Napier siege: did the media do a good job?

[Monday update: I’ve had some responses now. Read down to comments, EM]

I’ve written some critical comments recently about the news media’s coverage of the Napier siege situation that ended yesterday with the death of Jan Molenaar.

Now, I’ve decided to do a small experiment using Twitter. I’m seeking comments from people who were close to the action, I’d like to know what the people of Napier thinks of the media’s handling of the siege coverage.

Yesterday evening I tweeted using the # symbol, which signals to Twitter that you’re looking for a particular topic:

#Napier questions that I tweeted last night:

#Napier did the media do a good job? Was it facts v. rumour or were you well informed about the siege and Jan Molenaar’s history or motives?

#Napier, if you have a story about the news media’s presence in Napier this week, tweet me or email:

So far, I’ve had two responses:

[Kelly] @ethicalmartini media did a *terrible* job re #napier hill tragedy.  first night NO info for residents, so MUCH misinformation & gossip

[fushnchups] @ethicalmartini Quite a lot of rumour was reported from “un-named sources”, see reporting the gunman’s death about 18hrs ahead.

I need  a bit more evidence and more responses to make this work.

4 Responses to Napier siege: did the media do a good job?

  1. Kelly says:

    hi again marty. i only have a few moments here at work, but wanted to explain in more than 140 characters!

    on thursday night we were unable to go home. on friday we were able to walk up an old access road that started just outside the taradale road roundabout blockade and came out near the dead end of simla terrace (our street), and we fed our animals and checked on all our neighbours, most of whom did not return home. understandable as they have small children. we also checked for pets as far down the road as we could get before reaching another roadblock. then we hunkered down and waited.

    the media were deplorable. i expect legitimate and “reputable” news sources to publish hard facts, not constant rumour and innuendo. they all were more concerned with having a “scoop” than with the content of their info. on thursday morning, xtra news posted that a gunman was in “a gang house on the ahuriri side of the hill”. totally not true!

    thursday night we were unable to go home and had no idea where to go or what to do. my family and our neighbours gathered at a local restaurant to watch the news. the 5.30 news reported on the incident, but had NO news for residents. neither did the 6 pm channel 3 news! i would have at LEAST expected a running banner telling residents where they could go or an info line phone number, if not a direct “if you are a resident, you can…”. it wasn’t until the 10.30 news that we were told about napier intermediate – and even then that information was implied, as there was no *direct* message to residents. of course, by 10.30 we were in a local motel anyhow (@ $100/night).

    my biggest gripe about the media is

    1) not reporting hard facts. i don’t care what your speculation/opinion/random thoughts are – if it’s not from the horse’s mouth (police) it’s just gossip and rumour, and i’m not interested, nor is it helpful. and that incorrect information spreads like wildfire and then no one knows what is true and what is fiction.

    2) no timely information for residents. no hotline, no reach-out to residents on broadcast “news”. i phoned the police dept at 8.30 thursday night to see if there was a hotline or information line for residents, and was told no. so the only information we had was that our street was “a no-go zone, and will still be no-go at 8 am tomorrow”.

    having said that about the media, i would like to say that the police did a great job – they contained the situation and brought it to a peaceful end with no further loss of life (except the gunman’s), and were very gentle and polite when they turned us away from our home. i didn’t expect the police to broadcast their plans – they need to keep their intel closed. we are thankful to them for keeping us and everyone else safe.

    thanks for the opportunity to get that off my chest!

  2. This from Dallas, Napier resident:
    I live on Hospital Hill, and followed siege events. I felt well informed, also Police Neighbourhood Watch put out emails on update, but after learning the same things on the news.
    Mayor Arnott used the media to reassure rest of NZ that Napier was ‘very supportive’ and impressive in their response.

    I think the press were excited and in overdrive…too much for my liking. It was simply a tragic event. Many victims.

    Google news search on Napier was my best source. Newspaper are too late for my liking, but they do add depth.

  3. Lew at Kiwipolitico has started a thread on my question.
    thanks, Lew.

    […] well did the media do on the Napier siege? Posted on 23:59, May 12th, 2009 by Lew Ethical Martini asked the question on Sunday. Out of largely professional interest I watched, read and listened to […]

  4. Natalie says:

    To begin with, I am not a ‘twitter’ user but came upon this site as I logged on to google to check out Napier’s news.
    I’m an ex Napier resident and live in Australia and followed the event via the internet. I can’t imagine what it was like for residents, however for me it was a harrowing experience trawling through hyped and misinformed media coverage. There were cases where I would read articles that latter, that same day by the same media outlet, would be totally contradicted. The exaggerated and sometimes fabricated stories was not useful when one is traumatized and stressed. This was a deeply deeply sad tragedy for everyone, and in all directions – the family of Len Snee, the community of Napier, the Police colleagues and friends of Len, the family and friends of Jan Molenaar, right down to Jan’s little dog who must wonder where his master had gone. The media have a duty of care and in this disturbing situation I don’t think they did the job that was needed. There is little that could have been more distressing than a person killing someone in a surburban street, in a quiet and beautiful town, and then continuing to fire a lethal weapon into the surrounding area. The facts alone are chilling, let alone plumping it up with untruths.

    My sincere appreciation to the Police who I think did the best job possible.

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