Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Golden Garths

It's that time of year - the time of year when we cease doing any real work, and start reminiscing about the past twelve months. Depressing, isn't it.

On that note, I would like to introduce the First Annual Editing The Herald Awards for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Journalism, and I hereby call for nominations - nominations that may well result in nothing less than the awarding of cynical and pedantic media criticism's highest honour, the Golden Garth - in the following categories:
  • Worst Opinion Columnist: It's going to be difficult to budge the man himself from this award but, if anyone can do it, it's almost anyone else writing opinion columns for the New Zealand Herald.
  • Most Egregious Example of Advertising Masquerading as News: A Herald favourite, be it a press release dressed up as news, or just an unprompted gushing about a major advertiser.
  • Biggest Media Beat-up: Once the Herald has tasted blood, there's no limit to how many times they'll ring up Bos McCoskrie and find out what he thinks. Hone Harawira is a racist, AND didn't wear a motorcycle helmet? AND he went to Auckland Grammar?
  • Worst Article: The big one. It's the 'Best Picture' of the Golden Garths, and there's a lot to choose from.
This is where I need you. Send in your nominations, either by leaving comments or by email. If there's an important category you think I've missed, suggest it. Once the nominations are in, the EtH editorial board will convene, locked in a sealed chamber until the decisions have been made.

This is your chance to participate in real democracy, which I'm told doesn't really exist anymore now the Dancing with the Stars has been canned. We've fought wars for this, and a lot less. Don't forfeit your birthright - submit your nominations now.


  1. What about 'Favourite Front Page Sea Creature'?

    or if the judging panel is feeling particularly brave "Ultimate 'Your Views' topic" where we look for that perfect subject that manages to inspire more racism, homophobia and unfounded assumptions than any other.

  2. For worst column I rather fancy this John Roughan piece in which he explains that climate change isn't happening because if he was he'd be worried about it.

  3. I nominate Tracey Bennett for worst opinion columnist, but only because I hate Jews.

  4. Worst opinion columnist - a toss-up between the pointless Noelle McCarthy (be that her name? The one whose role at the Herald is explaine donly through the provision of "favours") and Tapu Misa (so wise, so sage, so full of dribble - is she New Zealand's "wise latina").

    Most Egregious Example of Advertising Masquerading as News - has to go the regular "house prices are soaring/real estate market rebounds" crap that essentially amounts to a copy and paste of a real estate agent's PR blurb, with a piece a day or two later explaining that expert analysis suggests the rebound isn't all it cracked up to be.

    Biggest Media Beat-up: Has to go to the Grammar Nazi-worshipers. Per Angusta, ad augusta indeed. Or something like that.

  5. How about a few in house awards for the many commenters who provide this blog's lifeblood. Categories could include 'best one liner', 'most tolerable regular', and 'most obvious troll'...

  6. Are we just picking on the Herald or can it be other newspapers? Only, it occurs to me that Michael Lhaws should be in the running for Worst Opinion Columnist. That same newspaper has also done a fair bit of advertising masquerading as news.

  7. Worst Columnist: Jim Hopkins. Garth does produce occasional pieces of goodness, and at least his stuff is readable. Jim is just mental

    Egregious Advertising: Alongside their advertisers, the gushing over National gets pretty sickening too

    Biggest Beat-Up: The "Seig Heil" Grammar kids. They are KIDS FFS

    Worst Article: I dunno, so many to choose from. David Bain, Melissa Lee, Nazi saluters, Advertiser adulation, Swine flu, or the Entertainment section taking over the whole paper: from sport to politics to business, it's all about gossip.

    BTW James what is going on in these comment boxes? There is some nasty javascript that prevents copy/paste or most editing. I have to use countermeasures in order to post links or write anything substantial.

  8. Certainly the worst article I saw in the Herald this year was this piece from Alice Neville, in which she reports that 1080 and brodificoum were detected in various biological samples from the Hauraki Gulf, without revealing that the testing device used was an Electroacupuncture machine, not anything actually suited to the purpose:

  9. Michael Laws I know he doesn;t write for the Herald but c'mon he's a class a twat.

  10. Perhaps, just for fun, we could celebrate the rare gems and give a "Best Editing" (or at least "best sense of humour") award to whoever changed "March for Democracy" to "Demanding the Right to Hit Kids" last month ;)

    As for the others, it's hard to pick, but I'd have to say:
    1. Garth
    2. Hard to pick.. probably something from
    3. Can I just pretend "Your Views" is one big long living article, and nominate that?
    4. Stupidest Picture/Front Page - "Shark!"

  11. Agree! worst columnist is Jim Hopkins. that sceptical piece on climate change was a shocker.

    worst media beat up - i think Morning Report leading with the CYFS/A Christmas Adagio story. May have had some interest but top story on Monday morning? hardly.

    The media and public hammering the police took in the missing toddler Aisling Symes case on Auckland's North Shore must also be up there. these things happen for fuck's sake! it was just a sad tragedy.

    Worst bit of PR masquerading as news - possibly the use of the Sensing Murder psychic Deb Webber on TV One's Breakfast programme and how she even influenced TVNZ's news agenda with reporter Amy Kelly asking the question: would the police follow said pyschic's lead. staggeringly stupid.

  12. "How about a few in house awards for the many commenters who provide this blog's lifeblood. Categories could include 'best one liner', 'most tolerable regular', and 'most obvious troll'..."

    For all three, I nominate Anonymous

  13. Worst opinion columnist: John Roughan, for writing incomprehensible and often contradictory nonsense week in week out.

    Closely followed by that Hopkins twit.

    Biggest media beat-up: the Grammar Nazis story, followed closely by the "all legal aid lawyers are dishonest thieving scum" theme that the Herald developed over the year.

  14. Does Sideswipe count as opinion? Or just as a place for people who completely, and consistently miss the fucking point, can get an airing?

    Either way, it's appalling.

  15. Worst Opinion Columnist: I try to avoid opinion based anything. I often fail in attempts to read an opinion piece in its entirety, I hate Jim Hopkins more than the other, I want to hit him in his crap lousy face

    Most Egregious Example of Advertising Masquerading as News:
    The Craft isnack reporting has to be the most obvious advertising that comes to mind

    Biggest Media Beat-up: Witi Ihimaera, he acknowledged his error, apologized, withdrew his book for the shops. followed very closely by the Nazi Kids, FFS I still laugh at the occasional Nazi salute and I'm a high ranking official in MFaT... lmao

    Worst Article: Too tough to call... but could this be a contender?

  16. worst story: man swims near killer whale.

    worst columnist: the guy who wrote about high-tech swimming gear.

  17. Also, I'd like a 'Most badly advised over-reaction by James'

  18. I wish there was a TV News eqivalent for this site, cos tonight TV3 did a live cross to a journalist in a library faffing about how attendance had been ip 10% in the last few months.. it was about a 10minute article.

    Back on topic, I vote Jim Hopkins and Noelle McCarthy tied for worst columist- with both I'm only able to stomach one paragraph before I realise im already completely lost and comepletely bored by their fluff pieces. At least Garth is entertaining

  19. That high-tech swimming gear one was a doozey. But does that count as an opinion piece or an article?

  20. I'd like to add a second vote for Sideswipe. It's mostly stuff stolen from the internet or whiney idiot letters from whiney idiot readers. FAAAAAAARR!

  21. And just hen you though Garthie was down and out...he shoots...HE SCORES!

    Today's Herald article claims that Christians have a sense of humour. He then goes on to demonstrate how false that statement is by being a curmudgeonly old fool. A piece of art!

  22. It would be a massive injustice if Garth didn't get worst columnist.

    The CYF Christmas story was a pretty good/bad beat up.

    And I totally second Anon with "Worst bit of PR masquerading as news" Deb Webber, the Aisling Symes case and TVNZ.

    My vote for best front page sea creature is the photoshopped guy with the shark.

  23. "And just when you though Garthie was down and out...he shoots...HE SCORES!

    "Today's Herald article claims that Christians have a sense of humour. He then goes on to demonstrate how false that statement is by being a curmudgeonly old fool. A piece of art!"

    Come on Rusty -- he only said that Christians don't like having their faith insulted. Regardless of how you feel about Christianity, that seems reasonable enough. He's not attacking anyone else in the process.

    I know that Garth -- as old, Christian, conservative, grumpy-looking -- is an easy target, but there are worse Herald columnists: Jim Hopkins and Noelle McCarthy are streets ahead. I'd nominate that McCarthy column in which she went on about the seductive effect of Jeff Buckley music as the worst thing ever printed in the entire history of newspapers.

  24. "Come on Rusty -- he only said that Christians don't like having their faith insulted. Regardless of how you feel about Christianity, that seems reasonable enough. He's not attacking anyone else in the process."

    True enough, but if they can laugh at themselves like he says, surely the bit about the virgin birth is fair game for lolz?

    Laughing about the torturing-god-to-death or the burning-people-4EVA is a bit tricksier after all.

    And he plays the "I notice you don't mock teh Islam like that - I bet your too scared they'll murder you" card. Which is fail on many levels, most visibly, 'Islam isn't the main religion about these parts', and 'Gosh, that sounds a little bit like you are a teensy bit jealous of Islam's fanatics'.

    But yeah Hopkins is unreadable.

  25. Of course you should be able to insult Christians. They think you are going to rot in Hell forever so why can't you have a giggle at the fact that they believe in an invisible sky god.

  26. Garth's column today is unbelievable.

    "No one seems to be concerned that the salacious slurs cast upon these revered historical figures..."

    He's talking about Mary and Joseph from the Christian bible.


  27. 1. Noelle - when she isn't cutting and pasting from UK newspaper editorial she enlightens us with rainy days growing up.
    2. Telecom and their townhall light show comes to mind - a glorious front page photograph pronouncing the launch of their XT network
    3. Anything involving name suppression
    4. Anything regarding the housing market (including but not limited to interest rates, DIY, and Bernard Hickey)

    Is there the equivalent of the Cecil B DeMille award up for grabs? For services to Editing The Herald. The inaugural recipient surely must be a toss up between Garth and Your Views. For providing easy fodder.

  28. 1. Jim Hopkins. At least you can understand what Garth has written.
    2. Real Estate puff pieces (weekly)
    3. CYF play uses a swear word
    4. Shark jumps out of water in South Africa

  29. the Anonymous award for best anonymous comment.

  30. Sorry to go against the grain like this but can we also nominate things the Herald has done well? Reporting by Bernard Orsman and Simon Collins. Commentary by Brian Rudman, John Armstrong and Tapu Misa. Reviewing by Peter Calder, Scott Kara and Russell Baillie. Feature writing by Greg Dixon, Alan Perrott and Michele Hewitson. And so on.

    Or is this just a negativity fest?

    Note: I'm not a Herald staffer.

  31. Taking a gander back through the Herald columns and features does indicate that Garth George is NOT the newspaper's worst columnist, since his work is always comprehensible and structured, while a weirdly large number of regular Herald columnists publish pure gibberish.

    What (for example) is is Deborah Hill-Cone trying to say? What is Jim Hopkin's point? What the fuck is Noelle McCarthy on about?

    I find George a bit offensive, but I'm even more offended by the fact that a plurality of the columns published by the Herald literally make no sense.

  32. 1.Whoever wrote the articles covering John Key in Samoa, Tonga and Raro
    2. Anything to do with Real Estate over-hype.
    3. The Crusher Collins standing in front of Boy Racer car article. Anyone would think she will be out there like Dirty Harry yelling 'Go ahead punk.....'
    4. The John in Tonga article. Read like a boys own adventure, even thoough there were lots of more interesting, substantitive issues raised during the visit

  33. Worst Sports Columnist: John Rattue. God he talks a load of shit.

  34. Seeing as this is EtH, I feel compelled to point out that a quick google search reveals that John Rattue is best known for his work with electronic keyboards in Wiltshire, UK, while Christ Rattue (no relation) is the Jim Hopkins of the Herald Sports Desk.

  35. Biggest beat up surely has to be ear-flick dad.

  36. ...although to get that prize I guess it would have to involve 217 stabbings.

  37. "real democracy"

    You wouldn't know democracy if it fell out of your arse. I demand a binding referendum on these issues.

  38. Christ Rattue? Wow, sports journalists are over rated :P

  39. for number 2, surely the lack of any serious reporting on the massive tax fraud committed by our major banks has to rate a mention... or maybe it deserves its own category, 'most egregious absence of reporting on an issue of public significance'?

  40. Meh. Chris Rattue, John Rattue, Rastapopoulos Rattue. I guess I've never bothered to learn his name, which just goes to show how little regard I have for the man.

  41. And nor should you- he is a fucking hack.

  42. Worst Columnist: agree with the Jim Hopkins call. Thanks to him, I think that anyone who wears red glasses is functionally incoherent. Admittedly he's the only person I know who wears red glasses. Though Claire Trevett's attempts at humour are pretty dire.

    Biggest beat-up: The insinuations that an ASIAN woman might have been responsible for that girl who fell down a drain. In case no-one got it, and despite the fact it was an accident, there was an ASIAN woman somewhere in the neighbourhood. Watch out for all those ASIAN people around. They might be talking to YOUR kids.

    Worst YVs: the Eskimo lollies issue. I still shudder when I think about the YVs.

    Worst article: Phil Jackson's demand to hit children piece. Oh dear God.

  43. 1. The Editorials for being consistently pompous and self-righeous

    2. Reporting banks' charitable work

    3. Name suppression

    4. "Auckland will be one huge city with a super-mayor":

    The basis for this 'exclusive' story was that the Herald 'expected' the Royal Commission to recommend a super city... Flimsy pretext, big dramatic headline, the Herald in a nutshell.

  44. Worst columnist - Rebecca Barry.

    I think James nailed it when he described her column as essentially That's Life in newsprint. While Garth George and Jim Hopkins may be ignorant, uninformed, plagiarised (in Garth's case), and otherwise just plain wrong, I can at least acknowledge their attempts to comment on current affairs.

    Barry's interests, however, appear to extend no further than herself.

    I believe the real test of an opinion writer is whether I could see myself having an actual conversation with him or her. From this perspective, Garth is clearly superior in my mind.

  45. As we've mentioned Hopkins' awful glasses, we should also celebrate Deborah Hill-Cone's Harry Potter-style efforts. First time I saw a picture of her in the Herald I honestly thought someone had drawn them on the paper in thick marker pen.

  46. Another vote for Hopkins. He's still banging on about the climate and how it isn't really changing at all in todays column (at least, I assume from the column headline that he is: I didn't bother reading it).

    Did you guys ever get Timmy Mallet over here? He was a ker-ay-zee!!! children's entertainer on TV in the UK. Looked a lot like Hopkins (a cock, in other words).

    Rusty: Hill-Cone has changed her pic. She now looks like the 'after' shot in those ads for 'your glamour body shots in time for Christmas!' ads that pop up in the back of Canvas at this time of year.

  47. I agree with the anon above that where credit is due it should be given, I think Brian Rudman is a pretty solid contributer, I don't mind Michelle Hewitson.. although she seems to spend most of her full back-page articles talking about her inner dialogue rather than the person she's interviewing

  48. I'm glad you have a faux news (PR/advertising) category.

    This isn't just a Herald favourite, but a problem in the news media in general. In the US it is estimated that up to 40% of TV news is corporate generated fake programming.

    Examples can be found here:

    This is definitely an issue that should be brought to the attention of New Zealanders, and full disclosure of such activity in our media demanded.

    Gonna happen? I doubt it. But we can dream...

  49. Perhaps the headline writers can teach the subs a few things. This is not bad " Orchestral man hoovers in the dark" . Correct spelling as well as creative.

  50. Uh, Dave, the subs write the headlines. So they can teach themselves.

  51. Sorry if I'm a bit late, been actually working. Anyway..

    1. I don't think I would have picked Jim Hopkins if you'd asked me a couple of weeks ago, but thinking about it it's definitely him, if only for managing to take all the humour out of wordplay. I've never managed to finish reading one of his articles, and I've never managed to *start* reading any of his poems. The latest "climategate" idiocy is merely icing on the cake.

    2. Real estate stories win for pervasiveness but overall I think it has to be the John Key and the National Party. And I say that as a Nats supporter :-)

    3. Anything to do with name suppression, especially when it's a minor offence and a celebrity. Communications technology means it's always an open secret - everyone knows, but they can keep their career. The system works perfectly and the only reason the media is opposed to it is because their readers want to drool over fresh tall poppy meat.

    4. Too big to call without having a long trawl through the EtH archives.. which I'm not planning on doing on Friday night :-)

  52. How about a 'Something completely irrelevant is happening overseas to someone or something with a really tenuous connection to New Zealand so we thought we'd run a story on it to fill some space and salve our cultural cringe' category?

  53. Another campaign that bothers me in retrospect was the Herald's unbalanced coverage of the Electoral Finance Act. Now that National is keeping it essentially intact, where is the outrage and "death of democracy" scaremongering?

  54. I'd like to nominate a late-entry for the 'Your Views' category.

    This weeks topic "Should the Tino Rangatiratanga flag be used on Waitangi Day?" gives us all a delightful demonstration that racism is alive and well in NZ. Well done!

    I'm almost certain Garth will be writing about this on Thursday.

  55. I hope so. I do look forward to his 'keen insights'.

  56. And Garthie does it again with a touching Xmas Eve (sorry, Day-After-End-of-Saturnalia) column, rambling on about something or other to do with god.

    Actually it's funny, because every time I see his grizzed mug in the pages of the Herald, I also think "Oh god not again". Perhaps I can still be saved!

    My New Year's resolution is to never, ever read another of his articles. Ever.

  57. Why concentrate on the big boys with the big reps? True mediocrity is found amongst the sardines. Witness Peter Lyons; the man's a complete arse. Sample here: