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Liberty Belle - Good news travels fast

3 June 2005

Liberty Belle Deborah Coddington's Liberty Belle

Good news travels fast.

On Tuesday I signed a contract with the Herald on Sunday and wrote polite refusals to other editors who’d offered me jobs. I asked Shayne Currie, editor of APN’s Herald on Sunday, to wait until these editors had received their letters before announcing that I would be working for him after the election. He sent an internal memo to his staff at about 10 o’clock on Thursday morning.

Half an hour later I received a text from China, from a press gallery journalist accompanying the Prime Minister, asking me if the rumours were true about my new job. And that journalist doesn’t even work for APN. So the news is out - I am to be a senior investigative feature writer for the Herald on Sunday. I am also permitted to write features for North & South magazine (if they want me to), and do broadcasting work for Newstalk ZB (ditto).

I'm very pleased with my decision - it’s exciting to be part of a new publication, and have some influence on its development. But I thought for everyone else this was basically a non- event. No such luck. Within hours Barry Soper, political editor for Newstalk ZB, was on the wireless saying I would quite likely be barred from the press gallery. Well, someone told me it was Barry Soper - I thought it was the Boss of the World. Really, he sounded like an old tart at an afternoon tea party who’d had her scone taken away.

Members of the Gallery are very protective about their patch and with justification - the taxpayers pay for these offices and they can’t be used for any old reporter who wants a free Wellington office. However, before the Gallery start behaving all high and mighty, they might like to come clean on some of their own secrets. For starters, who’s the gallery member moonlighting and writing an anonymous, pro-Labour, political column for NZ Doctormagazine? I think we should be told - last time I checked NZ Doctor didn’t have an office in the Gallery.

The other criticism is that I’m too tainted to return to journalism. I won’t be objective. I’m blatantly pro-free market; opposed to unnecessary government intervention; I’ve been an MP (shock, horror) for ACT. But as far as I’m concerned my appointment is a credit to the New Zealand media bosses who don’t treat their readers like idiots and know they’re smart enough to make up their own minds as to whether they read my stuff or not.

Also, this criticism misses the point. Essentially I’m doing this out of self-interest. I want to succeed. I can only do that by making my features essential reading. If they’re boring ideological party political broadcasts then no one will read them, and I’ll get the sack.

If that happens, I can always go back to waiting on tables and cleaning motel rooms (aka emptying adulterers’ ashtrays). Life’s an adventure. Carpe diem.

Yours in liberty

Deborah Coddington.


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