NZ Herald: Damning report rewritten after ‘war-room’ meeting

Written By: - Date published: 7:53 am, November 14th, 2015 - 16 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, newspapers, spin, uncategorized - Tags: , , , ,

The Herald seems to have accidentally deleted the online version of yesterday’s big story from Kirsty Johnson on how the government manipulates media perceptions. However could that have happened?

The original link is now 404 (as of last night). Fortunately various web sites have archived this very interesting piece. Education Aotearoa have the best coverage, see also Pastebin and The Herald on Facebook.

As a public service we’ll archive it here too. Required follow-up reading on No Right Turn.


DAMNING REPORT REWRITTEN AFTER ‘WAR-ROOM’ MEETING
NZ Herald 13 November 2015

A damning report by an education watchdog about babies and toddlers was partially rewritten after high-level meetings about its “risk” to the Government.

Documents show Ministry of Education advisers also tried to mitigate the impact of the Education Review Office report by planting good-news stories to balance negative media coverage, and carefully crafting a communications “narrative” during “war-room” meetings before its release.

Politicians and sector experts say the behaviour is concerning, and have raised queries about potential political interference in an independent body, plus a lack of transparency at the agencies.

The departments involved have rejected allegations of interference. The ministry said any changes made were a “decision for ERO”.

The ERO said “neither the Ministry of Education nor the minister directed or influenced the report in any way”.

The circumstances surrounding the release of the ERO report, “Infants and toddlers: competent and confident communicators and explorers”, were revealed in emails between ministry staff that the Herald obtained under the Official Information Act.

They show staff frantically planning for the release of the study – which found almost half of early childhood centres were not doing enough for under-3s in vital developmental areas, and therefore not meeting their curriculum requirements.

The finding followed a series of other reports that highlighted issues with the quality of early childhood education, and urged the Government to raise standards. The worst of those pointed out that poor-quality early childhood education can be harmful for children.

The most recent study was undertaken in early 2014. ERO sent it to the ministry in February this year, after peer-review and consultation. It initially recommended the ministry use the findings of the evaluation to “form policy development impacting on the education and care of infants and toddlers”. This then changed, with ERO suggesting the report be shared with the Advisory Group on Early Learning, with emphasis on the curriculum. Initial communications plans were drafted, but it then sat in limbo until July, when ERO decided to make it public. The report was sent to the minister’s office on July 31.

**********************************

Here is the response to an OIA request Herald reporter Kirsty Johnson received from the Ministry of Education.


damning report disappeared

16 comments on “NZ Herald: Damning report rewritten after ‘war-room’ meeting”

  1. Paul 1

    So clearly the Herald’s editors obey the government and big corporations orders.
    John Roughan’s obsequious biography of Key shows he is a sycophant, not a journalist.

    Chris Hedges, in his book ‘Death of the Liberal Class’

    “The liberal class refuses to recognize the obvious because it does not want to lose its comfortable and often well-paid perch.”

    Sums up the leadership at the Herald..

  2. Sirenia 2

    That is such an interesting paper trail. It shows how the system works when public servants work for the government not the public. There are some good people in the spin team and in the Ministry generally. I would suspect that they don’t like doing this type of cover up.

  3. Rosemary McDonald 3

    Kirsty Johnston….Wahine toa!

    She will probably lose her job at the Herald after this.

    You know….if we could be confident of sound, unbiased and reasoned journalism and reporting…would we be happy to pay a subscription?

    Scoop is good for press releases, but are they doing this kind of work?

  4. David H 4

    It makes you wonder what’s next. A months Notice for rocking the boat?

  5. Ch-ch Chiquita 5

    Just a reminder why we so desperately need an honorable source of news. I hope Scoop will succeed in the quest to do it.

    Am I too hopeful that if the Herald managed to get its hand on the report so did the opposition?

    • greywarshark 5.1

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      edited

  6. I have been told by two totally unrelated people with contacts in the News industry that NZ news professionals have been under D-Notice since 9/11.
    This is an official request to news editors not to publish or broadcast items on specified subjects for reasons of national security. In practice this means that there is a lot of scrutiny and control over what is being published in our MSM!
    And of course the fear of publishing anything deemed of national security makes for a powerful self-censuring mechanism even when it is in the public’s interest to know!
    I’m not saying it was used here but it says something about our freedom of the press if this is true!

    • Incognito 6.1

      This might be the case but the article did get through the ‘filters’ and did get published only for it to be pulled afterwards!? It was also based on information obtained under the OIA so anything ‘damning’ would have been edited, we can be sure of.

  7. ropata 7

    The saga continues…

    Good morning @nzherald – where is this story? https://t.co/KYpEQjfoYn— Lamia (@LI_politico) November 13, 2015

    .@LI_politico I went out and bought today's @nzherald to find out for you! This appears on page 3. pic.twitter.com/PSii3cNbNw— Graeme Edgeler (@GraemeEdgeler) November 13, 2015

    @GraemeEdgeler @LI_politico @nzherald so her editor got lawyered, in other words— Sacha Dylan (@kaupapa) November 13, 2015

    If you're keeping track at home, this is one more apology than the Herald thought Amanda Bailey deserved. And this is how power works.— Giovanni Tiso (@gtiso) November 13, 2015

  8. Mr and Mrs Brillo 8

    We are picturing a dire epidemic at the Herald.
    There seems to be no one on duty today.

    Two stories critical of John Key – an Editorial “Why John Key Should Say Sorry” , and Audrey Young’s column “Key Attack Leaves him Offside with Women” both invite us to Have Your Say underneath. Both are datelined 5am. Here it is 12 hours later and there are NO comments shown. Apparently NO ONE has commented on either story. Yet this household did, on both, this morning.

    We expect we will have to wait till Monday again before they run any comments. That’s what the Herald usually does when people criticise this government. Another tactic is running the comments made by Key’s admirers (or hirelings) and dropping the critical ones.

    • veutoviper 8.1

      I have heard that the delay in putting up comments on Herald opinion pieces is also a ‘click-bait’ tactic – the more clicks on an article, the greater the advertising revenue and/or payment to the writer of the article.

      I have watched this closely over the last year or so, and the delays in putting up comments are getting increasingly slower for most but not all opinion pieces. Often, on the main Opinion page they will show (X comments) but then when you click on the actual article, there are no comments and these do not come up for some hours. Again, a click-bait tactic presumably.

      Yet, comments appear very quickly on a few other articles. Usually, non-controversial ones, but not always. And comments on some author’s articles appear much more quickly than others. For example, my perception has been that comments on articles by John Armstrong, Fran O’Sullivan and Audrey Young articles take forever, whereas comments appear much quicker on articles by Toby Manhire, Bryce Edwards – and Rodney Hide!

      • Mr and Mrs Brillo 8.1.1

        Update:
        The comments sectons on both the stories we mentioned eventually appeared on Sunday morning. Our comment on the editorial was published, but our comment on Audrey Young’s column was not. There was nothing defamatory or vulgar about our comment, but it was very definitely anti Key’s behaviour.

        On the other hand, several comments each were allowed through that were made by a team of commenters from the far right who comment on each and every NZ political story, almost as though it was their job to do so. The same four or five names turn up under every story, attacking “loony lefties”, women, and anyone who criticises National.

        (We don’t agree about comments being published quickly on Toby Manhire’s pieces, however – sometimes these take till Monday to appear, as well. )

  9. greywarshark 9

    Scoop is coming up the straight, passing NZ Herald, DimPost is falling behind and the punters are stuffing their hands in their pockets and saying it’s Scoop for me!
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  10. veutoviper 10

    There was considerable discussion yesterday on Twitter about the disappearing Kirsty Johnston article, prior to everything else being overtaken by the dreadful news out of Paris.

    It seems that the Herald deleted the article from the website, and then issued a short correction notice in the print edition of the Herald yesterday but not on their website. The notice is as clear as mud.

    The correction notice can be viewed in this tweet conversation –

    Further discussion on the possible reasons (eg legal action) is in this further Twitter thread.

    Kirsty Johnston also tweeted briefly, but is unable to discuss the matter.

    So whether more will come to light or not remains to be seen.

  11. Mrs Brillo 11

    One thing I do not understand is how a commenter called “Undecided Voter” gets three or four comments published under every political (and many other sorts of) article in the Herald, even articles which are so overcrowded by comments that my own comment does not get published.

    Nothing “undecided” about him, he’s a rabid National supporter with a very ugly turn of expression.

    The thing which you and I can be undecided about is whether he is a member of the Herald’s staff, or National’s staff.

    And I’m making this comment here rather than to the Herald, as here it may actually get a chance to be read.

    • Anne 11.1

      Mrs Brillo, I’m obviously banned from commenting on TV3 online articles. After the axing of Campbell Live I had the temerity to criticise Weldon and Christie, since when I can’t even open the comment section to read them. I’m no radical or online subversive raver, so goes to show how authoritarian and psychopathic TV3 has become under the stewardship of said individuals.

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