19 Feb 2020

Midweek Mediawatch 19 February 2020

From Mediawatch, 2:41 pm on 19 February 2020

Mediawatch's weekly catch-up with Lately. This week Colin talks to Karyn Hay about tensions over 'those' photos of two journalists investigating NZ First, Breakfast burn-out, how a poke at the woke caused a cancellation - and the cunning data journalism behind a scoop on Sunday. 

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Photo: PHOTO / RNZ Mediawatch

Herald data journalism highlights a legal first

A really interesting court story in the Herald on Sunday last weekend by David Fisher: Cash grab: Cops seize property worth millions over health and safety breaches 

“A workplace fatality has seen police use a law usually associated with drugs and organised crime to seize millions of dollars in assets from a business owner because of health and safety breaches,” said the story. 

It follows the death of Jamey Lee Bowring at the Salters Cartage Ltd yard in Wiri, South Auckland five years ago.

He was welding on huge fuel tank when it exploded. Company director Ron Salter was sentenced to four-and-a-half months' home detention and fined $400,000 for safety breaches described as on a “par with Pike River” in court. 

High Court documents show police have used the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act to legally restrain their family home in Auckland, along with family trusts, the family bach and business.

"In one of my cheekier acts of automation, I've got a script that finds every property that the cops put a freeze on in the previous week, which was how we found this story."

Keith told me they have automated the LINZ information on houses seized by Police and who owns them so reporters can check names against earlier and ongoing stories and prosecutions. 

“It's like a police scanner. Or like My Food Bag, except delivering (usually) drug dealers to reporter's inbox,” he added on Twitter. 

It’s the kind of clever Herald reporting people are happy to pay their premium content subscriptions, whereas . . .  

Woke jibe sparks premium row

Newstalk ZB’s pro-car host Hosking last week wrote a column in the Herald, saying he was thinking of leaving Auckland because of the roadworks that, among other things, stop him getting to the hairdresser.

(One witty listener summed up Hosking’s POV as: “Build more roads! But no road works please").

Both outlets have been milking the responses to Hosking’s blurt, and in a Herald follow-up written Auckland issues Bernard Orsman (along with one other reporter) 

Wrote that it “drew the predictable response from the woke left - and now the city’s Labour Party-aligned mayor has joined the chorus."

The word ‘woke’ was taken out before it went to print and removed from the online version, but not before writer / pundit / Sunday Star Times columnist David Slack had taken exception.

He indicated he would cancel his Herald digital subscription - and then discovered this could only be done analogue-style: by phoning a call centre during business hours. 

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Photo: screenshot

He was then engaged in Twitter debate about whether this was a fair response given that the Herald's quality journalism is funded though digital subscription income these days. 

"That sounds weirdly like an argument that the air at the top of the tyre is different from the rest," he relied to one respondent. 

Those photos of reporters Guyon Espiner and Matt Shand: Whodunnit?  

Photos taken of RNZ journalist Guyon Espiner and former NZ First president Lester Gray were posted on The BFD.

Photos taken of RNZ journalist Guyon Espiner and former NZ First president Lester Gray were posted on The BFD. Photo: Screengrab from video on the BFD

It's more than two weeks since 'those' photos of Guyon Espiner and Stuff's Matt Shand appeared on the Whale OIl 2.0 blogsite BFD.

But they're been making headlines ever since Winston Peters claimed "We took the photos" on Magic Talk last week. 

Mr Peters has since said on Twitter a party supporter took the pictures - but he didn't know which one. Then NZ First MP Tracy Martin told Herald reporter Jason Walls she knew who - but wasn't telling. 

There'll be more on the fallout from this - and what it tells us about political / media relations on Mediawatch this weekend, but one of the more surprising statements came from NZ First MP Shane Jones today. 

"This is driven by a sense of hysteria from RNZ," he told Newstalk ZB

"To suggest it's some 'Maxwell Smart conspiracy' speaks volumes about a certain culture within Radio New Zealand. In this interview he tells Hosking he is “sick of wet nursing them from the public breast”.

He was just venting - and playing to the gallery for Newstalk ZB I guess - but a fairly heavy-handed thing to say. 

And not exactly in line with the serious address his leader gave just before Christmas about the need to help or news media speak truth to power for the good of democracy  . . .

Burnt-out by Breakfast

Stitched together  - a hasty image for an apperntly hasty switch at TVNZ.

Stitched together - a hasty image for an apperntly hasty switch at TVNZ. Photo: supplied / TVNZ

A sort-of-sad but sort-of-encouraging interview on Newstalk ZB with Jack Tame -  back on screen with TVNZ Q+A show last weekend. 

He said on ZB his previous role role as co-host of TVNZ's Breakfast for over two years was having "a negative impact on his health." 

"It is a brutal, brutal life," he says of early mornings. He says that waking up at 3:30am every morning and having to be perky and bright every day was having a negative impact on his health. 

"I felt like I was ageing three days for every day that I woke up." 

He said he wants a lengthy career rather than getting burnt out at 35. 

It's good to be aware of this and acting on it  In recent years, the like of Duncan Garner and Patrick Gower have both said their high pressure on-camera jobs took a really heavy toll and forced them to switch. 

Maybe it's time for morning shows to stop pretending to be perky - most of the audience probably isn't either.