Susan Edmonds flings the brown stuff to make sure some of it will stick

Susan Edmonds is a journalist at the NZ Herald. ?Today, she got a byline on an article with the headline

Big banks charging top dollar

The photo that goes with this piece of professional, decent and skilled writing is this


Now, I had two reactions:

1) Who is Lisa Lyons, as in, why is she critical to the banking story, and

2) Why is Lisa Lyon’s famous enough to have her photo in the Getty Images library?

So, I set off reading.

It isn’t until the highlighted portion of the article that Lisa Lyons gets a mention:


At this stage, I’m confused. ?I’m still thinking: ?”Why is this woman heading the article, and why is her photo in the Getty Images library?


A search reveals there are only 3 entries for “Lisa Lyons” in the Getty library, and none of them are that specific photo, let along the same person.

At this stage, you end up looking at the article to see what else is going on. ?Let’s put journalist Susan Edmonds’ total lack of business nous to one side for a moment, and let’s see what else we can find.

So who is Lisa Lyons? ?Why did she pop up, as an afterthought, really? ?The article would have pretty much stood on its own two feet without that little addendum. ?And why exacerbate it by using her photo?

Since it isn’t a Getty photo, is it “supplied”? ?Or a file photo? ?A search for previous uses of that or any other Lisa Lyons photos by the Herald came up empty.

Luckily for Lisa and her deck building husband Matt, I couldn’t dig anything else up of any note. ? So I moved on.

Banking commentator Claire Matthews said banks were charging New Zealanders more, “arguably just because they can”.

“I’m not saying that is the reason but it’s an argument some would use. There’s a question to be asked there.”

I love these labels. ?Banking commentator Claire Matthews.

Would that be this one?


All this came to nothing spectacular, but it shows you how I go about dissecting articles, looking for moles, stooges and ring-ins. ?In other words: ?hit jobs.

Of course, the true problem with the story is that it fundamentally misunderstands business. ?If we were to use a basic example: ?Say I buy my apples at $1 each, and you at $2 each. ?And we both sell them for $3 each.

Who makes more money?

Who is “gouging” the consumer?

It isn’t that simple, is it? ?I may buy more apples, so I have a better buy price. ?But I also have a high street store with high rents, so my costs are higher. ?Because you operate a road-side stall.

It is the same idiocy that’s behind this beat-up article by Susan Edmonds

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ recent report on the banking sector said Kiwi banks were operating with an average margin of 2.25 per cent, compared with Australia’s average of 2.12 per cent. Some Australian banks have lending margins as low as 2.02 per cent. It said Australia’s margins had fallen over recent years, partly because the banks there have had to compete more aggressively for deposits, offering higher rates to savers.

The whole story is predicated on the idea that there is a larger margin in New Zealand banks. ?But it doesn’t discuss any of the other operating parameters, like the basic costs of running a business.

The Herald article is either a deliberate beat up or it shows Susan Edmonds shouldn’t be covering business stories.

All in all it is an odd piece of writing. ?A photo of someone who isn’t really relevant to the story, with an attribution that appears to be incorrect. ?In this case she does appear to be “just another person”, but there has to be some link to the journalist. ?Perhaps they are friends? ?Their kids go to the same school? ?How did she come out of the woodwork, otherwise?


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Anyway, it ?gives you an insight into the fun you can have pulling other journalists’ work apart to look for the “hidden expert” or someone who hasn’t declared their true interest in having brought the story to the media.

Although I don’t expect there to be a scandalous answer, I do still want to know why Lisa Lyons managed to be part of the story in the first place. ?And by the ?look of it, even supplied a photo to the Herald.