Media Reinvents Yesterday


Amazing to read a media version of Monday’s train problems, which is prominent on Stuff this morning.

It’s from NZPA, which supplies most print and some online media in NZ.

The report says that Auckland train services are back to normal today (correct) “after yesterday’s embarrassing signalling system failure that made thousands of commuters late for work.” (not correct).

It wasn’t a failure. Trains simply did not resume normal services because work that had been going on to upgrade signals had not been completed.

Yet the NZPA report continues: “Commuters were forced to take buses when the signalling system broke down on the first day of the opening of Newmarket’s $35m railway station. However, KiwiRail said the issue was successfully resolved overnight. “(Not correct). This sounds as if trains were running but stopped when signals that were running failed.

It makes you wonder what else the media gets wrong.




  1. Bill Bennett says:

    It’s clear the information comes from Kiwirail spin doctors. The problem here is widespread, journalists don’t have the resources to question official sources and if they do the newspaper management doesn’t back them up.

  2. James Pole says:

    Getting the facts completely wrong is quite normal for NZ media unfortunately. It’s a rare event to see a article put out by a NZ media outlet which has been properly researched… :(

  3. Simon says:

    @Bill Why would Kiwirail Spin Doctors put out something such as “…made thousands of commuters late for work.” that is going to harm their company`s image?! I thought spin doctors worked to do the opposite!

    More likely, the journalist who wrote the piece and the editor who checked it were just too lazy to actually make sure the “facts” in the article represented the actual situation. I think it`s just pure laziness and stereotyping on the jornalists and newspapers part. Because there has been many commuters left in the lurch prevously they always automatically come to the conclusion that always happens when there is a system failure rather than seeing for themselves.

  4. Simon says:

    @Jon Having said the above, do you know that the staement “many thousands of commuters were late for work” is incorrect?

    Maybe maybe thousands of commuters were late to work because of yesterday. How do you know the newspaper statement is incorrect? Did you monitor every single commuter coming or hoping to come by commuter train yesterday morning?

  5. Grant says:

    Bill, how is it obvious it came from Kiwirail spin doctors? I suggest you look at the NZ Hearld account, which is I think failrly well on the money, and very different to the “stuff” up version.

    It quotes Kiwirail as saying the problem was a commisioning delay,and no where states that the system was working, then failed.

  6. Jon C says:

    @Simon, I wasn’t referring to the part about people being late. They sure were! I wrote about it yesterday and shared their frustration.

    @BillBennett. Not correct about being the fault of spin doctors. Simon is right. It’s journalists who are must be lazy, incompetent or make things up.
    I actually alerted the KiwiRail spin doctors to the article before posting it.
    They have sent me the press release they sent to the media this morning which had read: Unexpected technical difficulties over the weekend with the commissioning of the new system meant the special holiday timetable had been extended into Monday.” So how does this become what it did!

  7. Chris R says:

    Mathew Dearnaley at the Herald is usually very good.

  8. Simon says:

    @Jon Sorry I misread that sentence.

  9. Jon C says:

    @Simon I’m glad you’re keeping me on my toes!

  10. Matt L says:

    @Chris - I agree, his articles have been pretty good.

    The issue generally with mainstream media is that they have become to concerned with making money and so are only looking for stories that sell which means the need good headlines. The problem is proper research of stories takes more time and therefore more money so accuracy has become less important.

    Its quite a downward spiral, people stop buying things like newspapers so the companies that make them aren’t as profitable. In response they cut budgets which impacts the quality which in turn means even less people buy them. It then keeps repeating itself.

    It is no surprise that niche sites like this that give much better coverage of individual topics are becoming more popular so keep up the good work Jon

  11. Paul says:

    I Don’t know what the NZ media is like, but in Sydney, given half a chance the media beats-up on CityRail and Rail in general. Its all about selling and not about the information

  12. Bill Bennett says:

    OK. I agree it wasn’t the spin doctors.

    So where did it come from? Did the journo just pull it out of his backside? If I was his boss (I used to edit newspaper sections) I’d have given him a five star bollocking for making things up.

  13. Matt says:

    Bill - yep he probably just made it up or perhaps he just read that there was a signals issue and pulled out the stock standard story they run when there are faults


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