Cunliffe on the mess The Spinoff and the Herald have made of the Hilary Barry story

Media commentator Regan Cunliffe blogs about the Hilary Barry story:

When Hilary Barry’s resignation was made public late on Friday, the inevitable snow job on Mediaworks was fast and fierce.  The rumours ran rife, the most common of which was that Barry would be heading to TVNZ’s Breakfast program, a poaching that happened because apparently, TV3’s alternative was having an impact.

The amount of mourning that has happened by people who apparently either hate Mediaworks, or are supposed to be boycotting the network is hysterical.

Leading the charge on the Mediaworks attack has been its major competitor, The New Zealand Herald.  Considering they publish more fiction than John Grisham, I’m reluctant to believe anything they write.  But let’s assume for a moment that they are right and that Hilary Barry has been poached.

When the three retardos, John Drinnan, Matt Nippert and David ‘Tainted’ Fisher, are all piling in you know you are looking at a manufactured hit job.  

Who is the real star of The Paul Henry Show?

It certainly isn’t Hilary Barry.  Sure she might have contributed to the banter but how replaceable is she when she’s just the sidekick?

Does TVNZ really see value in someone who has spent the prime of her career producing unflattering ratings?  Does TVNZ not have their own talent pool to promote from?  Do they honestly believe that by removing a highly paid employee they’re going to impact their bottom line?  I’m pretty sure TVNZ are still laughing at Prime poaching Paul Holmes.

Besides, how many people will be happily waiting for their opportunity for a promotion at Mediaworks?  Especially for the 6pm news bulletin?  Hello Samantha Hayes…?

That is the thing; all these supposed stars have failed to deliver up ratings for Mediaworks. Ratings and audience are what sell advertising…they failed to deliver.

Is Hilary Barry really the “Mother of the Nation”?

In the 23 years since Hilary Barry began working at TV3, Mediaworks have completely failed to convert those in their target demographic of 25-54 year olds to being long-term, loyal viewers.  Those who were in their thirties and forties when Barry started are now in the 55+ demo.  In more than two decades, Mediaworks haven’t come close to closing the gap with TVNZ in the 5+ demo which is made up of a not so insignificant percentage.

The ratings for TV3’s news offerings have been truly awful with Hilary Barry and Mike McRoberts at the helm.  With Barry abandoning ship, where to now for McRoberts?

On a side note, I am completely amazed at how long Mark Jennings managed to keep his job as Head of News at TV3.

I’ve never worked in any job for longer than 11 years, and that 11 years is in my current job as editor of Whaleoil. I can’t comprehend someone working for 23 years in one job. It is the stuff of history in manual labour type jobs or job-for-life mentality.

Are Mediaworks that Stupid?

If TVNZ have poached Hilary Barry, can someone please explain to me why she was fronting the news bulletin again tonight and isn’t on gardening leave?  This would be fairly unprecedented wouldn’t it?  Your major competitor has supposedly just bought the loyalty of one of your employees and you want to allow them to maintain access to the building?

My policy has always been to show people to the door and ease them out with my boot if they were going to a competitor. A little bit like the proverbial stray cat that is eating your dog’s food.

Apparently the staff are going to revolt now

The New Zealand Herald’s Duncan Grieve, who doesn’t seem to have any desire to salvage his reputation, appears to have learnt nothing from being threatened with legal action after falsely reporting that Julie Christie had resigned from Mediaworks while bringing his former sponsor, Media Agency MBM, into disrepute in the process. This time around, Lightbox are sponsoring NZME’s their coverage attack of Mediaworks.

The click bait merchants would have us believe that we’re about to see “mass resignations across TV and Radio, not just news” now that the Mediaworks board has announced their full support of CEO Mark Weldon.

If it’s true, Weldon must be hoping that they follow through with their veiled threats so he can be rid of them once and for all and get on with rebuilding the Mediaworks brand.

Duncan Grieve is fast developing a reputation for being more wrong that Martyn Bradbury and interviewing his keyboard more assiduously than John Drinnan. That takes some doing.

Why are we even talking about this?

With respect, Hilary Barry is little more than a glorified reader of the teleprompter.  Newspapers, radio stations, and websites have dedicated huge amounts of resources to cover a story that really just isn’t news.  Mainly, it’s just another excuse to give Mediaworks a bit of a self-interested kick in the groin.

Precisely what I said on the weekend. She is a NEWSREADER…get over yourselves.


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  • Quinton Hogg

    I always thought the description of Hilary Barry as a star was misleading and deceptive.

    • Vera Fayed

      I guess she’s a star the same way Pluto is a planet. Was thought by some to be, but after careful consideration….yeah/nah.

    • Jayar

      These “media stars”are paid well over what they are worth. Remember when Paul Henry departed for Australia which was supposed to be a colossal loss to this country. Back he came, having received a not very warm welcome in Oz. I doubt whether any of them could survive outside this country.

  • Usaywot

    I can hardly recall any time I have seen her on TV. Certainly not on my radar. I couldn’t care less about her. I’ll never forgive Wendy Petrie her fist pump over the Bain decision, though, so maybe Barry could replace her.

  • Jman

    I never pay any attention to the newsreaders, unless they happen to be a pretty young thing preferably showing off some cleavage (in other words never in NZ). As long as they do a competent job of introducing each new story before the camera crosses over then they’re doing fine. I will make my decision of whether to watch or not watch based on the quality of the content. The newsreader has approximately 0% bearing on my choice of which channel to watch.

  • Hard1

    Bring on Robot newsreaders, real mechanical one’s this time.

  • Oh Please

    I have met Hilary, she is a lovely lady. But she is the first to state she gets paid for reading aloud. She’ll manage to pay off her mortgage after television, in the same way Joanne Paul and others did.

  • Dave

    Thanks to Regan for an excellent article on how it is, without the media talking it up to support one of their own. The issue they now face as Regan outlines, it puts the Prima Donnas on notice, we are changing, are you with us or against us.

    I can only hope, the news of the board backing Weldon, means he can add some pace to the changes, and get on with it QUICKLY.

    Whilst the old hands might be nervous, their agendas may be on notice, it also opens new opportunities, for the rising stars, the ones lower on the ladder etc, and those without the tainted agendas.

    Can all so called Journo’s and news readers please take note, change is coming!!

  • Ross

    I reckon we should go the Italian way.. I don’t even understand Italian but can watch the news over there for hours.

  • CheesyEarWax

    Nailed on the head. The media hysteria, and attacking Mediaworks, just shows how out of touch the MSM is with their readers. So what if Barry was poached, pushed, about to be demoted, or resigned to spend time with her family. These things happens daily in a normal workplace.

  • Isherman

    The whole thing is just ridiculous but the point about her serving out time raises some questions. They did the same thing with Campbell, and all it did was allow time for a cottage industry of protesting, campaigning and all that sort of carry on to turn a simple termination into a sordid festering semi political beat up. If she was going to leave, particularly to a competitor, would they not have been wiser for her to be moved on sooner rather than later? Not sure what is achieved by keeping her in place for another month, I’d give her the payout and be done with it.

  • Ruahine

    I like Samantha, and Janeke, but I like the way Jenny Suo speaks.
    In other words I am a …… for nice looking young women.

  • Ruahine

    I hope the Herald has not been making up ‘news’ again.

  • Observer

    Please promote Samantha Hayes. Having met her I can vouch that she is a nice person, plus seems to do a very good job on Newsworthy/Nightline.

  • Gaynor

    If all the staff at mediaworks walk out en mass where would they go?