The first causalty of the Len Brown fiasco has occurred and he is a totally unexepected victim. Senior Reporter at the NBR Jock Anderson has been fired.
The background is that he wrote and posted a pro Len Brown editorial, it was removed from the website shortly after it went live, and he was then a few hours later sacked essentially for not following the NBR code. National Business Review publisher Todd Scott has said that “[w]e do not comment on internal employment issues but I can confirm Mr Jock Anderson was dismissed yesterday for failing to comply with specific instructions to treat coverage of the Len Brown affair in an impartial and unbiased manner.”
The editorial was still on the website but hidden until yesterday morning. It may be coincidental but after I mentioned this the editorial page was deleted and there is now a 404 error where once there was an unpublished page.
Keeping Stock has posted a screenshot of the editorial and commented that he can’t see too much wrong with it and I agree. Anderson said that Brown’s initial TV response was humble, measured, and as far as the circumstances would allow dignified. He commented that Brown had a lot of unfinished business to guide through in the interests of Auckland and described super city as a “hospital pass”. He asked for all political hues of Auckland Council to leave his pecadillo off the table and work to achieve what needs to be done to ensure the business of being Auckland pays dividends.
This is hardly revolutionary stuff. And Anderson is hardly a strident lefty.
It is not as if NBR editorials could always be considered impartial and unbiased. It has always maintained a pro business free market stance which is of itself a deeply political matter. But it has traditionally operated in the free speech libertarian spectrum rather than the ban free speech you do not like tea party spectrum of the right.
It appears that the matter may be off to the employment court and I am sure that Matthew Hooton and others from the NBR will not want to debate the issue publicly. But what I would like to know is what was the instruction and how did Anderson’s editorial breach this? And if it did is such a managerial restriction on editorial independence appropriate or fair?