Pacific journalist Barbara Dreaver challenges TVNZ chief over job cuts

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Award-winning Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver
Award-winning Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver . . . challenged TVNZ management media over job, programme cuts plan. Image: TVNZ/BD/FB

Pacific Media Watch

Television New Zealand’s chief executive has been challenged by the public broadcaster’s Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver at a fiery staff meeting over job cuts and axing of high profile programmes, reports The New Zealand Herald.

Writing in his Media Insider column today, editor-at-large Shayne Currie reported that Dreaver, one of TVNZ’s most respected and senior journalists, had made the challenge over the planned layoffs and axing of shows such as the current affairs Sunday and consumer affairs Fair Go.

Dreaver reportedly asked chief executive Jodi O’Donnell if she would apologise to staff — “apparently for referring to her watch during an earlier staff meeting on Friday”.

“TVNZ would not confirm specific details last night, but it is understood O’Donnell pushed back during yesterday’s meeting, along the lines that perhaps she might also be owed an apology,” wrote Currie, a former Herald managing editor.

“One source said she talked at one stage about the response she had been receiving.”

Media Insider quoted a TVNZ spokeswoman as saying: “We expect sessions like this to be robust, but to give all TVNZers the opportunity to be free and frank in their participation, we don’t comment on the details of these internal meetings to the media.”

Dreaver told 1News last night: “We need really strong leadership and we expect to get it. And I’m quite happy to call out and challenge it [and] my own bosses when we don’t get that, just as I would a politician or any other person who deserves it.”

A ‘legend, icon, queen’
Media Insider
reported that in a social media post today, Sunday journalist Kristin Hall had described Kiribati-born Dreaver as a “legend, icon, queen” for her Pacific reporting.

In November 2022, Dreaver was named Reporter of the Year at the New Zealand Television Awards and in 2019 she won two awards at the Voyager Media Awards for her coverage of the Samoa measles outbreak.

In this year’s New Year Honours, Dreaver was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to investigative journalism and Pacific communities.

Yesterday’s TVNZ meeting came amid a strained relationship between the TVNZ newsroom and management over the way the company has handled the announcement of up to 68 job cuts, as least two-thirds of them journalists.

The shock news followed a week after the US-based Warner Brothers Discovery announced that it would be closing its entire Newshub newsroom at the end of June.

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