Boquet for HoS – attempting to come clean on Veitch

I would like to congratulate Shayne Currie and David Fisher for the piece in today’s Herald on Sunday [Inbside the Veitch media circus] and for getting Tim Pankhurst to at least put something on the record about the genesis of the whole caravan.

I was interviewed for David’s story and in the course of our long-ish chat I raised the idea that the Dom Post and the other media outlets, who bought into the story subsequently, actually owed the public a certain level of disclosure about sources.

I know this flies in the face of accepted ethical wisdom about protecting sources and so-called “shield laws”, but I argue that in this case the motivation of sources is actually a key element of the story.

This is particularly salient when everyone involved – editors, journos, PR managers and the central protagonist – all admit that scrambling for the media high ground (and a position of control) was a key objective of both sides.

Unfortunately, we – the readers and viewers – were not privy to who the sources were, though in David’s piece, the Team Veitch PR expert, Glenda Hughes, says that she was reactive to the media most of the time and only admitted to “selling” a story on one or two occasions.

I am still mulling over a more considered and lengthy post on this story. In my view it is a fantastic case study of media actions – in this case feeding on one of its own – almost an act of cannibalism. I’m sure none of us (media people) would like to be in Tony Veitch’s shoes and see our career shredded.

I actually have sympathy for everyone caught in the shockwaves of this story.

Kristin Dunne Powell has been unfairly and disgustingly labeled a “bunny boiler” [cultural reference to Sharon Stone's character in Basic Instinct]. Her life will never be the same again.

Tony Veitch does not at the moment have a life – he is medically unfit for work, marriage and friendship – he may well be the “author” of his own misfortune, but he got plenty of help from the news media.

Zoe Veitch is also a victim, her performance during the whole saga was as “stoic wife”, but she too got dragged through the PR fence backwards from time to time.

The families of key figures are all scarred and substantially out-of-pocket. Therefore we have to ask, was it worth it? Was the public interest really served by the attention this story got?

I don’t think the media covered themselves in glory on this story. I will post something more substantial later.

I’m also considering doing an academic paper on this for a journalism studies conference in December. If anyone would like to talk to me about it, particularly any journos or editors, I’d love to hear from you.

ethicalmartiniATgmail.com is the best way to get in touch. Or you can leave a comment to this post. For the record, if you leave a comment I will assume that it is public and that you consent to me using it in any research publication that results (eg: conference paper and/or journal article).

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3 Responses to Boquet for HoS – attempting to come clean on Veitch

  1. Fran O'Sullivan says:

    Ethical Martini – What’s with the Sharon Stone reference? The cultural reference is surely Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction – after she boiled Michael Douglas family bunny.

  2. Thanks Fran, you’re right about that I got my mysoginistic representations of women in popular culture mixed up.
    I stand corrected.
    Cheers
    EM

  3. Joel says:

    What’s interesting about it is the role of people like Glenda Hughes in all this, as well as Veitch himself. From hanging around media people, I’ve seen the attitude of “I know how this works” as if the media is a linear entity, cause and effect even, it’s a lot more dialectical than that.
    Watching them trip up in the spin is a reflection of this attitude. Trying to present yourself to the media by second guessing what you think they want you to be just can’t be kept up, you slip up and fall, you make a mistake and the problem with mistakes in that arena, in that fashion is it just looks worse. Having said that, they were impressive in the main in how the story moved this way and that in Veitch’s favour.

    The question I ask is “what was the story?” “what actually happened?” and that in part is due to the method of prosecution, Veitch talked up his dirt and his side of the story but didn’t follow up on it.

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