Front page NEWS @!&^#$%

ODT 17.5.13 Budget page 1 lowres

Received from Grahame Sydney
Friday, 17 May 2013 5:35 p.m.

Just in case you were nursing some warm notions that our proudly independent local newspaper slaved to keep a balanced, objective approach to the day’s news and its presentation, a glance at today’s dominating front page story by Dene Mackenzie on yesterday’s National Party Budget might prove instructive.

Under the banner headline “It’s a Win for the South”, Mackenzie begins the story as follows:

“Budget 2013 provides plenty for the South” (my italics) then goes on to state “Most attention was directed towards the Budget’s focus on the lack of housing in Auckland and on the rebuilding of Canterbury – but there was certainly something for those in business south of the Waitaki.”

Given the statement that “most attention” was directed at Auckland housing and the rebuilding of Canterbury – by which single stroke Christchurch now becomes Canterbury – it’s hard to see where the “Win for the South” emerges triumphant, unless of course you’re in business south of the Waitaki.

Tough bikkies if you’re not in business…

The article then goes on to state that “Mr English’s Budget was reasonably exciting for the South”, listing at the top of its illustrations the allocation over the next four years of money for an additional 20 places at Otago Medical School, though not necessarily in Dunedin. Exciting indeed !

Further evidence of the “Win for the South” apparently lies in the additional money for aged care and dementia services, because “the South has an ageing population (and) regional medical services should be in line for some of that money.” Hmmmmmm.

I suppose Mackenzie would also claim a significant win for the lower latitudes in the $19 million taken from the general education allocation to fund John Banks’ charter schools project. That’s what you get with cynical coalitions.

However the best comes mid-way in the lead story, Mackenzie plainly stating the ODT’s biased position as follows:

“The major disappointment of the day was the failure of the Opposition to land a significant blow on what was Mr English’s fifth Budget.”

“Labour leader David Shearer resorted to cliches, calling it a “blackjack Budget””

“Green Party co-leaser Russel Norman demonstrated again his inability to read a balance sheet.”

“Apart from the three leaders saying National was, in various ways, catering for its “fat-cat developer mates” there was nothing for the Government to worry about from yesterday’s Opposition statements and speeches.”

Hey, here’s a bold idea:
Why not try keeping the front page news stories to reporting the facts, with some effort at balance, and let readers make their own decisions on matters of interpretation ? The Op Ed columns are the place for heavily-weighted opinion like this.

Grahame Sydney
Cambrian Valley, Central Otago

{ODT Online says —Editor: The article was clearly marked ‘Budget Comment’ in the ODT print edition. That it was not marked as such online was an error which was rectified.}

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Business, Economics, Geography, Media, Name, People, Politics

13 responses to “Front page NEWS @!&^#$%

  1. Hype O'Thermia

    ODT Online comments have been far from complimentary about this piece that initially masqueraded as news, until thumpingly challenged by a reader, not the editor. Even as opinion it’s opinion based on godnose what, love-is-blind pro-National faith? Confusion about where the South is?
    OK, fair enough, depends on where you start. From Alaska, Auckland is definitely south. Mush-mush, Dene.

  2. Former ODT subscriber

    The ODT editorial team need to read the following Journalism Code of ethics:
    The ODT editor should issue an apology in print to its remaining subscribers for breaching this code with such blatant disregard to reporting biased opinion masquerading as front page “news”. Disgraceful!

  3. Peter

    It’s not the first time this has been done by the ODT and will not be the last. They do it when they want to put the boot into one side. The damage is done, irrespective of some ‘correction’.
    No wonder they have to offer discounts to previous subscribers to entice them back. How about trying ethical journalism, ODT? You might get better results.

  4. Rob Hamlin

    I would have commented at length on the McPravda comment site, but these things take time to write and so few of mine get through the editorial confidentiality net these days. I suppose that if D-Scene goes, then this editorial confidentiality filter will tighten up yet further as another signficant channel for leakage of facts that McPravda and its masters would consider should be editorially confidential disappears.

    Carisbrook’s still immaculate and unsold by the way – Thought I’d mention it, ‘cos McPravda almost certainly won’t. Now two years since and counting since the precious sod (That’s the grassy one of course, not any of the others that were around there at the time) was removed and flown to its new home.

  5. Anonymous

    On the Oddity forum sv3nn0 wrote it was a “valid opinion which Dene Mackenzie is entitled to submit as part of his work”. How do we know it was Dene’s own work? How do we know it is not a press release? How do we know without doubt payment or influence wasn’t involved? How do we feel about the paper’s position on this practice? Following his involvement with the hotel press release the paper has a long way to go before integrity and trust as restored. Already disgust is circulating wide this election will be just another media set-up, particularly with Sir smelling blood in the water assets over DScene.

    • ### ODT Online Fri, 17 May 2013
      Predicted $75m barely qualifies as surplus
      By Dene Mackenzie
      The Government reaffirmed its commitment to have its books back in surplus by 2015 but at $75 million, the surplus remains in the category of margin for error. Finance Minister Bill English said the operating balance before gains and losses (obegal) of $75 million was a sharp improvement from a deficit of $18.4 million in 2011. Net core Crown debt was forecast to peak at 28.7% of GDP in 2015 and fall thereafter. Longer-term projections showed net debt dropping to 17.6% of GDP in 2012.
      Read more

    • There has been the issue this year with ODT business reporter Dene Mackenzie taking items direct from New Zealand newsfeed and putting his name to them, unabashed.

      Then, not unconnected, Mr Mackenzie’s Opinion [“Comment”] was broadcast as the front page News, upon release of the Government Budget.

      Editorially, journalistically, ODT has not fixed ‘the problem’, as grover points out today.

      Dene produced a story today, ‘Turmoil ‘correction’ that may lift interest rates‘ with his name attached. No APNZ attribution, or other.

      In actual fact the ‘story’ comes from a statement published at BNZ Markets Outlook (24 June 2013):

      Click to access Market-Research59.pdf

      He has added some quotes from market commentators.


      The previous Mackenzie faux pas, noted:

  6. I don’t know why anyone expects the ODT to be anything but biased when it comes to politics? This unashamed ‘touting’ of the National Party over its latest budget is typical of its bias. It always has been a ‘Tory paper’ and I guess it always will be. It was equally apparent in the days when councils were party affiliated. Labour and Citizens (Tory). Who got the publicity? It even re-emerged in a manner with the promotion of the ‘Greater Dunedin Group’. And look what that produced? No doubt but that the ODT is a powerful persuasive influence. If indeed, its subscription list is shrinking, then they would need to revise their thinking on what the citizens real concerns are.

  7. The ODT is simply giving credit where credit is due: in spite of the Global Financial Crisis, prudent financial management has brought the books back into balance with some extra available for increases for Health, Education, Research, Housing and Poverty. Other countries look on in envy.
    If only the same could be said about the Dunedin City Council.

    • National-led government giveth and they taketh away. The global crisis isn’t over and I doubt we’ll miss all that it brings. Not with any government.

      • Although the Government itself might be making progress, the nation collectively still lives well beyond its means. The long-term consequences of this are grave.

        ### ODT Online Sat, 18 May 2013
        Editorial: Eye on the future [Budget 2013]
        All Budgets are, of course, political as well as financial documents. Understanding the Budget delivered by Finance Minister Bill English this week in this light, it is easy to see the Government’s eye on next year’s election. The message to the electorate is clear. We are a responsible, careful Government which has done a sterling job steering the nation through the storms of the past five years.

        It is as if Mr English deliberately revels in playing up to his stereotype – dull but dependable, boring but wise.

        It is recognised that as any government marches on it steadily accumulates disaffection, and John Key and the National party are well into their fifth year. Tax cuts and ”positive” measures are quickly absorbed, forgotten or taken for granted. The ”negatives”, meanwhile, are focused on and emphasised by affected individuals, Opposition parties, lobby groups and the media. […] Notwithstanding the prospect of a balanced budget, National has only succeeded around the edges in ”rebalancing” the economy so that New Zealand as a whole can earn more than it spends. Labour is justified in highlighting the massive foreign exchange deficits – lower than under later Labour years but forecast to continue to grow – as dark clouds looming over the country’s future.
        Read more

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