Last night we published a tip-off saying the New Zealand Herald planned to report that its APN stable-mate the Bay Report would be correcting its story where John Key said ‘we would love to see wages drop.’
That story was published by the Herald this morning, hours before the Bay Report had even gone to print, and served only to confirm our suspicion that some serious political and/or proprietorial pressure has been brought to bear on APN’s newspapers and editorial staff.
Here we have APN’s senior management, seemingly out of the blue and without cause, forcing one of its papers to back away from a story that was politically inconvenient for the National Party.
APN has so far offered no explanation as to why the company has made such a drastic turnaround (the journalist, the editor, the publisher and the transcript all backed the story), nor do we have an explanation as to why it took two and a half months from when the story was first published to issue a correction.
This chain of events suggests some serious pressure has been brought to bear by APN, and possibly the National Party, and it’s not helped by the Dominion Post’s revelation that John Key has been â€˜in communication’ with APN chief executive Martin Simons about the issue or the fact the story was broken not by APN but by Bill English in Parliament.
Furthermore, our sources inside APN tell us the decision to kill the story was not made locally, and nor was it even made by editorial staff – this one came straight from APN’s senior management. We also understand that APN has gagged its editorial staff at the Bay Report from speaking to the media.
This is simply rotten. In the interests of media freedom APN must remove the gagging order on its staff, tell the public exactly what communication has taken place between company management and the National Party, and explain why management felt it necessary to intervene in the editorial affairs of its newspapers.
This is no longer simply a story about what Key did or didn’t mean when he made that quote; it is now a serious matter of media freedom that should concern every New Zealander who has an interest in our democracy. I suspect this is not the last we’ll hear of it.