Posts tagged NZ Herald

Media writing stories about nothing (well more earthquakes).


Today the NZ Herald had a headline Quake demolitions anger ex-owners.

In it they quote various sources including John Key, the some ex-quake destroyed house owners, and Labour’s spokesperson for earthquake response, Lianne Dalziel.

The central issue reported is:

The first of the red-zoned homes will begin being destroyed today, with a trial demolition of 11 government-bought properties taking place on Seabreeze Close, Waireka Lane and Kokopu Lane in Bexley .

The properties will be cleared over a four-week period.

And some people aren’t happy with this.  The EX-owners wanted to be told about this (consulted even?, I can’t tell from the story).  Umm, over what? And why?

You got offered compensation, you agreed to it, you got paid it, and then moved out.  Move on, let go.

Sure you can always have an interest in a former home, just like I always check out the house where I was bought up as a kid if I drive past it (it has a new owner now), but I dont expect anyone to CONSULT me over it.

Something we all (well I hope all!) have learnt from the Christchurch quakes is that it’s just STUFF.  What matters is people, and lives.  Sure having ones home destroyed is never nice, but it’s a FORMER home.  Which an EX-Owner has issues with.  This is not the story they make it out to be.

Once again Key shows that he gets the issue, and how most former home owners would react, and was quoted as saying:

…for the most part, I suspect there’ll be many who will have said “it’s been a terrible situation but I’m building myself a new home or I’ve bought a new home, and that’s the Government’s problem not mine’.”

Black and White Version: Media are making a story out of nothing (again).  And Labour are just stirring the hornets nest to try to get a response.  -ve -ve -ve.  Fail for both of you.

Hat Tip: Mr Payne – thanks Mike!

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The REAL big ben

Big Ben on a lean? No, media got that headline wrong (again).


The REAL big ben

Today the NZ Herald reports that Pisa expert says Big Ben leaning.  Using the text Monitoring instruments suggest the tower’s tilt has increased by about a centimetre a year since 2003 below a picture of the tower.

I am gonna call them on that one and say I can guarantee it’s not.  How do I know this?  Coz as anyone who’s done a tour of London knows Big Ben is NOT the clock tower, it’s the big bell inside it.   So the headline should read Tower hosting Big Ben is on a lean says Pisa expert. (or something like it).

Sure, it doesn’t REALLY matter to 99% of people, and lots of people do call the tower Big Ben, BUT journalists do this for a job – this isn’t a twitter post, or a FaceBook status update.  They need to do their homework.

End of rant.

Black and White Version: Sometimes Journalists are lazy.  Sometimes that annoys me.  Sometimes I blog about it.

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Drinking age in NZ – there isn’t one!


Drinking Age Debate in New Zealand

Once again a group starts on a rant about raising the drinking age in NZ.  There is quite a bit wrong with the argument, but probably the most significant is that there ISN’T a drinking age in NZ, there is a PURCHASE age.  And yes, there IS a big difference!

The media keep getting it wrong.  Case and point is the NZ Herald back in NOV last year – the headline is all about Drinking Age Legislation.  The headline is 100% misleading, but the 1st paragraph gets it right:

Legislation introducing the change to a split drinking age will be one step closer after it is tabled in Parliament next week, Justice Minister Simon Power says.

But the journalist then reports the correct facts in the next paragraph without seeing the error in the headline.  There is no drinking age, and the proposed changes don’t talk about one either!

The drinking/purchase age issue is explained well on KiwiBlog, but in a nutshell I agree with DPF on this.  I also think there are two issues with drinking in NZ, and the purchase age actually isn’t one of those issues.  My view is the two big alcohol issues are:

  • Lack of a drinking age
  • Binge drinking behaviour in NZ

Raising the purchase age doesn’t fix any of these. The problem with the ban it brigade is that it restricts and punishes the majority from based on the behaviour of the minority.  Just like saying let’s ban alcohol in all public council spaces sounds like a good policy to stop louts getting drunk and ruining it for others, but it also says you can’t have a picnic in a park with a glass of wine, or fish and chips and a beer on the beach on a Sunday evening.  The correct solution is MUCH harder than banning something – it actually involves targeting those that ruin it for others, finding them and using teh existing laws in NZ to punish them (or at the very least stop them from doing it again).  Oh yes, but this is hard.  Banning something is MUCH easier (and of course doesn’t fix the problem, coz the minority who ruin it for everyone else will in many cases just ignore the ban anyway).

I have the same problem with a drinking age of 21.  At 18 a person can get married, flight for their country (in fact be drafted if there is a war), be charged for any offense as an adult.  In fact there isn’t ANYTHING they can’t do as an adult. Oh wait, except drink some would have you believe.  Yeah right, that’s the most important thing in my list (btw, that was sarcasm in case you missed it).

Some argue all about how teenagers are drinking too much and dieing of alcohol poisoning, or drinking and driving.  Well IMO, NONE of this would be fixed by having a higher purchase age.  Just like some people drink 10 x the adult limit and drive and kill someone, calls for people to lower the alcohol limit when driving.  Well sorry, that’s not going to solve anything.  As I said above the 2nd problem NZ has is binge drinking.  And THAT should be addressed, but not by raising any purchase age.

Banning something won’t changing behaviour.  So banning 19 year olds from drinking won’t stop a small minority from binge drinking and driving, or drinking till they kill themselves.  The focus needs to be on education, not banning stuff for everyone.

Black and White Version: Media and lobby groups need to get it right.  There is no drinking age laws in NZ.  There is only a purchase age for alcohol.  The lack of a drinking age, and binge drinking are the issues.

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Vodafone – the good and the bad and the bullshit


Any reader of this blog will know I like Telecom’s XT network.  And no, I am not paid to say that, I don’t work for, nor have I ever worked for a telco (or a supplier to one). I have always just been a customer/end user.

Anyway, I have commented before about how Vodafone’s network does have issues too, but Vodafone issues often go unreportedWell the lastest issue that Voda has are causing quite a stir (along with this blog post on Voda’s crappy network)- not the least of which because they are denying its a problem.   I found their recent excuse most laughable (from this NZ Herlad Story)

At certain times of the day there’s a lot of congestion … What happens in Wellington is they come out of a meeting and all switch on their iPhones at the same time and find it’s congested.

This is either spin (which I think it is) or Vodafone has very serious problems. If a network can’t handle a few dozens smart phones turning on at the same time in a major city, then the network has MAJOR issues.  How do they handle airports (aka a few hundred?)   Actually come to think of it, this is bullshit, since 99% of people don’t even turn phones off, they just put them on silent when in meetings.  So yeah .. cut the crap Vodafone!

Anyway .. the good news is Voda are planning a speed upgrade (maybe because XT keeps kicking their arse in speed tests?)

Good to see voda also understand the real value of their 2G GSM network too

Baird also announced that Vodafone will push out the life of its aging GSM network until at least 2020. If there are problems on the 3G network customers default to the 2G network – ensuring, in most cases, that there is no total loss of service.

He said that customers value the GSM network as a “fall back position”.

“They like the redundancy it offers, so we’ve made the call to keep the GSM network operational for at least another decade.”

I’ve blogged about this a lot, how one of Telecoms issues is they have no fallback from XT (their other network is incompatible).

The BIG difference I see here is how Telecom (XT) and Vodafone respond to their issues.  Telecom fronted up and admitted it, and did something about it while Voda seam to be in denial mode.  Not a good look voda. (In fairness, XT’s issues were more significant, but that’s not the point I am making here – it’s not whether or not issues happen, it’s what they do about them when they do).

Black and White Version: Voda network appears to be under pressure, and lots of unhappy campers.  Speed upgrades coming.

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AirNZ – Virgin Blue alliance dead?


I read today in the NZ Herald that the ACCC (the Australian version of the Commerce Commission) that they do not support the planned alliance between AirNZ and Virgin Blue.

I have one word in response: GOOD. It was never a good idea (I blogged about it being such a bad idea here) for anyone except maybe Virgin Blue and to a lesser degree AirNZ.  The consumer would not benefit.

ACCC Chairman Graeme Samuel says:

These routes account for around one quarter of passenger traffic in the trans-Tasman market. More than a million passengers a year could be adversely affected if competition between the two airlines was removed.

Yep, exactly.  Enuf said.

It’s clear that for real competition THREE is the minimum.  Voda/Telecom in the mobile space proved that.  (It took 2Degrees to move prices significantly).  Two get rather too cozy IMHO.

Black and White Version: We need competition in the NZ and Trans-Tasman airspace.  Less airlines isn’t the way to achieve this.

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Newspapers reporting non news


Yesterday I read in the NZ Herald about Power shock stuns home loan applicant (yep, they are trying to be clever with the headline) who couldn’t get a mortgage due to an old bad debt.

They reported:

“The bank went digging around in my credit history and there was a black mark that showed up.

“I promptly got a letter from Baycorp saying something like, ‘You owe TrustPower about 100 bucks’. Once I paid it, it [the loan deal] went through, no problems at all,” she said.

Ummm, yep, that happens.  You owe money, people won’t lend you more.  You pay it back, they (normally) will.  Simple.  So why is this NEWS?

It even explains it at the end of the article:

She said the bill wasn’t a problem but it was a shock to see something come back from the past.

“There were so many people unaware of the debt, so surely it would suggest there is a problem with the way power companies are communicating with their customers,” Ms Healey said.

“If they wanted me to pay it, why didn’t they contact me?

“Perhaps they sent mail to my Dunedin address, but I never got any and maybe my untrustworthy flatmates never forwarded any on.”

Right, so the complainant admits they don’t mind paying it, and admits the flatmates probably didn’t send the mail on.

Again, no news, nothing to see here, move on.

Black and White Version: Sometimes newspapers seam to make up stories for no apparent reason.

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Is shopping in New Zealand a rip off?


Yesterday the NZ Herald made an interesting story on how Jeans in NZ were almost double the identical pair in the US.  The asked the question is shopping in NZ a rip off?

They pointed out:

A pair of black Levi’s 501s for men cost up to $139.90 here but you can pick up the same pair in the United States for just $75.11.

Some of the explanations proposed by Shamubeel Eaqub, principal economist for the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, were:


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Now that’s how you do an iPad app for a newspaper NZ Herald (and how not to do it AirNZ!)


The NZ Herald released its iPad app a few weeks back.  And I have to say, it rocks.

They got so much right, where others screw up, such as:

  • Easy to use interface.  It fully uses the iPad and its screen.
  • Formatting is consistent – all articles are in a small box, with categories at the top.  When you click on the story it opens up a window, which starts with a pic then scrolls through page(s) of the text.
  • No premium/free distinction – it’s all just there
  • It’s all FREE (so many get this wrong – I will no longer pay for simple access to info that others provide for free)
  • Even the ads are cool – check out the Merc at at the start – it makes you WANT to watch it

The even get this bit right, and have a YouTube version of their add so people like me can post it:

Another good News iPad app is the USA today App (I think you need a US based iTunes account to install it).  Not QUITE as good as the NZ Herald one – but still free, and easy to navigate.

Where newspapers go wrong

Where MOST newspapers go wrong is they try to bring their old business model online. Their model USED to be write stuff people want to read, mix in some ads and then sell the product to the readers. The online mindset says I want the stuff for free, and if you won’t give it to me I will get it somewhere else, or just download it for free anyway. Their old model had high set up cost (the article writing and production) PLUS a variable cost of production (printing, postage etc).  Their new model has a high(ish) fixed cost (although a lot of it is setting up the template/look) and then an almost zero variable cost (the cost of 10,000 people reading an online version is almost the same as 10 people).  But newspapers keep trying to change for content, where the rationale for doing so (the variable cost of each reader) is no longer there.  They can get HEAPS of readers by getting REAL good content, and as a result of more readers, charge even more for advertising, all while having no extra costs each time someone reads/downloads it.  Simple really, so why do so many Newspapers get this so wrong?  No idea really, I think they are just a dead technology waiting to die, and just don’t get the opportunity that’s there.  I actually think their window is closing here.  Right now they still have lots of customers, they can leavergae off this by marketing their online offering (the free one – like NZ Herald) and build a new business online.   However, as time goes on they will have less and less readers, and their will be more (competitors) alternatives online.  In time the window off opportunity will have closed, and they wont have any leaverage to use.

Another ‘how not to do it’ story

While on the subject of how to do it (or in this case NOT) – I see AIrNZ made their Kiaora Magazine (the one you get on the plane) as an iPhone/iPad app.  Cool I think, novel even.  But where they screwed up is they went and charged for it.  The App is free, but each issue need to be paid for ($NZ 5.29 I think).  What were they thinking? Here’s my thoughts on this:

  • The mag is free when you fly (they say Take me, I am free)
  • The cost of putting it online in any form has a (moderately high) fixed cost only (no variable cost for each copy, unlike printed copies)
  • The mag is full of advertising
  • I think few people will pay for the app
  • They COULD have had a premium for advertising coz of increased readers, but instead will unlikely even get back their fixed cost investment
  • They could have even had online only adds, targeting say technology or higher end travel (these people have more disposable money)
  • Such a lost opportunity for AirNZ
  • They will probably pull the plug in a year or less saying “not enough readers”

Looks like I am not alone here, most people think the fee from AIrNZ is a joke.

Black and White Version: Some people get how to use new technology, some don’t.  Well done NZ Herald, silly billy AirNZ.

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Grindr, gay men, sex and the NZ Herald


For those that don’t know, Grindr is an iPhone (and now Blackberry) application that uses location based search (i.e. it knows where you are) to tell you where other people using the same application are.  It has a simple image of each person (a photo you pick) and a short profile and basic stats (height, weight, age etc).   For anyone reading this, it’s easy to see that this is used by gay guys wanting to hook up ({f you don’t know what I mean by this check out this meaninglook for Slang Meaning 3(b) }.

Anyway, I have done a wee review of Grindr before, but had to laugh when the NZ Herald had this article today on Grindr. The headline was Gay men embrace GPS dates. That headline is quite wrong on a few levels:

  1. Grindr isn’t always GPS based – it’s LOCATION based.  An iPhone 2G uses cell phone triangulation to work out where it is.  But that’s a minor issue.
  2. How does one put this nicely?  Ummmm, Grindr is NOT about dates, it’s about HOOK UPs.  Cute that they say GPS dates, but yeah, no, not really.

It also quotes former Gay New Zealand editor Matt Akersten:

“You might not be in the traditionally gay areas like Ponsonby or Grey Lynn or the inner city – you could be in one of the smaller centres – and you just plug it in and realise you’re not alone, and there are other people like you out there, it’s a great networking tool,” he said.

Euphemisms are so cute..  It’s a great networking tool. Well if by networking you mean HOOK UP then sure, it is.

On a more serious level, Grindr works best in big cities with lots of users – like Sydney or bigger.  But when you go to Oamaru and you are the only person on it, it kinda falls down.   As they say, I am the only gay in the village. There is one downside of the super large cities: Since Grindr only lists a few pages (100 I think) of the closest people, in places like Sydney there might be 100 people within a few km, meaning you only see those people and not people further out.  In places like Auckland you see everyone (coz there are often only a few dozen online withing 10-20km at any given time).  Also as I have blogged previously, the application has to be running to work (no background push services unless you want to pay a monthly fee), so it kills the battery super quick.

That’s all.  Not a major issue, in fact it’s kinda nice that the media don’t write the headline Gay Mean use technology to have more sex, coz that would be true.  Mind you it would be true of MEN generally, not just gay men.

And fear not, new versions are coming:

A version of Grindr for lesbians and heterosexuals is expected by the end of the year.

Black and White Version: It’s nice to see a misleading headline (and story) that’s actually written more positively that the potential underlying story.

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Misleading Headline about businesses disatisfied about GST increase


This is all too common.  The NZ Herlad reported yesterday Half of Kiwi business owners oppose GST hike.

Simple right?  So 50% or so are not happy?   No, not at all.  As stated in the article:

The latest MYOB business monitor of more than 1000 New Zealand business owners has found 31 per cent are dissatisfied with the Government’s support of their business, with Wellington business owners (31 per cent) showing the most dissatisfaction of any region.

So 31% is the HIGHEST dissatisfaction of any region?  That’s less than a third (I say that in case the journalist who wrote it is reading this – as they clearly struggle with fractions).

It goes on to say

Business owners in the retail and hospitality (40 per cent) and construction and trades (37 per cent) sectors showed the highest levels of industry-based dissatisfaction.

So I haven’t event seen ONE figure that’s 50%.  Not half of a region, half of a group, half of ANYTHING, and they are all the top (highest) number they are quoting, so all others are LESS.

In fact the article is so poor, that I cant find ANYWHERE what the actual overall level of dissatisfaction is.   It’s not the 31% that’s mentioned above, as it cant be the same as the HIGHEST of any region unless all regions were the same.    I do know it’s not 50% or anywhere near it.  In fact it MUST be less than 31% (since Wellington has the highest dissatisfaction, all others must be less, meaning the average is less).

Black and White Version: Sloppy Journalism (Journalist even) that makes up headlines or just doesn’t know that half is 50%!

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