Media failure over donation reporting?

Posted yesterday (Sunday) at 9:30 am on Whale Oil: Another big donation for National, none for Labour yet

National has scored another big donation, again from Stone Shi.

A New Zealand Herald article National gets $50k donation from Oravida founder is quoted (without being linked), dated Friday.

So, Act and National are receiving big donations. Why isn’t Labour?

Then an our later at Whale Oil: So, a rich man gave money to Labour and the Greens, yet no one reported it

Earlier today I posted about the media announcing that Stone Shi gave $50,000 to the National party and that Jenny Gibbs has given a hundy to Act.

But, what is curious is the lack of reporting over another large donation, given just a few weeks before Stone Shi’s donation.

So, just three weeks before Stone Shi donated to National, Phillip Mills donated the same amount to the Labour party. Why was there no news of this in the mainstream media?

It isn’t like it is hidden, it is just two entries down the list from the Shi and Gibbs donations.

This can only be a deliberate deception by the NZ Herald to ignore large donations to Labour and highlight large donations to National and Act. It should be noted that on 9 November 2016 Phillip Mills also gave $65,000 to the Green party. Strangely that wasn’t reported either.

The register of donations is published in the interests of transparency to the government, yet the very people who are supposed to guard that transparency have failed the public because they have only reported donations to National and Act and not also to Labour and the Greens.

This is tantamount to a corruption of our news media, willingly, by them. The Media party has an agenda, and here is a perfect example of how they mislead, this time by omitting pertinent facts.

The bias is obvious, you just need to know where to look to reveal it.

National gets a donation, it becomes news. Labour gets a donation, not a mutter, not a murmur, not a mention. That is media dishonesty.

This is gobsmacking on a number of levels.

So Slater cut and pasted a Herald article and used it to diss Labour. Then he slams the ‘dishonest journalism’ that he repeated. I wonder if someone tipped him off to have a look at the donation list himself after his initial post, or perhaps he was just fed the details.

Whale Oil still claims to be media. From About:

Whaleoil is the fastest-growing media organisation in New Zealand. Its brand of news, opinion, analysis and entertainment is finding fertile ground with an audience that is feeling abandoned by traditional news media.

They often criticise other media  – while frequently using other media’s content. They claim they are a new way of doing journalism, much better than those they ridicule.

In this case Slater used Herald content to try and score a political hit against Labour, then turned on the Herald for ‘Dishonest journalism’. That in itself is highly ironic.

But why didn’t Whale Oil report on the donation to Labour three weeks ago? It’s as easy for them to monitor Electoral Commission donation lists as it is for the Herald.

They are slamming the Herald for not reporting on something that they didn’t report themselves, until they reacted to a Herald article that they used for their own purposes.

Whale Oil shows few signs of being a media site that does journalism these days.

The Daily Blog does a lot more original content than them now.

Whale Oil has reverted to being a blog that relies on repeating other media content, with trashing of the media that feeds them being some of their only original content.

The failure of Whale Oil to report the donation to Labour earlier is a symptom of it’s failure to become a credible alternative media outlet.

‘Breaking news’ broken

I think that once upon a time ‘breaking news’ used to be occasional, bigger than normal fresh news. Online it has become a joke, a phrase to ignore. It is often just used as a way to promote click bait.

This from NZ Herald today is one of the stupidest I’ve seen.


Either the Herald machine is very poorly designed, or someone has no idea what qualifies as news let alone what ‘breaking’ means.

The news is that ‘breaking news’ is broken.

Toilet journalism

There have been a number of journalists involved in the gross (more meanings than one) overdoing of the Aaron Smith story.

Amongst the worse examples were the stream of clickbait articles at the Herald, Stuff apparently finding an aunt of Smith’s and asking her what she thought (apparently she didn’t know he was in a relationship), and 1 News scooping the poop with footage from inside the bog.

On that last stoop:

There will be a plaque in that Christchurch airport toilet. “This is where grown-up New Zealand journalism finally died.”

That was two days ago, journalism has been rolling in it’s grave since.

Yesterday the Herald decided to stuff up some more lives by pursuing the woman involved (the one in the toilet, not the snooping one who must be worried the hacks might turn on her).

An entire story about how a woman wanted the media to leave her alone. , do you not see the problem with that?

Someone else did see the problem:


Toilet journalism sums it up well.

I can count 24 articles about or referring to Smith at the herald on Thursday.

On Friday I can count thirteen articles! Some of these are about the All Blacks but refer the the Smith story in them, but most are focussing on the story that wouldn’t flush.

So far today NZ Herald has five articles on or mentioning Aaron Smith.

I guess journalists churning out an endless diarrhoea of stories are ‘just doing their job’ but from what I’ve seen many journalists who have escaped the toilet assignments are despairing at what their medium has become.

Mood of the boardroom 2016

The annual ‘Mood of the Boardroom’ survey gets extensive coverage today in NZ Herald, with Leaders show more optimism looking like the lead article (I’ve just heard a pessimistic sounding Andrew Little on Breakfast).

Strong GDP growth in the past two quarters has put New Zealand near the top of the OECD pack for annual economic growth, but the good data has been tempered by concerns about growing inequality as house prices continue to soar.

Global worries also continue to undercut the optimism as nervous sharemarket investors brace for a lift in United States interest rates.

It’s an economic outlook broadly reflected in the results of the Mood of the Boardroom survey.

On the local front there is some serious optimism breaking out and that can’t be a bad thing.

Last year’s gloomier Mood of the Boardroom outlook results came as we were bracing ourselves for a dairy downturn.

There was some real concern about how the fragile economy would cope.

But with a bit of a nudge from record immigration levels, we’ve managed to keep growing through the worst of it.

Liam Dann concludes:

In the end, despite increased concern about social issues such as housing, the Government can still feel comfortable about its support base among senior business leadership.

An overwhelming majority agree the Government’s current economic management is good.

Judged on the economic environment in which most companies are doing their business this year, it is not hard to see why.


Boardroom advice to Government, English and Robertson

Grant Robertson has tweeted this so I’m not sure where it is from but I presume NZ Herald.


Robertson used a tag. The Herald uses    except there seems to be nothing new on that yet.

A site search finds all their ‘mood of the boardroom’ articles:


Since when was rain not a spring thing?

On whichever channel I was watching last night (I think it was Newshub) they made a comment along the lines of rainy weather not being a spring thing.

The Herald implies something similar:


Stuff had an odd Spring caption in Heavy rain lashing Auckland and Northland causes flooding:

Sophia Williams, 4 of Herne Bay, was enjoying the wet weather despite it technically being spring.

Wet weather despite it being spring? Rain in spring tends to be helpful in making things grow, and it’s not out of the ordinary.

Auckland averages 1211 mm of rain a year, 105 mm in September ( with Whangarei slightly more), so September is average for rainfall there. Average rain days per year are 136, in September it’s 12.8 so again fairly normal – every second or third day it rains on average.

There was also flooding last September by the look of Heavy rain, flooding in North Island spark warnings.

September 2012: Auckland suburbs flood as rain hits.

Stupid headlines and content are common, but it stood out that three media coincidentally made stupid comments about spring rain.


‘Right to Life’ versus right to an opinion

An interesting ruling by the Press Council after Right to Life New Zealand complained that a column in The New Zealand Herald by Lizzie Marvelly on abortion breached a Press Council Principle  on Accuracy, Fairness and Balance.

I agree that Marvelly has a right to express her opinion. ‘Right to Life’ is confusing facts with differing opinions.


  1. Right to Life New Zealand complained that a column in The New Zealand Herald by Lizzie Marvelly, “It’s her body, it should be her choice”, breached Press Council Principle 1, Accuracy, Fairness and Balance.


2. On May 28 The New Zealand Herald published a column by Lizzie Marvelly, “It’s her body, it should be her choice”, which presented her views on abortion.

3. Abortion is technically an offence in New Zealand under the Crimes Act (1961). The article outlined the process women have to go through as a result to get an abortion, including referral by a GP or Family Planning, and consultations with two certifying doctors.

4. Ms Marvelly wrote that although we are protective of individual freedoms, in the eyes of the law the decision as to whether an abortion can go ahead is not made by women by the doctors who care for them.

5. In practice, she said, the most commonly used justification is that continuing a pregnancy would cause serious danger to the mental health of the woman.

6. “In our modern, developed world, to have to claim mental suffering to two consultants in order to obtain an abortion is frankly paternalistic and patronising,” she said.

7. Ms Marvelly argued that a woman should not have to speak to a counsellor or wait for an enforced period between appointments to think about her decision, particularly when she may have to travel great distances.

8. She said women in New Zealand should have access to abortion services regardless of where they live.

9. She maintained it was a basic medical procedure, safer than childbirth itself, but stigmatised even today.

10. The column also outlined the current situation with regard to abortion in other countries, specifically the United States and Britain, and criticised the actions of groups which publish emotionally charged newspaper ads, erect “condescending” billboards, create websites and crisis hotlines advertising their apparently neutral pregnancy services for women.

11. Ms Marvelly wrote that this results in an environment in which women are made to feel ashamed or judged for exercising a human right “that has been affirmed by the United Nations”.

The Complaint

12. Right to Life secretary Ken Orr complained that Lizzie Marvelly’s column breached Principle 1, Accuracy, Fairness and Balance. He also referred to Principle 4, Comment and Fact, and 5, Columns, Blogs, Opinion and Letters.

13. He said the article lacked balance because there was no comment from those opposed to abortion.

14. The main thrust of Mr Orr’s complaint appears to be what he considers are factual inaccuracies in Ms Marvelly’s column. These include:

      1. The writer said “pregnancy does not discriminate between the prepared and the utterly unsuspecting, it just happens”. Mr Orr said, “Pregnancy does not just happen, it can be prevented by avoiding sexual intercourse”.
      2. The writer claimed women have to plead grave mental suffering in order to gain an abortion. Mr Orr said that was not correct as abortion is “available on demand in New Zealand”.
      3. By saying a woman shouldn’t need to justify her decision to anyone, least of all the Crown and its agents, Mr Orr said the writer fails to recognise the human rights of the child in the womb.
      4. When the writer claimed women should have access to abortion services regardless of where they live, she failed to acknowledge that abortions are not available in some areas because doctors in those areas refuse to perform them.
      5. The writer claimed abortions were a safe medical procedure, but failed to recognise that “abortion is not safe for the child who is violently dismembered in the mother’s womb”.
      6. The writer stated that obstetricians and gynaecologists in the US are being shot, clinics bombed, and vulnerable women harassed, but failed to recognise that the violence at abortion clinics happened inside the clinic.
      7. Mr Orr said the writer’s suggestion that the pro-life movement was responsible for the crimes committed in the US was “scandalous”. The pro-life movement is “emphatically opposed to violence against women and their unborn, as well as murder of abortionists and violence against abortion clinics and staff”.
      8. Ms Marvelly’s wrote that amending the Care of Children Act 2004 making it mandatory for doctors to notify parents when under 16-year-olds seek an abortion would endanger vulnerable young women who seek an abortion as a result of incest or sexual violence and undermine the trust they have in their physicians. Mr Orr described her belief as “absurd”.
      9. He challenged the writer’s claim that the United Nations has affirmed that abortion is a human right, quoting Article 3 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to life”.

The Response

15. New Zealand Herald Weekends Editor Miriyana Alexander denied that the column by Lizzie Marvelly breached Press Council Principle 1.

16. She said the column is an opinion piece, clearly labelled with the writer’s name on the print and online versions. Ms Marvelly was employed to write a weekly column to share her views with readers. The newspaper did not expect everyone to agree with her, but “freedom of expression is a principle we hold dear at the Herald”.

17. The editor said she did not intend to respond to the parts of the complaint which are simply views Right To Life holds in opposition to Ms Marvelly. “It is not Right to Life’s place to tell Ms Marvelly that she should hold the same view as theirs.”

18. On the allegation that the statement “the United Nations has affirmed than an abortion is a human right” is untrue because there is no UN Convention that recognises this “human right” the editor rebutted Mr Orr’s claim. Ms Marvelly did not say there was a UN Convention, she simply said that woman were “exercising a human right that has been affirmed by the United Nations”.

19. The editor provided several links to examples of the UN’s position on abortion in which it ruled that denying women abortions was a violation of human rights.

The Decision

20. Lizzie Marvelly is a regular columnist for the New Zealand Herald and her June 28 column on abortion was clearly an opinion piece on a subject that has for many years inflamed public debate.

21. By their very nature, opinion pieces are frequently provocative, offensive or controversial in subject and tone, but they are exempt from many of the rules which apply to news reports, as long as it is clear that they are the writer’s opinion. Principles 4, Comment and Fact, and 5 Columns, Blogs, Opinion and Letters, both require that material facts on which an opinion is based should be accurate, with Principle 5 stating that with opinion pieces, balance is not essential.

22. It is clear to the Press Council that the inaccuracies Mr Orr alleges are in fact the views of the writer, which differ markedly from those held by Right to Life. Rather than attempting to prove the writer’s statements are incorrect, Mr Orr has simply countered them with the responses that his organisation routinely uses on this topic.

23. Ms Marvelly’s opinion may well be unpalatable to many, but that does not make it wrong. We agree with the editor when she says: “It is not Right to Life’s place to tell Ms Marvelly that she should hold the same view as theirs.”

24. As an opinion piece, the column was not required to provide balance and the Press Council finds no breach of Principle 1 in terms of fairness or accuracy.

25. The complaint is not upheld.

Press council versus Matt Heath

In April there was some controversy when two Radio Hauraki hosts ridiculed English cricket player Ben Stokes, then when Stokes’ mother rang up to complain they broadcast it live but told her it was off air.

One of the hosts, Matt Heath, wrote an opinion column that was published on NZ Herald: Matt Heath: When a mother sticks up for her famous son

Ben Stokes’ mum got wind of our comments and rang our studio to stick up for her 24-year-old son. I answered her call live on air thinking she was ringing up for a competition. When we found out she was ringing to make a complaint about us, we thought it would be funny to tell her she wasn’t on air so our listeners could hear someone have a go at us.

In my opinion, Ben Stokes’ mum was being an overly protective parent. She’d heard some people had made jokes about her son and wanted to stick it to us. Good on her.

But she shouldn’t have.

I reckon there is a lesson here for all us parents. Fighting your kids’ battles rarely helps.

Within reason, kids have to fight their own battles. That’s how they become resilient like we all are. You won’t always be around for them. You could get hit by a bus tomorrow. Your kids need to stand up for themselves today.

Give them love, support, advice and a safe home – but don’t ring up a radio station on air because someone called your boy “Ben Chokes”.

So Heath criticised Deborah Stokes and defended his deliberate deception on air.

But Deborah Stokes didn’t leave it at that. She lodged a complaint with the Press Council, who have upheld her complaint.

CASE NO: 2516



TO BE PUBLISHED ON 11 JULY 2016 Confidential to the parties until 11 July 2016

1. Deborah Stokes complains that a column published in the New Zealand Herald entitled “When a mother sticks up for her famous son” breaches Press Council Principles 1, Accuracy, Fairness and Balance, 2, Privacy, and 9, Subterfuge.

2. The complaint is upheld on Principle 1 with regard to fairness. One member would also uphold on Subterfuge.

The Complaint

11. Mrs Stokes’ complaint provides context to the subject of the New Zealand Herald column, namely the live broadcast of the phone call she made to Radio Hauraki. She says she asked for, and was given, two separate assurances by host Matt Heath that the discussion was off-air. It was in fact on air, broadcast live and was subsequently replayed and referred to on the radio breakfast show several times over the next few days.

12. Mrs Stokes complains that the New Zealand Herald column breached three Press Council principles.

13. Principle 9 Subterfuge: Because the column was based on an on-air broadcast that was itself obtained by subterfuge, the information in the column was obtained by the same root subterfuge, misrepresentation and dishonesty. “It goes without saying that the column cannot be justified as being in the public interest,” she says.

14. Principle 1, Fairness: Mrs Stokes claims the actions of Matt Heath in writing a column based on an act of subterfuge breached the fairness principle.

15. Principle 2, Privacy: Mrs Stokes claims it was a breach of her privacy for Heath to have referred to the matter in the column as the radio broadcast itself was also a breach of her privacy.

The Editor’s Response

19. The editor of the New Zealand Herald, Murray Kirkness, defends the newspaper’s decision to publish the column. It is important, he says, to make the distinction between the original live radio broadcast and the subsequent opinion column when considering the facts.

20. He denies that subterfuge was used in obtaining information for the column as the information was already in the public domain prior to the time of publication.

26. Mr Kirkness submits that the publication of the column did not breach any Press Council rules, and did not go any further than what was widely published nationally and internationally in other media. “I believe it would be a matter of significant concern if the media were not able to comment on matters of public controversy by reason of issues arising out of the circumstances in which a story first broke,” he says. “Once an issue is in the public domain and has become a matter of public debate it cannot be the case that it is impermissible for the media to comment on it by reason of some question mark over the manner in which the information originally surfaced.”


27. The New Zealand Herald column published on April 11 is based on the live broadcast on Radio Hauraki on April 6; however the Press Council cannot comment on the radio broadcast as it is the subject of a separate complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority, and this adjudication deals only with the article published by the New Zealand Herald in print and online.

28. The column by Matt Heath was clearly an opinion piece; it was not a news report. Opinion pieces are by their very nature frequently provocative, offensive or controversial in subject and tone, but as long as they are clearly signposted as the writer’s opinion, they are exempt from many of the rules which apply to news reports. The Press Council’s Principle 5, Columns, Blogs, Opinion and Letters, states that “though requirements for a foundation of fact pertain, with comment and opinion, balance is not essential.”

29. In this case, however, we believe the fine line on what can be deemed fair or not fair has been crossed. Heath’s column about over-protective parents, which under normal circumstances is a perfectly acceptable subject for an opinion piece, was clearly a convenient hook to allow him to justify his actions in knowingly deceiving Mrs Stokes on his radio show.

30. In the column Heath openly admitted his dishonesty, which he said he thought would be funny, and then ridiculed Mrs Stokes for defending her son, writing that “a parental attempt to right things ended up bringing global humiliation on her son”.

31. The Press Council does not accept the editor’s argument that the New Zealand Herald article did not go any further than what was widely published nationally and internationally in other media. The difference was that the Herald published an opinion piece written by the perpetrator of the original deceit.

32. We agree with Mrs Stokes’ view that it was not fair for the newspaper to provide Matt Heath a further opportunity to justify his improper actions on his radio show. It is also unfair that he was permitted to add insult to injury by using her as an example of what not to do as a parent. Otherwise he is able to take advantage of his own misleading actions, which is unfair.

33. The complaint that the column breached Principle 1, with respect to fairness is upheld.

34. With regard to the complaints under Principle 9, Subterfuge, and Principle 2, Privacy, it is clear that rightly or wrongly, the subject of the broadcast discussion between Mrs Stokes and the Radio Hauraki hosts was very much in the public domain by the time the column appeared, so the information contained within it cannot be deemed to have been obtained by subterfuge. Mrs Stokes’ identity was by that stage also in the public domain, so her privacy cannot be deemed to have been breached by the New Zealand Herald article.

35. The complaints under Principle 2 and Principle 9 are not upheld.

However one member of the Council also wanted the complaint upheld on grounds of subterfuge and wanted his dissent noted. The column relied on an interview based on deception, and regardless of whether that interview was broadcast on radio or was simply part of the columnist’s research, the deception remains and, in his mind, was grounds for a wider uphold.

Regardless of this, the actions of Heath (and Jeremy Wells) on air were crappy, and Heath doubled down on his crap with the column.

The Herald published the full finding in Press Council upholds complaint against Matt Heath column.


Speaking out on family violence

Continuing on their series today NZ Herald quotes a number of people including Police Commissioner Mike Bush, Police Minister Judith Collins, Andrew Little plus a few actors.


Family violence: New Zealanders speak out

New Zealand has the worst rate of family and intimate-partner violence in the world. Eighty per cent of incidents go unreported — so what we know of family violence in our community is barely the tip of the iceberg.

Today is the final day of We’re Better Than This, a week-long series on family violence.

Our aim is to raise awareness, to educate, to give an insight into the victims and perpetrators. We want to encourage victims to have the strength to speak out, and abusers the courage to change their behaviour.

Take a stand – NZ is #BetterThanThis

So here’s a prompt for Your NZers to speak out.

Tony Veitch on violence

The second feature article at NZ Herald in a series on addressing family silence features Tony Veitch, who became notorious for a violent attack on his then partner ten years ago.

Veitch has fronted up saying that it was a one-off grave misjudgment that  impacted on many people’s lives.

As deplorable as what Veitch did I think he is doing the right thing speaking up about it, acknowledging his mistake, makes no excuse, and promises that he has changed and will never be ‘that person’ again.

We may all be just one brain explosion away from being ‘that person’.

If we are to better address and reduce family violence then it’s important for men like Veitch to speak up, are open about what they have done and speak about how it may be dealt with. It can be very difficult, but it’s necessary

Tony Veitch pleaded guilty in April 2009 to one charge of reckless disregard causing injury over a January 2006 assault on his former partner. He was sentenced to nine months’ supervision, 300 hours of community service and a $10,000 fine.


Tony Veitch: Acceptance, remorse and recovery

It is 10 years since I turned from the man I’d always wanted to be, to a man I could not control. In January 2006 I made a huge mistake, a grave misjudgment on my behalf that has impacted the lives of many people and for that I am truly sorry.

Even though it was the only time that I have ever lashed out in my life, once was too much. I should have walked away, but instead I hurt someone and I can’t ever make that go away.

I have spent hours alone and in counselling sessions considering my actions that night and wondering why I ever allowed myself to get to that point.

There is no justifiable answer. I have imagined every conceivable scenario to have avoided what I did, but in the end, they were my actions. I take responsibility for that and I will do for the rest of my life.

Poor judgment on my behalf changed so much that day and I apologise unreservedly for that.

My story is public and while that’s hard personally, maybe it is a good thing. Perhaps somewhere it might help someone else make a better decision.

Hopefully it can be a small part of the process of educating New Zealanders that family violence is not okay.

It’s a very important part of helping New Zealanders accept as a given that family violence is not ok.

Veitch goes on to detail some of the difficulties he caused others and difficulties he faced himself as a consequence, including attempting suicide.

I condemned his violent attack, but I applaud what he is doing to help address violence now.

If you’re in danger NOW:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you
• Run outside and head for where there are other people
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you
• Take the children with you
• Don’t stop to get anything else
• If you are being abused, remember it’s not your fault. Violence is never okay

Where to go for help or more information:

• Women’s Refuge: Free national crisisline operates 24/7 – 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843
• ShineFree national helpline 9am- 11pm every day – 0508 744
• It’s Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisisline 24/7 0800 742 584
• Ministry of Justice:
• National Network of Stopping Violence:
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men’s violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent.

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If you are reading this information on the Herald website and you’re worried that someone using the same computer will find out what you’ve been looking at, you can follow the steps at the link here to hide your visit. Each of the websites above also have a section that outlines this process.

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