ODT to lose Murray Kirkness

IMG_20150618_231024### ODT Online Thu, 18 Jun 2015
‘ODT’ editor resigns
Otago Daily Times editor Murray Kirkness has resigned, Allied Press Ltd managing director Sir Julian Smith has announced. Mr Kirkness (47) has accepted the role of weekday editor at The New Zealand Herald in Auckland. He will remain at the ODT until August.
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Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

*Image: dunedintv.co.nz – Murray Kirkness


Filed under Business, Media, Name, New Zealand, People

24 responses to “ODT to lose Murray Kirkness

  1. Elizabeth

    {Ralphy, your comment was unhelpful. -Eds}

  2. Peter

    Murray will have some great news stories from the South to publish if he cares to enjoy newfound independence in his new role. New editor, king scoops, if you get my drift.
    Good career move. Like Hamish McNeilly.

  3. JimmyJones

    This is very good news for the quality of Dunedin’s news media and for democracy in the city. I have to assume that Murray Kirkness was responsible for the feeble/feckless/shallow reporting on anything to do with the DCC and ORC. There appeared to be collusion between the ODT and the DCC to hide information from the readers so as to help the DCC with their unpopular projects (eg closure of the one-way system) and to assist the DCC spindoctoring dept in hiding gigantic DCC cock-ups and cover-ups (eg St Clair seawall design failure, dishonest stadium losses, Dave Cull’s dishonest flood statements, Town Hall redevelopment fraud, Moana pool double-dipping, blame the dead-guy car fraud, costly DELTA decisions and more. There is always the chance that the new editor could be just as bad, but that seems unlikely.
    The Herald’s loss is Dunedin’s Gain. Don’t come back Murray.

    • Richard Stedman

      JimmyJones, this is not good news at all. Murray Kirkness is a very capable journalist and manager and my guess is he has taken the opportunity to break from the shackles that bind the editorship of the ODT. I am surprised that he has stuck it out for so long. There is nobody at Allied Press capable of replacing him in any meaningful way. Murray came from the Australia to join the ODT and was for a time transferred to the Star. His portfolio as editor of the ODT has included the Star and several other AP papers with editors in name only.

    • JimmyJones

      Richard Stedman: I don’t doubt that he has been a very capable journalist and manager, but I hold him responsible for the policy that looks like collaboration with the DCC as well as the general shallowness of local reporting. The reporters seem mostly good, but have been gagged.
      You blame the owners and I blame Murray Kirkness. I really hope for a huge change at the ODT when Murray leaves.

      • Richard Stedman

        JimmyJones: You can blame Murray all you like, that does not change the reality. The ODT was censored and suffocating long before Murray Kirkness crossed the Tasman. It has just taken a long time for it to become apparent. There will be no change, no matter who accepts the chalice.

  4. Peter

    The ODT tends to promote internally, I believe. Maybe others can fill us in on previous editor appointees. Murray came from sister paper….The Star. The owners are conservative and trust whom they know and who are reliable/compliant.
    New editor. Maybe deputy editor, Barry Stewart, Phil Sommerville or someone younger like Chris Morris.
    I would be shocked if they appointed a strong, truly independent outsider. In my dreams.

  5. Peter

    Murray will have good qualities, but I was not impressed when he did not show fairness with the independently commissioned poll, through the university, on support or not for the stadium. Bev spoke to him and came away with the impression the ODT would contribute to the cost. They turned us
    down…because they weren’t sure of how
    it would go for them. I well remember the
    ODT playing up, very early on before the
    proposal was underway, the results of an
    unscientific online poll!
    The paper’s editorial support policy for the stadium via The Marketing Bureau was equally shameful given the ongoing financial distortions for the city. The paper at times resembles more Rugby News with too few occasions of editorial independence.

    • Richard Stedman

      Peter: You need to look beyond Murray Kirkness for answers to the issues you raise.

      • Peter

        I see your point, Richard, but when someone is being pressured to toe a particular line, even if they don’t agree with it, there are ways of safely letting this be known.
        I doubt very much whether the ODT….not just Murray….would ever have the grace and guts, as real men do, to apologise for some shameful things they have done to discredit, not just Bev, but all those who opposed the stadium. Not that it has worked, in the end, because they are the ones left with egg on their faces. (Nor, as far as Bev is concerned, does she give a toss that the ODT have always loathed her.)
        People hate to be shown up for their sloppiness and cowardice, even when they have been spoonfed with information, presented clearly and fully documented.

  6. Calvin Oaten

    Peter, it is difficult to see how any editor appointment will change the ethos of the ODT. It is an entrenched vehicle of the Smith family with which to influence public thought. You yourself and Bev have experienced it with the Stadium in which the ODT did, and still does hugely influence the public into believing it has been a viable investment for the city. Then there was the very pronounced bias in recent municipal elections towards the Greater Dunedin cartel. Its attitude towards uncomfortable truths like the ‘Citifleet fraud’ matter tends to put a blanket over the darker moments like they don’t exist. It is generally a bland, don’t rock the boat attitude, while that boat is clearly in financial, moral and degenerate hands. No hard nosed investigative journalist need apply for that editorial chair.

  7. Elizabeth

    Despite ODT’s hardcore editorial neglect of particular topics and personages, for debate and investigation – many of which are anticipated by the editorial team in advance of letters and online comments being received but not always (sometimes the gates come down too late when some of us have already taken screenshots of ‘offending views’ for posterity…) – I always enjoy enough pages per day in print or online to be glad the newspaper can both inform and stir parochial blood.

    This dreadful game of chess does not stop the historical record so much as deny, defer and delay it – until crisis point. There are always other channels open, if the ODT is not.

    Murray Kirkness has collected a great job at the NZ Herald – it’s a logical step and I wish him well under a different sort of ‘ownership’ on his arrival at Auckland.

    He’s young, mid-career and capable of influential opinion and business management. His wings were clipped at Dunedin. He shouldn’t have bought into it.

    From the past and current owners of What if? Dunedin, thanks Murray, for the gentleman’s agreement.

    I will say though, the ODT’s stance with respect to the city council has generally been too expensive for Dunedin residents and ratepayers – that’s a birds-eye view, Murray, one you should take from your eerie at the Super City. Cast your eyes South and get the history right, investigate the substantial multimillion-dollar errors of local government at this place.

    There is little doubt that Dunedin City Council has a lot more to reveal on fraud and corruption, and may strongly implicate itself.

  8. Peter

    The ODT looks good in terms of layout presentation…I’ll give them that…but it is too often like wonderful gift wrapping hiding a disappointing present. I realise churning out a paper every day, bar one, is a big job, but given they source a lot of news elsewhere they only have to concentrate on local stuff. A paper needs some fluff for light relief, but there is too much of it. They just don’t challenge. They just report who said what or when they do it often seems by innuendo or inference. What a joy it is when the ODT springs something substantial on us.
    Becoming editor of the ODT is not presently a good career move if someone wants to build their reputation for fearlessness.

  9. Neville

    I wonder who Mr Kirkness got his references from. Ex DVML Chairman (dumped nicely) and present Chairman of the Press Council, Sir John Hansen????

    • Richard Stedman

      Neville: When Fairfax withdrew from the NZPA to avoid sharing with its opposition newspapers the ODT and the Herald began a news-sharing co-operation, which supplies the ODT with a broad national coverage, especially from the north. Murray Kirkness was very much part of that planning and is well known at the Herald. There is no need for implied innuendo from behind the cloak of anonymity.

  10. russandbev

    In terms of content – something I got a class of students to do one day when looking at the media was to get two copies of the ODT. One group cut out all stories that were the result of a reporter from the paper on the odd pages and the other group on the even pages. All stories that came from a wire service or another paper, all advertisements, all classified were ignored. The cutout bits were then assembled into a “new” newspaper and most of the students were shocked at just how little of a paper remained. Give it a try……..

    Re Murray Kirkness leaving, the main thing that I recall was discussing with him the total fallacy of the private construction money that was supposedly covered by advance sales of product. He just didn’t want to know and neither did the reporter that he got to talk it over. From that day I was convinced that either the concept was too complicated to understand (and I doubt this), or the ODT were under orders from above. I have no real doubts that the owners were calling the shots right through the whole process that followed.

    • Richard Stedman

      Bulls-eye russandbev

    • Peter

      Russell. There is a strong element in the ODT that the end….the stadium….justified the means. They are not alone, but they know they cannot shake off truth telling as much as they try to.
      In the end with this whole saga actions and inactions by different parties, particularly DCC and CST, is documented. Those who sup with the wrong people get hurt even if they didn’t start the whole scandal. Tell the truth and you can sleep well.

  11. Calvin Oaten

    Orders from above? Surely you can’t mean “Big Julie?”

    • Richard Stedman

      It wasn’t Julie Andrews, or Julie Waters, Calvin. Leave it to your imagination, I have to nick off.

  12. Wingatui Flyer

    It was a sad day on the Taieri, when the independent Taieri Herald got swallowed up by the Oddity. Accountability went out the window, and cover ups walked in the front door.

    • Richard Stedman

      The Taieri Herald was not swallowed by the ODT. It belonged to Fairfax who merged it into the ill-fated D-Scene and then ultimately gave up. The Herald had been half-owned by the Clutha Leader where it was printed. INL (now Fairfax) bought the Leader and ended up with the Herald. You are right Wingatui, it was a great little paper started by Jack Fox, who later served on the Mosgiel Borough Council. It is to be regretted that Fairfax withdrew the D-Scene instead of having a real go, but I think their decision may have been an accommodation to AP who took over printing the Southland Times to save Fairfax the cost of buying a new press for Invercargill.

  13. Elizabeth


    ODT 1.8.15 In brief (page 3)

    ODT 1.8.15 In brief ODT acting editor p3

  14. Richard Stedman

    Very predictable. Barry “acting editor” Stewart gets a “Clayton’s” appointment: The editor you have when you don’t have an editor. What a shameful position to leave a so-called daily metropolitan newspaper in. You can bet your last razoo that Barry won’t be able to do anything except put more logos among the “news”.

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