A much discussed piece by Scoop’s Alastair Thompson yesterday:
An Investigative News Media Blood Bath |500 Words
Last week was a bad week for NZ Media. And for much more than just the announced “review” of Campbell Live.
One of NZ’s best newspaper editors Tim Murphy resigned as editor of the NZ Herald. According to sources he decided to go over differences in opinion on how the editorial side of NZME. was being managed by its CEO Jane Hastings.
Murphy sent in a reply which is appended to the post, in which he denies any dispute with Hastings.
I am going because it has been a long, long run of responsibility and with a whole lot of new things happening and about to happen it is the right time to let a new voice come in.
Back to Thompson:
For working journo’s the other shocking public news in the week was the decision of Phil Kitchin to take up a job with Paula Bennett in the Beehive.
The reason this news is notable for media old-timers is that Phil is also a complete legend of investigative journalism – probably the longest serving investigative reporter in the Fairfax stable – he is responsible for a bunch of huge Scoops, the biggest being exposure of the rape culture being perpetrated inside the Police Force and the case of Louise Nicholas.
Bit Phil is not the only leading Fairfax investigative journalist who has left the publisher recently.
Michael Field – who recently published an in-depth expose of fisheries abuse in the Pacific Ocean – has resigned.
Scoop understands he was effectively forced out in the fall-out which followed a legal threat from a Kiwi businessman and one-time a minor Russian oligarch – Stephen Jennings – who has recently got himself into a spot of bother in Africa. You can read the apology here.
Dig a bit deeper at Fairfax and you discover that in the space of a few months they have lost several more senior reporters.
According to inside sources the driving force behind this has been the rise of Stuff the Nation as a priority for the organisation. Hank Schouten, Tim Hunter and Tim O’Donoghue have also gone, and legendary sports editor Trevor Mckewen apparently walked out when he saw what was happening. …
Go read the full piece at Scoop for plenty more.
Other “journalists” however are trying to sweep the headline event, the attack on Campbell Live, under the carpet. Here’s an anonymous editorial in The Herald (my money is on John Roughan):
Hard-hitting journalism alive and well
There has been much hyperbole in the reaction to a review by broadcaster MediaWorks of its evening current affairs show Campbell Live. … Critics’ knees jerked. An end to serious journalism. The demise of the last journalist who cares. The last nail in a coffin for news, public interest and political accountability. An act of political string-pulling to advantage the Government and de-fang the left.
Even John Campbell, as professional and accomplished as ever amid the publicity storm, would likely cringe at the over-reactions.
Actually no, Campbell has repeatedly thanked his supporters.
He knows numerous journalists within his own company will continue to provide strong disclosure journalism holding the powerful to account. The team on what was 3rd Degree, who illuminated the injustice against Teina Pora; Patrick Gower and a press gallery team which puts the bite on allcomers; and a wider newsroom which has marked 3News as a feisty, if idiosyncratic, pursuer of stories which matter.
With respect to those doing good work (a list which does not include Mr Gower), they aren’t doing what Campbell Live does.
Beyond MediaWorks, fine public interest journalism is undertaken on competing television stations, radio, in newspapers, magazines and in all kinds of places online. It is trite to view Campbell Live as the sole holder of that important flame. It belittles so much else that is of value. …
And more with the straw-person exaggerations, and so on and so on, move along folks, nothing to see here. Or is there? John Drinnan suggest that there is more to come on events at TV3…
Well, despite the best efforts of our anonymous spinner, this is clearly a difficult time for NZ media. New technologies are disrupting the industry, commercial imperatives are becoming ever more naked and destructive, experienced and committed journalists are retiring, being sacked, or giving up. Privately owned media will not in the future have a hope of delivering large scale quality news services in this country. If we think that matters, then a strong publicly funded media presence is the only way forward.