Brian Edwards Media

Shock! Horror! Front page Herald investigation reveals Mark Hotchin is wealthy man!!!!!

Herald/Brett Phibbs

The Herald devotes most of today’s front page to a story headlined ‘LUXURY HIDEAWAY – Mark Hotchin hot and bothered as Herald calls in’. There’s a large photo of Hotchin looking ‘hot and bothered’, a photo of the ‘luxury hideaway… overlooking the golden sands of Mermaid Beach’ on the Gold Coast and a sidebar reminding readers (How could they have forgotten?)  of other properties owned by Hotchin, including ‘the $30 million extravagant Paritai Dr home in Auckland’.

From this story you will learn that Mark Hotchin is a very rich man with lots of expensive real estate in nice places, whose assets have been frozen but who has been granted a $1,000 a week living allowance.

In other words, from this story you will learn absolutely zip, except perhaps that nothing delights journalists so much as the opportunity to climb on a bandwagon, even if that involves flogging the dead horse pulling it. (Sorry!)

But I did like the use of the term ‘calls in’ in the headline and, later in the story: ‘He’s unhappy that the Herald came calling on his multi-million-dollar Gold Coast property during the weekend.’ I had no idea that Hotchin and the Herald or its reporter Andrew Koubaridis were on such friendly terms that they could just ‘call in’ or ‘come calling’ on their old buddy Mark.  But it does make his angry reception of them all the more bewildering.

As with Tristram Clayton’s airport ambush of Hotchin on Campbell Live, the only sensible words spoken in the Herald story came from Hotchin himself: ‘Leave it to the courts, they’ll sort it out.’ 

What this story is really all about is stoking the public envy and hatred of Hotchin, the sort of target tabloid journalists like best – an easy target. I don’t have much time for Hotchin myself, as my post Reflections on not caring in Hawaii will attest. But to return to this well, you have to have something new to tell or new to say. This story has neither, unless you consider stalking Hotchin and his family for an entire weekend in order to produce the following voyeuristic titbits as news :

‘He spent much of the weekend indoors but walked to the nearby dairy with his children and stopped to watch a surf-lifesaving contest on the beach metres from the back lawn.

‘While Mr Hotchin was invisible for much of the weekend, others were busy at work on the home. A teenage boy cleaned the rooftop pool while a woman cleaned the windows and swept.

‘Mr Hotchin’s wife Amanda was more visible, sitting with the children at the top of the beach watching the surf lifesaving carnival and looking on while they played backyard cricket in the muggy heat.’

Just a pity they didn’t get a picture of wife Amanda topless for Page 3. Deputy Editor, Shayne Currie, former editor of the abysmal Herald on Sunday, whose mission is to turn the Herald into a Kiwi version of The Sun must have got ‘hot and bothered’ over that.

Still, to be fair, the paper did have some real news, touted on its quarter-page ‘inside today’ banner at the top of the front page:

‘ANGRY HURLEY DUMPS WARNE – His sordid new texts to married woman A3’

And: ‘CHILD TORTURE CASE – What mother told authorities A3’

Hurley had apparently dumped Warne, though since both of them seem to live out their lives on Twitter, it’s questionable whether anything that is reported about them can be entirely ‘new’.

The story of the horrifying and protracted torture of a 9-year-old West Auckland girl by her parents is undoubtedly of public interest and there can be little doubt that its telling is in the public interest. My concern with this sort of story is that the constant repetition of the detail of what was done may represent an unhealthy appeal to the salacious interests of readers. The Herald ran the story on Saturday; it was updated in the Herald on Sunday; and again in today’s paper. All three stories included descriptions of what had been done to the child.

Television is as guilty of this sort of excess as the press. A recent otherwise legitimate item on child abuse in New Zealand was sensationalised by the insertion of a stock film reconstruction of a man thrashing an unseen child with a belt.

And a footnote. Because I couldn’t remember where I’d seen the item with the film reconstruction, I went hunting through TVNZ’s and TV3’S ‘on demand’ websites. Was it Close Up, Campbell Live or one of the news bulletins? After 20 minutes of not finding what I was looking for, I gave it away. But my time was not entirely lost. I discovered something new: You’ve always had to sit though a commercial to view ‘on demand’ items from either TVNZ or TV3. But now TVNZ offers you a choice of one of three ads to watch. Waiting for Mark Sainsbury to tell me that he was Mark Sainssbury and this was Close up, I could choose between Telecom Double Xmas Value, Smart Way to House Hunt and Right Olay for You. I chose Right Olay for You. Just got to look after your skin at my age. Thanks TVNZ.

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15 Comments:

  1. Don’t you just hate it when the Press start hounding some snurge or other, you start wondering if maybe there’s something good to be said for the snurge? Just about every time there’s a serious crime that someone gets pinged for by the Press I start hoping like hell that the pingee is innocent, proved beyond even the doubt of the Press, just so the Press can eat a hearty meal of crow.

    But maybe the Press is trying to keep the pot boiling on this one, there being a considerable lapse of time between charges being laid and the court convening to hear the case. Having made a meal of it, it would be a shame to let it grow cold.

    That is understandable, but I agree there is small virtue in besieging the dude and his family in their home in some vague hope of a story emerging. A practical instance, methinks, that justice deferred is justice denied.

    The thousand dollar a week living expenses, eh? Now ain’t that interesting. There are a hell of a lot of households in this country who can whistle, for what good it may do, for a $1000-dollar-a-week income, even before tax… Not quite sure what this means, really, but I feel it ought to mean something…

    Cheers,
    Ion

  2. At the risk of sounding parochial, I want to put in a plug for the Otago Daily Times.
    When I first moved to Dunedin 20 years ago, I was frustrated with the ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ world section, and the ‘cat rescued from tree’ front page photos. Now I positively glow when I read the paper. Not because it’s improved out of sight, but because it’s held the line. On today’s front page you’ll find something on WikiLeaks, an industrial development story, something on local house prices, and a quirky photo of a Christmas prank played on recognisable Dunedin sculpture.
    When I read other New Zealand newspapers the increasing sensationalism, the syndicated stories and the increasingly tabloid ‘feel’ wind me up. But the ODT seems to take its independence seriously, and my sense is that its readers appreciate it.
    As an aspiring politician, I don’t expect to agree with, or like, everything the paper prints. But in terms of journalism standards, I reckon the ODT punches above its weight.

    • At the risk of sounding parochial, I want to put in a plug for the Otago Daily Times.

      Thanks for that. I recently spent a few days in Christchurch and was impressed in a similar way by the Christchurch Press. Christchurch was the first place I lived in New Zealand and I remember The Press as having been a quality paper then. Perhaps nothing has changed. Trouble is I’m reading papers outside Auckland on Stuff, so the Dom Post, The Press and the ODT tend to get neglected. Your comment has reminded me to try harder. In the meantime it would be good to hear from people outside Auckland just what they think of their local paper.

    • At the risk of sounding parochial, I want to put in a plug for the Otago Daily Times.

      The salient difference with the ODT is that it is one of only two independent dailies in the country. All the others are owned by the conglomerates.

      And you are right – there is an integrity in this newspaper that has now become rare.

      It would be a mistake, however, to lay this at the feet of journalists, many of whom lament the passing of dispassionate news as much as those of us who remember it with longing.

      In the end, alas, tabloid news will win, because that’s where the advertising dollar beckons.

  3. Mark Hotchin could have avoided all this attention if he’d had the nous to live a little more humbly.

    He hasn’t realised that his living ostentatiously rubs Hanover’s failure in the faces of people who entrusted their money to him.

    It simply looks bad.

    He can look to the law and say he’s done nothing wrong. And that might be so. It doesn’t matter.

    People see the contradictions between investors now impoverished and him and his wife carrying on life regardless. So of course the media are going to go for him.

    And I know there are some who call investors in finance companies greedy and say they should have left it in banks.

    My question is: what’s so sacrosanct about banks?

    Investors were still entitled to have their money treated with care and respect.

  4. Given that the Hanover Finance lost hundreds of millions of dollars of investors money a high degree of public interest in Mark Hotchin’s lifestyle is inevitable.

    If a bankrobber stole this amount and was living it up in the same way would you still object to this type of scrutiny?

    • Given that the Hanover Finance lost hundreds of millions of dollars of investors money a high degree of public interest in Mark Hotchin’s lifestyle is inevitable. If a bankrobber stole this amount and was living it up in the same way would you still object to this type of scrutiny?

      I don’t object to the scrutiny. I object to a newspaper devoting two thirds of its front page to a story containing absolutely no new information and whose sole purpose, as I said in the post, is to further stoke the public envy and hatred of a very rich man.

  5. I dont know if the hatred of Hotchin and his ilk could be any further stoked.I think they’re just maintaining the boil.As for the heralds article I thought an article about how a few of Hotchins victims were spending Xmas would be more appropriate.In saying that I like the tetchy picture of Hotchin

  6. Im in Palmerston North. I loved the Otago Daily Times when I was living in Dunedin. It was a really good paper that I looked forward to reading each day. I still visit their website to keep abreast of what is happening down there at Ashburn Clinic. My worry is that Ashburn will close, and I think there is a need for it to remain open.

    The Manawatu Standard is my local paper. Its a pretty thin paper these days. Its okay but not as good as it used to be. On the days the Property Press comes out with it, the Property Press is about 3 times bigger than the actual paper. I realise as I am writiing this that I think the Manawatu Standard has a lot of room for improvement!

    Regarding Hotchins – I enjoyed that he was feeling a bit uncomfortable with regards to the reporter. He *should* feel somewhat uncomfortable given the state of affairs of those who have lost so much money due to him, and really I havent seen any remorse or empathy for others from him in that regard.

    I definitely understand what you mean about the Herald though – it should be maintaining a much higher professional standard.

  7. Im in Palmerston North. I loved the Otago Daily Times when I was living in Dunedin. It was a really good paper that I looked forward to reading each day. I still visit their website to keep abreast of what is happening down there at Ashburn Clinic. My worry is that Ashburn will close, and I think there is a need for it to remain open. The Manawatu Standard is my local paper. Its a pretty thin paper these days. Its okay but not as good as it used to be. On the days the Property Press comes out with it, the Property Press is about 3 times bigger than the actual paper. I realise as I am writiing this that I think the Manawatu Standard has a lot of room for improvement! Regarding Hotchins – I enjoyed that he was feeling a bit uncomfortable with regards to the reporter. He *should* feel somewhat uncomfortable given the state of affairs of those who have lost so much money due to him, and really I havent seen any remorse or empathy for others from him in that regard. I definitely understand what you mean about the Herald though – it should be maintaining a much higher professional standard.

  8. Not sure that its envy being stoked here. I once told a dude – this about 20 years ago in a debate about economic politics – that if someone stole from me I’d be a bit jealous. He’d have something that belongs to me and I’d want it back. The dude conceded me that point.

    We could get into a pretty hefty sort of argument about how a good deal of wealth was redistributed in the last 25-35 years. Rogernomics and Ruthanasia pretty much gave free licence for the few to loot the commonweal, much of the swag disappearing oversea, mark you. The process hasn’t stopped yet.

    Jealous? Dam’ tootin’ I’m jealous. Qua taxpayer (among other taxpayers) I want back what’s mine, even if it was only theoretically mine. I’ll be satisfied with the theory. The kleptocrats governing us had no moral right and arrogated to themselves the authority to perpetrate the theft of communal wealth.

    Cripes, we could have done with some decent sort of journalistic analysis government policy. Alas, there are too few Brian Eastons and Bruce Jessons around…

    OK maybe I have departed a bit from the central issue, here. But when I hear the voice of Authority telling us (though the message is not unmixed) we ought to save more, this against the current of the wholesale export of wealth, jobs and talent, and in the face of financial disasters brought about the very institutions that are supposed to look after those savings, I scratch my head. I really do.

  9. Snarl, Part 2.
    It is equally galling to listen to fatcattists with easy access to a microphone tell off ordinary Kiwis for wanting to buy their own homes. Be it noted, most of these morally smug, self-satisfied Scrooges are nice and snug with their own large and well-appointed houses (with the notable exception of Don Brash, I gather).

    For thirty-five solid years and more successive governments have watched speculators in the housing market profiteer and push up prices of even modest houses to proportions that would be risable were it not so sad. Not one government, not a bloody one, has had the honesty or integrity (let alone the cojones) to impose upon this kind of profiteering a capital gains tax (CGT). Such a tax might have done something towards keeping house prices within reach of people who want to live in one.

    Perhaps only a cynic like me would wonder if this has been deliberate policy by successive governments – to ensure the gradual accumulation of housing stock in the hands of the few, with ordinary Kiwi’s property-less and forced to rent. It would be of a piece with all the other social functions and goods that our kleptocrat governments seem to want to shell out to their mates all drooling for a large slice of some potentially lucrative action. Or have I just given the fatcats a really neat idea…?

    God, I hope not.

  10. If we’re talking about gormless questions from the media, this one “takes the cake”…

    “Do you think some hotpools are dangerous?”
    http://www.3news.co.nz/Child-badly-burned-in-geothermal-pool/tabid/423/articleID/192799/Default.aspx