It’s those geeks with gifts again

Beware of geeks bearing gifts.

I gave that warning in a column seven years ago and repeated it here last November. I’ll say it again: Beware of geeks bearing gifts.

I make no apologies for sounding like a cracked record.

On the face of it, New Zealand media companies appear to be trotting along nicely in their bid to get some money for the content that Google and Facebook have been freely appropriating.

The Commerce Commission has issued a draft determination allowing members of the News Publishers Association to bargain collectively with Meta and Google on payment for content. The NPA is a mix of metropolitan and regional newspaper publishers but in this initiative it is minus NZME, which has already brokered deals with both Google and Facebook. NZME’s agreement with the latter is not payment for content but support for NZME’s “subscriber growth and retention”.

Call it ‘content’, call it ‘retention’, no matter. They’re paying up one way or another. All’s good.

But is it? Continue reading “It’s those geeks with gifts again”

The media pack smells blood

The media wolf pack knows when it smells blood.

Unfortunately, its sense of smell is not so well developed that it can differentiate between a mortal wound, a non-life-threatening gash, and a paper cut.

When it is denied a kill, the more excitable members of the pack howl in disappointment while the grey-muzzled old-timers who have trotted along at a more leisurely pace look knowingly at each other.

We saw the pack in action last week when it sniffed the blood of National Party leader Christopher Luxon following a couple of gaffes and an apparent plateau in the polls.

That culminated in pundits at opposite ends of the political spectrum acting as if they were closing in on a kill. Continue reading “The media pack smells blood”

TVNZ boss Simon Power must use his skills and lead from the front

Television New Zealand chief executive Simon Power needs to use his undoubted abilities and start leading the organisation from the front.

Throughout the excoriating saga of Breakfast host Kamahl Santamaria’s inappropriate behaviour and subsequent resignation of the networks head of news, Power has seemed to be far from the front line.

What began as a manageable problem turned into a mess, not only in terms of staff morale but also public perception of the state broadcaster. Tom Dillane’s extensive analysis of the issue in the Weekend Herald  traced the broad scope of the malaise afflicting the newsroom and associated departments. The problems clearly run wide and deep and are not solely a result of Santamaria’s transgressions.

This could not have come at a worse time – TVNZ should have been preparing for its integration into a new public media entity with a positive outlook and sure of its place in the new organisation. Instead, its culture has been shaken, its processes found wanting, its newsroom leadership placed in limbo, and public trust in the organisation damaged because those who hold others to account are expected to be above reproach.

The statement repeated throughout the meltdown has been that Simon Power is not available for interview, nor will he answer written questions. Employment issues are bound up in complex law and do require careful handling. However, questions around Santamaria’s hiring and the subsequent handling of an allegation against him were well-and-truly in the public domain and TVNZ was naïve to think it could stay almost silent. Continue reading “TVNZ boss Simon Power must use his skills and lead from the front”