Friday, November 6, 2009

Not a story

I've written about some pretty heavy stuff this week - crime reporting, politics, journalism and advertising - and it's left me physically and emotionally drained. In between the massive lapses in journalistic and editorial ethics, of course, there has been the usual small-time bollocks that I just haven't had time to deal with. As such, I hereby introduce a new regular* feature at EtH - "Not a story". I think the title speaks for itself.

*Probably not, really.


"Hide's trip included LA theme park and wedding" (Page A2, Friday 6 November)

Act leader Rodney Hide took his girlfriend, Louise Crome, to an amusement park in Los Angeles during their taxpayer-funded trip that was also timed to coincide with her brother's wedding near London.

The Herald has learned Mr Hide squeezed in a visit to Universal Studios after an official meeting with a top Los Angeles City Council official.

Mr Hide's spokeswoman confirmed that the couple had some time before their flights home to New Zealand and thought, "We've got a couple of hours downtime, let's have some fun".

Here's a classic example of an interesting story turned boring by over-reporting. When news came out that Rodney 'Perkbuster' Hide had used taxpayer money to take his girlfriend on a luxury trip around the world in a time of recession and unemployment, people were rightly outraged. Here was a legitimately newsworthy political story - a waste of taxpayer money with the added frisson of hypocrisy.

And now it's dead; it's been pummelled, trampled into the ground by this humourless report. They took a weekend off - as I suspect many of us did - to go to his girlfriend's brother's wedding? They decided to do something with their pre-flight downtime instead of sitting around self-flagellating? I await with bated breath the next report - "Hide in meal scandal" - where it is exclusively revealed that Rodney Hide went to a restaurant for dinner and didn't eat a bowl of steamed rice in his hotel room like Patrick Gower would have done.

Not a story.


"Staff gaffe costs dog's life" (Page A3, Friday 6 November)

A staff error at an animal pound has led to a pet dog being killed before its owner could collect it.

Kaos, a shar pei-cross belonging to Michelle Griffiths of Manurewa, was impounded on September 17 and killed eight days later.

"I got a little handwritten card - they said they would hold her until the 26th," Ms Griffiths said.

"I went to the pound to pick my baby up and they said, 'She was killed yesterday. Sorry, we got the kill date wrong'."

Let me just say, first off, that I love dogs. I think they're great. Let me now qualify that with this: if I want to read articles about dogs, I will pick up a copy of Canine Monthly or Dog Fancier. Short of a dog being elected super-city mayor, I don't want to read stories about individual dogs in the news section of the Herald. Ta.

Secondly, there's something fishy about this 'story', a 'story' an actual 'reporter' spent time 'researching'.

Mr Gillingwater said Kaos was originally impounded because of welfare issues, but Ms Griffiths believes the situation could easily have been avoided.

She said although Kaos was seized on grounds of abandonment, she had simply been at work and thought her pet was safe at home.

Right. So on September 17 your dog was picked up by the pound when you were 'at work'. It then took you eight days to go to the pound and pick up your 'baby'? Were you at work the whole time? Oh, I know how it is - I always leave things to the last minute. Last day to pay the power bill, last day to get my warrant of fitness, last day to pick my puppy up from the pound before it gets euthanised... Yeah. Moving on.

Not a story.


"If music be the food of love... let's eat" (Page A11 ("Opinion"), Friday 6 November)

Dear Noelle,

I thoroughly enjoy listening to you on Radio New Zealand National when I get the chance. However, I stumbled on your blog on the Herald website, which was a pleasant surprise.

I was intrigued by your comment about Jeff Buckley. I'm wondering perhaps if that is where I am going wrong with my relationships. Is Jeff Buckley like some sort of relationship repellent? On second thoughts, I doubt Jeff is of any concern to my relationships - it doesn't seem to get to the "let's get to know each other's music taste" stage. Nonetheless, I'd love to hear your opinion.

Cheers, Alexander

Dearest Alexander,

God, Jeff Buckley. Where to begin? We can begin with me at 19. Predictably naive, with a penchant for knee-high boots and short skirts, Rimmel Black Cherry lipstick and good-looking boys in flannel shirts. So far, so textbook. [...]

I'm sorry, what? Other articles on the Opinion page: Gwynne Dyer on the geopolitical importance of the elections in Afghanistan; and Professor Andrew Bradstock on the importance of relative social equality for making a better society.

Not a story an opinion.


  1. My favourite recent Not-a-story:

    TVNZ winding down English 'propaganda' ad

    "... TVNZ said in an email to the MPs that the ad was scheduled to play a few more times but was then being phased out. The second ad would provide detail about debates and programmes in the series.

    TVNZ spokeswoman Megan Richards said that was always the plan.

    "We made two ads for marketing the programme... the intention was to run the English one for roughly half of it and to phase in the second one. As one rotates down the other rotates up - that's in terms of advertising slots for schedules.

    "There's no change."

    The English ad would run down over the weekend or early next week.

    "We haven't pulled it off air." "

  2. Off topic, but in this article:

    Does it not seem a bit ridiculous that they didn't quote the Listener article that Geoff Walker told them to that we could find out what his 'stated position' is?

  3. Deborah Hill Cone is one of the worst perpetrators of 'This is not an opinion' crime...she even admits it:

  4. If she's leaving her dog at the pound for eight days she obviously doesn't give a shit about it.

  5. And they pay her for those 'opinions'. Last week, she had a go at Jane Moir, a women 90 per cent of New Zealand has probably never heard of, about Stephen Gately, a man 90 per cent of New Zealand has probably no interest in.

  6. Just to pipe up about something unrelated, being an ex-pat I'm only just hearing about this ACC privatisation drive.

    Scary stuff. National shame.
    Christ on a bike this is dumb.

  7. "Short of a dog being elected super-city mayor, I don't want to read stories about individual dogs in the news section of the Herald. Ta. "

    hmmmm. that kind of comment worries me.

    you dont mention opposing the media hype generated when an 'individual' dog acts in an aggressive way towards humans...

    I feel that regardless of the specific circumstances relating to this persons timekeeping....
    abuse / and or unethical destruction of an animal IS news to me.

  8. @ The,

    Firstly National are not looking at privatising ACC, they are looking at opening part of the market to competition. Secondly it is a very long bow to draw to suggest that National's 1998 policy has anything to do with the funding gap at ACC (it only effects who picks up the tab). It has a bit more to do with ACC's poor investment performance.

  9. don't listen to that ^^ bollocks. National want to privatise the provision of the ACC.

    James, your blog has been invaded by lying neo-liberal capitalist scum.

  10. hmmm yes investments performing poorly during a global recession who would have thought