Monday, March 2, 2009

Monday, March 2, 2009: 1000 "Your Views"

1000 Views: Wow - it seems like it was only yesterday that Editing the Herald got its 1000th view. In fact, it was Saturday morning, and you'll be pleased to know that I celebrated with a fine glass of Tetra-Pak shiraz. Anyway, enough self-congratulatory gloating; I thought this might be a good time to hail the efforts of some of the people who work behind the scenes to let the news-rage flow.
  • 'Dr' Peter 'Webmeister' Meintjes, whose enthusiasm for marketing my blog, fuelled by his lack of employment, has led him to create a Facebook fan page, among other endeavours. That's right - I'm not sad enough to go and make a fan page about myself. But I am sad enough to recommend you go to Facebook and join 'Editing the Herald'. Just 100 more members, and we'll have more fans than the Herald itself.
  • Owen 'Googlord' Jago, also unemployed, who has set up Google advertising that has brought as many as 2 visitors to the site, and whose constant refreshing of during the day keeps me up to date with the latest viewer trends and demographics, and lets me concentrate on the news.
  • Stu 'Killzone' Preece, who is unrelenting in correcting my spelling and grammatical errors, even if they are actually already correct half the time.
But it's not just people I already knew who have contributed to the largest news-rage community on the planet. Last week I received my first and, so far, only piece of fan mail. Just as importantly, I also received my first formal communication from the New Zealand Herald itself - a Herald journalist whom we shall refer to only as 'A.P.'. Unfortunately, it did not contain the job offer that I had been craving, but rather a curious, stream-of-consciousness tale that, I must confess, remains rather opaque:

but but...what about us matey? we suck too.

...on second thoughts, that would kind of depend on what you're offering. we may be hoes, but we ain't cheap hoes.

still, and on third thoughts, a certain Oscar Wilde quote does come to mind.

Any thoughts? Please offer your interpretations and tea-leaf readings in the comments below. I assume the Oscar Wilde quote he (or she!) refers to how the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. Perhaps the buzz around the Herald offices is that Editing the Herald is actually increasing readership to the Herald as my 1000s of viewers flock to "Your Views" daily. In this case, I believe the Herald has an ethical obligation to compensate me.

Too serious, or not serious enough?: It may surprise you that it's not only the Herald that gets me angry. In fact, watching the television news puts me at far greater a risk of cardiac arrest - it's just considerably less practical to blog about. The leading item on TV3 news last night concerned an armed robbery of a dairy on Sandringham Rd in Auckland; this story apparently justified not only the opening slot, but also a piece about five minutes long, a reporter live on the scene - hours after there was anything to be seen - and a lovingly exploitative 'interview' with the noticeably upset owners. Did I mention that no one was physically harmed in this robbery? The 'youths' responsible escaped with $400 in cash, icecream and chocolate. Perhaps if this was the most exciting story to come out of New Zealand yesterday we should all, in a sense, be thankful. I would, however, posit that 3 News took this story a wee bit seriously.

As you are no doubt aware, this is Editing the Herald, not Editing the News in General. So the reason I bring this story up is that it also appears in the Herald, albeit with a slightly different emphasis. The story is not the lead, being forced from the front page by an unholy alliance of schools calling the cops, women getting dressed up, men falling off horses, and breaches of human rights legislation. And what has the Herald dubbed these three young men who pointed pistols at an innocent woman and stole several hundred dollars worth of cash and goods?: the "icecream bandits". "The masked youths [!] who robbed a Sandringham dairy at gunpoint for icecreams were captured by the store's security cameras..." Yeah, but they were mainly there to steal the money, right? Or is the main problem here that they didn't pay for the ice cream?

Many issues in the news are very complex; thank goodness we have professional journalists to light the path.

Why pay for advertising...: ...when you can just get Herald reporter David Eames to write an article about whatever you're selling? On page A3, no less, lucky Herald subscribers get to read the heart-warming story of a "four-bedroom, 415 sq m property at 14a Gibbons Rd, Takapuna." You'll laugh, you'll cry as you read about its "three-car garaging and three bathrooms, plus a powder room - whatever that is." I don't know, David - why didn't you just ask "Jim Mays of Precision Real Estate" while you were talking about him? Mr Eames has gone to great lengths to 'sex up' the story - we are told of how each of the properties on the larger section "boast separate titles - no cross lease or body corporate fee" - incredibly, "Number 14a was under conditional agreement - subject to the sale of a Waiheke Island property - for months, before [in an unbelievable twist] coming back on the market."

Anyway. If you are going to whore out your paper, not to mention your own journalistic credentials, to property developers and real estate agents, at least make it interesting. That story got me so mad that all I could do was pop open a delicious, refreshing Carter beer - the premium New Zealand lager that doesn't compromise on taste. According to Ken Moynihan, of Compac Sorting Solutions, Carter is available from all good supermarkets for the very reasonable price of $8.49 a dozen. Now, where was I...

Much wind about wind tree: In terms of style and culture, the 1970s were the terrible hangover that followed the binge of the 1960s. People often lazily refer to the 1980s as the nadir of aesthetics, but I suspect this gives the 1970s too much credit. One particular piece of 70s art that I remember while growing up in the 80s was the 'Wind Tree' sculpture that had pride of place in what used to be QEII Square in downtown Auckland. For those non-Aucklanders in the news-rage community, I remember it looking like a giant rack with clothes hangers dangling from it. (Disclaimer: Memories may not be accurate.) What I certainly don't remember thinking is this: 'This is an amazing piece of art, and if the council ever moves it into storage I shall be very upset.' The 'sculpture' itself was raised about a pool, which I recall suffering much the same fate as most urban pools: a noticeable green tinge; various pieces of rubbish floating invitingly; homeless people bathing. Anyway, when the redevelopment of the Britomart transport complex took shape, the Wind Tree was removed, put into storage and promptly, it seems, forgotten about - except by Herald columnist Brian Rudman.

There are much worse columnists in the Herald than Rudman - Garth George, for instance - and he has an excellent record of calling out Auckland's mayor-dog millionaire John Banks whenever the latter plans on sterilising the homeless or building separate footpaths for the rich. However, his recent Wind Tree obsession strikes me as slightly odd. No less than three columns have been about the sculpture, featuring interviews with the same council bureaucrats who surely have no idea what the fuss is all about. Is there nothing more pressing happening in the city, Brian? I suspect that this is all an 'X-Files'-style plan to lead Rudman down the garden path, while Banks instead authorises a 24-carat gold statue of himself, modelled on the Colossus of Rhodes, to stand in the Waitemata Harbour.


  1. Heh. Eames will be thrilled that you have managed to read through his entire Sunday output. I imagine that makes you unique. On a side note, I take it that tetra-pak shiraz is the drinkable Okibwa, available at all good supermarkets for $7.99 a litre?

  2. You're right, sir, with the following two exceptions:

    1) It's spelled 'Obikwa'.
    2) It's *very* drinkable.

  3. Can one be certain anymore that there'll be price consistency of Carter's at the busiest Carter-retailing outlets?

    Your views has more...

  4. The internet can help us out with your 'memory accuracy issue.

  5. Ah James, you've caught me out. I am a keen fan of the Obikwa (that's easy for you to say) brand and am even more enamoured with the $5.99/750ml pinotage than the shiraz. However, quantity wins every time and I've been wallowing in the stuff recently. Next stop a park bench and a brown paper bag full of Old Masters' Rich Cream, I suspect.

  6. I think Rudman should concentrate his energies on finding out where the Danish Delight cart took refuge.

    PS That AP is a busy fellow

  7. For once, Tea Coesy (it will catch on), our aesthetic tastes are aligned. As you well know, whereas you gushed for Clark, I throbbed for Shipley. Where you skipped to Matchbox 20, I crunked to 3 The Hard Way. That wind sculpture is/was a pile o' poo. I dunno why Rudman spends so much time on it - he's normally pretty interesting.

    Other than that, I disagree with everything you stand for/belive in/look and smell like.

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  9. Given that I didn't receive a thanks I can only assume that you'd prefer that I stop linking to you?

    I mean, I'm not angry or anything, I just feel... used, somehow. Just another heartbroken fool clutching to unkept promises...

  10. "forced from the front page by an unholy alliance of schools calling the cops"

    Yeah what was that story about? Would it have killed them to calculate whether "40 times a week" among all schools in the country is more or less cop-calling than the population at large?

  11. "I assume the Oscar Wilde quote he (or she!) refers to how the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."

    Or is it "The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read."?

    Jeez, second time I've posted that bloody quote on the internet today.