A complaint about the Herald’s reporting

The NZ Herald has to date published two articles online about the Maori Party’s fundraising dinner with John Key, both by David Fisher – the first published on 14 April at 5.25pm, the second published this morning. They’re largely the same, with the second article largely being a partial cut and paste of the first.

My issue is with a quote that is used in both articles, but is only attributed to someone in the first article. The second article states:

The event has been described as inviting accusations of “selling access” to the Prime Minister, but Mr Key’s office is defending it.

So who has described the dinner as inviting accusations of “selling access” to John Key? The article doesn’t say. In fact, the only person quoted as attacking the dinner is Hone Harawira:

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira was stunned to hear of the dinner after comments criticising a proposed Mana-Internet Party deal.

“Our dealings with [tycoons Kim] Dotcom and Gareth Morgan have been very open and we haven’t received a cent.”

He certainly doesn’t use the words “selling access”, so where do they come from? Has David Fisher been interviewing his typewriter?

It appears not, but either Mr Fisher or his editor have been somewhat sloppy. Readers of the Herald have to go back to the first article. Four paragraphs in (the same number of paragraphs as the second story), Mr Fisher writes:

Attending the event cost a minimum of $5000-a-head and has been described as inviting accusations of “selling access” to the Prime Minister.

Then, at the very end of the article, the author of the “selling access” quote becomes apparent:

Otago University political scientist Dr Bryce Edwards said the deal would feed the belief opponents pushed that the Maori Party was “too close to National and not independent enough”.

“It’s that criticism they have become a rich boys clubs,” he said. The venue of the Northern Club also played into that – “it makes them look elitist”.

“These people are pretty vulnerable to the criticism they are selling access to the people making the political decisions in New Zealand. I think it goes down very badly with the public.” [Emphasis added]

Unfortunately, in the second article, Mr Fisher or his editor completely forget to add in Dr Edwards’ comments. Journalism 101 – attribute quotes, please.

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