Posted by JC on August 30th, 2010
I measured the front page of the NZ Herald this morning. Excluding the top and bottom margins, 25cm was taken up with advertising and glaring promos. Only 29cm was news content, and if you exclude the photos and headlines, there was precious little of that – a mere 47.5 column centimetres of copy.
The front page of the Herald has become a travesty of journalism. Today the headline screamed: KIWI UMPIRES CAUGHT UP IN CRICKET SCANDAL. The implication is clear: our umpires were in the thick of the match-fixing.
Squinting at the front page while I made the first cup of tea I wailed, “Oh no, not Billy Bowden!” I’ve always been a fan of the outrageous Bowden and the concept of him being involved in match-fixing damn near curdled the milk.
So it was both a relief and an anticlimax to discover that Bowden’s involvement in the “cricket scandal” amounted to umpiring the fourth test between England and Pakistan, and calling the staged no-balls for what they were.
The first paragraph of the story clarified that they were innocent of wrong-doing – “Cricket has been stung by one of its biggest bribery and corruption scandals – and New Zealand umpires Tony Hill and Billy Bowden are unwittingly caught up in it.”
There’s a helluva lot of difference between “caught up” in it and “unwittingly caught up” in it. The headline GRANDMOTHER THROWS KITTENS IN DRYER implies something far more sinister and newsworthy than GRANDMOTHER ACCIDENTALLY THROWS KITTENS IN DRYER (because they were hiding in the washing basket).
The front page of the Herald is now designed to sell papers on the street and in dairies. It’s one huge advertisement for itself, and the tabloid headlines are often deliberately misleading (I’ve written about this in an earlier post).
I don’t know who’s composing these headlines, but I do know that the chief sub and the editor should be jumping on them from a great height. It is blatant dishonesty and does a disservice to both its readers and to the good journalists who work for it. Some of them may start considering a career change if this carries on.
Not a headline, but I wondered why a pop-star was relevant to this story in the HoS (see first paragraph and accompanying picture) http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10669588
When one reflects on the implications of no balls and the previous photograph one begins to wonder whether your carnal desires may well become over stimulated.
The Herald will be thinking: “What an ingrate!” We grant “The Doctor” an appointment to see our “Fearsome” Dragon Lady, and he rewards us — vis-à-vis JC — with a bunch of sour grapes, dipped in vinegar. Even, more galling: he emerged totally unscathed. The fiery breath of Dragon Lady, didn’t even singe one solitary rogue eyebrow.
An example of bountiful quid pro quo, this wasn’t.
A slightly more worrying sight was Todd McClay on FB yesterday wondering how the hell The Herald managed to report his position on the split drinking age when… nobody from The Herald had actually talked to him, and what they wrote wasn’t actually true.
Coincidentally, on the same day I blogged on a similar subject: namely a Radio NZ story with the headline “Hijacked pilot gives up flying”. The headline’s implication was that the poor guy had only just hung up his pilot’s hat (perhaps from the stress of the trial/sentencing), but no – he ceased flying quite some time ago. RNZ was the only on-line source to beat this particular drum (everyone else was doing a sob story about the Somali hijacker’s “tragic” background!)
Where was the journo’s integrity, or indeed any respect for the pilot?
Mike Hosking is right: today’s Herald front-page mock-up picture is absolutely ridiculous. It’s revelatory, only in the sense as to “what on earth was the editor thinking?”