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.

 

 

‘Recession likely’, or not

Different views on the likelihood of a recession.

Forbes: New Zealand, An Economic Success Story, Loses Its Way

On September 23, the people of New Zealand elected 37-year-old Jacinda Ardern as prime minister, the youngest prime minister in New Zealand’s history. Ardern has brought youthful energy to New Zealand politics, but her scary rhetoric during the campaign (like calling capitalism a “blatant failure”) has some people wondering if she will take the country back to the bad old days of the 70s and early 80s.

One of Ardern’s first acts as prime minister was to ban foreign ownership of residential real estate; New Zealand has, by anyone’s measure, one of the biggest housing bubbles in the world. Banning foreign ownership of property sets the country up for a possible real estate crash.

Ardern also opposes high levels of immigration, along with her coalition partner, Winston Peters. It is set to drop dramatically. Immigration, especially skilled immigration, has been a big contributor to economic growth over the years.

It seems likely that New Zealand will experience a recession during Ardern’s term. Nobody is predicting a return to the bad old days of the 70s, but New Zealand will probably lose its status as one of the most open, free economies in the world. It takes decades to weaken an economy, just like it takes decades to strengthen it. But investors will probably want to avoid New Zealand for the time being.

Jared Dillian is the author of All the Evil of This World, and the editor of the 10th Man newsletter for Mauldin Economics.

Liam Dann (NZH): What Recession? Local economists pick good growth

The verdicts are in and despite what Forbes contributor Jared Dillian says, there are no economists picking a recession for Jacinda Ardern’s Government.

Most of New Zealand and Australia’s major economics teams have now reassessed their economic forecasts to factor in the effect of the new Government.

The loose consensus – bearing in mind no two economists ever agree – seems to be that GDP growth is going to be less flash than previously expected next year.

But it’s not crashing through the floor either. Growth forecasts between 2.4 per cent and 3.2 per cent for 2018 still look pretty good by international standards.

Apart from a few random think pieces though – written by offshore commentators who can’t quite believe New Zealand changed Government with the accounts in such good shape – most of the economic and financial community still seems pretty relaxed about the new regime.

It’s very early days to see what the Government will do, and what the economy will do.

And as far as the economy is concerned, it is most at risk from overseas influences.

Farce news, when comedy becomes the headline

There are enough problems with passing comments on social media becoming ‘news’ stories, but now ‘claims’ by a comedian have hit the headlines.

Click bait headline at NZH: Did Trump mistake Jacinda for Justin Trudeau’s wife?

The question that no one seems to have asked apart from the Herald’s headline writer is answered in the article.

The article leads:

When US President Donald Trump first met Jacinda Ardern at Apec in Vietnam last week, he thought she was the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, according to comedian Tom Sainsbury.

Sainsbury, who is well known for his impersonation of National MPs on Snapchat, made the claim on Radio Live this afternoon.

How well known? I haven’t heard of him before.

He said he was chatting with Ardern while they were backstage at the Vodafone NZ Music Awards on Thursday night.

“I don’t know if I should be saying this, but she said that Donald Trump was confused for a good amount of time thinking that she was Justin Trudeau’s wife.”

Sainsbury said Trump eventually realised who Ardern was, and that Ardern had also said that Trump was “not as orange in real life”.

Comedians could have a lot of fun if media make a habit of turning their jokes into news.

In a statement, Ardern said: “Someone thought the President had confused us, but in all of the conversations we had it was clear to me he hadn’t, and recalled the conversation we had late last month.”

Ardern said she exchanged pleasantries with the US president and shook his hand, but did not have a substantive conversation.

That has been widely reported, including, I presume, by the Herald, so suggesting via a headline that a comedian joking is news is not a joke, it’s seriously suspect. I didn’t see if they ran it as breaking news or not.

Toby Manhire also pushed the comedian story at The Spinoff: ‘You’ve done well for yourself’: Did Trump mistake Jacinda Ardern for Trudeau’s wife?

This could be called farce news.

I wonder if Justin Trudeau’s wife has a name – but I guess an investigative jouranlist would be required to find that out.

Balanced politics, and unbalanced Stuff

On the eve of the election Stuff has a very unbalanced political page, favouring Winston Peters, Labour and Greens.

StuffElectionEve2017

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics

And that is negative for National and TOP.

The Herald is more general and more balanced:

NZHElectionEve2017

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/headlines.cfm?c_id=280

Very balanced at RNZ:

RNZElectionEve2017

Very good to see information for voters prominent at Newshub:

NewshubElectionEve2017

http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/election.html

The two large parties dominate at 1 News:

1NewsElectionEve2017

https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/election

The Spinoff features the last pre-election poll from Newshub (asimilar result to Colmar Brunton) plus general election information.

TheSpinoffElectionEve2017

https://thespinoff.co.nz/category/politics/

Newsroom focuses on Maori (not positively), Labour and the Greens.

Overall today’s election coverage looks very balanced, apart from Stuff in particular and also Newsroom.