“Harper, check the water!” Another one bites the hand that holds the leash

February 27, 2010

Well, I’ll be dammed like the Three Gorges, there’s something in the water.

Surely there can be no other explanation: another columnist – Paul Thomas in Saturday’s Herald – taking the flagellation device to his professional coterie. “Spare the rod, spoil the page,” I say.

Loyal readers will know that it was a lonely week ago that I brought to your attention a spate of honest spade=shovel introspection missives from a number of weekend columnists.

First we had Tracey Barnett lamenting the lack of analysis and focus on the horse race aspects of politics – winners and losers, rather than policy dissection – in the work of her colleagues.

Then, both Rosemary McLeod and Deborah Coddington had a go – totally without having read Tracey’s column (unless there’s some sort of “Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble,” clique going on, which I doubt) .

Rosemary was railing against the volume of paper and ink  wasted  in pursuit of sexlebrity scandals and Deborah basically told Ali Mau to get over herself and accept the flogging that comes with living in the celebrity goldfish bowl. The key is that they all want to talk about various versions of themselves and their fellow columnists.

Deborah warned that journalists are not (always) lapdogs: “We’re not a fluffy dog you can pat – we bite” OUCH.

Tracey described her fellow columnists as “myopic sheep” and Rosemary says that columnists actually ignore the issues that really matter.

Enter stage right Paul Thomas in a column that’s ostensibly about the media circus surrounding the Tiger Woods’ apology fiasco, sexlebrity drama stand-off broohaha:

Actually, journalists aren’t paid to represent the public at all; they’re paid to fill newspapers and air time, to generate a commercial product.

[Sorry or not, there's no pleasing the media]

Read the rest of this entry »


Honesty again – whodathunkit! What do we do about the news?

February 21, 2010

There must be something in the water, or maybe there’s an optometrist involved. I’m not sure what the reason is but another nationally syndicated columnist has let fly at her reporter colleagues  this weekend.

The fun started when Tracey Barnett claimed most columnists were short-sighted egoists in the NZ Herald yesterday. Tracey’s lament was that columnists can’t see past the daily rush of ‘new’ and, when it comes to analysis, they tend to be pack-like in approach.

We get so sucked into the vortex of the endlessly hungry daily news machine, we begin to think every story is about the fight, not the resolution. Suddenly our job becomes declaring momentary winners and losers.

[All commentary, no analysis, all of the time, NZH 20 Feb 2010]

Now Rosemary McLeod in the Sunday Star Times is having a go at the shallow pool of news-celebrity culture and the fact that precious column inches are wasted on fatuous stories about the sex lives of newsreaders and their ilk.

[4pm Sunday update]: Sometimes it does take me most of the the day to get through the papers and so I’ve only recently come across Deborah Coddington’s column ‘Live in the public eye? Get used to being gawked atRead the rest of this entry »


Revenge, name suppression and celebrity justice

January 7, 2010

The Whaleoil saga [background here and here] has led me to consider why the issue of name suppression for so-called celebrities (or more generally people with an already existing public profile/reputation) gets people so worked up.

There was a shared feeling of outrage when a semi-famous Kiwi “entertainer” was allowed permanent name suppression after pleading guilty to the sexual assault of a young woman and there were some demented folk exhibiting very vigilante-like tendencies when Whaleoil outed*** a former Kiwi Olympian previously convicted of a serious crime who was before the courts on further serious charges.

Now Whaleoil himself is before the courts charged with several counts of breaching suppression orders and identifying people subject to a name suppression order. But why is he taking on this crusade?

I came across some answers in a journal article from Crime, Media, Culture, which is published by Sage. The piece, “Naming, shaming and criminal justice: Mass-mediated humiliation as entertainment and punishment”, was written by Steven Kohm from the University of Winnipeg. I can’t link to the article from here as that would breach copyright and the fair access policy of AUT library. However, you can get links from Google Scholar and elsewhere.

The key arguments are as follows:

Shame is a dubious method of applying “justice” to criminals and since the advent of reality TV and forensic porn as entertainment, humiliation as a tool of social control has been amplified through the mass media – and more recently via social media – as a method of both punishment and as a form of voyeuristic and participatory entertainment.

Read the rest of this entry »


Interview with a fan

April 9, 2008

This is possibly a bit narccisistic, but it’s my blog.

I was recently contacted by Jordan, a journalism student from the S I Newhouse School at Syracuse U in the USA.

He was interested in my comments on the paparazzi coverage of Britney Spears. He sent me some questions via email, so he could put some quotes in an essay he’s writing. I have posted his questions and my comments here, fyi. Read the rest of this entry »


By George – I don’t believe you

April 7, 2008

Seems that George Clooney’s girlfriend is totally wild.

Well, at least according to her very eloquent ex-boyfriend who speaks in totally weird syntax and very structured language, not like a real person. Seriously, check these quotes allegedly given by “Tommy” to the News of the World newspaper:

Tommy recalled: “She made up special love potions and rubbed them into every part of my body. I was powerless to resist. I know George will be no different. He’ll be totally entranced,” he told News of the World.

“Sarah’s a total hippy at heart, heavily into all the spiritual, mystic stuff – crystals, tarot cards, healing.

“And along with her witch-like charms she’s a brilliant fun girl with no inhibitions. She loves nothing more than getting naked in a forest. Read the rest of this entry »


A day in the life of Ashley Dupre: Celebrity callgirl to callgirl celebrity

March 15, 2008

It seems that 24 hours is a lifetime in the blogosphere. Just yesterday I was defending the right to privacy for sex workers caught up in scandals and media stories.
Now I find myself being amazed again at how quickly some people can turn adversity into a new adventure. Read the rest of this entry »


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