Face of the day

Act Leader David Seymour

Act Leader David Seymour

A few words from today’s face of the day David Seymour about the Media.

Last week I spoke at a charity debate to raise money for the families of journalists killed for doing their job in dangerous countries. This week the so called International Consortium of International Journalists have put thousands of people in similar countries in danger of extortion and persecution by publishing details of their financial affairs, searchable on the internet.

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Media bias on environmental reporting

There are reasons almost every day to believe the media are biased and only really interested in sensationalism, controversy and negativity.

Here is an example.

A few weeks ago The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment released a report that included some criticisms of farming and its effects on rivers.  It was negatively slanted and demanded greater action.  There were a couple of articles that followed that repeated the criticisms and together they got extensive coverage in all media with readers chipping in with negative comments.

Yesterday the Sustainable Dairying Group released a factual report on how things were going down on the farm – progress on making our waterways even cleaner than they are now.  It is useful to remember that a few years ago the OECD tested 90 rivers in its member countries and New Zealand had three rivers in the top four for cleanliness – the Waikato, Waitaki and Clutha – all in intensive dairying areas.

The latest report should have been headlines in every media outlet.  Why?  Because of the vast number of improvements achieved, because of past criticisms that got headlines and because it is a great story of Kiwi effort and innovation.

Here are a few compelling stats:    Read more »


When vigilante Witch-Hunters cross the line

By Jock Anderson

On-line vigilante witch-hunting dredged a new low this month when so-called “pop culture” website The Spinoff named a man accused of historic sexual harassment but who had not been charged.

The man immediately lost his job as a radio station host and in followup stories was named in the mainstream media, which also reported that the police wanted anyone with valuable information to come forward.

The man was forced to issue a statement in which he said the allegations published by The Spinoff were – among other things – untrue, defamatory, horrible, stressful and distressing for himself and his family.

Spinoff television editor, and former film projectionist, Alex Casey and Duncan Grieve, a New Zealand Herald television reviewer and publisher of The Spinoff, put together a series of sexual allegations made by numerous women.

The women claimed the behaviour happened primarily when they were under age.

The Spinoff named the man throughout the story but changed all the women’s names to protect their identities. How noble to take such moral high ground…

Why name him but not them?

Regardless of whether the story contained any corroborating or independent evidence to support the women’s allegations – which it didn’t – those responsible took it on themselves to be policemen, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner.   Read more »

I admit using headlines to grab your attention

I have noticed that the word ‘admit ‘ is commonly used by Media to make something look dodgy. A headline that caught my eye today is an example.

There are so many things that are true and totally innocuous that can be made to look dodgy by the simple use of the word ‘admit’. Its inclusion makes us think that the person named is ashamed or was pressured in some way to tell the truth. In some cases that may actually be correct but in others the word has been added only to make an eye-catching headline.

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I agreed with the article until I found out the pertinent facts they had left out

I read the following stuff article today and it affected my opinion. I agreed with the sentiments of the writer based on the facts that the writer had provided. I then had a look at the comments. One of the commenters provided a link to a news article that contained almost all the pertinent facts. After reading that I no longer agreed with the Stuff article. Have a read of these three articles about the same story and see if your opinion changes. It is a great example of how a news article can deceive you, not by lying but by leaving out a number of important facts. Read more »

Hacking the system: how Trump took the lead

Nate Silver writes at FiveThirtryEight about how Trump hacked the system.

As is usual with Nate Silver there is plenty of data and explanations before he gets to his conclusions:

Most of the media’s self-criticism of its Trump coverage has focused on whether Trump’s dominance of the news cycle reflects a craven desire for higher TV ratings or Web traffic numbers. It’s fine to debate that — although these criticisms are sometimes being evinced through crocodile tears given the record ratings and traffic Trump is bringing to news organizations of all kinds.12

But this critique avoids some thornier questions. For instance, with his ability to make news any time he wants with a tweet, news conference or conveniently placed leak, Trump has challenged news organizations’ editorial prerogative. Should the press cover a candidate differently when he makes trolling the media an explicit part of his strategy, on the theory that some coverage is almost always better than none?    Read more »

Let’s have a peek at moderation quality elsewhere

I have put together a snapshot of comments made on New Zealand political blogs, MSM websites and one Facebook page. These are the kind of comments that would be moderated out of our blog as they contain foul language. If a blog or media outlet cannot afford to have a full-time moderator they can automatically prevent comments from going live if they contain any foul language. Disqus offers this feature. Admittedly, automatic moderation is more difficult on Facebook pages but the National party managed to work out how to do it on their Facebook page so we know it can be done.

Is it unrealistic to expect high standards from social media if it is affiliated with a professional media organisation? More to the point, should other New Zealand political blogs moderate out foul language, given that it is very easy to do so automatically using a comments system like Disqus?

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How the EPMU and declining media hurt my home town

I went on a road trip down memory lane last weekend to show my daughter where I grew up. Our family home was across the road from a walkway that led to Kawerau Central School, which was my primary school. We visited my old home, which was neat as a pin in a street that had a number of neglected homes in need of repair.

My old family home in Kawerau

My old family home in Kawerau

I wanted to show my daughter my old school but was puzzled as to why the walkway was blocked off. When we tried to access the school from another street we realised the sad truth: it was gone.


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In 2011 the remaining three primary schools in Kawerau were merged into one and the intermediate-aged students were merged with Kawerau College, which was renamed Tarawera High School. They did this because they were losing 60+ students a year from each school. So, what happened to this once prosperous and vibrant town of my childhood?

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It has finally happened, mainstream media have morphed

I enjoy blogs because they are freer to be more entertaining, creative and imaginative than mainstream media. They can introduce comedy, tell stories and mock. In an ideal world we would go to mainstream media for a dispassionate recitation of the facts and to blogs to discuss in more light-hearted manner what is happening in the world.

Today I went to Stuff  and read an article so blog-like that I thought I was on

What do you think? Is this a news article or a piece of creative writing? I have never read anything so bizarre. Is this really what the media think the public want?

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Who exactly is pulling the media’s strings?

A Muslim nanny employed by a Russian family murdered their four-year-old daughter and cut off her head, and then set their home on fire. Conspicuously attired in her niqab, she wandered the streets holding up the severed head calling out that now famous Islamic phrase, “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great). She also called out that she was a terrorist. Despite all these facts these are the media headlines. Stuff

The victim, four-year-old Nastya M, is said to have had learning difficulties and could not walk Moskovsky Komsomolets / East2west News

The victim, four-year-old Nastya M, is said to have had learning difficulties and could not walk Moskovsky Komsomolets / East2west News

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