Shouldn’t NZ’s leading academics be objective and non-political?

In New Zealand, we have a problem with both journalism and academia. Both careers have historically been all about balance and objectivity but more and more of our leading academics are involving themselves in politics and promoting themselves as experts to the media even when their fields of expertise have nothing to do with the topic they are talking about.

Two terrorist sympathisers who have been held up as experts on the Israel-Palestine problem by the New Zealand Herald are both University of Auckland Dance Studies lecturers. Yes really. Even better another one is a senior lecturer at the Massey University School of People, Environment and Planning. Perhaps they all have a cunning plan for peace that involves dancing around trees as they plant them on the border?

Dance Studies

…Quite how these academics qualify as experts – or even objective commentators – on the complex Israeli-Palestinian question is a moot point. There is much to contest in the letter and numerous factual inaccuracies. What is clear, however, is the academics’ eschewing of Western Liberal values for support and appeasement of terrorists.

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This too will fall on our media’s deaf ears

“so-called ‘credible’ journalists”

Hurunui District Council has been appalled with the inaccurate reporting that has been carrying on in relation to Tuesday’s plantation fire – and the negative economic consequences that this irresponsible, sensationalist misreporting has caused to the small village of Hanmer Springs.

The imagery from the fire at its peak was very powerful – and as most of this was taken at dawn, the bright orange flames against the silhouetted background was a spectacular sight and made for pretty compelling viewing.

It is true that access to the single-lane Waiau Ferry Bridge and the portion of narrow road near this area was closed on Tuesday morning, only reopening to stop-go control from around 1pm that afternoon – the fire came very close to this area and in fact crews remain in that area keeping a dampening down vigil as this is the main access road into the Hanmer Basin. The stop-go controls also remain in order to provide a level of safety to those crews working in this area.

But scaremongering information continued to grab headlines yesterday (Thursday) with reports that strong winds had caused the fire to flare up again, with 15 metre flames shooting into the air, local residents being evacuated and eight helicopters doing their best in the trying conditions. Imagery from Tuesday’s fire was used to accompany these extremely exaggerated reports.

They may not be in their underwear, bashing angrily on their keyboards from their bedrooms, but that doesn’t make the “modern journalist” any less capable of feeling disconnected from the real world; the world where actions have consequences.  Read more »

Is NBR the HuffPo of New Zealand?

A few years back I was asked by NBR if they could republish some of my content.

I said sure, $500 per post. For some strange and unknown reason I never heard back from them and they have never republished any of my posts.

However, they do republish posts from others, most notably David Farrar and Brian Edwards, and occasionally others. I am pretty certain that they don’t pay them as they would no doubt have been told that the only recompense was the kudos of having the NBR republish to their shrinking and small audience.

Turns out that is exactly the same business model that Huffington Post uses, making millions off of the back of free content.

I love this question,” said Stephen Hull, the editor-in-chief of Huffington Post UK, when Steve Hewlett asked him on Radio 4’s Media Show yesterday why he doesn’t pay his writers.

And this is the answer Hull apparently loves to give:

“If I was paying someone to write something because I want it to get advertising, that’s not a real authentic way of presenting copy. When somebody writes something for us, we know it’s real, we know they want to write it. It’s not been forced or paid for. I think that’s something to be proud of.”

Yes, a man who has literally made a career out of being paid to write and edit said this.

Your mole wonders how far the miserly head HuffPo honcho takes his logic. Presumably he can’t go out to eat at restaurants, because the food the (paid) chefs cook him is inauthentic. And when he’s ill, he must have to research his symptoms online instead of visiting a GP, because their salaries mean the diagnoses they give aren’t real. He must have to walk to work because of all those pesky salaried workers driving tube trains and buses, ruining the authenticity of the daily commute.

Maybe we’re being harsh on Hull, who doubtless draws no salary himself. Evidently he is just a lonely advocate for full communism who has accidentally found himself working for a global telecommunications behemoth. Poor man; poorer writers.

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Mandy Hager’s scathing blog post about journalists and the MSM

Mandy Hager is scathing of journalists and amusingly peppers her criticism of people with negative adjectives, while at the same time moaning about bias in the media. Her adjectives mirror the current media’s treatment of individuals smeared by her brother’s book.

Here is a selection from her blog post to prove my point:

  • their disregard for the principles of democracy and freedom as they stomp all over them . . . and us
  • brown-nosing their war-mongering puppet masters in the US
  • the Prime Minister continues to tell his porkies (even when it’s obvious he’s lying)
  • their bullshit ‘investigations’ into abuse of power
  • the horrors of this elitist right-wing agenda
  • toxic MP Judith Collins.

Her views on the media:    Read more »

Guest post: What is the point of the Privacy Act?

by Intrigued

John Edwards (the Privacy Commissioner) provided an opinion piece to the NBR published on 26 December 2015 titled “When is a journalist not a journalist?”

It discusses three cases that have for various reasons had to deal with the question as to whether an individual is a journalist and what protections they might have in relation to their “source” material.

It is a lot more complex than that, granted, and if you read his opinion piece at, (it might still be behind a paywall) you’ll get some idea of the incredible feats of legal gymnastics the likes of the Privacy Commissioner and the courts have engaged in to justify their positions in the various cases.

Needless to say, the law is anything but clear and I suspect the NZH’s sanctimony in their opinion piece today (. will be short-lived, as in time our higher courts will simply have to properly define when a journalist is entitled to claim privilege in the first instance, and ergo, just what “without notice” applications for search warrants on journalists will require in explaining the opponents likely defence or potential protections under the law (as in this case with the Hager search warrant).   Read more »

Guest Post – From Another George

Another George has emailed with his observations of a manipulative and highly misleading NZ Herald.

This story ran on the Herald web site and was credited to Newstalk ZB.

$32 Million to Crack Down on Worker Exploitation

This was a cheap sensational headline and completely misleading.

A task force has been given $32 million of government funding to crack down on underpayment of workers in South Auckland.

This is quite simply untrue.

The Herald reports in a story by Tess Nichol on 20/12/2015 under the headline:

”Retail staff being paid as little as $7 an hour” .

“The Labour Inspectorate was allocated $32 million to strengthen compliance with minimum employment standards in this year’s Budget, of which $1.4 million was used to set up the new team of 10 staff.”

32 million to crack down on exploitation?   Read more »


Not a good day for Nicky Hager

John Roughan has been forced to release recordings of his conversations with Prime Minister John Key as part of a court case relating to the “teapot tapes”.

Roughan had refused to surrender transcripts and recordings used for his biography John Key, Portrait of a Prime Minister. He was asked for the documents a year ago under the discovery process for a defamation case being taken against Mr Key by freelance photographer Bradley Ambrose.

The Privacy Commission told the columnist last week that his book did not meet the criteria for the Privacy Act exemption which allowed journalists to protect their sources.

Roughan is the third journalist to be captured by a High Court ruling last year which said a reporter’s research for a book did not qualify for protection under privacy rules.

It appears the Courts have pretty much eroded journalistic privilege.   This may cause quite a chilling effect on people coming forward with information that they consider should be public if it means that the courts can order their identities to be revealed. Read more »

Polishing a turd versus letting it stink

So what does ‘In the Public Interest’ actually mean?

Trying to nail down a clear definition of what ‘In the Public Interest’ actually means is quite difficult. In this article I attempt to define it so that we have a set of guidelines that we can apply to situations where journalists have declared that what they did was acceptable because of ‘ Public Interest.’

 Public interest, according to the Random House Dictionary, is “1. the welfare or well-being of the general public; commonwealth. 2. appeal or relevance to the general populace: a news story of public interest.”[1]

1.The welfare or well being of the general public ( the majority )  must be served by the story.

2. The story must have appeal or relevance to the general public which means the majority of people.

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