The National Business Review's Biased Reporting | The Jackal

2 Sept 2011

The National Business Review's Biased Reporting

Last Friday I blogged about the National Business Reviews article on Hone Harawira that was inaccurate and misquoted what the Mana party leader said. Unfortunately similar cases of incorrect reporting are not isolated.

The main stream media is awash with inaccuracies, discrimination and subterfuge that discourages proper debate and ensures the public is not properly informed.

I'm personally fed up with this, and will complain to the Press Council whenever I come across similar misreporting. As an added extra I'm going to highlight the worst examples of crappy journalism. I hope that my efforts are not in vain, and it creates more accountability within journalism that should hold fairness, accuracy and balance above all else.

Which brings my attention once again to the National Business Review.

In an articlepublished on Tuesday entitled Oil and gas could pay royalties of $13 billion, the NBR make some seriously absurd claims about the oil and gas industry. This is not helped by the fact the article provides an unbalanced opinion without any counter viewpoint.

Like the only person quoted in the piece, Associate and Acting Minister of Energy and Resources Hekia Parata, the NBR have simply made shit up.

What's more, National is completely ignoring the consequences of more CO2 in the atmosphere, which is scientifically proven beyond a doubt to cause climate change, as succinctly pointed out in this article by Bryan Walker over at Hot Topic. It's well worth a read.
Polar Bear stranded on a shrinking iceberg in Greenland
Besides the NBR's article not being balanced, and because it makes no clear distinction between factual information and comment or opinion, therefore being incorrectly labelled, there are a number of other more concerning examples of subterfuge within Niko Kloeten's inaccurate propaganda piece: 
The Woodward report shows the government will take more than $3 billion from oil and gas fields already in production, potentially rising to $12.7 billion, which the government says will help pay for schools, hospitals, broadband and roads.
The headline says $13 billion, but then the article says the amount is $12.7 billion. $300 million is a hell of a lot to round up. But it gets worse... it's the Ministry of Economic Development's website that says $12.7 billion, not the report. The report states that:
We view the prudent valuation for the Crown’s royalty from future discoveries as $5,545 million, being the Swanson blend of the P90, P50 and P10 for the Mid valuation case.

The High valuation case illustrates the additional value the Crown could capture from exploration activity accelerating by 50% over the next 10 years, in a setting of slightly faster rising petroleum prices than in the Mid valuation case.
The maximum amount of increased royalty cashflow, according to the report, is $10,269 million. How on earth this gets rounded up twice to $13 billion, I will probably never know.

There's a sinister reason behind the subterfuge... Overvaluation is a tactic used by dishonest companies to gain more investment capital and to drive up share prices. It's one of the reasons for the 87 stock market crash and is currently outlawed in New Zealand.

However there's another reason for the over inflation of potential earnings from new oil and gas exploration. If National can convince the public that oil and gas drilling is a bonanza, more people will accept the environmental consequences of the destructive process.
A Dead Whale washes up after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, March 1989

Currently companies can apply to explore any area in NZ
While technically correct, the article completely ignores the fact that there are many areas in New Zealand that cannot be exploited for mineral wealth. Cities, private property and public reserves all have additional laws that preclude oil and gas exploration. There is no point in applying for permits in those areas. The article therefore misrepresents.

Furthermore the article omits relevant information like the time frame of royalty payments of 10 years and the required increased exploration rates of 50% to get an average moderate increase of valuation to $5,545 million. The increase of 50% accelerated exploration activity is mere speculation. Many people would incorrectly assume that the figures quoted are yearly without that information.

Subterfuge by the way of omission is another tactic often used by the dishonest reporter. It is disappointing to see New Zealand's government utilizing disinformation to promote it's defunct policies. 

The National Business Reviews Managing Editor, Todd Scott is studiously ignoring my formal complaint concerning the NBR's biased and inaccurate article. Will keep you informed.