Words of wisdom from Andrew Dickens

Twice in a week Andrew Dickens has stood taller than his compadres in the Media party.

Today it is about the Media party pile on against Mark Weldon.

So yesterday I watched one of the more remarkable displays of cyber bullying I have ever seen on social media. Mark Weldon quit as CEO of MediaWorks and as he left the building the internet made sure he had a good hard kick up the backside as he walked through the door for good measure.

It’s a funny old story the Weldon MediaWorks saga. A lot of it has been breathlessly reported but it had the feel that it was the media taking pleasure at reporting on the fluff in it’s own belly button. I don’t think most normal people cared about the rumblings out of a telly station. When the news was announced on Leighton Smith’s show he opened the lines for comment and no-one phoned. Enough said.

It was a media and tragics event only. What is the media word for “beltway”? No one cared when Jane Hastings exited quickly and quietly. The general public didn’t, and still don’t, care about the luvvies and their precious little lives.

But there are some interesting observations to be made from it for anyone involved in corporate governance.

Weldon was employed to fix up MediaWorks. It was a basket case and Weldon had expertise in fixing up numbers and the numbers certainly needed fixing. And under that measure Weldon has been a success. The books are healthier and as of today the ratings are rising. The Newshub restructure is genius. I know because we here at NZME have done exactly the same thing.    

It was never going to be easy for anyone to turn things round. It never is. You have to break some eggs to make an omelette. But here’s a thing, when you’re making changes you have to bring your people with you. That was Mark’s failing. But what do you do when your people decide that they know better than you and there’s no way they’re going to change? That was also the undoing of Weldon.

Take Campbell Live. I liked and respected the programme but by empirical measures it was failing. It hadn’t been rating for an extended period, it was not making money and it was expensive. So Weldon said make some changes and the team at Campbell Live said no. People say Weldon didn’t understand the culture but was the prevailing culture out of control and out of touch? So there’s a lesson there. When you’re a change agent. Step carefully and take out the troublemakers first and quickly. The 6-week save Campbell Live telethon was one of Weldon’s worst decisions. The lunatics took over the asylum, which would have been fine if they had some skin in the game but they didn’t. All they had was their ego.

Wow, some truth from a media person at last. The lunatics are still there, not watching TV3 yet trying to dictate to a private company how they should be running media in NZ.

And for all those Campbell Live lovers preparing to hit me with vitriol, what do you say now to the journalists and team at Story who are still doing current affairs but are rating better? They’re achieving the goals that the previous programme refused to do. It’s called doing your job and finding a new culture.

It’s all about ratings, and that is why it was inevitable that Hilary Barry would go…and Mike McRoberts. They don’t rate. Sure they are friends with all the luvvies, but they don’t rate except in the cafes of Ponsonby.

That culture clash and refusal to change was evident yesterday on Twitter and Facebook as relatively high profile former MediaWorks personalities and their luvvies took to social media and gave Weldon such a serve. You’d think that such gifted and misunderstood media would understand social media but they don’t. It was a brutal and ugly evisceration of Weldon and it was all done in public. Would any of them have the courage to say that sort of stuff on their former programmes. Or to Weldon’s face? What do their new bosses think of the way they treat former employers? Maybe Mark Weldon was a piece of work but I never heard him dissing his opponents publicly like that.

It was classless, rude and lacking any grace and style. It seemed egotistical. And it was the biggest lesson for us all. The use of social media for anti-social vitriol has to stop.

Amen to that…now buckle up your “Kepler” Helmet; you are going to need it when the bombs from the luvvies start dropping.


– NewstalkZB

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.