Archive for the ‘Journalism’ Category

Fran’s Predictions and Coddington On Crow

December 28, 2008

One of the few negatives about being in Central Otago is the lack of the NZ Herald (it can be purchased at Queenstown Airport but we try and avoid Queenstown as much as possible).  The Christchurch Press is readily available so one can keep up with the contents of the Dominion Post pretty easily (much of the content is thesame).  So to catch up with the Herald we have to rely on the internet.  Sometimes I fall behind, so only today read Fran O’Sullivan’s mother’s recollections of the 1930s depression and her self assessment of the accuracy of her predictions for 2008 in yesterday’s Herald.  I also read Deborah Coddington’s latest opinion piece.

What jumped out at me was her comments on Steve Crow

Finally, the “how could you get it so wrong” award goes to so-called porn king Steve Crow who spat the dummy when Wellingtonians ignored his erotica show. He’s not returning with his “Boobs on Bikes” parade because only 6000 out of an expected 15,000 turned up to be titillated by what appear to be the worst-shaped breasts Crow can find, judging from the newspaper photos.

We have good taste in Wellington. As the late Paul Newman said, why go out for hamburger when you can have fillet steak at home?

Women in the Capital already know what’s sexy, and it’s not exposing as much flesh as legally allowed. We don’t do mini-skirts and vaulting cleavage. We know what turns men on – intelligence, and not finishing every sentence with a rising inflection.

I don’t care if Crow does come back with his Erotica exhibition – it’s harmless, and attendance isn’t mandatory. But I doubt the reason Wellingtonians stayed away was because, as Crow said, we have “deep pockets and short arms”.

We’re deeply bored by tackiness, and men or women who boast how good they are in bed. Never true, except in their dreams.

Crow’s off to “Palmy” with his porn, where he says they “love it”. I’m not surprised – two unsubtle cities where people need to be beaten over the head with the bleeding obvious. Inhabitants in these cities will see out the year with a whinge. In Wellington, we’ll be welcoming 2009 with a bang.

I coped a bit of flak from Mr Crow for relaying the results of a survey we did off our membership on attitudes to his foray into the capital.  Most of our members thought that his parade was inconsistent with the image we wanted for Wellington and most thought it would do nothing for their business.  My own view was that Wellingtonians would regard the whole thing as a bit of yawn.  And I was right.  We are not prudes (I certainly am not one) but we know what is going to work in Wellington, and boobs on bikes was just not our thing.  We were correct in this prediction, and it is a pity Mr Crow didn’t spend less time abusing me, and more time listening to my advice.

Good luck Palmerston North!

Where Have The Good Young Journalists Gone?

December 21, 2008

Gone to the Beehive everyone…. So laments Fran O’Sullivan in yesterday’s NZ Herald.  I too shall miss Ben Thomas ex-NBR and Paula Oliver ex-Herald but look forward to working with both in their new roles. 

Fran and I spoke on Friday and she said that she would be writing about the loss of journalistic talent to the government sector.  I suggested that one of the big issues is journalistic pay rates – which (TV presenters aside) are pathetic.  Like teachers, I think journalists are underrated and underpaid for the important roles they perform.  We need to do something about it.  This is one reason why I keep hammering home the need for better productivity performance.  Higher productivity across the economy means higher wages across the economy.

Will write further on this in the New Year.  As Fran said to me on Friday, this is not just a New Zealand problem.

Great Photo – Pity About The Caption

December 14, 2008

Page A7 of today’s Sunday Star Times carries a great photo of the Legislative Council Chamber on Tuesday just before the Governor-General begins reading the Speech From The Throne.  The photo by Chamber members Woolf Studio, is of John Key handing the speech to the Governor-General.  Unfortunately the Sunday Star Times has the photo captioned “Pomp and ceremony: Prime Minister John Key is sworn in at parliament’s opening last week”.  No one gets sworn in at the opening.

Absurd Article In Today’s Press

December 8, 2008

How many of you have heard of a woman called Mandy Waaka-Home?  Mandy did not know who the new Conservation Minister was, and when she heard who it was, she said the following:

“Oh, that well-known environmentalist he’s so well known I don’t know him.”

What is worse, is that The Press saw fit to write this up as an article.

How many well known environmentalists were there in the last Cabinet?  And are we not talking about the Conservation Minister not the Environment Minister?

Where Was The Business Voice?

December 5, 2008

CTU, Labour, Greens – all got airtime this morning on Morning Report to take a swipe at Treasury’s briefing for incoming Ministers but where was the business voice?  Maybe Radio NZ tried to get comment and no one obliged, but the journalist concerned didn’t try me.  I would have been very happy to defend Treasury on several recommendations.  Treasury came to us and other groups prior to writing the BIM and many of the ideas it contains are what we were hoping for.  I will get a fuller comment out over the weekend.

Local Government Forum

November 30, 2008

Many thanks to the Sunday Star Times for telling me something about myself which I did not know.  In his column today (page A11) Chris Trotter advises us all that there is a right wing conspiracy about to re-launch the privatisation agenda (a vehicle for ensuring that the right maintains control – apparently) by cunningly opening a new front – on local Government.  These right wingers are going to use a shadowy front organisation called the Local Government Forum to deliver this evil agenda. 

Well it so happens that I know a little bit about the Local Government Forum.  I have been a participant in its work for a couple of years and last week was elected its Chair.  So apparently I am chairing a group that  has an agenda that I don’t know about.  Thanks Chris and thanks Sunday Star Times for conveying this news to me.

Herald Editorial Makes Same Mistake

November 27, 2008

Because the NZ Herald does not arrive most mornings in Wellington until mid-morning nowadays, we are sometimes (when we don’t have time to read the electronic version) a bit behind the times.  If we had read it first things we would have drawn attention to the fact that the Herald editorial makes exactly the same mistake as Vernon Small.

Look, business groups such as ours are well aware of the fact that we have to act on climate change.  We have been fighting hard for the past four years to achieve a consensus between Labour and National on the issue so that fringe groups such as the Greens at one end and ACT at the other do not have the influence they currently have on policy formulation.  We want a credible response and we want one that is going to be durable.  Policy uncertainty will deter investment.

The new Government knows this.  Inaction is not an option.

The problem with the last Government was that it chose not to listen to good advice on this issue and it chose to reject the offers of a consensus.  We can only guess that they did this because they somehow thought there was going to be electoral advantage in making this a partisan issue.

We have to have a policy in place by the end of next year otherwise we will be playing into the hands of those who, in Europe and elsewhere, are seeking to use climate change as an excuse for protectionist policy.  But we can’t leave the current policy in place.  It is bad policy that will impact very negatively on the economy.  Even some European Governments agree with us.  They are worried that the policy is too ambitious and that if we don’t change it we risk rendering some sectors in our economy non-competitive.  This will complicate the global process.  In our submissions to the select committee on the ETS we made this point and we made it constantly in our lobbying efforts.  The Government of the day chose to ignore us.  We really think that the New Zealand media should be doing more sophisticated analysis in this space.

We are confident that a robust scheme can be in place by the end of this year that will do the right thing for the environment and not leave our economy in tatters.  This will serve as a positive role model to the rest of the world.  Instead on unimformed sniping lets get behind the Government and get such a scheme implemented.

UK Travel Tax Nothing To Do With NZ Sustainability Policy

November 27, 2008

There is a seriously troubling article in today’s Dominion Post by Vernon Small. It suggests that New Zealand’s ability to influence the UK’s proposed travel tax that discourages long distance travel will be reduced because of the Government’s decision to review the emissions trading scheme.

However, Mr Key and the incoming Government have left themselves exposed on climate change.

Arguments about New Zealand’s sustainable moral mandate – its clean green reputation and the target of carbon neutrality – have been weakened by putting the emissions trading scheme on hold

This is not a factor in British thinking.  If it had been a consideration then, as we have posted previously, Britain would have focussed on fuel consumption or some other policy that gave an incentive to those who make an effort to improve efficiency or innovate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Australia still has its emissions trading scheme plans progressing – is Australia being treated any differently than New Zealand in this policy?  The answer is no.

Finally can I remind Vernon that the UK scheme will not be in place for two years and that the Government’s new climate change policy will be in place by the end of next year.  This policy will be no less rigorous than that in place in the UK and EU.  In all probablility it will be more rigorous (not that hard).

Caution Necessary On Emissions Trading

November 20, 2008

Journalists seeking comment on emissions trading should be cautious and keep their readers/listeners/viewers fully informed when the person expressing an opinion might have a vested interest in a particular policy outcome.  For example, two people were interviewed on Morning Report this morning on the issue.  Both have had the value of the demand for the services they offer greatly diminished in the short term by the government’s decision to review policy in this area and to consider the possible alternative policy of a carbon tax.  This should have been stated clearly to the audience.

Declaration of interest

The Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce runs training courses, seminars and conferences on this topic and will sometimes turn a profit on these.  The Chamber also strives to achieve a true policy consensus on this issue.  Our members have mixed views on the best way forward but most agree that a carbon tax applied across all sectors would be the fairest approach and the economically most sensible policy.  That said, should a consensus form around a well designed emissions trading system we would not want to stand in the way of agreement on this way forward.