Monday, September 28, 2009

Open letter to Brian Edwards…

…if ever he should pass through my door here, where a virtual bottle of Old Dark and whatever he might like would be shared and enjoyed.

A couple weeks back Brian, you compared Granny Herald with The Australian; unfavourably and rather critically. I was a little upset at that comparison, I admit. Not because I disagreed, quite a ways from it!

It was a little mean-spirited though, to describe Herald as a tabloid rather than a broadsheet solely on the basis of the use of teasers on the masthead. It does make that front page appear more like one of my wife’s weekly magazines than it does a newspaper. Personally, I rather refer to ignore them.

I have had the great fortune (I think I can admit to that) to having spent the past four days in Wellington. One of the pleasures was getting close and personal for those few days with DomPost.

There are two points of difference which make the difference, at least during those four days.

First, and biggest, is the fact that DomPost still has a “World” section, as a separate section and containing (eyeball and wine-soaked measure) roughly twice the column space that Herald manages to squeeze between the Editorial and op-ed pages, advertisements and back page bearing in mind that is usually devoted entirely to photographs and a human interest interview.

Second, and for the past four days at least, was an almost total absence from the Dom’s pages ( only one mention as I recall) of Pammy Anderson.

I wish that I had kept a copy of the comments I made to Herald during the three years I was on their “survey panel”. I more or less gave that up as Herald seemed more intent on moving toward the things I was against, and abandoning the principles I felt should be their strengths.

What does make for even greater cringe in the probligo’s case is that the wider “news” media seems to be getting even worse. Given that our hotel’s idea of media access was controlled by an electronic system geared to selling personally selected movies (the movie selected will not be shown on your account) than easy access to old preferences including steam radio I have the strong impression that television news was full of fashion, fashion week, and Pammy Anderson in particular. A quick thought here to Geoff and Sean – I missed you guys a lot!

Where this has got me is a point I tried debating over the past few years. The “news” globally and not just in NZ (based upon the evidence of newspaper websites) is in a parlous state.

It is not a case of objective, analytical presentation of current events. That, as a principle of independent reportage, no longer exists. It is officially extinct.

Oh, you can find a few vestigial, though degenerate, evolutionary descendants provided that you are able to extract the few kernels of news from the surrounding sweet, pulpy, fleshy fruit of political patronage and loyalties.

The cause? Sadly, I think that reflects more upon the readership than the purveyors. Brian, let’s face it. We are dinosaurs from an age past.

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