Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Readers in high places

"Burn 'em as fuel - group's plan for plastic bags" is the headline to today's story on plastic bags, firmly entrenched at the top of the front page. Following up on yesterday's article, we discover that the Packaging Council have declared that they want to burn plastic rather than have it end up on landfills. Maybe it's just me, but if someone asked me what the eco-friendly approach to dealing with plastic rubbish was, I wouldn't answer 'just burn it'. Of course, that is why we have experts. Quite who the Packaging Council have slept with to get all this media coverage I don't know, but what is particularly interesting to me, and therefore to you, are the differences between today's article and yesterday's, both by Eloise Gibson.

You may have read my post yesterday about the mysterious workings of the shadowy Packaging Council, and Eloise Gibson's failed attempt to let anyone know who or what they were. Here were some points that I made about the article:
  • The Packaging Council were mentioned with no introduction.
  • They were discussed in the context of deals with the Warehouse, Progressive Enterprises et al. without mentioning that they were made up of those very companies.
  • The pronouncements were not cited as from a spokesperson, but rather from the Council itself.
In today's article, however:
  • The PC are described, rather interestingly - and not to say rather euphemistically - in the first paragraph as a 'packaging body'. Eloise goes on to say:
    The Packaging Council, which describes itself as "the industry's voice on policies affecting packaging and packaging waste", wants to reduce the environmental effect of packaging by promoting alternatives.
    Maybe they do, maybe they don't. Maybe, like any good industry body or professional group, they just want to look like they're doing something proactive so as to avoid outside regulation but at least she has taken my lead and said something about who or what the PC are. What's more: funnily enough, the reporter chooses to cite the very same sentence that appeared on these hallowed (web)pages yesterday. Weird!
  • We suddenly find out that the Warehouse, Foodstuffs and Progressive are all members of the PC, as discovered and then uncovered by the investigations of yours truly.
  • We can now put a name to the bleak, corporate face: executive direct Paul Curtis. Now, that wasn't so hard, was it? If you're interested, I can also put a face and a shirt to the name:

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Although I suppose I would still prefer a job.


  1. That job is getting further and further away... the last thing a newspaper needs is some rogue reporter questioning the motives of 3 of its largest advertisers. You better sell out sometime soon or you'll always a blogger be...

  2. Especially considering the trouble that newspapers are in globally... Jimmy, do you have any thoughts about where newspapers are going to be in the next few years? I'm terrified by the current dumbing down of society, which is evidenced by the rise of infotainment media sources and scripted 'reality' shows, and the fall of our traditional sources of hard news and carefully crafted, character driven TV and cinema. Ryan Seacrest is already more recognisable than just about any non-obama head of state, and the slope only gets more slippery from here.

  3. I wouldn't worry JP.. society has always been dumb and probably always will be (I think it's a biological fact that even smart people en masse will act stupidly).

    The media has never actually been any better than it is now - there never was a golden age of "hard news".

    Also are you saying that Happy Days was "smarter" than American Idol? What about The Wire? Or even South Park?

    Not to excuse the crap that passes for news or entertainment these days, I totally agree there's a lot of shite... but it's getting better, not worse..

  4. The Wire is a pretty good example of what I was trying to get at. Hands down, this is the best peice of television I have ever seen. Every single character on that show was completely three dimensional, with inricate story arcs woven throughout all five seasons. What time slot has this show been given on NZ television? What time slot does Two and a half Men have? Jimmy and Bunk are hidden in obscurity while we get to see Charlie Sheen's corpse cracking funnies to a laugh track during prime time. However, you are right that there has always been crappy TV, and the mere existance of shows like The Wire and Mad Men should be enough to keep me happy.

    Please answer me this question though- Which of these two events would get top billing in a newspaper/news bulletin? A watergate level scandal involving Kevin Rudd, or Posh and Becks getting gunned down by Jane Goody's ex-husband while at a Playboy Mansion party.

  5. For this blog alone you wouldn't get a job at the Herald. Sorry.

  6. "A watergate level scandal involving Kevin Rudd"


    "Becks getting gunned down by Jane Goody's ex-husband while at a Playboy Mansion party."

    Both are good stories, and neither should be ignored. The first would obviously take a lot of investigation, while the second is hard news served up on a plate.

    And yes, while they serve different news values, both are hard news and they would both deserve top billing.

    The question is, does the media have the resources for a Watergate-level investigation these days? I'll answer that one for you. No.