Oh Henry #2: Don’t shoot the messenger, but what will Beeza do?

October 7, 2010

It would be a travesty if TVNZ publicist Andi Brotherston is obliged to fall on her sword in the Paul Henry broohaha.

Brotherston made the now infamous comment that Henry was expressing what we all think, but are too scared to voice when he made racist comments about the New Zealand governor general.

She subsequently apologised in an email to TVNZ staff and now, inevitably, the email is in the public domain and Brotherston is taking the heat. This is a shame, Paul Henry has been allowed to slink off to wait it out under whichever muddy rock he currently calls home, but Brotherston is blowing in the wind and the story today is all about her.

The real issue here has to be what will Beeza do? So far Henry’s been suspended for two weeks by TVNZ, but he’ll be back on air soon enough and that will be don’t miss car crash TV. How long will the ill-tempered tosser be able to bite his tongue before bursting into glorious flaming wreckage? Let’s hope that this latest gaffe is enough to sink forever his chances of taking over from the talking moustache on Close Up.

But you know, I’ve just reviewed some Beeza cases against Henry over the past few years and most of the time he gets away with it and TVNZ is in there fighting for his right to be offensive. As they say: “That’s entertainment”. Actually, it’s not, as you will see…if you get to the end of this long post.

Read the rest of this entry »


Oh Henry! #$%*(^)#@@#$ to you too.

October 6, 2010

Ah, that delightful little sprite the Fuck-Up Fairy (FUF) has been dancing on the broad shoulders of disgraced TV sock puppet Paul Henry for sometime. The shit was bound to hit the fan one day and that day was Monday.

Until then the gormless and goonish Henry has been protected by some lucky charm and the dismissive comment that ‘he’s just like that’.

Well, yes. He is like that. He’s like a rotten, racist, foul-mouthed, trumped-up, bigoted, insensitive, right-wing dribblejaws with a modicum of intelligence, but not enough to help him keep his maw shut.

His comments about the Governor General not looking or sounding like a Kiwi are racist, particularly given that Anand Satyanand was born in Grey fckuing Lynn.

Sir Anand, in Delhi for the Commonwealth Games, said he had not received a personal apology.

“I haven’t seen his apology. I’ve seen news reports that he has [apologised]. If he has, that’s fine.”

He said when he heard of the comments he only had one reaction.

“I am a New Zealand-born New Zealander. I am reliably informed I was born in 37 Dryden Street, Grey Lynn at the Bethany.

“That’s all I need to add to the chemistry.”

But let’s be clear, the comments would be racist in any context and it’s good to see the strong reaction against Henry this week. Even TVNZ has reacted and thrown Henry’s sorry ass into the can for a couple of weeks. But only, it seems after first attempting to smooth the row over with another ‘that’s Paul!’  comment:

TVNZ is also facing criticism over an initial statement in which spokeswoman Andi Brotherston defended Henry, saying he often said what “we quietly think but are scared to say out loud”.

[Angry Henry]

Oh, so it’s OK to be quietly racist at TVNZ, just don’t get caught. So if you talk in code, rather than overtly bigoted tones, you can get away with it and send dog whistle messages to ACT party supporters in the vain hope that the government won’t cut the budgets even more.

Herald media commentator John Drinnan goes down this track, suggesting that TVNZ won’t be financially harmed by the outrage. He even argues that Henry’s stupid remarks were “orchestrated”:

Don’t attack Paul Henry for his latest orchestrated outrage – questioning whether Anand Satyanand has been “New Zealand enough” to be Governor-General.

Don’t blame the monkey, blame the organ grinder.

The real question is about Television New Zealand and its cynical use of racial comments to boost publicity and profits.

[Drinnan: Don’t blame the monkey]

Dirnnan may be right about this, but it does seem that TVNZ had to be pushed in order for them to agrees to (reluctantly) shove Henry off the Breakfast set for a couple of weeks. This statement from CEO Rick Ellis shows just how reluctant TVNZ was to give Henry the boot:

“Paul is one of New Zealand’s best broadcasters. He is a provocative host who speaks his mind and that is what many New Zealanders like about him. He often pushes the boundaries and that’s important in a country that values freedom of speech. But I consider his latest remarks to have well and truly crossed that line.

[TVNZ Statement @nzherald.co.nz]

I would characterise Henry as a provocative host who shits all over people without a care in the world and that’s what many New Zealanders don’t like about him. At the moment the nation is evenly divided three ways in relation to Henry, but two-thirds don’t like his most recent outburst according to this Herald poll.

OH Henry - you're buggered!

I’d like to see a similar poll about how PM John Key’s handled this mess too. It’s not always easy to publicly stand up to racists, but Key should have said something to Henry instead of trying to laugh it off. That just legitimises the racism. The real shame here is with John Key, but hey, that’s John for you!

And Paul, put a sock in that filthy mouth of yours. You hand out the bruisings, but don’t like it when you’re the subject of the hounding. Get over it. Your comments that you’ll “sue the paper” for taking shots of your house and your neighbours’ houses shows just how little you really know about media law.

“Get off my f*****g land,” he shouted. “Have you got your pictures now? Have you taken photos of my property or any of my neighbours’ properties? If any photos are published I’ll sue the f*****g paper.”

When he was not given a response, he yelled: “Can you not speak, you there in the car? I will f*****g sue your paper.”

Here’s my tip: Paul, spend your gardening leave with a shrink and a law book. You will need the next couple of weeks to prepare a defence for the inevitable Broadcasting Standards Authority complaint hearing.

The big elephant in the parlour here is just how bigoted is New Zealand. A recent example that caught my eye was the interview last week on Campbell Live with the guy who’s running the keep New Zealand farms in New Zealand campaign. I was too busy at the time to write it up, but some of the same sentiments about White=Kiwi were in evidence there too, with just a smudge of mum’s homemade jam to sweeten the bitter bun.

We should come back to this question of racism in the national identity of New Zealand at a future date.


Michael Laws’ manifesto: hang’em high and let me “ogle”

August 15, 2010

As a former merchant of the mendacious, one knows that if one is to lie in public, the lie must always be maintained in private. There it does its most useful work – convincing friends and allies to spread the falsehood as truth.

[Michael Laws, Sunday Star Times, 8 August 2008]

The mouth of Whanganui is madly scrambling to retain any credibility in the aftermath of revelations he’s been having some kind of relationship with an Auckland woman who used to be a prostitute and a P addict.

I can’t help but be mildly nauseated by Laws’ fake contrition and hypocrisy. As the story oozed out this weekend Laws was clearly on the backfoot, but I don’t think we can believe a word he says.

Last night Laws, a Star-Times columnist and RadioLive talkback host, confirmed he was aware of Sperling’s house arrest and that she was wearing an electronically monitored anklet during their encounters.

Despite his strong views on law and order, Laws was not fazed by the anklet.

“Why would I be? Here was somebody who had plunged to the depths of a P addiction and enormous depravation, who had got absolutely on the wrong side of the law,” he said.

“I’m very supportive of the idea of people making amends for things they have done wrong in their lives.”

[Laws, lover together again to mend friendship]

Really Michael?  Do you really believe in second chances for P-addicts and women who can’t look after their kids adequately? Are you sure?

Then whey over the last few years have you continuously written rubbish like this in your weekly column?

Cue mad mothers of the week: Mary Joachim and Rachael Brown. That they ever bred is two of life’s tragedies. The former failed to prevent the murder of her seven-year-old son, Duwayne Pailegutu, and the latter is an alcoholic and recidivist drink-driver.

Rachael Brown is the notorious soak who turned up at her sentencing last week in the Rotorua District Court drunk.

She also has made outstanding choices in her relationships.

It’s time for some straight talking around child abuse in this country and the link with ethnicity rather than poverty. And the link with blasted parents who consume themselves with drinks, drugs and the wrong partners.

[ A champion of common sense, 17 May 2009]

And there’s another angle on this particular column in which Laws defends footballers who sexually assault young women, which is a theme he repeated more recently in the case of dsigraced rugby ambassador Andy Haden:

There can be no doubt in my mind that the complainant “Clare” anonymous, voice disguised, pixilated has embarked upon a course of cool revenge.

But spare me the historic bleats of a young woman who, according to work colleagues, bragged of the encounter and then discovered remorse. That the media then fed on Johns’ commercial corpse proof that they eat their own. But also that PC is alive and well.

The target of this column–as it often is with Laws–is the shibboleth of “political correctness”. The only people who actually believe in this myth and talk about it are right-wing asshole columnists like Laws. It’s a convenient myth to disguise their racism, sexism and homophobia.

It is the dog whistle used to mobilise their supporters who fear the deluge of single-mums, crack-hos and other unsavoury types conjoured up from the febrile imaginings of Laws and his mates.

South Auckland is the badlands of New Zealand. It is a place that has been created by both neglect and liberal handwringing good parts of it hostage to gangs, drugs and nihilism. It is not a place that you choose to live. It is a place that you end up.

[Is the thin blue line yellow? 14 June, 2008]

And this in a column attacking the cops (see Thin blue line below) which just goes to show Laws’ total inconsistency.

This inconsistency is clear from Laws’ other obsession – Laura Norder. No wonder his new Auckland lover was a bit jealous and threatened to smash his watch.

Sunday News was provided with a copy of Facebook conversations between the pair from August 6-10.

It included a message from Sperling on August 10 saying: “An iphone for all my `hard work’ would have been lovely … but I am not a whore”.

She taunted Laws she would destroy a watch he left at her Auckland home.

“Oops, my hammer just landed on your watch. LEAVE ME ALONE YOU… SLEAZE,” she wrote.

[Laws’ girl tells of fling with cop]

Laws is besotted with Laura Norder and he has succumbed to her charms without the least resistance.

He is now so feeble that he does her bidding. Michael Laws is Laura’s bitch:

Evil has found us. Be they created by negligent or narcissist parenting, by drink or methamphetamine, by avarice or the anti-social malaise, we are now a country fearful of the dark. And fearful of people and places that we don’t know.

We are in the most violent times since the Maori Wars. It is a fact that most of us resist rather than find unpalatable. We cling to the superstition that New Zealand is the best and safest place on earth.

The police know differently. They deal with our scum, our detritus, our drifters, the desperate and dangerous, every day.

[Thin blue line 17 July 2010]

This is a classic in the Laws genre: it manages to combine his pet themes:

  • fear of criminals and drug addicts
  • anti-Maori racism of the most virulent sort
  • political correctness is destroying our society

In this case, the rot of PC has even infected police headquarters:

Now even our police commissioner, the broad Howard, is conceding that the Police Association may just be right. Although he is still trapped within his headquarters’ political correctness.

What? This is just a sprinkling of magic dust from Michael here. The incantation of the PC spell is enough to make it so. Laws is a warrior for Laura. He never lets an opportunity to champion her cause pass his grasping hands.

He is so intoxicated by her attentions that he is willing to die for her; or at least to advocate that others die in her honour:

BURN IN hell, Antonie Dixon. And, how on earth can we convince the Curtis brothers to similarly depart this mortal existence?

I had opined the previous day that the only appropriate sentence for Michael and Wiremu Curtis was a death sentence. Anything less would be less than justice.

New Zealand’s justice system is a joke. A charade created by lawyers not one of whom is publicly electable or accountable. It is a corrupt system, stifled by the arcane and the archaic, that glories in its unique perversion.

The law does not recognise evil. Instead it trades in the obscenity that is precedent sentencing.

But the wider nonsense is that the death penalty was not available as appropriate retribution.

[So this is justice? 3 March, 2009]

I won’t make much of it here, but there’s also a strain of virulence in Laws’ support for Israel too. He seems to find a groove and stick to it. Laura Norder, bad Maori, trollopy women and nasty Arabs.

The truth is that Islamic fundamentalism exists in this country. It has arrived with the migrants and refugees and it is as evil and myopic here as it was over there.

So a word to Mustafa Tekinkaya: if you don’t like the idea that your prejudice cannot be allowed to flourish in New Zealand, then do us all a favour. Leave. And take your racist mates with you.

[No place for old hatreds, 17 January, 2009]

There’s no end to his bigotry and plenty of room in New Zealand, it seems, for his hatreds, old and new. Laws is a crusader, we should not pretend he’s just a harmless nutter. I have read about 30 of his columns this morning and the themes, prejudices and ideological positions are consistently focused on good versus evil:

For the past year I have repeatedly asked the question whether those guilty of Nia’s torment are really members of the human race. Or simply evil strained into inadequate vessels.

[The liberal shame, 22 November, 2008]

His populism is centred around issues such as Maori gangs and child abuse, but he puts a very significant racial edge on these issues. He’s also running a very strong political message, particularly around crime and his hobby horse – reintroducing the death penallty:

First, let’s reintroduce the death penalty for child murder and life sentences for child abusers. Not as a deterrent, but as the appropriate punishment for these people.

Second, let’s admit that child abuse cannot be resolved by letting Maori find Maori solutions. Any more than Pakeha can solely be relied on to deal with white-collar crime.

Third, let’s admit that most of the underclass cannot be trusted with children. Ever. They may have the ability to procreate, but possess no sensibility to accept the responsibility. They are the underclass for a reason

Fourth, make it a criminal offence for persons who notice and witness child abuse to then turn the other way.

Fifth, if you’re a gang member, a gang associate, a recidivist criminal (generally the same thing) or an addict, you automatically lose your child. There are no good gang members – they are all reprobates, white or brown.

Sixth, stop buying the liberal excuses. Every blame-shifter, every apologist, every politically correct naysayer is, in reality, part of the problem

And last, but definitely not least – excise these modern shibboleths of political correctness and cultural sensitivity.

[The liberal shame, 22 November, 2008]

There you have it, the Laws’ manifesto: the seven answers to New Zealand’s problems. A proposal of eternal fealty to darling Laura Norder.

Is this what the good folk of Whanganui voted for when he was elected mayor? And Dog help New Zealand if this rabid zealot ever stands for office higher than he already holds.

The only “honest-Mike” opinion from this sad parade of venom and cliche is this piece from March 2009:

READERS WILL appreciate that I’m not a particularly “deep” person. I am my gender, and despite the occasional philosopher or mystic, we males are a superficial lot. Which explains the eternal attraction of the bimbo with boobs.

[Organ strife dead wrong]

Was it this “eternal attraction” Michael that got you into this most recent bout of “organ strife”? No doubt, because you are very fond of this particular trope:

We also don’t get the highbrow dismissal of Boobs on Bikes an absolutely harmless display of fantasy and fantastic proportions. Men like to look it is our instinctive nature.

…spare us the rapt divinity of NZ Fashion Week: the excited twitter of kids, barely out of journalism school, trying to preach profound. It was entertainment and as divorced from the average wardrobe as Chelsea Charms is from your wife.We would never be seen dead with either: the clothes or the porn actress.

Jeans, a tight T-shirt and a sportive embrace from your lover. Does it get any better?

[27 September, 2009]

Maybe not Michael, maybe not. It seems though, that you are obsessed with “ogling” “boobs” as you so quaintly call breasts and you are positively obsessed with Auckland’s annual sleazefest, Boobs on Bikes. Is this your one chance to live out some repressed fantasy?

It is sleazy, noisy and attracts every adolescent oink within 50km. But, gee, it’s fun. Heterosexual men love it because it allows a man to do what a man does best – to ogle the unobtainable.

In the main, they’re not particularly beautiful women. Not the classic beauties who grace catwalks or the front covers of Vogue. But they are dirty – and dirty trollops titillate men precisely because they are everything that our spouse, partner or girlfriend is not.

I have not been in any relationship with any woman – sexual, social or standard – that did not involve me abasing myself simply because I was male.

[15 August, 2008]

This sexually-charged and submissive self-delusion  is another recurring theme in Laws’ columns. Maybe the Sunday Star Times should retire him, he’s getting boring.

ALL MEN have fantasies. I’d like to write “all men and women”, but I’m being PC this week. I am excluding any satire/humour/mocking of any group that is not white, middle-aged, male and middle-class.

We also like bad girls. I suspect this is because we dated a whole lot of good girls who rejected us. Men like me like directness. Is there any point to my taking you out for dinner, or not? Not? Then I’ll spend the money on some mag wheels and a magazine.

[Every weak man, 11 October, 2009]

And this in a column about his partner of the time and the mother of his children. Uggh, Michael, too much information…until today at least. We now have a whole lot more information.

Yep, this is the Mayor of Whanganui. I am not going to psychoanalyse this psycho, but others have tried:

The official website of the mayor of Wanganui is a fascinating monument to a man who simply cannot get enough of himself. It is a site absolutely awash in self-love.

[Narcissm least of Michael Laws’ sins, Dom Post 7 Septmber, 2009]


Judith Collins – poor, poor pitiful me. Good news! There is no news

July 30, 2010

The National’s police minister is crying foul about negative coverage of the cops in the New Zealand media. I’m sorry Judith, but this is pathetic on your part.

The cops have also stopped giving information about routine crime to the Gisborne Herald. Ostensibly so that the city’s reputation doesn’t suffer from over-reporting of minor crime.

What an interesting juxtaposition.

I was on The Wire today talking about this.

Hirst_the_wire_30_July_police_media

Gisborne Herald editor Jeremy Muir said that the police ban on supplying information to the paper was like something “straight out of a Communist handbook”. I’m not sure which handbook Mr Muir is referring to, but I’ve checked my extensive library of such materials and I can’t find a reference that supports this claim.

But, Muir is right that the effect of the policy change will further entrench the news media’s role as a “propaganda mouthpiece” for the cops.

I say ‘further entrench’ because the news media is effectively such a mouthpiece already. That’s why Judith Collins’ comments are so ill-considered and actually counter-productive for the National-ACT government which relies on the news media to promote its love affair with Laura Norder.

Conservative politicians (including those in the Labour Party) benefit from a climate of fear in the community. If public perceptions that crime is out of control are allowed to fester and an ill-founded fear of crime is established as a ‘common sense’ idea then it is easier for politicians and the cops to argue for more stuff – guns, tazers prisons, staff and increased powers of search, arrest and surveillance – even when the actual crime figures don’t support such arguments.

I have long argued that the news media’s obsession with crime reporting is unhealthy; but do you remember just a few months ago when high-ranking cops were clamouring for more “name and shame” coverage of drunk-drivers and other petty criminals in the news?

This is the “symbiotic” relationship that editors like Jeremy Muir and others say is what they want.Often there is benefit to both sides – an interest is served in each case. The news media fills the newshole and remains profitable – crime is cheap to cover; and the police get their sympathetic hearing and promote their efforts to ‘make society safer’.

But the confused and confusing justifications put forward in this debate do little to shed light on the issue; rather they just generate more wasted heat. Take this line from Muir’s Gisbone Herald editorial on the topic:

In the debate over media coverage of crime and the effect it has on perceptions of crime, it is important to differentiate between media.

Many studies do not separate violent television drama or crime shows, which have been found to have a greater influence on fear of crime than news coverage.

It is also important to have this debate.

Gisborne police have issued a decree that they will no longer report a lot of the crime going on in our communities.

But proper analysis, informed by the significant body of research on this topic, would lead to better reporting policies that would benefit everyone.

The debate itself will also leave people with a better appreciation of what influences their personal safety concerns, and whether those might be overblown.

The relationship between fear of crime and mass media is difficult to pin down — do people fear crime because they see a lot of it on television, or does television provide lots of footage about crimes because people fear crime and want to see what’s going on?

A point made in much of the research is that the heavy media coverage of violent crime skews perceptions of the risks associated with crime — which seems to argue for more reporting of minor crimes.

Another is that it is in the public interest to report crime in context.

For example, regular reporting of burglaries could be accompanied by a monthly analysis of burglary trends in different areas, perhaps compared to trends elsewhere, along with information about the police success rate in solving property crimes and tips on how to avoid becoming a victim.

While it is useful for police to communicate effectively with media, reporters must have a good knowledge of media law and crime-reporting guidelines. They should also examine the complex nature of offending, as well as crime prevention and justice.

Considering all the research on this, it is nonsensical for police to drive media policy based on gut feelings and a flimsy survey.

What does Mr Muir actually want?

He asks an important question:

Do people fear crime because they see a lot of it on television, or does television provide a lot of footage about crimes because people fear crime and want to see what’s going on?

But, he does not provide an answer. Perhaps it’s not surprising though: this is a conundrum, wrapped in a paradox and stuffed up the arse of an Enigma.

The relationship between the reporting of crime, perceptions of crime and police ‘efforts’ to ‘do away’ with criminal behaviour is complex and the motivations of both sides are not so easy to tease out. Have you ever stuck your head or your hand up the arse of an Enigma? It will take more than a forensic colonoscopy to sort out this issue.

There is no doubt that media coverage of crime and the dramatisation of what I call ‘forensic pornography’ on shows such as CSI:SVU and so on does play on people’s minds and does add to the sum of irrational fear. But this is a broader cultural and psychogical issue.

the real issue is media generation of “moral panics“:

The media act as agents and conductors of moral indignation – they create media ‘fantasies’ or a criminal ‘hyper-reality’ of produced and consumed images (Baudrillard). They create ‘social censure’.

They investigate, muck rake then point the finger via gross cases that challenge the publics tolerance – scapegoating The effect is to create disquiet, worry, fear and anxiety – then a desire for security, for order to be returned. This is their constructed reality. So is the corollary of a mythical law abiding and orderly past – to return to and envy.

Amplification raises the tension demanding release by authoritarian measures, law and order, swift justice and harsh punishment
A public end up calling for their own repression, they desire and demand ‘get tough’ action created by panics
The media can quickly move on to other vulnerable targets.
[MediaMonkey – Scrib’d]

No doubt media executives in both news and drama would argue that by covering crime and making forensic porn they are merely catering to a public need. That is production is driven by audience demand for this stuff.

And normally we might think that the cops welcome coverage because (as noted above) by coating their message in Laura Norder’s heady musk they arouse public sentiment and therefore support for what they do.

So why then would Judith Collins tazer her own arguments with her comments this week that the news media actually damages the reputation of police through negative coverage?

“I think it’s very important to acknowledge that over the last decade or so there have been numerous attacks (in the media) on the police. There have been the reports into police conduct, all those sorts of things, none of which have actually encouraged people to increase their respect for the police.”

[Collins: Media to blame for fall in police respect, NZ Herald]

Numerous attacks on the police by the media. Isn’t that actually a good thing? If we look at what the minister is talking about, we could argue quite convincingly that by attacking police misconduct, the news media is acting in the public interest.

Then again, is the minister firing a shot across the bows here? There are several important public debates at the moment about greater police powers; the routine arming of police officers; the role of police in dangerous pursuits at high speed; the controversial introduction of tazers into the New Zealand police service.

Perhaps Collins is sending a sinister warning: if the news media persists in critical analysis and reporting of these issues, there access to the ‘bread and butter’ of petty crime information will be withheld.

That is a dangerous thought.


What is 20/20 up to – are Kiwis that prudish?

July 23, 2010

A colleague forwarded me an email from a Sydney nightclub about an upcoming event.

Very interesting.

Hi there,
20/20 – a New Zealand news and current affairs show – are coming to the Hellfire Club this Friday night (23 July) to film part of a story on kink culture in Sydney.

The idea behind the story is that ordinary people like to dress up and be kinky and that it gives them an opportunity to experience themselves differently and feel sexy. New Zealanders, who are rather a conservative bunch when it comes to sex, are interested in kink and fetish but don’t know quite what it is or how to go about connecting with it.

20/20 are looking for people with all kinds of kinks and fetishes and will be around till about 11.30pm hoping to film you or hear your story. You can of course decline to be filmed, but after seeing how much fun you all had with the EWTV crew, how can we deny you another chance at your ten seconds of fame? We trust you will enjoy showing our bros across the ditch how it’s done!

Who’s that girl? This gorgeous Ranga Queen may not be our new Prime Minister… but she’s just as powerful! (now if we could just get our Julia to grow her hair and eat a mud cake or three…)

The Mystery Woman is in fact a fragment of the design of our next Hellfire Club T-shirt. It was created by the exceptionally talented Leo Nguyen – who’s work you can see in the current Rolling Stone and on the covers of both the Sydney Morning Herald Metro and The Brag magazine over the coming weeks.

We’ll unveil the whole design in the next email, and you’ll be able to get your own wearable version at the August party at The Hellfire Club. Stay tuned for hot new fetish fashion!

… look forward to seeing y’all Friday night dressed to impress those budding Kiwi kinksters!

Cheers
Master Tom
The Hellfire Club

[EM:Of course, it’s purely coincidence that 20/20 is fronted by Aotearoa’s very own ‘Ranga Queen’?]

20/20 presenter Miriamo Kamo

PS: Master Tom, have you checked out how 20/20 is likely to cover the Hellfire Club story?  After all, the programme’s slogan is ‘Provocative, Unflinching’.

Be careful what you wish for you fun-loving Sydney kinksters.

I’d be keen to hear how the shoot goes too.

[BTW: ‘Ranga’ is slang for redhead in this part of the world]


Eye candy: where’s the real target, Janet?

July 18, 2010

The opinions of bloggers make news. Welcome to News 2.0.

Former TV reporter, now media trainer, Janet Wilson, caused a small fuss when her blog post Eye Candy was reported in Saturday’s New Zealand Herald by James Ihaka. Of course one could observe (a tad cynically) that the story made it onto page 2 only because it could legitimately get the phrase ‘tits and teeth’ into the headline.

While the Herald story is not entirely sympathetic, no doubt Janet Wilson will be pleased, working on the principle that being talked about is better than not being talked about.

I for one made some effort to track down Janet’s blog; which incidentally doesn’t appear in the results of the Google search I conducted using ‘Janet Wilson Adjust your set’. I found it thanks to  Ele Ludemann  at homepaddock who had thoughtfully linked from her blog because the ‘adjust your set’ search term takes you to this post.

Anyway, in a round-about way that brings me to the point: Janet gives a spray and takes exception to the young, female faces on television because – in her opinion – they are all ‘tits and teeth’ and know nothing  much about journalism.

The implication is that they’re hired by middle-aged men who merely want ‘eye candy’ to a) decorate the newsroom and b) attract viewers to the evening news broadcast who share their taste in nubile wenchy-things who are ‘loved’ by the camera.

I’m not sure who the target of this diatribe is, but there’s plenty who can take offence. Read the rest of this entry »


I’m going to be LATE for the museum

May 23, 2010

LATE 04
Innovate: Media
Thursday, 3 June 2010

This month LATE at the Museum asks what a rapidly-changing digital landscape means for broadcasters, policy makers and of course us as audiences?

The evening will ask what is happening, and what needs to happen, to ensure the independence and profitably of content creators in the age of ‘open source’ media.

Is the Internet the friend or enemy of today’s broadcasters and journalists, and how can we sustain quality programming and reporting at a time when newsrooms are shrinking and people expect to read, hear and watch content for free?

Smart Talk

The evening features a panel discussion with Associate Professor of Journalism at AUT University, Dr Martin Hirst and Brent Impey, ex CEO, Mediaworks NZ (TV3, TV4). The discussion will be moderated by former editor of the New Zealand Listener and award-winning columnist Finlay Macdonald.

Great Music

Entertainment on the evening includes Little Bushman who return to the Museum for an encore following their spellbinding performance at our inaugural LATE, plus Jeremy Toy (Opensouls) with special guests.


Flying Air New Zealand? Bollocks!

May 15, 2010

Air New Zealand CEO Rob Fyfe is signing a giant chuckle all the way to the check-in counter.

Now that several media organisations have piled on to ‘report’ the airline’s new marketing campaign as is if was really ‘news’, Fyfe can have his crumby little biscuit and eat it too.

How is it newsworthy that an executive (advised by an agency creative) launches an advert taking aim at a magazine editor for criticising his business? And really, the criticism reads more like the whinging of a woman accustomed to travelling first or business class, most probably at someone else’s expense; suddenly thrust in among the plebs at the back of the plane:

The public can rightly ask: is Air New Zealand on a path to become a mostly budget airline, and will that come at the expense of the quality service, superior food and wine, safety and courtesy that it offers at the high-margin non-budget end of its business?

[Turbulence ahead, The Listener 15 May, 2010]

Superior food and wine? Please, most airline food is totally unpalatable and the drink offerings from the budget bin.

How many people even read Pamela Stirling’s editorials in The Listener anyway? I gave up  recently after reading one that was an ugly riff on the “I’m not a racist, but…” theme. You know, Chinese are stealing “our” dairy industry and that sort of thing.

In this debate, New Zealanders must ensure their objections are not simply racism in another guise. Would we have the same reaction if the entrepreneurs were Australians? Well, quite possibly, yes, if the proposal was identical.

[Selling the farm: Should we tell the Chinese to get off the grass?, The Listener, 10 April, 2010]

Who cares what Ms Stirling thinks about anything really.

I bet Rob Fyfe doesn’t give a flying proverbial. Air New Zealand just saw a marketing opportunity; pitched a clever little viral campaign and are now quite happy that it has been legitimised as a news story by TV One and the NZ Herald.

Fyfe's loony grimace scares babies

And look at Fyfe in the video, he’s roaring mad (in the insane way).

Let’s just recap some journalism 101 principles here:

News has to have a ‘Who cares’ factor. So really who cares about Air New Zealand having a pretend bust-up with The Listener?

News has to be something of interest to the public. Where’s the public interest in this story; it’s fake news. It’s a media advertising campaign dressed up as a spat between the company and the editor.

There is no public interest here.

News needs to have news values. Conflict’s a good one, so I guess the manufactured conflict (the theme of the Air New Zealand advertising spot) fooled some journos and news editors into thinking they were dealing with a real issue here.

The only thing this whole farce has got going for it is that once again we get to see Rob Fyfe acting badly, showing off and grimacing like a hyena on acid.

Not pretty, not funny, not news.

Bollocks, anyone?


Rugby terror threat story a damp squib…Minister’s hose suspected

March 15, 2010

I’ve had time now to consider the Sunday Star Times extensive coverage yesterday of the alleged threat to security at the Rugby World Cup next year.

To recap briefly, the SST sent some reporters to rugby stadiums in Christchurch, Hamilton and Auckland to test the security arrangements ahead of next year’s RWC. The problem for the paper is that Police Minister Judith Collins blew their cover on the Friday before publication with a pre-emptive media release in which she lambasted the SST for a stupid stunt.

Ms Collins was advised that a newspaper commissioned people to masquerade as terrorists who then gained access to restricted areas at Super 14 matches in Hamilton and Christchurch.

“The actions are unbelievably stupid and irresponsible. This stunt had the potential to result in games being called off and stadiums evacuated,” Ms Collins said. [Scoop 12 March]

Undeterred, or perhaps realising it had no option, the SST went ahead with the story on Sunday.

The toy “explosives” carried in one reporter’s bag were just that – obvious fakes. Nobody would have mistaken them for a real bomb. The reporters also carried a letter bearing the paper’s masthead confirming their identities and providing the name and mobile telephone number of the deputy editor. In other words, if the reporters had been stopped, their identities and what they were doing would have been instantly revealed. There was no possibility of anyone mistaking them for real terrorists. There was therefore no possibility of any panic, or evacuation, or a sudden halt to the games.

[Political beat-up detracts from real issues]

But wouldn’t real terrorists go to great lengths to hide their identities — such as carrying fake ID and so on? And how did the paper’s editors know that the security guards and cops wouldn’t have reacted badly? Did the paper do a real risk assessment?

As I mentioned in an earlier post; if the SST had not had its cover blown on Friday, Sunday’s “expose” of “major flaws” in security arrangements may well have detonated a different response from police, public officials and the rugby community.

Instead, it looked like the paper was just trying to catch up and scramble to cover its embarrassment.

It might also be instructive to think about the Police Minister’s pre-emptive media strike against the SST on Friday too. It now seems that her initial claims — that the SST had hired actors dressed as terrorists — were false, or at best highly-exaggerated and based on false information.

Collins’ media release on Friday suggested that the SST had hired actors to pose as terrorists — invoking images of be-turbaned and bearded fanatics running around with plastic Kalashnikovs. But this Minister, as you knew at the time, was highly misleading and designed to whip-up feelings against the paper.

Certainly the pictures of Jonathon Marshall in Sunday’s paper don’t show him with a turban and fake beard and the paper denies that any members of the public were put at risk.

I must admit that without the benefit of any further information – I did try to find out more – I was one of those lining up lat week to condemn the Sunday Star Times. On reflection, I was perhaps a bit harsh (more on that later).

Perhaps the Minister’s venom was a cover too — a way of softening the blow of the SST‘s revelations of lax security and also of deflecting any flack from the explosion that a fresh Sunday front page might have caused without the dampening effect of the early negative publicity.

At the heart of any assessment of the SST‘s actions must be the public interest test: Was the contrived security breach justified because an issue of vital public importance and public interest could be revealed through the action?

In other words: Did the ‘ends’ justify the ‘means?

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Message to Mitch: “Dude, you’ve got egg on your egg.”

March 13, 2010

How could the editorial executives at the Sunday Star Times have thought that pulling a stunt like infiltrating the crowd at a provincial rugby game with reporters carrying fake terrorist gear would ever be a good idea?
As we say in the news business: “It’ll all end in tears.”
In this case, perhaps the tears of a newsroom clown forced to fall on his or her sword and take the blame.

I had a chat with TVNZ 7’s Miriama Kamo yesterday evening. I made the point – also made by Jim Tully in today’s Herald – that the premise of the story is dodgy from the start.

Security at a 14s or provincial rugby match today – a year or more out from the Rugby World Cup – is not going to be as tight – in fact the main security ‘threat’ is that spectators try to smuggle in their own cheaper booze. So the premise of “testing” the security arrangements that might be in place for the RWC doesn’t hold water.

The only ground for defending the SST‘s actions would be a favourable comparison to the Schiphol airport sting which is also in the papers this week. It would be a defence based on a high threshold of public interest, but I don’t think a stunt at a provincial rugby ground is quite the same.

I also think it’s ethically questionable and probably is a technical breach of at least three clauses in the EPMU Code of Ethics.

The SST – terrorists at the rugby stunt has become a real “What were they thinking?” moment. And we might argue, a failure of leadership in the newsroom hierarchy.

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