An old school reporter retires

A lot of things have changed significantly in New Zealand and in the world over the last fifty years. One of those things is journalism along with the means of distributing news and views.

Dave Cannan started as a cadet reporter for the Otago Daily Times in 1970, moved on to work for newspapers in Christchurch and Timaru before returning to the ODT where he rose to the position of chief reporter in the first decade of this century.

To mark his retirement from the newspaper business the ODT has a profile of him and his career as a reporter.

ODT: It’s news to us all

”The Wash” wound up on Friday last week. In a strange twist of timing, it also marked the 65th birthday of Cannan, who is putting behind him a career in journalism that has spanned almost five decades – specifically, since January 20, 1970, when a 17-year-old Mosgiel youth started as a cadet reporter at the Otago Daily Times. Back then, New Zealand had yet to hear of Harvey and Jeannette Crewe (killed six months later at Pukekawa, Waikato). The same year, John Rowles sold a million copies of his single Cheryl Moana Marie, and Hogsnort Rupert claimed a Loxene Golden Disc Award for Pretty Girl.

I was still at school then but remember those things – I followed the Arthur Allan Thomas trial in the ODT, but I wasn’t a fan of either Rowles or Hogsnort Rupert.

Anyway, after being sent home from Wanaka by mum, I saw an ad in the ODT for an apprentice photo-lithographer. I got an interview – which was in the old ODT building at Queen’s Gardens – and basically got offered the job. But I mentioned I was interested in a job as a reporter and was taken up to the editorial department to see [then chief of staff] Clarke Isaacs.

”(In those days – and until the early 1990s – the ODT took on youngsters as cadet journalists; they started on the bottom rung of the ladder, typically learning their craft from a variety of industry veterans.)

”It was pretty rough and tumble and not particularly politically correct, you might say. But you got to learn from people like Clarke and from senior reporters.

”Once I got the job I had to get my head around what reporters actually do. As a cadet you’d get some menial tasks – the fruit and vegetable column,  the fire calls, the shipping news – but they were a good way to learn the basics of the craft, from ringing people up to checking your facts and figures.”

Details of his reporting career follow that, to:

Appointed chief reporter in 1999, Cannan looks back with some pride on his tenure of what is, typically, one of the most challenging positions in daily journalism.

”I’d been deputy for a while, so had a taste of it, but, when I think about it now, I had no managerial training. In journalism, if you are any good, you just get pushed up the ladder.

”I was chief reporter for nine and a-half years. It’s an emotional, passionate job. You live and breathe it. And sometimes, perhaps, I rode rough-shod over someone’s feelings.

”I probably upset a lot of people because I did it my way. I tried to lead by example and got it wrong a few times. I made mistakes and annoyed a few people. Looking back, I was probably in too much of a hurry to get things done.

”But the buck ultimately stops with you. You have to believe in yourself. If you don’t, you’re buggered. There was a lot of pressure to that, a lot of long hours.”

From what I’ve heard it was not a glamorous or particularly well paid job, but it was hard work.

This is an interesting profile of an old school reporter.

Unusually good looking ODT website

The Otago Daily Times has a new look website, and it looks unusually good for a news website.

While the home page packs in a lot of information it looks simple, clean and uncluttered, it’s easy to browse and it has a very modest and unobtrusive amount of advertising. This is unusual for a news website.


If you click on a link to a story this page is also clean and clear, also with relatively unobtrusive advertising. So far very good. But there is a big BUT.

In the top right of the screen are three links:Subscribe |Log in /Register

It looks like they have moved to their promised partial paywall. At this stage I can access news pages but presume there will either be a time limit or a number of links limit.


It is very easy to start your Otago Daily Times home delivery and/or digital edition subscriptions.

From as little as $5.76 per week you can have home delivery six days a week of the ODT plus access to the digital edition.

For each option below, digital access is available for no additional price. If you live outside the delivery area or you do not want to receive a paper copy of the ODT, the digital only subscriptions are available at the same price.

This is where I raise my eyebrows. The digital only subscription is “available at the same price” as the print plus digital.

I guess this is to try and stop people from dropping the print edition and going digital only. So from a retention of circulation point of view it may make sense, but I think it may deter many people from going digital only when it is presumably simpler and cheaper to deliver but costs the same for less.

And something that’s quite peculiar:

If you would like to set up a digital only subscription please call our circulation team…

Ringing up to arrange an online subscription seems bizarre. I can guess again, perhaps they want to force you to talk to a sales person to give them the opportunity to try and sell you up to a full print+digital subscription.

But I think that the people most likely to want a digital only subscription are less likely to bother to ring, especially if they are overseas.


I’ve been able to register a User Accoun…

  • Your account has been granted temporary access. You will need to click on the link in the account verification email to set a password and complete the account registration process.

  • Registration successful. You are now logged in.

but I haven’t received a confirmation email yet so I can’t complete the set up. If I can eventually complete…

If you are a subscriber to print or e-edition you will get unrestricted access to ODT online.

I don’t know what restricted access means.

My initial impression is that the new ODT website is unusually good looking for a news website, but it will take time to see whether the subscription options encourage or deter readers of both print and digital editions.

While I can’t find any news information about the ODT upgrade this story in March indicated where they were headed:

ODT Online relaunching with paywall

The Otago Daily Times plans to introduce a metered paywall for its online content next month as part of an exciting relaunch of its website.

The metered paywall will allow online users to read a certain number of free articles each month, after which they will be required to pay.

Existing print subscribers will get full access to at no additional cost to their print subscription. Subscribers will also continue to enjoy free access to the ODT tablet (iPad/Android) edition, which is a replica of the printed newspaper.

The new website will be optimised to mobile and tablet devices as well as offer a refreshed look and feel.

It looks like this has just been implemented.

Otago Daily Times profile

A very interesting profile of the Otago Daily Times via a Listener interview with managing director Julian Smith.

Interview: Sir Julian Smith

If you want to know what New Zealand newspaper offices used to be like, a visit to the Otago Daily Times should do the trick. The clunky Imperial typewriters have been replaced by computer keyboards, but in almost every other respect the ODT building is like a time capsule: a rabbit warren of corridors and poky ante-rooms that bear evidence of having been subjected, in time-honoured newspaper industry tradition, to decades of ad hoc alterations.

The whole article provides worthwhile insights into the newspaper industry in New Zealand.

Smith is an old school publisher and the ODT stands out as an old school newspaper surviving in an increasingly turbulent industry (media generally, not just newspapers). In New Zealand print news has become dominated by overseas interests, with both the major players, Fairfax and APN, owned by Australian companies.

My respect for the ODT goes back half a century, having been a regular reader. I reluctantly ditched my print subscription last year but a bit ironically read more of it now, online.

There’s more to Allied Press than the ODT as they publish a number of community papers, they have a majority share in the Greymouth Star and run two regional TV stations, CTV in Christchurch and Channel 9 in Dunedin (which I can’t watch because there’s no signal where I live).

The ODT has adapted less than most other newspapers to the digital age but has survived better, so far. Time wil tell whether they keep up with change enough or get left behind.

More on the ODT paywall

Tim Murphy at The Spinoff has more details on the ODT plans for putting up a paywall on a new news website.

There will be a lot of interest in seeing how it goes by other media who contemplate the pros and cons of paywalls versus click based advertising.

Watch this space: ODT takes the paywall plunge

From mid-April, Dunedin’s leading newsroom will introduce a metered paywall offering between 15 and 30 free stories a month before readers have to cough up about $27 a month as a subscriber. Print subscribers already pay that figure monthly and will get the digital subscription free.

Charging the same amount as the print version (whose subscribers also get an online subscription) may be aimed at bolstering print circulation but it doesn’t make sense.

It will be the first major news publisher in New Zealand to do so, following many in the United States, Europe and Australia. And it could be in the right place, at the right time, to make it work.

Two smaller New Zealand regional papers have introduced paywalls. TheAshburton Guardian makes visitors to its Guardian Online site pay from the get-go to read its stories. The Gisborne Herald allows seven free reads of stories before seeking a subscription payment.

The Listener and NBR already operate with subscription paywalls.

The two big players in this country,, owned by Fairfax, and, run by NZME, have vowed not to go there any time soon with paywalls – both are intent on earning money from their digital content by attracting advertisers through ever-rising audience numbers.

Which means a move towards more click bait trivia.

Its chief, Sir Julian Smith, leads a business which still has a total editorial staff of almost 80 and an overall headcount of 400 or so – a big presence in both senses in Dunedin and the province.

Sir Julian will be hoping a Meclab survey finding from the US this month on willingness to pay – that “respondents point above all to the ability to gain access to exclusive content unavailable from other news orgs, including arts and culture and local news” – will be reflected in the south.

Everyone further north will be watching.

Will enough of those in the south pay?

ODT being paywalled

Hamish McNeilly (@southernscoop) has revealed on Twitter:

ODT is launching new website in April with metered paywall. Free to subscribers. “Moving away from the free online model”.

It’s a fascinating move.

McNeilly is (or was) and ODT reporter.

Not many articles written about Dunedin by ODT journos ? Most APN, NZPA or Reuters besides handed Press releases


It’s a well regarded paper that covers local news well. They go to court, council meetings, liquor hearings etc

Yes, the ODT is generally well regarded, but I don’t know if it is well enough regarded to survive off a subscription model. They have tried something like it before, and casual access was just too awkward and expensive to bother with.

Where are you seeing this? Got a link?

Nolink! Just a copy of a subscriber letter.

Bryce Edwards:

Some extra online features coming too, apparently. Should be interesting.

For me it will depend on the features and the cost. Unless it stacks up it will wall me off from local content, except for the articles that are reposted at NZH.

Their current website probably doesn’t generate enough clicks or ad revenue to encourage them to try that model, but it’s not a very inviting website, nor does it encourage interaction. Posted comments can take hours to appear.

One risk for the ODT will be providing more of an opening for alternate news providers like Stuff and radio news.

Suffocating mainstream media

Newspaper circulations continue to slide around New Zealand, which won’t surprise anyone.

The latest Press Audit results are here.

Twelve month movements:

  • Dominion Post -13.70%
  • The Press -8.32%
  • NZ Herald -5.69%
  • Otago Daily Times -3.51%

I’m part of the ODT decline, I dropped my long time subscription last year.

All but one provincial newspaper are down, the exception being the Northern Advocate which rose 1.59%.

But this is just circulation (and large reductions in print advertising revenue). All the large newspapers also have online sites.

It may seem obvious why print news is in decline, but one person claims to be suffocating mainstream media.

One thing is for sure, no one wants yesterday’s papers.

My audience is growing. I guess you have to be relevant and reflect society. The mainstream media have not done that and their sales are sliding to oblivion.

I hope to be able to help suffocate them further.

The Dominion Post is dead on its feet. They have less circulation daily than I have readers on Whaleoil.

Except that comparing print circulation with online readership is a bit silly – the Dominion Post has a substantial online readership via Stuff.

Alexa New Zealand rankings:

  • Stuff: 6
  • NZ Herald: 10
  • Otago Daily Times: 123
  • Whale Oil: 170

Even a tumbleweed provincial ODiTy outranks the niche blog.

(Alexa is only a rough indicator but that surprised me).

TPPA and ‘free trade’

Some critics of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement point out that it isn’t a free trade agreement. Blazer commented here yesterday:

when will you figure out that its NOT ABOUT FREE TRADE?

From The Standard:


from Obamas ‘State of the Union Address’ yesterday…

“With TPP, China does not set the rules in that region; we do. You want to show our strength in this new century? Approve this agreement. Give us the tools to enforce it. It’s the right thing to do.


So not a free trade deal.
A geopolitical strategy.
And we are the pawns.

Paul doesn’t address why he claims it isn’t also a free trade deal, he just states it isn’t. This pretty much parrots the big guns aiming at the TPPA.

Jane Kelsey is one of the most prominent critics and opponents and has written a book about it -see Jane Kelsey New Book On TPPA – Hidden Agendas:

Hidden Agendas
What We Need to Know about the TPPA.
Jane Kelsey

Forget the label “free trade agreement”. The TPPA, under negotiation between New Zealand, the USA and ten other countries, is a direct assault on our right to decide our own future.

Some irony in “hidden agendas”, not just in arguing against “free trade” label.

While it can be quibbled about whether the TPPA is a “free trade” agreement – most trade involves money or an exchange of something of value so is not free – I think there is no doubt one of the aims of the TPPA is to free up trade impediments.

Today’s Otago Daily Times editorial TPP vote, then wait to ratify it points out that tarriff reductions are a significant part of the TPPA.

Tariffs are a persistent brake on growth in global trade and it is encouraging the 12 member countries of the TPP will cut tariffs on more than $US500billion ($NZ772 billion) of trade annually, according to HSBC senior trade economist Douglas Lippoldt.

“In most cases, they will eliminate import duties altogether. But before the TPP comes into force, it has to be ratified – an uncertain process that may take a year or more.”

One-third of TPP trade, about $US630billion a year, was currently subject to tariffs.

Although the average tariff rate among TPP members was 3% or less, some trade flows faced double-digit duties, he said.

Of the TPP trade currently subject to duties, some 85% would be liberalised up front.

Countries such as Australia, Chile, New Zealand, Peru or the US would liberalise 90% or more.

HSBC estimated duty cuts for another 5% of that trade would phase in over the next seven years.

The remainder concerned trade items that might be economically or politically sensitive, such as agricultural or apparel products.

For those products, duties would phase out over longer periods or they would face continued duties, Mr Lippoldt said.

Tariff elimination was controversial because it increased the exposure of specific domestic, import-competing industries to foreign competition.

“This often politicises trade negotiations and contributes to the controversy surrounding free trade agreements, even when it is clear a proposed agreement could bring welfare gains in the aggregate. The TPP, being so ambitious is in its liberalisation agenda, is no exception.”

The TPP agreement aimed to eliminate substantially all tariffs, though subject to some exceptions.

The market access chapter affirmed each TPP country was to grant national treatment to the goods of the other TPP countries, he said.

That removed most potential discrimination in the application of tariffs.

The agreement specified no TPP country might increase existing customs duties or adopt a new one, although again subject to some exceptions.

The agreement also established clear rules for transparency in the use of the tariff rate quotas and the related allocation procedures.

Reducing tariffs in effect frees up trade and will make it easier for New Zealand to trade competitively.

While ‘free trade’ could be argued reducing tariffs can mean ‘less restrained trade’.

Existing trade agreements means that trade between some countries in the TPPA is already fairly free or unrestrained by tariffs:

  • CER between Australia and New Zealand
  • All of Singapore’s trade with all TPP countries is already duty free
  • The North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) had provided for extensive duty-free trade among Canada, Mexico and the US.

‘Duty-free trade’ is more explanatory than ‘free trade’ and difficult to argue against.

HSBC estimated New Zealand would gain $US7.62billion from tariff liberalisation under TPP.

New Zealand imported $US18.14billion from TPP countries, or 43% of the country’s total imports.

Australia would gain $US30.5billion.

The country imports $US78.1billion from TPP countries, or 34% of total imports.

Significant amounts, so significant potential trade gains for us and Australia.

The HSBC assessment of the TPP highlighted the substantial progress the agreement made in reducing or eliminating tariffs – a trade barrier that had proven to be persistent, he said.

The persistence reflected the sensitivity of liberalisation for the products concerned, as various interests succeeded in maintaining a degree for that type of trade protection, he said.

“The TPP negotiators’ success in eliminating most of the remaining tariffs across the TPP region, albeit with some exceptions and limitations, is a notable achievement.

“The reduction in trade costs associated with tariffs might be expected to deliver meaningful expansion of trade – not only from growth in existing trade flows as taxes are reduced, but also from the opening of new potential trade corridors not currently active due to prohibitive tariffs,” he said.

Claiming the TPPA is not a ‘free trade’ agreement may be semantically correct on it’s own it is ignorant or dishonest. And it is contrary to what is commonly referred to as a ‘free trade’ agreement.

New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade states:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a free trade agreement that will liberalise trade and investment between 12 Pacific-rim countries: New Zealand, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Viet Nam.

It’s obvious from Wikipedia’s many references that ‘free trade’ is a widely used and accepted term.

Claiming the TPPA is not a free trade agreement without explanation or qualification is just opposing without an argument.

ODT on flag: “New Zealanders should choose wisely and well”

Today’s Otago Daily Times editorial is on what is the first chance ever New Zealanders have had a chance to choose our flag.

And for people of my vintage it is probably a chance in a lifetime.

Something old or something new?

And then there were two.

This is the first time in history all New Zealanders get their say on our national flag.

Whether it’s a vote about the process or the cost, a vote for or against change, a vote about history or the future, a vote about symbolism, or a vote purely about flag design, it is now encumbent on all New Zealanders to have their say.

The flag New Zealanders choose will fly for many years to come.

No government is likely to go near this process again for a long time – whatever the result.

Some of those who don’t want flag change now for whatever reason seem to fail to see that this opportunity to choose our flag is unlikely to happen again in the foreseeable future.

So will it be something old or something new?

New Zealanders should choose wisely and well; choose what best represents them individually and the country, both at home and abroad.

And, when so much in life seems out of our hands, we should perhaps remember to be grateful we even have a say.

Whether you want change or you want the current flag to remain the upcoming referendum is an important democratic choice.

It’s good that we the get to make that choice by majority vote.

The referendum should be taken seriously and the occasion should be savoured as a strength of New Zealand democracy, whatever the outcome.


Lauda Finem versus Otago Daily Times

Lauda Finem claim there are no limitations to what they can say. In their latest post New Zealand IRD – The Blomfield frauds, the liquidators, the lawyers, the police and the media collaborators they claim:

Just the other day New Zealand’s Whale Oil Blog ran a couple of stories on a series of fraud and corruption allegations inveigling New Zealand’s Inland Revenue Department (IRD). Whilst the journo responsible, Stephen Cook, would undoubtedly have preferred that those involved be named the Whale Oil blog is unable to do so.

Team Lauda Finem however have no such limitations as we are not subject to New Zealand’s laws, its courts or the bullshit gag order Whale Oil has been subjected to.

As aforesaid we here at LF have no such limitations when it comes to who we can name. We also have the benefit of knowing every detail in the whole sorry saga from start to finish.

That’s a claim lacking in credibility.

As Stephen Cooks own investigation unfurles we here at LF will be following up and naming the people responsible and where ever possible, or required, supplying additional information if available.

They claim to know “every detail in the whole sorry saga from start to finish” – why is Stephen Cook bothering to investigate if everything is already known –  but also say they will supply “additional information if available”.

One of the many names named is Otago Daily Times.

Interestingly, once again APN’s New Zealand HeraldHerald on Sunday and the independently owned Otago Daily Times have been implicated in a conspiracy to conduct a smear campaign…

Claiming to know “every detail in the whole sorry saga from start to finish”, and implicating a serious accusation against the Otago Daily Times with absolutely no substance provided looks suspect to me, an accusation with zero evidence.

They say they have “no such limitations as we are not subject to New Zealand’s laws” regarding revealing anything, but they don’t back up their bluster.

Despite their claims of “knowing every detail” they also say “there is still much more work to be done” and they will bring more detail as the stories unfold. I know from my own experience they are making up some of their stories.

“Is NZ a nation of poor sports?”

No. Don’t diss all Kiwis because of a few lager lubricated loudmouths!

There have been a few news reports on TV and in newspapers about unsporting incidents during the Rugby World Cup. INCIDENTS. Blown up by media. Like the run of “poor Quade is being picked on” stories.

Not widespread behaviour.

The Otago Daily Times adds to the generalisations:

Racist taunts, abuse, spitting: is NZ a nation of poor sports?

Anxiety over the performance of the All Blacks is behind some New Zealanders’ poor treatment of opposition fans, a University of Otago academic says.

Dr Mark Falcous, of the Dunedin-based School of Physical Education, was responding to comments posted on concerning the behaviour of New Zealanders towards English rugby supporters.

Those comments came after a reader-generated story entitled “New Zealanders hatred of the English”, and earlier this week the New Zealand Herald reported Australian fans had been spat at and were subject to vitriolic abuse by their New Zealand counterparts.

Is the ODT a paper of poor news reports? Or is it just a minority?
Maybe there are few affected by “anxiety” but they seem to find something to be anxious about every game. There are loudmouths at just about any game of rugby, abusing the referee and abusing the visiting team of the day whether it be Canterbury, Auckland, Australia or England.

The article lists a few unsporting incidents but if you look hard enough you will see the key statement:

The majority of fans were well-behaved and supportive, but the vocal minority –
including four middle-aged men at Sunday’s game – spent their
time abusing players…

I sat beside an English couple at the Argentina-England game and had friendly conversations throughout the game. There was one loudmouth along the row a bit, otherwise the English, Kiwi and Argentinian supporters in the vicinity were very good sports.

I don’t think poor behaviour is due to All Black anxiety, especially at games not involving the local team. There’s a few boofheads in any crowd.

One person in a hundred can give us all a bad name the way things get over reported. Maybe it’s up to the good sports amongst us to speak up and tell the abusers they don’t just reflect badly on themselves.

Which seems to be happening…

Are we abusing Australian Rugby World Cup fans?

Australian and New Zealand readers, both here and abroad have responded strongly to a report in yesterday’s Herald and about the verbal abuse an Australian couple received from Kiwi rugby fans at last Saturday’s Ireland versus Australia match.