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Friday, May 27, 2005

Media Musings 

The New Zealand Herald can barely contain its glee reporting on its rival's- the Sunday Star-Times - battle with Helen Clark:

Fairfax "broke the code" by outing Helen Clark as a source of untrue claims to cover its corporate butt in a defamation case launched against the Sunday Star-Times (SST) by former police commissioner Peter Doone. Fairfax is off the hook while Doone turns his sights on the PM. The company's journalists are confused. Those shocked by the outing point out that the Watergate scandal would never have been exposed if Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee had revealed Deep Throat's identity.

Interesting the Herald couldn't point to a great investigative story of its own ain't it?

A quick search of its archives suggest neither could the Herald suppress its competitve delight when a recent inquiry found a Sunday Star-Times story, suggesting the Maori Party was being bugged by the SIS, was incorrect and the paper had been led astray.

What gets on my wick here is that the Herald does not even attempt investigative journalism - it occassionally has good news features but never throws awe-inspiring ball-grabbing journalistic punches.

Sure, its easy to mouth-off from the sidelines but at least one paper here is attempting to look between the lines and behind the scenes and bring Kiwis news that hasn't originated from a fucking press release.

The Herald's constant "they made such bad mistakes, we would never have done that" attitdue is really starting to grate.

I'm surprised by the shear number of its attacks considering the Sunday Star-Times left well-enough alone after the Herald's Renee Kiriona dissapeared off the face of the earth - something the pubic may have found considerably interesting.

Hey but I'm all for criticising when criticisms due - and two editions ago in the NBR Deborah Hill Cone simply slaughtered the SST for its refusal to comment on the above stories and others.

Journalism exists solely because people allow news organisations to repeat their words/arguments/thoughts, argued Hill Cone, as she slammed the paper's editor Cate Brett for double standards - what the SST demands of others they are not willing to do themselves she says.

Good call.

My other issue with the media currently is the simply weird law surrounding the reporting of suicides.

Normally if the police find a suicide victim (I guess you're not really a victim if its self-inflicted ey) you'll read in the paper or hear on TV that "the circumstances were not suspicious, there was no foul play, or, police are not looking for anybody else in relation to the death".
The body was found by the cadaver search dog in bush about 450m from where Mr Goodwin had last been seen, Mr Jeurissen said, and needed to be identified. There was no suspicion of foul play.

New Zealand has a ban on reporting a suicide as a suicide out of fear that kids will hear how someone topped themselves and say hey that looked like a neat trick - I might try that myself.
Mr. Anderton believes the World Health Organisation (WHO) has provided clear leadership on the need for media guidelines for suicide reporting. In the WHO resource in 2000, the organisation states:"Reporting of suicide in an appropriate, accurate and potentially helpful manner by enlightened media can prevent tragic loss of lives by suicide. Overall, there is enough evidence to suggest that some forms of non-fictional newspaper and television coverage of suicide are associated with a statistically significant excess of suicide; the impact appears to be strongest among young people." Jim Anderton also noted that the review’s findings highlight that development of protocols in consultation with the media could be incorporated into codes of practice.

I ain't no expert but this argument that youngsters could be so easily influenced by a newspaper report that they'd kill themselves looks a little dubious.

Surely bullying at school would be a factor say, a million times more relevant?

What's more interesting though is that New Zealand's blanket ban on suicide reporting goes out the window if someone overseas tops themselves.

Writer Hunter S Thompson Commits Suicide the NZ Herald told its readers.

I guess we'd better just hope New Zealand's yoof don't read the world section huh?

And another thing, good on Prime switching Holmes to 6pm, the Prime 5.30 news is bloody excellent especially if like me you've spent all day following news and just want a quick half-hour breakdown on tele - and not wait 40 minutes for the Sports News.

And now they're getting rid of the two crap programmes they had between the news and Holmes.

While the change still won't have me watching the dick, I'm sure a lot of viewers will stay on.
To think of a prominent suicide that had some effect on lots of youth ... imagine if the US media had just reported that Kurt Cobain "died in non-suspicious circumstances and police are not investigating". That would have stirred some shit up.

I remember reading somewhere a while back that there were very few if any copy-cats among Cobain's fans and followers precisely because the full grisly-ness of his suicide was reported. (He didn't exactly go out in style).

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