Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New Zealand Woman's Daily

Great news, people. Your favourite APN publication, the New Zealand Woman's Weekly, now comes out every weekday, in a large format, and with a new, low cover price of only $1.80. I discovered this change this morning when I saw saw the story "Prayers for a playful sister hit by bus" by the Herald's 'police reporter'.

Shweta and Sharleen Chand were yesterday praying for their big sister to be okay.

Family members told the sisters, aged 10 and 5, that 15-year-old Shateel had a "cut on her head" after being struck by a bus in Mt Wellington yesterday.

"We just say [in prayer] please help our sister," Shweta told the Herald yesterday from their grandparents' home.

She and Sharleen were looking forward to seeing their big sister who always looked out for them and was "really playful".

[...] Speaking to the Herald from hospital, Shateel's father, Rakesh Chand, said more than a dozen friends and relatives were at her side, praying for her to pull through.

Well done on turning a traffic injury, albeit a very serious and tragic one, into a front-page human interest story from the lowest drawer. Why the 'police reporter' wrote this story - apart from the fact that there are about four reporters left at the Herald these days - is beyond me; only two paragraphs mention the police at all. There is far more mention of praying, making it surely more relevant to the Herald's religion correspondent.
Milan Maharaj, 15, said she couldn't believe it when she heard her close friend had been in the accident.

"I saw police cars and a man told me that a 12-year-old girl was hit by a car and I was relieved it wasn't [Shateel] because I know she comes this way and because they said she was 12," she said.

Except it wasn't a 12-year-old. And it was Shateel. Which makes this an odd comment to put in the article. Oh well! Got to fill up the space somehow!
Milan had spoken to Shateel on the phone the night before about joining her Indian dance class.
'Her' dance class? Wait, Milan's or Shateel's? Oh, what's the point - clarity of style in the Herald is the least of my worries.

Anyway, the incident looks to have been an accident, although the investigation is ongoing. But the Herald isn't willing to stop there. In a sidebar piece entitled 'Sad Toll' (part of the same article online), they try to imply (or I try to infer...) that there is some bigger issue here than a tragic injury to a young girl. Four pedestrians (not counting Shateel, who is in critical condition at time of writing) have died in Auckland in the last 10 years after being hit by buses - not a particularly disproportionate number, it seems to me, given that they are massive, fast-moving chunks of metal relatively common on Auckland's roads. One person tripped and fell in front of a bus; another walked out onto the road in front of one. If there were some systemic reason why people are being hit by buses - poor training of drivers or slack maintenance, say - then of course that's a matter of public interest that should be on the front page of the paper. But, to me, there seems to be no evidence of anything other than 'shit happens' - people are going to walk onto the road, and sometimes buses are going to be on that road. Mining a family's grief for circulation and then half-heartedly trying to make some public safety issue out of nothing doesn't seem like responsible journalism to me.

Surprise surprise.


  1. This is just more fuel for Barnett's fire.

    I hope ambulance staff remembered to smack the child, so at least she will know not to do it again.

  2. Four people killed by buses in ten years? Panic!

    The figure might have been more illuminating had we also been told how many people were struck by cars during that period.

  3. What was particularly shameful about this incident to me is how the Herald and NZPA spent the WHOLE DAY Tuesday reporting that the bus driver fled the scene, which in fact today turns out not to be true. How do you get such a basic, elementary fact wrong? It turns out the driver actually stayed and tried to help, which is completely different.

  4. "I hope ambulance staff remembered to smack the child, so at least she will know not to do it again"

    quoted for awesomeness, that is gold my friend! :D

  5. Funny how, as you say, this story comes from the 'police reporter'. The police were there for at least 2 hours (I know cuz I get the NZ Police email alerts) investigating. Ya think they'd know if the driver ran or not.

    Guess this 'police reporter' is not who he/she claims, aye? I am a super sleuth.


  6. I've been in London for 2.5 years and have seen 3 pedestrians hit by buses and one cyclist grated along a barrier by a bus. It's about time NZ started catching up.

  7. It costs $1.80 now? Jeez.
    PS Stop pushing the imply/infer barrow James. You know the difference, we get it!

  8. I note you failed to mention that one of the other two people killed by buses in the past 10 years was hit while riding a motorcycle that she wasn't experienced with, and had about 20kg of weed on her back that she was moving for a paraplegic ex-boyfriend who was about to be raided by the cops.

    Aurora RIP.

  9. You go and work in a newsroom and tell me if you could do any better on all these stories you put down. Easy for you to spend an hour sitting there and constructing your witty comments, but it's a shit of a job with huge pressure and very difficult.