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New Zealand/Aotearoa
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Radio New Zealand
Reporter: Colin Peacock

Mediawatch looks critically at the New Zealand media - television, radio, newspapers and magazines as well as the 'new' electronic media.

Outcry foils Tony Veitch's TV comeback:
Tony Veitch’s critics claimed an effort to put him back on TV this week proved that the business doesn’t take domestic violence as seriously as its bottom line. But while many in the media have had his back in the past, it didn't work this time.  

Last Wednesday sportscaster Tony Veitch announced on Facebook he had “decided to get back on TV” as part of a "hard-hitting, opinion-led show that does not shy away from controversy".
It was a poor choice of words that triggered a controversy and blew his TV comeback within a day.
In 2008, Veitch pleaded guilty to a serious assault on his partner which broke her back two years earlier. Citing stress and overwork, he admitted to “a grave misjudgement” and was fined and sentenced to community service.
He had also been charged with six other counts of assault, but pleaded guilty to just one charge in a pre-trial settlement. His police file  - released under the Official Information Act to Mediawatch and other media - detailed alleged abuse over a period of years and evidence of physical violence noticed by other people.
He was stood down from his jobs as a TVNZ sports news presenter and a radio host at the time, and he hasn’t been back on TV since then.
The plan was for him to appear on on upcoming Sky TV sports chat show.
“I’m so stoked to be back,” he told his Facebook followers on Wednesday.  
That just stoked the fires of indignation among his critics whose opinion pieces rapidly hit the news websites.
“It’s time to get Tony Veitch off our screens forever and let talented people who aren’t abusers have a chance instead,” wrote Madeleine Holden on The Spinoff.
“As high-profile men accused of assault topple like a series of extremely sleazy dominoes,”  Vice.com’s Tess McClure wrote, with reference to the recent series of Hollywood sex abuse scandals, Tony Veitch would return to the small screen after “a half-apology, a few self-pitying Facebook posts, and a couple of years.”
Stuff.co.nz, columnist Kylie Klein Nixon had a similar theme.
“At a time when the rest of the world is making a big fuss over clearing house and taking names, we're showing our true colours, sticking to our guns, and moving an offender who tried to hide his crime back into the penthouse where we clearly think he belongs,” she wrote.
On Twitter, Stuff’s chief executive - and chief editor - Sinead Boucher acknowledged all three writers’ work:

Tony Veitch announces his return to TV after bashing his girlfriend got him fired
OPINION: Controversial broadcaster returns to telly! Because what this country needs right now is a TV show about our national obsession featuring an admitted partner abuser.

Tellingly, all three pieces were by women. Male journalists and sportswriters were clearly less willing to tackle the topic.
One man did offer a powerful opinion which was addressed to Tony Veitch himself.
“As a father who lost a daughter to violence, what you did to Kristin is horrifying, but even more so I condemn you for not taking the opportunity to set an example to all violent men,” wrote Mark Longley, the managing editor of Newshub digital, whose daughter was murdered by Eliot Turner in a violent rage in England in 2011.
Now that is hard-hitting.
The question being asked was why Sky risked its own reputation by giving the divisive figure his own show.  
Turns out they hadn’t. For what it’s worth, Tony Veitch was merely a guest lined up for episode one, according to Sky TV.
"Tony has one of the very largest sports audiences in the country. We were looking for the leading sports broadcasters and Tony ticked that box,” said Sky.

He certainly does - and because of that his career has been rehabilitated bit-by-bit til now.
When Tony Veitch went back on air for Radio Sport and Newstalk ZB in 2011, it was controversial - but that passed.
For years now he’s been on air on Radio Sport for twelve hours each weekend without much protest, while also contributing to the New Zealand Herald.  
In 2015, a New Zealand Herald campaign on family violence was undermined when the Herald on Sunday published a confessional piece by Tony Veitch headlined: Acceptance, Remorse, Recovery.
It barely mentioned Kristin Dunne Powell.  (The name of the Herald’s campaign, by the way? “We’re better than this”).
That caused another short-lived controversy, but less than a year later there was hardly any when NZME picked Tony Veitch to host its daily Herald Focus video news bulletins.
With that in mind, Sky TV probably didn’t think it was rolling the dice by slipping Tony Veitch back on the screen for a pay-TV show which would probably not have pulled a huge audience.

After Sky announced on Thursday it has reconsidered its plans for a pilot show with Tony Veitch, another Stuff.co.nz opinion piece, by Michelle Duff, was headlined: “Why Tony Veitch has no place on our screens”.
But for Sky TV, they’re not really “our” screens at all. They’re Sky TV’s screens. The broadcasters makes decisions about who they think its customers want to see on them.
“The fact this job offer came at a time where men around the world - Louis CK, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey - are being toppled from positions of power speaks volumes for the way we treat abusive men in this country,” Duff wrote.
But this time, the worm did turn.  
When the charges against Veitch were first reported back in 2008, some of his colleagues at the Herald and ZB went public with their support. Paul Holmes even interviewed Veitch for the Herald on Sunday “as a friend” and spoke of his good character on the air.
When, in 2009, The Dominion Post revealed details of a confidential payment Veitch made to Ms Dunne-Powell, his radio colleagues again backed him on air. Kerre McIvor wrote in the Herald on Sunday about "dark forces conspiring to bring him down”.
This time, he seems to be on his own.
Maybe this has shown recent revelations of abuse and harassment in the entertainment industry and politics overseas - and increased awareness and concern about domestic violence here in New Zealand have lowered the level of tolerance among employers with a reputation to protect and standards to uphold.

Bringing cold cases to life:
Two new podcast series telling the stories of missing people are pulling big audiences, but they also raise big questions. Mediawatch asks the makers: can they help solve the mysteries of the missing? Do they risk exploiting the sorrow of relatives?

There are more than 400 people officially listed as missing in New Zealand at any given time, but few people stay missing for years and years. 
You might think anything worth knowing about those cases has already been fully investigated by police and aired by the media.  
Not necessarily. 
RNZ's podcast series The Lost looks into five people who are still missing. Episode Two looked at the disappearance of Te Puke mother Judith Yorke, who was last seen at a party 25 years ago when she was 25 years old.
Producer and presenter Paloma Migone discovered police considered Judith Yorke's former boyfriend, Aaron Komene, their main suspect but never said so publicly. And the police never went back to the witnesses even though they suspect some of them lied.

“They told us at time what they wanted to tell us," Detective Senior Sergeant John Wilson, who is looking after Judy’s case now, told The Lost.  
"They need to . . . decide if they’ve got something that’s on their mind that they know is going to help us.Then they need to come forward. Maybe me sitting here talking to you would be enough to prompt that. That’s my hope,” he said.
Judy's daughter Shannel had similar hopes.
“Maybe they might feel bad because I have no connection with my mum. It might touch them in a different way because they have children or grandchildren and they might step up and say something.”
While The Lost is topping the podcast charts in New Zealand now, so was a six-part podcast series last month, this one produced by the New Zealand Herald. 
Chasing Ghosts - by The New Zealand Herald’s senior crime reporter Anna Leask - focuses on just one missing person who, like Judith Yorke, was also last seen 25 years ago.
Amber-Lee Cruickshank was just two years old when she went missing on the shore of Lake Wakatipu. At that time, there was plenty in the media about her. In the years since, Crimewatch has covered it and magazine articles have put forward grim theories.
In a Sensing Murder episode on TV2, a so-called 'psychic investigator' told Amber-Lee's mother Nicola Cruickshank her daughter was definitely dead, and that was a consequence of Nicola's past associations with drug users and criminals. But the show put forward no evidence to advance the Operation Oliver investigation, which continues today.

The Chasing Ghosts podcast ends with strong appeals to listeners. 
"If you're listening to this podcast, and you know what happened to Amber Lee - if you hurt her by accident, if you took her or you know who did - please come forward," Leask tells listeners.
"You always hope that people will talk about it and someone might call the police with new information and the families speak to me for that reason. But it wasn't a prerequisite that we get new information that might crack the case," The Lost's Migone told Mediawatch.
But is it a forlorn hope? Do series like this hold out false hope for the relatives of the missing?
"Since we've launched, the police have had calls from people. They're looking into everything that's coming across their desk so it will be interesting to see if that leads them anywhere new," Leask told Mediawatch.
New Zealand Herald planning editor Chris Reed - a former police reporter in the UK - says cold case podcasts that truly crack a case "are on the low side", but that doesn't mean the media shouldn't try to seek answers.  
There's clearly an appetite for podcasts of unexplained deaths and disappearances. The top rating podcast in Australia right now is Someone Knows Something by Canada's CBC - all about a five-year-old who went missing near a lake in Canada in 1972.
Is there something morbid about the public interest in the intense sorrow of others?
"People like mysteries and they are really good stories and they give you an insight into what other people's lives are like," Migone says.

"These people have lost someone and lots of people may have read about that and moved on, but the families haven't. The podcast platform is a such a powerful tool to tell these sorts of stories."
"You worry all the time that you're going to get accused of exploiting them and their sadness for your career or for a headline," Leask says.
"But Amber Lee's mum was in the forefront of our minds and she had to be comfortable with what we were doing. It's her story we are telling."
In traditional reporting, the sources don't call the shots in that way. Podcasts can be factual and newsworthy, but they are "storytelling" rather than reporting - a new blend of journalism and entertainment.

Leask says that doesn't mean Nicola Cruickshank had any power of veto. 
"From the beginning I said I would have to ask her about everything in the background. She has a history - things that are terrible in her life - and she was brutally honest. There was nothing hidden from us."
"I wanted to put the families at the centre and give them a platform to tell their stories," Migone told Mediawatch.
"But everything I value as a journalist - balance for example - is still very important in the storytelling. I don't take a side. If questions come up, I will get the other side and make calls to get a different perspective,"she says. 
"These are investigations. You have to stick with the facts and the truth of what we know."

Missing history in bottling bonanza reports:
A new plan for the nation's biggest water-bottling plant could revive struggling Bay Of Plenty towns, according to recent reports in the media. The stories had plenty of eye-watering numbers in them, but some interesting history was missing.

From: http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/mediawatch