

Embedded image permalink

Categorically false. I have never spoken to Bomber personally and he has never seen any info from me. A smear.

Bomber shouldn’t be getting smashed for what are demonstrably lies. He may have been referring to hearsay unrelated to pics but not to pics.

I could see what was coming (though not this) which is why I tweeted a few weeks ago about that blog post of his.

That last comment is interesting, needs looking in to. There may be more to add on this.

Embedded image permalink

Categorically false. I was JW source for the Hager raid. We never dated or were in a BF/GF relationship. Smear on MB.

He provided Williams with what information about the Hager raid? That was in October.

Bradbury has apparently removed that reference from the Daily Blog, according to Disraeli Gladstone:

Quite on the contrary, though, it seems like he was threatening/considering to threaten the current victim (let’s not identify her at all for her sake). How do we know this? At the time, fucking Bomber made a passing comment in a blog post that Rachinger had something to hold over someone (he named the profession, so we know it was most likely the victim).

The fact that Bomber saw the evidence and didn’t do anything about it except make a snide remark (which he now deleted from his blog) is horrible in of itself as well.

Bradbury was not likely to be colluding with Slater.

NZ Herald’s handling of Rachinger stories

Yesterday NZ Herald posted an article on the Ben Rachinger/Jessica Williams/Mediaworks story with some detail and a number of quotes, so David Fisher had put some time and effort into researching and writing it.

Within a couple of hours that article was removed. But in the modern online media world that was too late, it had already been reported and repeated in Australia on at least two news sites.

I know Matt Nippert from NZ Herald had been sniffing around the Rachinger claims on Slater/The Standard since February, but I never noticed them reporting on it except for when they followed up on The Nation’s coverage on Saturday.

This was promoted by the Herald’s media reporter John Drinnan:

Blogger accused of paying hacker nzh.tw/11460942 via @nzherald m.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/articl…

I replied:

@Zagzigger @nzherald Why have different media waited this long and only followed once @thenation reported it?

Drinnan:

Herald have been running stories.

But I searched on Ben Rachinger at the Herald and got no hits apart from Saturday’s Nation followup (Right-wing blogger accused of paying off hacker).

I’ve searched again right now and I get that same article plus a reference in Bryce Edwards’ political roundup on Monday – Political roundup: Dirty Politics ‘done dirt cheap’.

Nothing prior to those two.

I’ve tried some other searches, from NZ Herald and via Google, and can’t find any other reference.

Why did Drinnan claim they had been running stories when it appears they haven’t? I tweeted back to Drinnan disputing his claim but he didn’t respond.

Why did they pull yesterday’s story?

What’s going on with Mediaworks and Rachinger?

The Rachinger plots took another turn today with a story that has gone international. Noosa News reports Intimate photos of journalist published online.

The images were published on a blog this morning showing Radio Live political editor Jessica Williams in a series of personal photographs. Ms Williams was named Journalist of the Year at this year’s NZ Radio Awards.

The pictures were understood to have been taken and sent in a private context to an individual not involved in the blog which published the images. The Herald will not be publishing the name of the blog.

It claimed it had obtained the images when they were circulated with the intent of embarrassing Ms Williams and harming her career but gave no explanation for why it had published the pictures.

A Mediaworks spokesman said the company was aware of “certain matters relating to the publication of private images” of Ms Williams.

It seems that these images were circulated in December and it has been widely known amongst journalists. There has been mention made of attempted blackmail.

Ben Rachinger has been trying to get media interested in his claims that Cameron Slater paid him to hack rival political blog The Standard.

The Nation ran his story in the weekend. The Nation is broadcast by TV3, a Mediaworks company.

As reported above Mediaworks say they were aware of “certain matters” yet ran a story, highlighting it as ‘Dirty Politics’, that was favourable to Rachinger.

It wouldn’t be too much of stretch to think that their RadioLive political editor was aware of their investigation and story.

This raises questions.Was Williams aware of the investigation/story? If so was she in favour of the story being run? Did she contribute to the story? Did she push for the story to be run? If so was it voluntary or under some sort of pressure?

It’s not inconceivable that Williams and/or Mediaworks wanted the story run to try and avoid embarrassment.

Of course there could be a simpler explanation for all this, but are we likely to get one?