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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  • MaryLou

    Oooh, the wrath will most certainly fall on this man! Because he is correct every step of the way, except the bit about Mark failing to take people with him. They never had any intention of going anywhere with him. The writer is correct that the only mistake was to let the Campbell saga drag on. The conclusion was inevitable, so it should have just been done. But I wonder what part the stupid, stupid employment law played in the longevity of the event – one must consult, consult, consult with an open mind and look for all possible ways to avoid such an event, before even considering termination. Otherwise it can be very, very costly. Once again, in these situations, the law is an ass.

    Edit to add: Or maybe Campbell was on contract – no idea.

  • herewego

    Bravo that man! (excuse the pun)

    I’m waiting for Hilary/Hillary to withdraw her now accepted resignation and for the dancing in the streets.

  • Just me

    The bombs from all the Luvvies have started. The rather sickening reporting in the Herald was evidence enough. The montage that celebrated why the country “Loves Hillary” was nauseating – a series of clips where she displayed some seriously unprofessional behaviour was close to astonishing. It did provide the Luvvies with a segue into the John Campbell story… yet another overpaid, underperforming media personality who traded on the cult of personality.

    If anyone buys into all this nonsense it simply indicates that an increasingly stupid public want to entertained ahead of informed. Therein lies the crux of it.

    • Miss McGerkinshaw

      “If anyone buys into all this nonsense it simply indicates that an increasingly stupid public want to entertained ahead of informed. Therein lies the crux of it.”

      Gold star: the problem in a nutshell.

  • Doc45

    Wow!!! That was good ole dusting. But so on the money. The most arrogant thing I have seen in a while was the overpaid “celebs” carting in champagne for a booze up rejoicing over Weldon’s resignation. The sooner their salaries get pulled down to something like reasonable the better. They may have picked up points in the first round but they need to prepare for TKO. it will come.

  • Phooey

    I was disgusted at their antics, what about a Trump like victory speech, “Sorry he has resigned, he was a great guy, we respected him, he had a hard job to do etc etc..” That would have got the public on their side but no, what we saw was the Moet and Peroni being trucked in (Note: Not Local Drinks), tweets here and everywhere, what a petty narcissistic bunch. Wait till they find out who will be taking the role from Mark!

    • Tiger

      Yep, they clearly lack some life skills, it was a horrible display, classless and crass. All I can say to Hils and Mickey, be careful what you wish for – ’cause you just might get it!

  • Aucky

    Dickens has gone way up in my estimation. I have invariably turned off ZB whenever he was subbing and I don’t do radio on Sunday morning which is when Dickens has his regular three hour slot.

  • sheppy

    What amazes me about all this is they really think people care, most of the time we watch an hour of Paul Henry each morning during breakfast because we often find Paul Henry entertaining, one of the news bulletins is always skipped, as is the other one when the leftest agenda becomes too nauseating. It matters not who is reading the auto queue, if the content gets too negative it goes.
    They could cancel all news and current affairs on Media works and we’d not really notice. For that matter they could do the same to TVNZ and also close the Herald.
    Too much biased leftest drivel means we no longer bother with most of the news.
    Life’s for living and part of that is choosing not to waste time watching watch TV negativity.
    If I was the next boss of Media Works, old tweets would guide where I focus my energy!

  • localnews

    I assume Mark Weldon wont be taking a personal grievance because he has already been written an enormous cheque, but ever there was a textbook case of constructive dismissal, this is it.
    I was amazed that those media persons were prepared to make such bullying comments under their own names in public, I’m not sure who will want to employ them in the future.

  • Tracy

    I was disgusted at the lack of professionalism shown by some of the Mediaworks (including some ex) staff with their petty tweets & other comments. Regardless of how you feel about a senior staff member leaving, you maintain a touch of discretion & class.

  • Quinton Hogg

    I am changing my mind about andrew dickens.
    I cannot believe the out pouring of vitriol from staff and former staff at mediaworks.
    there is a very poisonous atmosphere there.
    in the unlikely event a CV from a former employee of mediaworks comes across my desk in future it will be very carefully placed in the circular filing cabinet.

    • rustyjohn58

      I had a look at a few of his previous articles. Quite well balanced even on climate change.

    • pisces8284

      In all the years we have been in business we have found that disgruntled employees when leaving were only too happy to tell us what was wrong with our business and what we need to do to make it better. Never burn your bridges is a really good idea

  • Ben

    Who is Jane Hastings?

  • Nermal

    I don’t know much about Mark Weldon, but they say you can tell a lot about a man by the quality of his enemies.

    On that basis I really like Mark Weldon!

  • MaryLou

    AND… Just found the giveaway sentence from Jennings, if one were even needed:

    “Weldon wanted to introduce a new way of doing things to a company that already had a good and well-established culture, Jennings said.”

    In other words, we were fine how we were and Weldon should have left well enough alone.

    • Jude

      Only their way of doing things and their “culture” brought a company to its knees and insolvency.
      I believe their finances are back in the black, but no recognition will be given for that effort.
      Mr Weldon may have lacked people skills and I believe he offended many at NZX too, but if you look at what he was tasked to do, then maybe some praise is in order?

      • Dave

        I’m not sure Mr Weldon lacked people skills, I’m sure he has good people skills, but perhaps as outlined by Andrew Dickens, he needed to firstly just make the changes, and not give them too many opportunities, then take them on the journey. By giving them the opportunities, the white-anting and resistance groups formed, and it became an uphill battle from there.

        To a far far lesser extent I have faced similar issues, changing a company that had been losing money for well over 2 years, and the need to change their culture, my only regret was taking too long to get rid of the key under-performers, who happened to be the slackest ones, and the ones regarded as “stars” in the organisation. I was about as popular as Weldon was for a few months, until others started to realize how bad it had become, and started to join the change initiatives.

        • Jude

          I have only heard “rumour” from those who have met and know of the man.I think the job he was given to do was always going to be tough, but I think his treatment by MSM subsequent to his resignation is appalling.

  • rustyjohn58

    That would be the most honest piece of journalism I’ve seen in a long time.

    • Uncle Bully

      and that’s why Mr Dickens probably won’t last very long…..

  • shykiwibloke

    The whole saga is a classic case of playing the man rather than the ball. Shooting the messenger rather than facing the grim realities of the transformation in the media industry. Holding on to past egotistical based superiorities rather than adapting to the new environment. Listening to workmates instead of the customer. And dooming themselves to exactly the sort of sudden change they desperately want to avoid – just like unions of the past, and certain political parties of the present.

  • LesleyNZ

    I like this bit “When the news was announced on Leighton Smith’s show he opened the lines for comment and no-one phoned. Enough said.” I used to get a bit annoyed with Andrew Dickens when he first aired on a Sunday morning but he has improved – a lot and I quite like listening to him – so long as he doesn’t pander to the luvvies and socialists. Must be because he listens to Leighton. The best thing that Mark Weldon did was to get rid of John Campbell – Live. (I wonder how he rates on Radio NZ?) Mind you – from I read “Story” had a bit of a lapse of unplanned decency last night. I mean why would you want to watch a story about nude diners? What were they thinking? Mind you again – Seven Sharp were not much better with the horse story and the broken loaf of french bread. Mainstream media have reached an all time low I reckon – in standards and in intellect. Oh and then there was Rachel yesterday on Larry’s show …………

    • Usaywot

      And & Sharp’s item on women not being able to afford sanitary pads….that’s a new low if ever there was one. I suppose said women will expect the tax payer to fund them. Then it will be soap, shampoo, shaving gear etc etc. Come on!

  • Cracker1963

    I had to laugh at the photo of Hilary Barry and Mike McRoberts with their booze. Hilary Barry bringing in Moet (of course- none of the Kiwi rubbish for the Champagne Socialists) & the size of her backside was something to behold- obviously sitting on it every day & being gym shy has had a bad effect on her body- no excuse now- she needs to hit the gym- big time.

  • Aucky

    Next stop NZME Mark? One can only wish…………..

  • KatB

    And why do they need two of them to read the news?

    • pisces8284

      So that one of them can then go on a junket overseas, when we have perfectly capable overseas correspondents

    • Effluent

      I think the theory is that the two presenters (nearly always one supposedly ‘alpha’ male and a young or youngish woman – known in the trade as ‘tits and teeth’) will strike sparks off each other, and create an atmosphere of sexual tension, as scintillating conversation passes between them.

      In reality, very rarely does the interplay rise above the level of drivel, so we are stuck with having to listen to their verbal diarrhoea in lieu of real news.

  • ChrisM

    These Mediaworks people work in a very small industry. Mark Weldon is likely to be grabbed by someone and someday soon, he will lead a news worthy item where he will be front and centre. So, how’s that interview going to go? Fools.