Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pot, kettle, etc.

Another youth-bashing article about kids gone bad. Yawn.

Except this one is so remarkably smug and arrogant about the whole issue that it was worth me breaking out of my torpor and writing something down.
More than 1500 Facebook users, most of whom appear to be students, say they plan to attend the "Castor Bay Beach Party 2!" on Auckland's North Shore in December.
Students! Here we go:
On the Facebook page, posters do not appear to care about the residents of the area, the police, the illegality of their actions, or grammar.

Adam Ellington, whose profile picture appears to show someone throwing up, is defiant.

"This is win. We will win. Cops wont win [sic]," he wrote.

Laura Petrova Isaac also intends on going.

"ha ha went to the first one... and the next day it was all over the news and i was watching it with mum and she goes 'some children these days! im glad u dont do stupid things like this' lol... uuhhmmm.... [sic]" she wrote.

Weird! These kids are paid professionals, right? I can't believe they submitted that writing to the Herald without fixing such simple grammatical and spelling errors. Don't they have a subeditor to pick up on this?

So it was already unintentionally ironic enough that this article got published in a newspaper that is regularly riddled with the sorts of grammatical mistakes that would make a gardening society newsletter editor blush. Until...

Finding that sentence really made my day, like a ray of sunshine bursting through the self-satisfied smog that is the rest of this piece of 'journalism'.

Also, everyone knows that 'maybe attending' is polite code for 'not attending'.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Trick or.... threat! (sorry)

A new candidate for most outrageously overblown headline and story - "Kids' threats shatter Halloween night". The whole thing is atrocious:
Children trick or treating in South Auckland - some younger than 10 - took the "scary" side of Halloween too far last night by threatening people who did not give them sweets.

Police dealt with more than half a dozen cases of children swearing, intimidating and being aggressive towards people who refused to give them lollies.

More than half a dozen! What, seven? Eight?
One Herne Bay resident told the Herald the inner-city area also had problems with terrifying trick-or-treaters, with up to 150 flocking to the suburb for Halloween. "There are even some shipped in from Glen Innes for the better pickings."

Mr Alofa said police had not received any reports of people being "shipped in".

People from Glen Innes visiting Herne Bay? Christ, why didn't you say this was serious??

Oh wait, you did.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Thanks, South Island affairs correspondent.

The male bird, known as Aragorn, this weekend attacked Dian Edmondson while she was kayaking.

The attack was so fierce she had to fend it off with a paddle.

She says she was told of other attacks on the same day.

When she first passed by the swan to say hello "he had his head down, tucked under his wings and I just thought he was being shy".

But later, as she passed a bridge, she heard a yell: "hey, he's going to get you" - and then the feathers began to fly.

"He actually physically got out of the water on top of my kayak, at the back. He had his wings stretched out ... attacking my kayak with his beak. All I know is my boat's shaking ... and I was screaming and carrying on."

I'm sorry - Aragorn?

On second thoughts, maybe we should let The Hobbit go overseas until we have a firmer grip on reality.

EDIT: Just saw that the swan made the front page of the print edition. Well done, big guy.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Zealand's Next Top Fish

The National government's recession spending cuts have given public research organisation Niwa a chance to reconsider their scientific priorities - or, at least, that's the impression I got from this piece on A5:

"Deep sea fish take ugliness to new level, says Niwa"

"says Niwa"

Actual quote from Niwa in the article:

Niwa fisheries scientist Peter McMillan said the discoveries revealed how little we knew about the ocean's riches - less than 0.002 per cent of the deep sea environment has been sampled.

"The deeper we go, the less we know. Our knowledge of fishes decreases with increasing depth."

Quotes from or attributions to Niwa about how ugly/monstrous/gross/icky the fish are: 0

Truth to power: sports edition

It ain't easy being a journalist, and sometimes you have to make the tough calls. At some point you have to stand up to the powers-that-be and say, "No! I will not be your lapdog! I will not feed your lies to the people any more!"

Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward risked their careers to expose the seedy underbelly of political corruption and uncover the true scale of Watergate. Meanwhile, several journalists of the independent, anti-Putin Novaya Gazeta have been murdered in the last decade. But it's good to see that journalistic courage exists on these shores too, as Herald sports columnist Chris Rattue puts his press box World Cup tickets and accompanying chicken nibbles on the line to call out the New Zealand rugby hierarchy and call them 'boofheads'. Controversial!

"Idiotic drivel from the rugby Kremlin"

The All Blacks' assistant coach Steve Hansen has made a bold bid for Boofhead of the Year.

His suggestion that the New Zealand media co-operate with a later timing for All Black team releases by opting not to leak any earlier information they may glean on the selections is bizarre.

Hansen has been pilloried by other commentators, and rightly so.

He has already put the rugby media in an unfortunate situation, because public suspicions about past and future reporting will be raised.

Now, I appreciate the sentiment. I'm all about freedom of information, and the idea of newspapers acting as some sort of censors for governments terrifies me. I mean, what if the mainstream media in New Zealand more or less reprinted government and corporate press releases instead of analysis? I know, it's too shocking to bear thinking about.

Unfortunately, Rattue goes on to get a little carried away.

The need for press freedom and the right of the public to as much genuine information as possible in our society are among the many reasons to mock Hansen's plea.

To even suggest that the New Zealand media would enter into such agreements is an insult. The media should operate in an arena of competition, not collusion.

What a closed and boring world those rugby-heads must live in for drivel like that to come from their lips. They are, as I have said often, control freaks to a level that dulls and thus harms their sport.

They mistakenly believe that an entire country should be - and even is - in a Kremlin-style rugby camp.

All journalists face tricky situations at times, and may choose to withhold a story knowing there will be a better payoff down the line. This can be a grey area of no hard and fast rights or wrongs.

But a blanket agreement such as Hansen is suggesting is totally unacceptable.

The rugby media, a thin line in this country, will fight such trends to the bitter end and cop the consequences if any. The rot must stop here.

Then again, maybe a Kremlin-style rugby camp is exactly what the All Blacks need to give them the discipline to beat the bed-wetting liberals of France this time.

To quote Rattue himself: "What a closed and boring world those rugby-heads must live in".

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The more things change...

I've mentioned before that Beck Vass isn't actually the name of a reporter working at the New Zealand Herald; instead, it's a code phrase for a press release that's been jammed into the newspaper. So, from the newspaper that brought you the story about how great Foodtown rebranding to Countdown would be for consumers, here's a page A3 story about how great C4 rebranding to FOUR will be for indiscriminate television watchers aged 18-39.

Fans of America's Next Top Model and The Simpsons, which now screen on TV3, will no longer be pressing "3" on their remotes from early next year.

The channel changeover is part of a rebranding by Mediaworks, which owns TV3 and C4, as the broadcaster tries to attract older viewers.

Ok, so what effect do some big industry players think this will have?

Mediaworks TV chief executive Jason Paris announced yesterday that the network was giving the mostly music C4 channel a shakeup, making its content more mainstream and renaming it "Four".

"Four will be a channel which appeals to anyone looking for great entertainment," Mr Paris said.

"Everything the channel does will be entertainment. No news, sport or information, just pure escapism."

Unlike C4 previously, which was so chocka with news and information there was barely any time for booty-shakin' hip-hop videos. Information such as 'what happened this week on America's Next Top Model'.

At this point, any pretense of actually being a newspaper article stops.

New programmes include Community, in which comedian Joel McHale plays a lawyer forced to go to community college to get a real qualification after his degree was found to be fraudulent.

Also included is drama series The Gates, set in a neighbourhood with a "dark and delicious" secret, and Top Chef: Just Desserts - a spin-off of the Emmy-winning Top Chef series.

Oh good - because I can't wait to see what happens to all my favourite characters from Top Chef.

Anyway, this was actually the second, and least bad, Herald article about this Mediaworks change. The first appeared yesterday on the website. It's allegedly written by the implausibly named 'Hugh Sundae' - nice one - but I'll give you one guess as to who actually wrote it:
C4 will be re-branded as FOUR, in a statement Mediaworks said it would "become broader in its appeal, with programming which attracts a wider, and more mature audience."

[...] C4, which currently targets the 15-39 year-old audience, will refocus on the current TV3 key-demographic of 18-49. In turn TV3 will now target 25-54 - currently TV1's key demographic.

[...] "It's very good news for viewers," according to Martin Gillman, partner at Mitchener Gillman Communications.
Well, except for viewers aged 15-17.