Complaints - Please scroll to the bottom of the page
Search
« Government Intervention | Main | Audit Committee 11 June »
Thursday
Jun132013

Peninsula Press (Again!)

There have been many requests for furher information as to why I have severed my relationship with the 'Peninsula Press." I was content to let the matter rest with my earlier post - describing a mutual decision with publisher Gary Buling, who is obviously under considerable pressure to 'balance the books'. Without Council advertising in a town this size, that is very difficult. I acknowledged that the content of my column probably made life uncomfortable for Gary - it is a small town, and councils are able to apply inordinate pressure.

After last evening's post readers will understand that our Council has gone to considerable trouble to influence the manner in which it is perceived in the community, and that Audit NZ representative on the Audit Committee - Mr David Walker, went to some trouble to issue a warning about advertorial material leading up to an election. "Embellishment" is the word he used that should be noted by all concerned.

Today I received the following email from Mr Gary Buling- publisher of the Peninsula Press, in regard to request I had made for a letter to Council continuing my accreditation for the provision of meeting facilities in view of the fact that I continue to make the content of my blog available to his reporter Michael Dobie as and when required - a quid pro pro as they say. 

"I have a meeting coming up with Ben Day in July to discuss advertising for the next 12 months. This meeting was initiated by Day just after you announced you were no longer writing your column for PenPress. With the state of the paper at the moment, and the wolves at the door, this meeting is very important for the future of the paper and I am not prepared to do anything to jeopardise this. Especially considering the amount of advertising up for grabs with an election coming up. I hope you can understand my point of view here, and I am not selling out to the council. But after the meeting I will have a clear indication of where we are at with the council."

Even cynical old me was aghast when I considered the ramifications of this - I had  of course warned Gary on several occasions of the likely consequences of continuing my column, but I had not considered for a moment that Day's reaction would be as blatant as this.  

To those who think "this is little ole Thames - nothing like that ever happens here" - let me assure you that the game has changed - recent arrivals have brought real politic to our Council, and there is a determination to ensure that it is portrayed in such a way as to always reflect well on the incumbents. Mr Walker is well aware of this, and hence his warning. He is obliged to do this in any case under the terms of the Electoral Act. Our Council was sailing very close to the wind with recent advertorials in the Hauraki Herald. These and others (today's newsletter may fall into that category) could well become subject to a request for intervention by the Auditor General in due course. 

The advent of an "Informer" style local paper appears imminent, and from what I have seen of the layout to date, it seems to me that it will have wide aceptance around this town. All it requires is for sufficient advertisers to put their hands up, and for it proceed with its business case without the benefit of TCDC advertising, because it will surely now know the downside. These people do not countenance criticism, and will blatantly use their advertising dollars to silence critics.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (10)

One would hope that Gary sticks to his guns as an independent media presence in the marketplace, notwithstanding his apparent need for advertising dollars. It is indeed sad to reflect that journalism is, or may be, compromised by commercial imperatives, but I guess it is no surprise, at least to those who know of such events as the Murdoch press affair in the U.K.
It is not too much of a stretch to see the foundations of democracy being at risk in all this. While this notion may be a bit fanciful for some, at least as far as local Government in Thames goes, there is mounting evidence to confirm this trend at national Government level.
Should we be worried? Yes. About local affairs? Yes. What to do? Stand for council or community board.

June 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Its not just the print media - Coromandel FM are the biggest leachite bootlickers!

June 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDal Minogue

As a reader of the Peninsular Press I could never understand why you were allowed such a platform to espouse your often unbalanced and critical views of the TCDC.

As an advertiser I never objected to your column as I found it added colour and entertainment to the paper, but it never reflected an independent journalistic approach to reporting the activities of the TCDC staff, councillors or Mayor.

I hope that the paper now might use its own reporters to reflect an independent view of the TCDC.

June 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterClancy Nixon

Thanks Clancy, but I think you are being a little hard on my writing. Can I point out that I have never put myself forward as a 'reporter'. I am neither qualified, nor do I wish to ever fulfil such a roll. I was, and remain a 'commentator' - look it up if you are unsure of the difference. And furher,
I frequently gave credit where I thought credit was due - ie Moanataiari. I would have thought that my column precisely reflected an 'independent' approach, and I think it remains important to present an alternative view to that presented in Council advertorial, but as always, you are entitled to your views.

June 15, 2013 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

Clancy, the P Press and the H Herald have neither had anyone at any council or community board meeting more then once on the last three years. The Peninsula Post attends Mercury Bay meetings, and reports them. The Informer prints the ads, although the new owner/editor seems interested in reporting fact. The Waikato Times sent someone over on one issue and his story was reprinted in the Hauraki Herald, otherwise they print the press releases. Norman from the P Press attended once and sourced his stories from the radio and releases. Bill's material is clearly opinion not reporting of fact but it's almost all there is. I know stuff I write is 'lifted' by the other guys [we all do it] but the fact is no one is going to challenge the biggest advertiser in the region, unless they can afford not to. My audience is small, but growing, Bills reach seems to be immense. He gets mentioned at EVERY meeting. There has been for some time an edict banning TCDC advertising on non compliant media, some of whom were identifying the recently revealed rorts being pulled by senior staff 8 years ago! We have a Mayor who tried to stop Radio New Zealand National taping submissions at a public meeting. Having been is a few local body meetings around the country now I can tell you TCDC have been used to 'controlling' the media for so long they find it difficult when questions get asked. This is not a difficulty other councils have. Yes Bill has a point of view, and a focus on the failings. Halving the snapper limit won't be included in his basket of economic indicators for Thames. It is in mine, along with a few others. One thing is sure, the numbers here are big, and much bigger then they should be because of a serious system failure. Nothing is being said because the internal investigation needs to proceed, but the two gents on the North Shore who fixed a few paving contracts have nothing on whats in the Mercury Bay Meltdown! Let's see how well that's stifled!

June 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Jeffares

Let me tell you Clancy that over here in Whanga, Bill Barclay comments were widely read in the PP [ in fact there is very little else to read in the PP] and I can assure you that Bill's comment will be sorely missed. The HH prints the media releases verbatum, CFM will not challenge the direction of council in any way - they desperately need the advertising - how many times have you heard the ad about being a bach owner and having another vote in the upcoming elections, on CFM? - over Queens Birthday weekend that ad was on every hour - and at what cost to the ratepayers? The councils PR team has gone from 1.5 FTE's to now 6 - and Day is now also the Council's economic developement manager -[ check out TCDC's website and note how council is promoting the two IT companies,both of which contain former council employees]--- go figure how that works
The PR unit props up Leach - knowing him I cannot believe those purported comments are his in each media release - [for one thing there is no swearing in them!] and what of the warning from the audit dept rep to council about 'electioneering' through Council press releases --[something that would never have happened under Steve RURU's control]-- this council is using ratepayers money to expouse thru the PR team how well they have done and how much the rates are contained and HH and CFM never challenge their comments-[ we all know over here how Council is about to max out on its borrowing - something about intergenerational debt] so having Bill's comment was a refreshing alternative to the Council pap.
Obviously Clancy you are a suporter of the current council and I too hope the paper will use its 'own reporters' -meanwhile until that happens [if ever] I will resorts to reading Bill's blog as will my friends here in our little piece of paradise.

June 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSnapper Jack

As someone "close to the action" I can confirm that shortly after being elected Leach directed that only certain media outlets were to be used and others were definitely not to be used. That's what happens in small town NZ where no one has the resources to challenge the entrenched power brokers and ultimately Local Government is not interesting enough for most to give a damn.

June 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterInsider

Why am I not surprised with Insiders comments- being elected for Leach was pay back time - it would appear those who opposed his earlier subdivison application -gone -those people his backers did not like-gone. Staff levels now higher than when he was elected, borrowing higher than any time in the past 10 years, essential capital works delayed and now we are told that Leach dictates which media outlets to be used - which leads me to believe the man lacks confidence in has own ability, is afraid of criticism and has a desparate need to control those around him- I almost feel sorry for him if it wasn't for the fact he is screwing the council and in turn screwing our wonderful district - who is going to challenge this person?? Now it is obvious why HH do not have a reporter at the meetings and prints the media releases verbatim and Insiders comments make it abundantly clear why CFM follow Leachs every move and speak of him in glowing terms -ever heard an interview which challenges his actions ?? Leachs backers have a lot to answer for- we are watching the demise of an organisation that was a local Government leader - good bye democracy

June 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSnapper Jack

It's nice to see I'm not the only one. I have operated the largest independent radio station on the Peninsula since 1994. I grew up on the Peninsula in the 60's and 70's and even when it was a Borough Council it had some of the same issues we face today. Small place, small minds, and big business ruling the coup, and not sure what to do when someone asks questions and doesn't tow the line.

My business has been directly affected by the bully boy mentality the starts at the top and seeps deep into its infrastructure. I have witnessed and been the subject of the following
1. Threats of removing advertising for asking questions - from this and previous administrations
2. Refusal of access to elected officials because I wont allow pre-ordained questions for interviews. I've personally seen the TCDC document that states this is what has been agreed and the council use it to shape public opinion! Most listeners won't understand that Leach's questions have been arranged with the 'Boy Wonder Day' and his spin department. Worse still, CFM does not tell it's listeners that fact, which probably runs foul of one or two 'fair, balanced and accurate' Broadcasting Standard's I'm sure.
3. The Council producing a $40K Summer Daze featuring a 1/4 page ad telling readers that CFM & the Breeze are THE local stations to tune into and promoting their frequencies - the ad was run free of charge!
There are literally dozens of other examples - but I'll save those for the book.


So how have we ended up here? It's really simple. Politics on the Peninsula is controlled by the Blue team. The power base for the blue team is Mercury Bay and one particular family. They have decided who will be Mayor, they have funded it, and of course, there is an expectation they will be looked after when their pet candidate wins. As far as I'm aware they have backed the winning horse from Lux 1 to the current Mayor Leach 1. That's 14 years of manipulation.

And why don't the voters vote differently? Well to win the TCDC Mayoralty in a multi-horse race you need about 5000 votes. The Blue team tell their 6-7000 that this is our man, and hey presto - there's your Mayor!

Here's a prediction for this election and the next! Sandra Goudie will stand as a Thames Councillor and with Blue team support will get in! Leach will retire at the next election and Goudie will, with the support of the Blue team become Mayor! There is only one way to change this, and that is to allow the Councillors to elect the Mayor. And while we have one political party controlling the Mayor and Council, that isn't going to happen! It should also be noted that the controllers of the Blue team are also major contractors to the TCDC.

One prediction that I can guarantee to be correct s that neither Leach nor Goudie, the puppets of the Blue team, will have the guts to front up on my radio station for interviews under our current interview policies

July 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterColin McCabe

It's nice to see I'm not the only one. I have operated the largest independent radio station on the Peninsula since 1994. I grew up on the Peninsula in the 60's and 70's and even when it was a Borough Council it had some of the same issues we face today. Small place, small minds, and big business ruling the coup, and not sure what to do when someone asks questions and doesn't tow the line.

My business has been directly affected by the bully boy mentality the starts at the top and seeps deep into its infrastructure. I have witnessed and been the subject of the following
1. Threats of removing advertising for asking questions - from this and previous administrations
2. Refusal of access to elected officials because I wont allow pre-ordained questions for interviews. I've personally seen the TCDC document that states this is what has been agreed and the council use it to shape public opinion! Most listeners won't understand that Leach's questions have been arranged with the 'Boy Wonder Day' and his spin department. Worse still, CFM does not tell it's listeners that fact, which probably runs foul of one or two 'fair, balanced and accurate' Broadcasting Standard's I'm sure.
3. The Council producing a $40K Summer Daze featuring a 1/4 page ad telling readers that CFM & the Breeze are THE local stations to tune into and promoting their frequencies - the ad was run free of charge!
There are literally dozens of other examples - but I'll save those for the book.


So how have we ended up here? It's really simple. Politics on the Peninsula is controlled by the Blue team. The power base for the blue team is Mercury Bay and one particular family. They have decided who will be Mayor, they have funded it, and of course, there is an expectation they will be looked after when their pet candidate wins. As far as I'm aware they have backed the winning horse from Lux 1 to the current Mayor Leach 1. That's 14 years of manipulation.

And why don't the voters vote differently? Well to win the TCDC Mayoralty in a multi-horse race you need about 5000 votes. The Blue team tell their 6-7000 that this is our man, and hey presto - there's your Mayor!

Here's a prediction for this election and the next! Sandra Goudie will stand as a Thames Councillor and with Blue team support will get in! Leach will retire at the next election and Goudie will, with the support of the Blue team become Mayor! There is only one way to change this, and that is to allow the Councillors to elect the Mayor. And while we have one political party controlling the Mayor and Council, that isn't going to happen! It should also be noted that the controllers of the Blue team are also major contractors to the TCDC.

One prediction that I can guarantee to be correct s that neither Leach nor Goudie, the puppets of the Blue team, will have the guts to front up on my radio station for interviews under our current interview policies

July 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterColin McCabe

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>