In a fit of pique over criticisms made on this site of his interviewing style, Sean Plunket has made a rather unpleasant and, more importantly, uninformed, inaccurate and not entirely truthful attack on the media training which Judy and I have been providing to people in New Zealand public life for more than two decades. In a column titled “Frivolous spending, overzealous fines” in yesterdays Dominion Post, he presents himself as a civic-minded Wellingtonian concerned about unreasonable parking fines and the irresponsible spending of ratepayers’ money by Mayor Celia Wade-Brown on a trip to Auckland for media training by Callingham and Edwards.
Mr Plunket would have preferred the Mayor not to have “burned precious fossil fuel flying to another city for the training when any number of media trainers here could have done the job as well if not better.” While his concern for the environment is admirable, he may well have been thinking about himself as one of that number, since media training has been, and may well still be, a decent little earner for him. He has been, and may well still be, one of our competitors. Read the rest of this entry »
Every now and then an old cynic like me – the sort of person who says most Kiwi voters are as thick as two short planks – has his faith in humanity restored. It happened today.
Every morning, weather permitting, Judy and I go for a walk around Herne Bay/ Ponsonby/Grey Lynn. The walk usually takes between an hour and an hour-and-a-half and ends with two flat whites and a biscotti. By now we know every shop, house and letterbox in the district. And everyone knows us.
Of the 90-odd minutes, at least ten are spent talking to and stroking the purebreds and moggies who populate the district. Like the humans, we know them and they know us.
Walking round Marine Drive this morning we encountered an unusual sight. A postie had parked her bike against a fence and was engaged in conversation (and tummy rubbing) with an ecstatic ocecat whose name was apparently Ossie. (I hope I’ve got that right – purebreds are so particular!) Read the rest of this entry »
People prefer winners. So, if possible, start at the top. But if that isn’t possible, follow these 15 simple guidelines:
There is very little point in being seen with people less famous, less popular, less successful or less beautiful than yourself. Remember the Second Law of Thermodynamics: ‘Heat won’t pass from the cooler to the hotter.’
There is very little point in being with people more famous, more popular, more successful or more beautiful than yourself and notbeing seen with them. Reflected glory still shines.
A photo-opportunity is worth a thousand words.
A thousand words is probably 900 too many.
But a thousand photo-ops is a bloody good start.
Travel broadens the opportunity for photo-ops.
You can’t fool all of the people all of the time. But you can fool a majority for just long enough.
To paraphrase Mencken, no-one ever lost an election underestimating the intelligence of the voters.
Even if they shouldn’t, most people judge a book by its cover. Work on your cover.
When your opponents are wrong, crow; when they are right, sneer.
If you must have a socially responsible policy, keep it to yourself.
Perception is everything.
Seeming nice beats being nice.
Always give people what they want, never what’s good for them.
Every night, before you go to sleep, read a few chapters of Niccolo Machiavelli. Here’s a sample: ‘And if, to be sure, sometimes you need to conceal a fact with words, do it in such a way that it does not become known, or, if it does become known, that you have a ready and quick defence.’
Alternatively, put a call through to Crosby/Textor in Sydney.
Simple, isn’t it? Why, just by reading these few basic instructions you can feel your poll ratings rising through the roof. And you thought you needed responsible, well-thought-out policies and principles. Silly you!
There’s very little, well, actually no doubt at all that this Close Up item on how many things in an average New Zealand home are actually Kiwi made, is an almost exact facsimile of an ABC America story on how many items in an average US home are actually made there. The idea is the same, the storyline is the same, the direction is the same, the graphics are the same, the commentary is the same. Not to put too fine a point on it, the Close Up version is a clone of the American story.
Now here’s a novel idea. Let’s have a television current affairs programme on which people of diametrically opposed viewpoints can debate the issues that divide them, forcefully but without undue rancour. Such a programme would require a chairperson who could control the debate, ensuring that each side was given a fair opportunity to state their case and that the principal areas of disagreement were afforded an airing. This would of course not be possible with a programme duration of less than 30 commercial-free minutes.
You won’t find a programme like that on TV1 or TV3. If you feel like watching political chat on Saturday or Sunday morning, there are Q & A and The Nation, but these are essentially interview programmes, and the interviews rarely run to more than 10 or 12 minutes. With the possible exception of Paul Holmes, the interviewers also seem to prefer the sound of their own voices to the sound of their subjects’ replies. And anyway, it’s the weekend and you’d rather be lying in bed reading the paper or heading out for brunch with the family.
TVNZ7 has Media7, but its focus is by definition restricted to media matters and it rarely, if ever, devotes an entire programme to the sort of debate I’ve described above.
Once upon a time aspiring radio and TV stars were sent off for voice coaching before they were allowed to pollute our airways. At the very least they had to have pleasant voices and excellent diction.
No longer. Our TV screens are now populated in prime time by young women whose voices could etch glass at 40 paces and men who happily mangle the language to the point of incomprehensibility.
My current personal favourite is the new dialect of Sainsbury, to be heard on Close Up most evenings at 7pm. I’ve heard the odd Sainsburyism from news reporters on both One and Three and once, to my astonishment, from Mike McRoberts. It’s clearly the coming fashion and we should all adopt it as soon as possible.
Visitors filling in time between World Cup matches may require help with translation before they can fully appreciate Close Up. They may be so impressed with what they hear that they want to start speaking Sainsbury themselves. Here’s a little pronunciation guide for the uninitiated and the eager:
Harold – as in ‘Harold is that dodgy Toyota you’re selling?’
Harris – as in ‘Harris it that you can’t kick the damn ball between the posts?’
Hurrah – as in ‘Hurrah you, now that you’ve had liposuction?’
Harrever – as in ‘Harrever will you get that money out of the country, Mr Hotchins?’
Harroffen – as in ‘Harroffen will Hone hongi Willie before the election?’
Harrintristing – as in ‘Harrintristing! And where did you dispose of the body?’
Feel free to expand this guide – your contributions of any new Sainsburyisms are welcomed.
Next week: How to copy Key – an exercise in syllable reduction.
All that was missing yesterday was the tumbrel, the rattle of the snare drum and the delighted shrieks of the harridans knitting, as the advocates of fairness and equity in the workplace, the mass media and the baying lynch mobs of the anti-social networks celebrated the sacking of a late-middle-aged man for making an unguarded and inappropriate remark. “Celebrated”! What a sad, sick, punitive, unforgiving little country we live in.
Last Friday the Herald published its latest DigiPoll survey. The poll brought good news for Labour. It was up 2.4% since the previous poll, while National was down 3.2%. The gap between the two had narrowed by 5.6%. The Herald’s headline “Poll: Labour gains, but Nats would still govern alone” fairly represented the situation.
At 70.6%, John Key’s rating as preferred Prime Minister had gone through the roof, the result, a sceptic might suggest, of more photo-ops in the press and on television than I have seen in more than 40 years of politician watching.
And Phil Goff? Still languishing in single figures? Another depressing 6 or 7 percent? Well, and this really is curious, that was the one figure from its DigiPoll that the Herald didn’t give us. So I had to find out for myself.
In the latest Herald DigiPoll, the Leader of the Opposition scores 12.4%, an increase on the previous poll, which in turn was an increase on the poll before that. And yes, it isn’t huge but it’s a lot higher than Helen Clark was polling at the same time in 1996, the year she would have become Prime Minister, were it not for the treachery of Winston Peters.
What pollsters always tell us is that what matters is the general trend rather than any individual poll. Well, both Labour and Goff are trending up with almost 5 months to go before the election. So I wouldn’t write them off quite yet.
In the meantime, I’d really like to know why the Herald didn’t publish Goff’s rating which would have brought a degree of comfort to him and his supporters.
A new word has entered the English language courtesy of the New Zealand media. The word is “urinator” and it doesn’t appear in any dictionary in my bookshelf, which is full of dictionaries. Spellcheck hasn’t heard of it either, but then Spellcheck hasn’t heard of “spellcheck”.
So what is a “urinator”? Presumably someone who passes urine, which includes every man, woman and child on the planet and – I may be corrected on this – all animals.
What distinguished Michael Aitken from most urniators was that he urinated in the aisle of an aeroplane, spraying himself and other passengers. He was drunk and out of it and has no real memory of the event.