Paywalled political content and reaching an audience

When politicians use media to get their message out they generally want as big an audience as possible.  So if one media source puts most political content behind a paywall, who are politicians more likely to talk to?

If politicians think that a story has to be made public but they want as little exposure as possible perhaps the paywall approach helps them do this.

 

Dealing with trolling by Hopkins

Katie Hopkins is a bit like Cameron Slater – she seeks attention with controversial posts, seeks support from fringe radicals online, and she is being gradually rejected as too toxic by media who have given her views an airing in the past.

She tried to stir things up after the Christchurch mosque attacks, and again after the Sri Lankan bombings. Some New Zealand media chose to feed her trolling, which was disappointing but not surprising – media often stoop low to try to generate publicity for themselves.

This has been covered by RNZ’s mediawatch: Don’t feed the troll

After condemning social media platforms for hosting and spreading extremists’ content, many media here also took the online bait from a noted British troll who’s too toxic even for Fox News and the tabloids in the UK.

Last Tuesday the government’s plans to urge global social media companies to tighten up on extremist content filled the front page of the New Zealand Herald.

“PM Jacinda Ardern is pushing for global response that would make Twitter, Facebook and YouTube more responsible for the content they host,” said the Herald under the banner heading Social Media Crackdown.

“The will of governments to work together to tackle the potentially harmful impacts of social media would have only grown stronger in the wake of the terror attacks in Sri Lanka,” said the Herald the same day on page 5

But there was a very different Herald story on page 5 of the Herald’s regional stablemates the same day – including Hawke’s Bay Today, The Northern Advocate and Bay Of Plenty Times. 

“Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is ignoring a sarcastic swipe by a British columnist over the attacks in Sri Lanka which have left more than 200 dead,“ it began.

These papers weren’t the only media here reacting here to a single social media blurt from British far right provocateur Katie Hopkins.

He told both programmes she was a “publicity seeking idiot” whose name he didn’t want to repeat on TV.

Our media could easily have ignored her crass blurt on Twitter – along with millions of other non-newsworthy tweets.

But TVNZ’s One News Now site and MediaWorks TV and radio and Newshub site turned it into a talking point.

Not just ‘a talking point’, they made news items about it.

Stuff and RNZ were the only major media outlets here that did not turn Katie Hopkins trite tweets into talking points or and news stories.

The NZME papers, TVNZ and Newshub also called Katie Hopkins “an outspoken columnist.”

But she isn’t.

She is a right-wing anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant provocateur who has been too toxic for mainstream media some time.

She used to used to write for The Sun and then the Daily Mail in the UK and host a show on London talk station LBC. Newstalk ZB used to have her on from time to time on British politics.

But she was dumped by the Daily Mail and fired by LBC in 2017 after calling for a “final solution” after the Manchester bombing in May 2017 – and then calling on Western men to “rise up.”

Even Fox news in the US doesn;t use her as a commentator anymore.

Another reason media should keep their distance is her fondness for fake news.

Hopkins has recently been spreading false claims Notre Dame cathedral was destroyed by arson.

Hopkins would be delighted with the exposure she’s had here this past week without getting up from her keyboard in the UK.

‘Don’t feed the troll’ is a much-repeated maxim these days. If ignored, many of them really would go away.

But in the online age, savvy trolls like Katie Hopkins also feed the mainstream media’s appetite for controversy.

I think that at times it is worth challenging crap and hate merchants like Hopkins, but the Herald and Newshub didn’t do that, they used her media bait to bait for clicks. It doesn’t do their credibility any good.

Maybe the Herald should hide that sort of in depth muck behind their premium subscription so most people don’t have to see it.

Herald announces digital subscription model for premium content

NZ Herald has announced pricing for it’s ‘premium’ digital subscription – $5 per week, although a ‘special introductory offer’ will be offered next week when the premium content launches.

That’s $260 a year, quite a bit for part of one media company’s content. It’s a risk, especially if the free content is watered down too much and keeps promoting so much trivial click bait content.

This has been a long time coming, it has been talked about for years.

NZ Herald launches digital subscriptions for premium journalism, reveals pricing

NZME will become the first major New Zealand media business to unveil digital subscriptions – costing $5 a week, with a special introductory offer to be announced next week.

While much of the content on nzherald.co.nz will remain free, digital subscribers will access a range of premium content across business, politics, news, sport, lifestyle and entertainment including indepth investigations, exclusive reports, columns and analysis. There will also be more foreign, premium content from a range of internationally renowned mastheads.

I can get all the international news and analysis I want now.

People who have five-, six- or seven-day subscriptions to the NZ Herald or one of NZME’s five regional newspapers – the Northern Advocate, Bay of Plenty Times, Rotorua Daily Post, Hawke’s Bay Today and Whanganui Chronicle – will have automatic access to premium content. Print subscribers will be contacted next week with details of how to activate their digital subscription.

So it’s free for newspaper subscribers – for now at least.

They say it will help support ‘quality journalism’ and will provide ‘indepth analysis and insight’. If it allows them to do more of this that will be a good thing, provided they get sufficient subscriptions to keep funding it.

One problem with important investigations being limited subscriptions is that it will limit the impact.  The glare of publicity can sometimes impact on negative things that have been happening or have been done, and that publicity will be reduced if limited to subscription content.

I presume they will promote summaries or teasers of premium content so people know what they might be missing out on.


On a related matter – three years ago my household decided to drop our ODT print subscription, because we found we were hardly reading it, and could get sufficient news online.

Last year we restarted our ODT subscription. We found we missed it, especially for local (Dunedin and Otago) news, and also information about what was happening in the area. It does a good job generally on local news, and we felt it was worth supporting. And we are reading it more now – there’s something about flicking the large paper pages and browsing.

This is one reason why I won’t be subscribing to the Herald online.

The ODT republishes some Herald content – I wonder if this will continue and will include premium content?

Trust the Herald enough to pay for news online?

NZ Herald is moving towards a payment model for ‘premium news’ online. Preparing for this they are advertising in their own newspaper about trust of media and news – as criticism increases over dubious news and and click-bait trivia becoming more prominent.

I just don’t trust them to provide value for money in a crowded media market.

If NZH puts in place a subscription only premium news (and views?) online service they face a real risk – removing their better news from free coverage, they may lose a lot of online readers who aren’t prepared for serious content.

So they may make something out of online subscriptions, while at the same time reduce their free-to-view audience and advertising potential.

Newsroom MediaRoom: Putting a price on trust

The New Zealand Herald has been running a smart advertising campaign for itself involving whole pages of the newspaper with just a few words in the middle emphasising its values of truth, facts and trust.

“In an age of misinformation, it pays to get your news from a source you can trust,” says one, above the gothic ‘H’ of the Herald‘s masthead.

They make you think – about who or what you should trust in the media in this age of misinformation. They should also make you think about that Herald brand, a 156 year-old totem of our media.

The reason you are likely seeing the ads now – after years of some real risk to that brand from its fine journalism being overwhelmed online by a waterfall of average tabloid clickbait – is that the Herald very soon needs to trade on its trustworthiness and factual journalism.

It is about to ask New Zealanders to start paying online for Herald content, which has for many years been entirely free on nzherald.co.nz.

Advertising and therefore revenue has plummeted in print versions of newspapers, which has made things very tough to survive in the news business. One reaction has been to cut back on staff – but fewer journalists means fewer serious investigations, less journalism, less serious news. It has become a spiral downwards.

Belatedly introducing a premium subscription service might help the Herald recover, it may stem the bleeding, or it may make things worse.  It is a big risk.

I currently work around international subscription news at the likes of NY Times and Washington Post. I avoid others like The Telegraph. I work around Politik and largely ignore NBR because of their paywalls.

I pay for some media content, but that’s largely entertainment from Sky and Netflix.

I dumped my ODT subscription a couple of years ago, but resumed that six months ago because of it’s good local content. And because It think it is worth supporting independent local media.

Later this month NZME will front up to the market with its annual financial results, and the promise of new revenues from the Premium paywall will hang heavily over chief executive Michael Boggs.

The premium content effort has an editor, Miriyana Alexander, and NZME has been good to its word and recruited a range of top-shelf journalistic talent to feed its new money-maker, while progressively trimming non-premium teams covering sports and photography.

Put your money, though, on the Herald entering the digital subscriptions market very soon. Boggs could even sign up as its first paying guest when he reveals the company’s result in the next few weeks and then watch as the revenues roll in.

I am very unlikely to pay for premium Herald content. I will just look less often at their free content, and otherwise look elsewhere.

 

NZ Herald morphing into a mushy magazine?

I have just gone to the NZ Herald website looking for news of interest.Their current home page features:

Is the Herald a serious news organisation? Or is it morphing into a mushy magazine?

I then checked their Politics page, the place I usually go at the Herald.  The most recent articles are two days old. I realise the political year hasn’t cranked up yet but it’s surprising to see them with no fresh political news.

 

 

 

New Zealander of the year – women

NZ Herald has ‘named’ all women as their New Zealander of the year: Our New Zealander of the year is… women

It was the year of #metoo, pay equity, and our Prime Minister becaming a mum. It was the year a female rugby player – at last – gained the sport’s top honour. It was the 125th anniversary of suffrage, a year of celebration. But also a reminder that change does not come without hard work and frustration.

All year, we have watched as New Zealand women have fought for their rights. And fought. And fought.

From campaigning against sexual harassment in the media, to arguing for equal pay through the courts, to addressing our shameful domestic violence record at the United Nations, women stood up and were counted. They raised their voices when others didn’t want to hear. They were empowered in the face of adversity. They persisted despite knowing meaningful change would likely be a long time yet.

That persistence has led us to name women – all women – as our 2018 New Zealanders of the Year.

However, we wanted to acknowledge a year which – though challenging – has been described by many as a beginning.

Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy told us she thought the year was a tipping point, when women decided they’d simply had enough. Jackie Clark, who works with survivors of domestic violence, said it felt like a renaissance of the feminism of the 1970s. The only female chief executive in the NZX50, Chorus head Kate McKenzie, said she thought the year created momentum – and with it an opportunity to keep that momentum going.

New Zealand is still a good place to be a woman, even if all our battles are not yet won. But what women have achieved this year marks 2018 as the beginning of an overhaul which will have a profound impact on future generations. It is a challenge to the future, rather than an answer to the past.

Important change takes time, but 2018 was a good step forward for women in New Zealand.

 

Mixed Mood of the Boardroom but “too many committees”

Not surprisingly there are mixed responses on NZ Herald’s annual ‘Mood of the Boardroom’ survey. a majority thing that the Government  has worked to their expectations (that is not necessarily positive), and NZ First have been a moderating influence on union moves.

  • 59% said the Coalition had worked to their expectations
  • 23% said worse than expected
  • 15% said better than expected

The significance of that depends on what expectations where.

NZH Mood of the Boardroom: 150 CEOs deliver their verdict on the Government

Unsurprisingly, the survey of 150 chief executives confirmed business confidence one year into the Coalition Government is wobbly, and in some policy areas, struggling to stay on its feet, but there were contradictions aplenty in their responses.

While some expected the influence of NZ First and Winston Peters to be problematic, others saw NZ First as a potentially moderating influence when it came to acknowledging the harmful impact on business confidence from union-led law reforms.

It is like that a Labour-Green only government would have been much more compliant to union demands.

But generally, CEOs were united in citing the Coalition’s lack of experience, “too many committees and not enough action” and unclear agenda.

A challenge for Ardern is to be much clearer on specifics of her Government’s agenda rather than making grand but vague proclamations.

The survey confirmed one overarching contradiction: the economy is showing the highest level of quarterly growth seen in the past two years but business confidence is sinking.

The chief concern of CEOs was uncertainty – “general uncertainty about the impact and direction of current Government policies”.

The rest of the top five ranking factors also pointed to uncertainty: skills and labour shortages, regulation, employment law changes and transport infrastructure.

The uncertainty is fixable, but it could take some time for all the working groups and inquiries and committees to report back, and more time still for the Government to then decide what to do in response. This may take some negotiating between Labour, NZ First and the Greens.

For CEOs the single biggest factor that would assist their business remain internationally competitive from New Zealand, at 23.5 per cent, was Government/council policy.

Skills and talent was next at 22.6 per cent and specific Government/council policy third at 14.8 per cent.

That said, the Coalition’s “oil and gas ban” provoked a strong response from chief executives, with some 77 per cent of respondents agreeing the Government should have waited until the Productivity Commission set its path to a low emissions future and taken that advice on board first.

The Government rushed some decisions to give the appearance they were on the ball, and have since had to adjust their approach.

Recognised was the Coalition’s “pragmatic” response to international trade, where it had surprised by devising an early fix and signing up to the new CPTPP.

That was a good surprise for business interests, and complained about bitterly by trade and globalisation opponents on the far left.

If the Government learns from it’s mistakes and gets their act together in making decisions and progress then the boardrooms and business sector may improve their outlook, but the longer key decisions take the more chance that festering uncertainty can become a real problem for the economy.

 

 

Stuff repeats Herald mistake on foreign buyers

Yesterday NZ Herald:  It’s not 3% – ASB analysis suggests up to a fifth of properties sold to non-residents

Analysis from ASB has found that Statistics New Zealand’s estimate that non-citizens accounted for only 3 per cent of house purchases is well short.

Economists from the bank say the figure more likely sits between 11 and 21 per cent.

Examining transfers or purchases of New Zealand property, Mark Smith and Nick Tuffley analysed the information and reached different conclusions to those released by Statistics NZ.

“The estimates suggest that non-resident purchases made up around 3 per cent of nationwide house purchases over the March 2018 year. This was in a similar ballpark to previously published figures. However, anywhere from 11 per cent to 21 per cent of reported purchases over that period involved a non-NZ citizen, with the proportion considerably higher for some areas, particularly Auckland and Queenstown,” they wrote in their latest Economic Note.

This was criticised on Twitter:

Going deeper into the economic note, there is a strong sense that the reason non-residents and non-citizens are getting mixed up is because the authors of this report believe that citizens have more of a right to own property than non-citizens, even those who are resident here.

Hey , resident non-citizens who buy houses so they can live somewhere are not the same as the “overseas investors” that you’re worried about. Conflating them is not just misleading, but kinda dangerous eh?

ASB did the analysis, published an economic note/report, and then gave it to all the media agencies, who are basically just quoting what it says in the report. So pretty sure the fault lies with ASB’s economists.

ASB conflated them. The distinction matters because there are people who live in this country who are non-citizens, but they are definitely residents and shouldn’t be lumped into “foreign investor”

I know someone who was a permanent resident for over thirty years, part owning four houses, before becoming a citizen.

The Herald have since changed the headline to “sold to non-citizens”.

But today Stuff make the same mistake, if not worse: As many as one in five house buyers in NZ may be foreign

Restrictions on foreigners buying New Zealand property will depress prices, one economist says – and the effect may be greater than some have predicted.

The Overseas Investment Amendment Bill is working its way to becoming law.

But while official statistics and anecdotal evidence from the real estate industry indicate only 3 per cent of sales are to overseas buyers, ASB senior economist Mark Smith at ASB said that number might be deceptively low.

He said another 8 per cent of sales were attributable to resident visa-holders who were not citizens, such as people who had newly migrated.

And such as people who migrated years ago, and decades ago.

Another 10 per cent were corporate entities, for which ownership information is not available.

If there is no information then no assumptions can be made about nationality.

He said anything from 11 per cent to 21 per cent of purchases in the March 2018 involved a non-New Zealand citizen.

Actually that should be “anything from 3 per cent to 21 per cent of purchases in the March 2018 involved a non-New Zealand citizen”.

But it is unlikely to be anywhere near 21%. And permanent residents are likely to be a significant portion of 3-11%.

This is poor analysis from the ASB and very poor reporting from the Herald and Stuff.

 

Homelessness “is much worse than previously thought”

NZH seems to have got a report that is to be released this morning in advance – Homeless crisis: 80% to 90% of homeless people turned away from emergency housing

New Zealand’s homelessness crisis is much worse than previously thought, as a new report identifies a hidden homeless population that is not officially monitored by government agencies.

More than 80 per cent of all homeless people turning up to community emergency housing providers in the last year were turned away because the system is bursting at the seams, according to an independent housing stocktake to be released today.

And the number of recorded homeless people without a safe and secure place to live is expected to rise significantly, as more struggling people are told that help is available and come out of the shadows.

The report, authored by economist Shamubeel Eaqub​, University of Otago Professor of Public Health Philippa Howden-Chapman and the Salvation Army’s Alan Johnson, will be released this morning by Housing Minister Phil Twyford.

The report is understood to bring together figures across a number of areas including homelessness, the rental market, housing affordability – including the rising costs relative to wage increases – and housing supply nationwide, with a specific focus on Auckland.

One of the report’s main focuses will be to highlight a hidden homeless population that is not officially monitored or recorded.

However, community emergency housing providers report they are at full capacity, and their data from last year indicate that for every 10 homeless people that approach them, eight to nine are turned away.​

The report will refer to a burgeoning “floating population” – people without safe and secure housing, including in temporary housing, sharing with another household, or living in uninhabitable places.

The report is understood to say that greater awareness of the issue, along with more information campaigns about where to get help, is expected to lead to reported homelessness getting worse.

The report is intended as analysis of the housing issue, and is not expected to make any recommendations for action.

Odd that the Herald keeps referring to “The report is understood to…” when they obviously either have a copy of the report (have they broken an embargo?) or have been provided with details.

The Government describes it as an independent stocktake of the housing crisis to help focus its work. But National’s housing spokesman Michael Woodhouse has call it a “smoke and mirrors” exercise to find the numbers to fit the Government’s narrative, when the housing market is “flat to falling”.

Politics aside, there is obviously a problem with homelessness and difficulties in finding suitable housing for many people.

Context box: Homelessness crisis

  • 8 to 9 out of every 10 homeless people turned away from emergency housing providers
  • Hidden homeless population with no official monitoring or recording
  • 1 in 100 live in severe housing deprivation in 2013 census, up from 1 in 120 in 2006 and 1 in 130 in 2001
  • Auckland Council says 23,409 in severe housing deprivation last year, up 3000 from the 2013 census
  • 7725 on state house waiting list, up 5 per cent from Sept quarter
  • MBIE figures show a nationwide shortfall of 71,000 houses; 45,000 in Auckland

Regardless of a report trying to detail and quantify the extent of the problems, the key is what the current Government can do to alleviate both homelessness and the wider housing shortage.

New Zealander of the Year

It’s getting close to that time of year when ‘best of the year’ claims on a range of things are announced. NZ Herald is getting votes for their New Zealander of the Year: People’s Choice Award

They don’t say how they have selected their list to choose from. Here they are:

Bronia Tindall & Fabrizio Clementi

They gave a homeless man a slice of their wedding cake.

Nathan Spitzer

“The builder, a contractor on farms in the Waikato, become the toast of Ngaruawahia when he jumped into the fast-moving Waikato River in November to rescue an 8-year-old girl who was near-hypothermic and clinging for her life to a pier.”

Lance O’Sullivan

“…admiration and respect for the Kaitaia GP was renewed when he stormed the stage at a local screening of an anti-vaccination documentary.

“Already, O’Sullivan’s impact on local public health has been immeasurable, including setting up a low-cost health clinic at Kaitaia Hospital and the MaiHealth programme, which offers a remote consultation to people without ready access to primary healthcare.

“He has also been instrumental in establishing programmes aimed at improving child health, including the Manawa Ora Korokoro Ora (Moko) foundation and the Kainga Ora (Well Home) initiative.”

He was named New Zealander of the Year in 2014.

Marnie Prickett

“Prickett, 33, a former staffer at Auckland Council programme Wai Care, and fellow advocates launched a charitable trust that became Choose Clean Water, which has proven a powerful and influential voice for our waterways.

“She and others travelled across the country, hearing from people who had watched their cherished rivers turn dry or green, before presenting a 10,000-strong petition to Parliament demanding tougher laws to make all waterways swimmable.”

Sarah Thomson

“…she decided to become the first person in our history to take the Government to the High Court — a bid that ultimately failed legally, yet succeeded in capturing the country’s attention.

“Among other points, Thomson alleged the Government had failed to review its climate targets, and that those New Zealand had pledged — slashing domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 11 per cent below 1990 levels and 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 — were “unreasonable and irrational” against the seriousness of the issue.”

Andrew Nicolson

“Comeback hero Andrew Nicholson showed supreme courage when he won the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials in May.”

Steve Askin

“Decorated ex-SAS soldier and helicopter pilot Steve Askin died when his Squirrel chopper crashed while fighting the devastating Port Hills wildfire above Christchurch in February.

“In 2014, he received the NZ Gallantry Star for his efforts fighting in Afghanistan.

“While stories of his courage and selfless derring-do in fighting the Taliban — he was wounded in a five-hour shootout on June 29, 2011 after the Taliban stormed the InterContinental Hotel in Kabul — were shared, mum Leslie spoke about true heroes making a difference in people’s lives.”

Sarah Cato

“Detective Sarah Cato is battling incurable cancer — but that hasn’t stopped her battling major crimes. And it hasn’t stopped her raising money for other cancer sufferers.

“She was heavily involved in Operation Nepal — the brutal sexual assault and murder of 69-year-old Cunxiu Tian in her family home in Te Atatu in January last year.

“Cato is also instrumental in the ongoing investigation into the abduction and sexual
assault of an 11-year-old boy in Ranui.”

The people of Kaikoura and Waiau

“Many locals would say the last 12 months have been the toughest of their lives. And the only way they’ve got through it, is by standing together as a community. Looking after each other.”

They are all people who deserve some recognition, to varying degrees.

There’s another on the list who deserves a special mention.

Andrew Little

“On his first day as Minister of Justice Andrew Little said he would look again at the compensation given to Teina Pora for his wrongful conviction and 20 year imprisonment. Within a fortnight he had done just that and signed off on an inflation adjustment for Pora’s compensation — adding almost $1 million to bring it to a total of $3.5m.”

“Just three months earlier, Little had acted on another ‘right thing to do’ by stepping down as Labour leader. Little’s was not the easiest decision to make and may well have been made for him had he not handed over the job himself to Jacinda Ardern. But his decision, and endorsement of Ardern, made it a smooth handover — and gave Labour a chance at the election.”

I agree with the decision to properly compensate Teina Pora.But one act by a politician deserves a major award?

I agree that Little’s capitulation as Labour leader substantially changed the election campaign, but I’m not sure he deserves a lot of credit for that, some but not a lot. One could claim that Metiria Turei had more influence on the election campaign and outcome than anyone.

And the merits of the Government that Little’s stepping down helped enable are far from clear yet. As are his plans as a Minister.

I think it’s fair for Little to be considered as politician of the year, albeit with question marks over his standing compared to all other politicians – notably his successor, Jacinda Ardern.

But one politician as overall ‘people’s choice’? Seems an odd choice to be on the list.

You can vote here.