Brian Edwards Media

Archive for July, 2009

Why Paula Bennett Is Not Fit To Be A Minister


Last night’s Close Up and Campbell Live both debated Social Welfare Minister Paula Bennett’s decision to publish details of the benefits received by two women who have gone public with their criticisms of the government’s cuts to the Training Incentive Allowance.

There are two issues here: Was it appropriate for a Minister of the Crown to publish personal details relating to the benefits paid to clients of her department without first seeking  their permission or informing them of her intention? And did her action amount to a breach of the Privacy Act? Read the rest of this entry »


No News Really Is Good News



During our recent holiday in Rarotonga we saw no television, listened to no radio, and read no newspapers. We were extremely happy. When we got home again, we turned on the television at 6 o’clock each night to watch the network news and collected the Herald from the letterbox at 6.30 each morning to read in bed. (We’re not great radio listeners.) We were noticeably less happy. I came to the same conclusion that I come to after every news-free holiday overseas. Mass media news has an insidiously corrosive effect on happiness. Read the rest of this entry »


Bouquets & Brickbats (An Occasional Series)






To Paul Holmes for his documentary Real Life: Chasing the Ghost. Sad, moving, enlightening, courageous.

To Nigel Latta for the second episode in his series The Politically Incorrect Parenting Show. Highly entertaining and informative. Supernanny would be proud of him, though she’d have found his reference to ‘breast Nazis’ unasseptable!

To Rod Vaughan for his 60 Minutes item on the historical abuse of children in Social Welfare homes. Powerful and disturbing. But see the first item under Brickbats.

To Kevin Milne who has returned to Fair Go. Gordon Harcourt was an excellent stand-in, but the show just isn’t the same without you. Go well.






To One News and 3 News for constantly using their 6pm bulletins to promote upcoming items on Close Up, Sunday, Campbell Live, 60 Minutes and the like, when there is generally nothing newsworthy about the items at all. It’s journalistically unacceptable and dishonest. The news is the news, not a vehicle for in-house advertising.

To Comedy Central which continues to bombard viewers during its ‘commercial breaks’ with the same comedy clips again and again and again and again. In any one night’s viewing, you can see the same clip, along with the same cartoon integrations, literally dozens of times.  A comedy clip can stand no more than one or two airings, even if it is funny, and many or these aren’t. I was really looking forward to the arrival of Comedy Central and I enjoy most of the programmes, but I’m getting close to permanent switch-off now. And so, I suspect, are many of your viewers. It’s insulting. Sort it out please.

To Sky Television for successfully creating a two-tier public/private viewing system in New Zealand where only those who can afford to subscribe can see our national sports teams in live action. That, not to put too fine a point on it, is a disgrace.

Your Bouquets & Brickbats are welcome.


Disaster Accountancy in the Media

A young woman is in critical condition in Auckland City Hospital after being hit by a bus in Mount Wellington yesterday. This is a dreadful situation for the girl, her family and the driver of the bus. If the girl dies or is left disabled it will indeed be a tragedy, as this morning’s front page Herald story rightly suggests.

But the Herald has a sidebar to the story headed “SAD TOLL”. It reports that between May 2000 and February 2009 four people have died in bus accidents in Auckland. Four people in nine years. While each of those events will have been a tragedy for everyone involved, the sidebar and the use of the word “toll” seem to me to suggest a much blacker history of fatal accidents involving buses than the statistics would imply. Read the rest of this entry »


From Wullington to the Southern Elps.

alpsNew Zealand vowels are becoming more centralised.  Oh, really (yawn), who knew?  Actually, this less-than-riveting piece of information explains quite a lot about the way our accent has shifted.

The most noticeable change, and the one most often commented on, is that most Kiwis pronounce “i” (as in “it) as if it were “uh” (as in “the”).  So you get the infamous “fush and chups” that Seedneesiders find so hilarious.

In spoken English lightly pronounced, unaccented vowels revert to this neutral “uh” sound, the schwa. That is, with the exception of “i”. So while rugged will be pronounced as “ruggud”, rigid should be pronounced as “rijid”. Except here, where you’ll hear it rendered almost universally as “rijud” or even “rujud”. And it would seem that none of us is immune.  Listen to our newsreaders.  With the exception of those on National Radio, the “i” sound is as flat as a pancake. Read the rest of this entry »


I do not care for Nigel Latta


When the terms ‘PC’ or  ‘politically correct’ are used these days it invariably means that the speaker has no real argument to advance. Both terms convey little more than, ‘I’m against it’. So when I read that psychologist Nigel Latta was to front a programme called The Politically Incorrect Parenting Show, I assumed that Nigel would be climbing on the current populist bandwagon of opposition to the ‘nanny state’ and the oppressive ‘it’s not OK’ mentality which it allegedly represents. Nigel would be telling us that, whatever it was,  it was OK. And we’d all feel much better.

Turns out I had it pretty well right. What we learnt from the first episode was that it was OK to feel angry with your kids; it was OK to tell your irritating offspring to ‘go out and play'; it was OK to let children engage in risky activities; and aggression was not merely OK but a desirable quality for any kid wanting to get on in life.

I could just about hear the nation’s parents calling out, ‘Good on you, Nige!’ Read the rest of this entry »


Media Tip: Down-the-line interviews – avoid them.

telly-setWhen you’re in one city and your interviewer is in another you may be asked to do a “down-the-line” interview. Not many people handle these well, because they pose very special difficulties. Genuine eye contact is impossible, since you are looking at a camera and not at the person you’re talking to. Even if you can see the interviewer in the lens, it’s remote, strange and impersonal.

Because of the technical problems of “feedback”, you have to wear an ear-piece rather like a hearing aid.  Earpieces, alas, are not one-size-fits-all. Unless they’re custom-made for you they’re uncomfortable, and they have a habit of falling out mid-interview. Read the rest of this entry »


Are You Being Served?

u119725541My piece on the Portofino restaurant in Rarotonga produced a lot of comment from both locals and tourists. The general theme was that the pizzas were indeed dreadful, but most of those who approached Judy or me spoke highly of the rest of the menu.

The fact of the matter is that we’d have been less annoyed – and I would probably never have written the blog – if Nancy had accepted that maybe it wasn’t a great pizza, had apologised or made some attempt to put things right. But she did none of these.

So in the end our complaint wasn’t really about the food, it was about one aspect of the service.

For a year or so Judy and I were restaurant reviewers for the Waiheke Week. We ate at restaurants both on the island and in the city and our judgments appeared in this excellent but, I understand, now defunct publication. What follows is an updated version of our final review: Read the rest of this entry »

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A Pizza from Rarotonga

rds1034031Rarotonga is our second home. We first went there 25 years ago. This is our eleventh or twelfth visit. We’ve lost count.

We come to Raro for the warmth of the sun and of the colorful and eccentric group of friends we have made over that quarter century: the avuncular and somewhat Rumpolian Mike Mitchell, currently the Cook Island Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Immigration; the rambunctious and irreverent Jack Cooper, owner of Raro’s most iconic watering hole, Trader Jack’s; the charming and so very, very English Malcolm Horace Laxton-Blinkhorn, manager of the upmarket Central Motel; and Sue Carruthers and Robbie Brown who own the stunningly beautiful cordon bleu Tamarind Restaurant.

We also go to Raro for the food. Twenty-five years ago Sue, originally from Kenya, was married to Bill, Canadian story-teller par excellence. They were running the Portofino restaurant in Avarua. We had lunch there every day, sitting at a window table, eating divine pizza and quaffing a litre or two of what must have been second-pressing wine that left you sober as a Cook Island judge.

Twenty-five years on, the Portofino is still there, still serving pizza and still run by a Canadian couple, Nancy and Bruce. We thought we’d make a nostalgic return visit. Read the rest of this entry »