Mediawatch's weekly catch-up with Lately - back again for 2020. This week new guy Hayden Donnell talks to Karyn Hay about The Herald's hard line with Facebook followers, Stuff revealing a rogue in the Defence Force, pushback on a push notification - and the flood of Royal reckons in our media about Harry and Meghan.
Herald takes high ground on Facebook
Last week, the New Zealand Herald came up with a new strategy for managing its worst comments.
The story it posted on the pop star Lizzo's visit to Piha was being spammed by people insulting the singer's weight or saying they'd never heard of her. The Herald's social team posted a pinned comment which went semi-viral after being re-posted on Twitter:
Though some people on Facebook didn't like it, the Herald was obviously pleased by the overall response to their efforts.
They posted a similar note on a story about Sherine Nath, a woman killed by her violent partner this week.
Media organisations are scrambling to moderate their social media feeds properly. It's a vexed legal area for them. A groundbreaking ruling in Australia last year found News Corp was responsible for defamatory comments on its Facebook page.
The ruling is a massive headache for Australian media. They argue that Facebook should be accountable for the things published on its platform, and that the company hasn't given media effective enough moderation tools.
January has been wall-to-wall Megxit.
It's easy to see why. Even today, Stuff's most-read story on Wednesday was on Harry issuing a legal threat over paparazzi tracking him to Canada.
In a bid to give the people what they want, news sites here have populated their homepages with opinion pieces on the couple.
Many of NZME's talk radio stable got in on the act this week. Mike Hosking signed off a Mike's Minute by blasting Meghan Markle and then winding up with this:
"Royals used to marry only each other. Having watched this, you can see why."But even he couldn't match this broadside from his partner, Kate Hawkesby - but my favourite came from Heather du-Plessis Allan.
These articles and editorials are bizarrely confident, given they're based on absolutely nothing. There's a vacuum in these pieces where actual knowledge about Meghan, Harry, or their intentions could be.
Harry gave a speech recently where he explained his decision, saying he had 'no other option' and that it was his choice, but that hasn't stopped the torrent of armchair psychology from every media personality in town, all of whom make definitive assertions about Meghan's decision-making.
More on this ongoing media-mania on Mediawatch next weekend . . .
A big podcasting play
Earlier this week, news broke that the streaming company Spotify is looking to buy Bill Simmons' media organisation The Ringer.
A lot of people, myself included, thought of The Ringer as a sports and pop-culture site that also did a lot of podcasts.
It turns out more of The Ringer's revenue - about $15 million a year - comes from podcasting.
Spotify's move is essentially a bet on podcasting as a big revenue-spinner for the future.
Why is Spotify betting on podcasting?
It believes podcasts will help it establish more loyal users, which are easier to convert to its premium service.
It already acquired the podcasting group Gimlet for $230 million last year.
A site like The Ringer being able to sustain itself on podcasting revenue is interesting. Maybe it will eventually overtake radio as people's audio medium of choice.
But while podcasting advertising is supposed to generate more than $860 million this year and $1 billion in 2021, the rest of digital advertising brings in more than $107 billion in the US.
Is this more fools' gold in the media's long-running search for a viable funding model?
A scoop from Stuff
Florence Kerr and Thomas Manch revealed that a New Zealand Defence Force soldier arrested last year for allegedly sharing military information that threatened New Zealand's security was running a white nationalist group online.
The soldier was behind the online persona 'Johann Wolfe' who co-founded the white nationalist Dominion Movement.
Push notification of the week
The Herald sent out this push notification on Wednesday:
"Criminal chooses wrong house to ditch their electronic monitoring bracelet - in the hedge of the National MP responsible for commenting on court matters"
The story was based on this tweet by Newshub journalist Kim Choe, who is married to National MP Chris Penk.
I’ve pulled a lot of crap out of my front hedge lately, but this was a first (police on their way to collect it!) pic.twitter.com/d49bF6qbBE— Kim Choe (@kimchoe) January 22, 2020
She took exception to the story.
Hey @nzherald," she wrote. "If you're going to insist on turning this inane tweet into a "story" at least don't say it was "never going to go unnoticed" because of who I'm married to. It was never going to go unnoticed because I care about the state of my hedge. FFS."