Socially Progressive New Zealand. Does Statistics NZ Actually Give Cash Prizes to Reporters and Why?

propaganda

Is there an adequate separation of state and media in NZ?

A reader recently left this comment on the site.

I do not know if many people are aware of this, but Statistics New Zealand awards cash prizes to media reporters every year. For “best” use of its statistics in a story. Consider too the publicity that comes of that “best use” for the reporters who win the prizes. This policy demonstrates, among other things, the incestuous relationship between the government and private interests which has been observed before on this site and on Expatexposed. The New Zealand media colludes. It helps boost New Zealand’s reputation and suppress real life problems there in a way that the media in other countries does not do. This unethical practice does a lot to mislead foreigners about the conditions in New Zealand.

Aside from raising very valid questions about the separation of the state and the media in New Zealand, this practice (if it is true) also effectively stifles critical examination of data and the conclusions made from it by Statistics NZ.

This presumably is the same data that is supplied to organizations such as The Social Progress Imperative to construct things like the Social Progress Index. Amazingly, New Zealand went straight to the top of this year’s index despite not being listed in it a few months ago. Within hours, TV news programs in NZ were running extended segments on the index and the country’s place in it. Blatant propaganda? sure looks like it.

Statistics New Zealand

Liz MacPherson

The new Government Statistician. Liz MacPherson was appointed CEO in August 2013, just before NZ entered and topped the index.

Statistics New Zealand (Māori: Tatauranga Aotearoa) is the national statistical office and a government department of New Zealand.

“New Zealand’s Minister of Statistics is Maurice Williamson who serves as a member of the New Zealand House of Representatives and holds several other posts within government. The chief executive officer of the agency has the formal title of ‘Government Statistician’ and this position is currently held by Liz MacPherson. The department employs people with a variety of skills, including statisticians, mathematicians, computer science specialists, accountants, economists, demographers, sociologists, geographers, social psychologists, and marketers. As of 2013, the agency has about 1000 staff.” source.

That’s rather a lot of manpower for compiling statistics on a country of a little over 4 million people.

By comparison, in Britain the Office of National Statistics reports directly to parliament and not to a ministerial department. Its independence from government is protected by legislation and codes of practice so as to “help improve public trust in official statistics.” source. Information about the statutory independence of New Zealand’s Government Statistician may be found here.

We’d like to hear from our readers about Statistics NZ’s independence from government and how independence is assured in other countries.

Update

@StatisticsNZ responded with:

stats nz

Statistics NZ’s response

One of our readers told us

http://www.nzae.org.nz/prizes/statistics-new-zealand-prize/ given out in 2013? Relatively recent, then?

Nordic Journal of Human Rights, 2014
Vol. 32, No. 1, 18–43, Jasper Krommendijk PhD researcher at the Maastricht Centre for Human Rights, on “evaluation fatigue” in New Zealand government human rights reporting (as opposed to that in Finland): “Almost all government officials lamented that the process of state reporting is extremely labour intensive and an enormous amount of work. The task of reporting has been given low priority and has often been entrusted to interns. Reporting has primarily been approached as a compliance exercise and defence instead of an opportunity to learn”.

 

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Migrant tales – the NZ media “needs to keep the government and the advertisers happy in that order (Nov 2012) about the goings on at a North Island newspaper

There is a far darker side to the media here that not many know. I have one good journo friend that was working for (name of NI newspaper redacted) who put it so perfectly as follows.

It’s not that we don’t know it’s all going on, we desperately want to report on it. God knows we got into journalism to tell the truth, but the reality is far more depressing. I can tell you that myself and my colleagues have been informed in not so polite a way, “Report on that and you are out of a job, we need to keep the government and our advertisers happy in that order”.

It runs from the back door dealings of what the TPP really means, to National threatening to pull all advertising from (name of NI newspaper redacted) during the last election, to things simply disappearing from all news sources in a ghostly fashion (When you see this happen on google it is scary stuff).

So in essence it is a case of report all is well, keep the advertisers happy, keep the government spin machine running, make stories from nothing as if they have grave national importance and maintain the lie. Truth was a casualty of all journalism when it comes to the almighty dollar, it’s just far more obvious here.

But if you want any further proof I ask you this: Kim dotcom piece run by (redacted) to remove public opinion of him was completely biased and one sided. Then came David Bane (note that this is at the time of the payout). If you want further proof just watch those type of programs and ask yourself WTF? or don’t your brain may thank you.

 

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3 thoughts on “Socially Progressive New Zealand. Does Statistics NZ Actually Give Cash Prizes to Reporters and Why?

  1. http://www.nzae.org.nz/prizes/statistics-new-zealand-prize/ given out in 2013? Relatively recent, then?

    Nordic Journal of Human Rights, 2014
    Vol. 32, No. 1, 18–43, Jasper Krommendijk PhD researcher at the Maastricht Centre for Human Rights, on “evaluation fatigue” in New Zealand government human rights reporting (as opposed to that in Finland): “Almost all government officials lamented that the process of state reporting is extremely labour intensive and an enormous amount of work. The task of reporting has been given low priority and has often been entrusted to interns. Reporting has primarily been approached as a compliance exercise and defence instead of an opportunity to learn”.

    Like

  2. The agency encourages use of statistics by the media by offering awards to journalists who use its data intelligently. Each year, two awards for “best use of statistics in a story” are presented with cash prizes of NZ$1,500 and $750.

    “Winners of Statistics New Zealand 2009 Journalism Award Announced
    Statistics New Zealand is delighted to announce the winners of its third
    annual Journalism Award.

    The winner of this year’s award, for best use of statistics in a story, was
    Adam Dudding of the Sunday Star Times with his story “How much tax are you
    really paying?” The runner up was Karen Arnold, also from the Sunday Star
    Times with her story “Culture Clash as Migrants isolated and ignored”.

    The judges, Rod Oram, Jim Tucker and Geoff Bascand, were impressed with the
    quality of the overall entries and looked for readability and the use of
    statistics to tell a story of general interest.

    Geoff Bascand, Government Statistician , will present Adam and Karen with
    their cash prize of $1,500 and $750 respectively.
    The Statistics New Zealand Journalism Award looks to encourage the wide use
    of statistics, in a story, across a range of media.” http://www.infonews.co.nz/news.cfm?l=1&t=138&id=38104

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