THE WORLD THROUGH UNWORLDLY JOURNALISTS’ EYES

Thirty odd years back I attended an address in Auckland by a bank economist. He waved about lots of newspaper clippings from the 1980s, all with similar headings along the lines of “Homeowners Punished by rising interest rates”. That was a decade it will be recalled in which inflation soared and house mortgages hit a high of 24%.

The economist’s point was how misleading newspaper reports were when journalists viewed events through their own narrow perspective. For far from being punished, in the 1980s, roughly 70% of homes were mortgage free. But not so for journalists who belong to a low paid profession.

I was reminded of this when I read Wellington journalist Jehan Casinader’s piece on the “Business Desk” website in which he proclaimed the death of the office. Once again, he was making a claim based on his personal experience, which he out-lined. That is a crowded newspaper office with people crammed into a single large room, what we in the office building business refer to as the fat girl market.

That sort of activity has been in decline for nearly thirty years as menial tasks are superseded by technology.

In its place has come something quite different which my company, owner of the most prime Wellington CBD office buildings (18) has expertise in. We can’t keep up with demand. Rents are soaring and my managers report the biggest demand from our existing circa 400 tenancies is for more space.

Jehan also alluded to covid inspired working from home, citing polls showing a staff preference for this. Should he probe deeper he will find that support comes from the fat girl sector, conspicuously the public service dead-beat faction. Stay away in the private sector and employers would quickly wake to the reality that the absentees contribute nothing.

We have dozens of government tenancies but they’re at the top end of high paid specialist activities and believe me, many are working long hours in their offices.

I’m well familiar with ignorant comments about the office market.

In 1994 an American economist told a Sydney audience that office buildings would become the dinosaurs of the next twenty years. In fact over that time the amount of CBD office space world-wide, grew nearly 300%. New buildings continue to sprout everywhere, in response to demand, although I hasten to say, not from news-media sources, they being in a death spiral.

 

3 Comments

Bob – there may be fewer people on the pavements of the Capital but you must have noticed that the heaving beasts are clearly at the forefront of ‘work from home’ or perhaps ‘pretend to work from home’. The streets have a freshness about them which is very pleasant.

I always thought Solicitors and Accountants were the only one’s that needed prime office accommodation, to give them prestige.

I was wrong. It seems the public services are the biggest demanders. Might have something to do with the egos running it, and their lack of accountability with the public purse.

I was a journalist for more years than I care to think about. But I always protested that journalism was not a profession. It had none of the characteristics of a profession: For a start you did not need any special qualification, simply an employer willing to hire you. And on that basis, I considered I was actually overpaid, not that my colleagues appreciated me saying that.

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