Brian Edwards Media

From Omaha to Hotel California

View from the bach at Leigh

View from the bach at Leigh

About 6 months ago we bought ourselves a bach in Leigh. It’s not terribly posh. You could easily mistake it for a Lockwood, but it’s half way up a cliff and all you can see from the deck is the sea and the horizon and, jutting out, the distant peninsula that is home to the Tauwharanui Regional Park and, on a clear day, Great Barrier Island. And all you can hear are the waves breaking on the rocks at the bottom of the cliff.

To get from Auckland to Leigh, you head for the Warkworth turn-off to Matakana, then on to Leigh bypassing the turn-0ff to Omaha.

I remembered that John Key has a holiday home at Omaha where he barbecued chops and sausages for John Campbell.

I’m a nosy bugger and about a month ago could no longer resist the temptation to check out the resort which our Prime Minister had chosen as his Kiwi  – as distinct from Hawaiian – holiday destination.

I gather there’s a fashionable and unfashionable part of Omaha. Homes in the “unfashionable” part have apparently just hit the $3 million mark, so the price of a “bach” in “fashionable” Omaha must be astronomical.

To satisfy my curiosity about Omaha Judy and I made  a detour on our way from Matakana to Leigh.

There are a lot of posh and a lot of not-so-posh-looking houses. The land in front of the houses is flat, so the only elevation above sea level, and therefore the only view of the sea, is from any storey above ground level. The streets in front of the houses form a grid of roughly parallel lines.   We drove down Street One for as far as we could go, then did a U-turn round the median strip into Street Two which ran parallel and brought us back to our starting point.

It was a deeply depressing excursion.

I’m sitting on the couch in our “Lockwood” now, looking across the sea to the horizon, interrupted on one side by Great and Little Barrier and on the other by the Tauwharanui Peninsula. Occasionally you can see the Coromandel. But you can always hear the waves breaking on the rocks.

I’m listening to my all time favourite LP, The Eagles’ Hotel California – The Last Resort:

“Some rich men came and raped the land,
Nobody caught ‘em
Put up a bunch of ugly boxes, and Jesus,
people bought ‘em
And they called it paradise
The place to be
They watched the hazy sun, sinking in the sea

“And you can see them there,
On Sunday morning
They stand up and sing about
what it’s like up there
They call it paradise
I don’t know why
You call someplace paradise,
kiss it goodbye”

Love that song!

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The Campbell Live Debate – A Considered View

Campbell Live

I’ve signed the on-line petition which effectively invites TV3 to abandon its intention to replace Campbell Live with what we now know will be a stripped soap-opera made by Julie Christie’s former company Eyeworks.

What has to be acknowledged straight away is that TV3 is a private company and under no obligation to continue producing a prime-time television programme that is losing ratings and therefore revenue. The channel cannot be asked to produce Campbell Live at a loss or to give it preference over a potentially higher rating programme in the same time-slot.

The dilemma here arises from the fact that Campbell is a public service broadcaster working for a private television network. The fault here lies not with TV3 but with the failure of successive governments to provide New Zealanders with a true public service television channel.  While Campbell continued to rate with TV3’s youngish target demographic, his position was relatively secure. The show, which the channel advertises as “New Zealand’s leading current affairs programme”, has been around for a decade. Not a bad run in anyone’s books. But, under the private broadcasting system, once viewers begin to turn off a programme, its host is likely to be shown the door.    Read the rest of this entry »

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Australians: Bad Losers; Worse Winners

AP, Getty Images

AP, Getty Images

It would be tempting to attribute the character of the professional Australian sportsman and sportswoman to that of their nation’s first arrivals. But that would be racist, another area in which we cannot compete with our trans-Tasman neighbours.

The Australians see themselves as a sporting nation. And in one sense they are. The Aussies are very good at sport; they win a lot of games. But in the other sense of the word “sporting” – characterised as sportsmanlike conduct, fair-minded, generous – they are considerably less adept. In that sense, whether in cricket, netball or rugby, they are an unsporting people. It is perhaps the one area in which we have nothing in common.

The difference between the two nations can be seen exemplified in two photographs in this morning’s Herald. In one the gracious Grant Elliott is seen helping a distraught and weeping South African player to his feet after his country lost the semi-final against the Black Caps. In the other, three Australian players – Brad Haddin, James Faulkner and Pat Cummins – are seen sneering and laughing at Elliott, as he walks away after scoring a brilliant 83 in last night’s World Cup Final. And that was merely the culmination of the sledging to which they had subjected Elliott throughout his innings.

These are not sportsmen. They are thugs. The word comes from the Hindi “thag”, meaning a “thief” or “rogue” and specifically a member of a confederacy of professional assassins who travelled in gangs throughout India for several hundred years. Of course that is not what we mean by the word now and I would certainly not want to suggest that this sneering trio deserve such a comparison. They don’t. Today the word suggests something along the lines of an uncivilised, offensive, ignorant, aggressive, nasty and thoroughly unpleasant individual. So that will do quite nicely to describe these three Australian “sportsmen”.

As I said, “It would be tempting…”

 

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Ten Ways To Lose A By-Election Without Even Trying

Ballot box

  1. Assume, as you have always assumed, that voters who have tribally supported you in the past will automatically do so again now.
  2. On that assumption shamefully neglect the infrastructure and social needs of the electorate for years.
  3. Choose an uncharismatic, overweight candidate whom no-one has ever heard of on the basis that he or she can expect no real opposition from anyone else.
  4. Be totally unprepared for any real challenger to that candidate to emerge.
  5. Be totally unprepared for strategic voting by other parties.
  6. In the event of a high-profile, hugely charismatic, popular, extremely well-dressed and well-groomed opponent appearing from nowhere, panic.
  7. Insult the voters in the electorate by assuming that their votes can be bought with a humungous and patently transparent bribe, essentially consisting of all the infrastructure and social items you neglected to provide in the past.
  8. Insult the voters in the electorate further by assuming that all that is required to change their minds is the opportunity to catch sight of the Prime Minister in their electorate, presumably with the prospect of being able to kiss the hem of his garment. And possibly that of a couple of overweight cabinet ministers as well.
  9. Undermine the confidence of your remaining supporters by conceding publicly that you could well lose the seat
  10. Repeat 1 to 9.

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A Response to “Euthanasia-Free New Zealand”

8am Sunday. Just opened the following news release from an outfit calling itself “Euthanasia-Free New Zealand”:

“Application  for a change to New Zealand Law on assisted suicide and euthanasia is not in society’s best interests.

“Lecretia Seales is a courageous woman, afflicted with a terrible disease. It is impossible not to be moved by her tragic situation. Yet her application to the High Court for a ruling on whether current N.Z. laws in respect of euthanasia and assisted suicide breach her rights under the Bill of Rights Act, although intended only to relate to her case, will, if successful, in the long run adversely affect the rights of many others in our society” says Professor David Richmond, a spokesperson for Euthanasia-Free New Zealand.

“Ms Seales’ request is superficially a simple one based on personal choice and autonomy. Unfortunately the issues are far more complex for society than that”, he said. “Current laws were drawn up to guarantee citizens the right to life. If Ms. Seales’ actions were to lead eventually to the decriminalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide as she apparently hopes they will, citizens will be guaranteed the right to State sanctioned death – presumably at the hands of doctors. Our observation of how these things work in Holland and Belgium where euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal does not encourage us to think that significant abuses, including being killed without a specific request, will not occur”, he said. “There are compelling reasons for leaving the law as it is whilst concentrating on providing every care possible to relieve suffering in dying and upholding the dignity of those close to death.”

“Euthanasia–Free New Zealand hopes that this court action will result in a fresh impetus in our society to uphold the right of every citizen including the most vulnerable of us: the elderly, those with disabilities, the dependent and those near the end of life, to respect, care, support, honour – and life.
ENDS

:”CONTACTS: Professor David Richmond MD FRACP. Phone; 09 5705458, Email: d.richmond@clear.net.nz
Renee Joubert, Executive Officer. 021 167 4042″

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9am Sunday: Replied as follows:

“I suggest you visit my website brianedwardsmedia.co.nz for a contrary view. Type “euthanasia” into the Search box. The arrogance of your view that the decision of a person of sound mind to end a life which is intolerable to them should be in your hands not theirs never ceases to astonish me.”

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“Lecretia Seales is a courageous woman, afflicted with a terrible disease. It is impossible not to be moved by her tragic situation.”

On the contrary, Professor Richmond, it’s entirely possible for you not to be moved by her tragic situation. Indeed, far from being moved by it, you have now put your name to a petition whose effect would be to make that tragic situation even worse. It would deny her hope. And not just Lecretia, but every other person whose life has become intolerable to them and who wish to end their misery.

But that, according to you, is not their decision to make. It is yours because it offends your personal morality and the morality of those who would support your application.

Your Hippocratic Oath requires you to do no harm. Perhaps the definition should include  the harm of denying those whose lives have become intolerable to them the right to end their suffering in a peaceful and dignified way and not in one of the horror scenarios available under the current law.

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Judgement Day for X-Factor judges – my pennyworth!

Natalia Kills and Willie Moon

 I’ve just been invited to sign a petition to take Natalia Kills off The X-Factor. The invitation and the petition are now de trop, since Ms Kills and her husband Willy Moon have already been dumped from the show. An excellent decision by TV3, if I may say so.

I have watched The X-Factor occasionally. Real talent can emerge from the competition. Benny Tipene and Jackie Thomas spring to mind.

Talent among the judges is a rarer commodity. The qualifications for the job appear to be that you should be pitch deaf and have the depth of personality of a stone. I will except Melanie Blatt from this unkind assessment. She is both beautiful and bright. Stan Walker occasionally reminds me somewhat of the Harry Enfield character Tim Nice-but-Dim, but that is an unfair and inaccurate judgement of a likeable personality who tempers honesty with mercy in his assessments of The X-Factor’s invariably trembling seekers after fame. Read the rest of this entry »

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Some free media advice for Dean Barker: Ditch the sad-sack look!

 Dean Barker

I read that my friends and esteemed colleagues in the media-training business, Bill Ralston and Janet Wilson, have been employed, in media guru John Drinnan’s words, “to handle the Barker overboard debacle”. Drinnan notes that Janet “recently completed two videos on the Team NZ Facebook page, and interviewed Grant Dalton about what blows his spinnaker.”

He goes on: “But methinks much more will be needed before he has a warm and cuddly image like Spot the Dog.”

I disagree. The last thing a Team New Zealand Manager needs is “a warm and cuddly image”. Quite the reverse. Ambition, strength, drive, determination and perhaps a degree of ruthlessness might be more appropriate, and my impression is that Dalton has those qualities in spades.

Nor do I find too much wrong with his image: amiable, firm, no-nonsense, a man willing to compromise but unwilling to yield on the core issue, in this case Barker’s fitness to lead New Zealand to victory in the next America’s Cup.

Dalton has spine.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Jiminy Cricket! Now Rachel is really, really huge as well!

Rachel Smalley

Jiminy Cricket! Now Rachel is really, really huge as well! Yes, Rachel Smalley now commands a full-page Newstalk ZB ad in today’s Herald. It will no doubt be followed by a half-page ad, and the campaign will perhaps roll on until every NewstalkZB talk-back host has been made really, really huge.

Rachel is already really, really tall. She is also the best radio/television interviewer in New Zealand by a country mile. No exceptions.

So I’m hoping that Rachel didn’t write the trite, overblown copy for this ad, which has all the purple prose hallmarks of an advertising copywriter. Have a taste:

A JOURNALIST’S NUMBER ONE OBLIGATION IS TO GET TO THE TRUTH AND EVERY TIME I ASK A QUESTION, EVERY TIME I BEGIN AN INTERVIEW, THAT’S MY MOTIVATION. GET TO THE TRUTH, GET OUT THE INFORMATION, CUT THROUGH THE SPIN, AND GET TO THE FACTS.

JOURNALISM IS A TRANSACTION. IT’S ABOUT GETTING INFORMATION FROM ONE SOURCE AND PASSING IT ON TO ANOTHER. IT’S ABOUT KNOWLEDGE. IT’S ABOUT BEING A WATCHDOG. FOR A COMMUNITY. FOR A COUNTRY. FOR THE WORLD. AND IT GIVES A VOICE TO THE VOICELESS.    Read the rest of this entry »

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Sufferin Succotash – Mike Hosking is really, really huge!

 

FullSizeRender

 

Sufferin Succotash – Mike Hosking is really, really huge! Well, Mike is so huge that his employers can’t fit him into anything less than a full page in the Monday to Friday (tabloid) Herald and half a page in the (broadsheet )Weekend Herald.

Mike is so tall and rangy in the tabloid that you could imagine he might dwarf Clint Eastwood. Which is appropriate because he’s got a sort of cool cowboy, dropped-hip stance and is wearing a don’t-mess-with-me, all-in-black outfit: jacket,  jeans and pointy turned up boots. The jeans are appropriately too small width-wise and too big length-wise so that they furl up at the knees and concertina over the top of the shiny black boots. Except for the fact that he appears to have lost his left arm in the picture, which may or may not have some sort of semiotic significance, the dude looks great.

He’s half-cut to the waist in the broadsheet picture so the cool cowboy look is lost, but you do get to see his bright, shiny eyes, his pearly white smile and his alabaster-smooth forehead. He still looks huge, but the cropped close-up really makes you feel that he’s smiling at you.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Extra! Extra! Read All About It! Small Table and Chairs Get Reprieve!

Ponsonby Hair

 

Following yesterday’s post “Shock! Horror! Local Hairdresser breaks law with small table and chairs!” Ponsonby hairdresser and all round good guy Ken Beguely,  owner of Ponsonby Hair, this morning received a gracious apology from an Auckland Council manager, an assurance that no further action would be taken to compel him to remove the small table and two chairs outside his salon, and an invitation to contact the manager at any time if he had further problems.

Now that is great news and I congratulate the Auckland Council manager on his eminent good sense in abandoning an ill-considered course of action.

Only thing is, Judy and I were kind-of looking forward to “THE SIT-IN”, as the table and two small chairs, Judy strapped into one, Brian into the other, were hoisted by crane into a waiting Council dump truck, against the chanting of a thousand angry Herne Bay, St Mary’s Bay and Ponsonby  yummy-mummies, “We’re as mad as hell and we aren’t going to take this any more! Save our salon!”

One can only dream.

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Shock! Horror! Local Hairdresser breaks law with small table and chairs!

Ponsonby Hair

The shop in the photograph above is Ponsonby Hair, located in Jervois Road, unsurprisingly in Ponsonby.

The Ken referred to on the sign in the window is Ken Beguely, the owner of Ponsonby Hair.

The feet and legs reflected behind the sign in the window of Ponsonby Hair belong to Brian Edwards and Judy Callingham, Ken’s faithful clients.

Brian and Judy think Ken is a great guy. Their haircuts are testimony to the fact that he is a brilliant hairdresser. So are all his staff.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago Ken had an unexpected visit from a a representative of the ACBDD, the Auckland City Business Discouragement Department.

Ken was cutting a nun’s hair at the time. (No, this is not a joke!)

Now no self-respecting hairdresser will abandon a client in the middle of a cut. And certainly not a nun, God forbid. So Ken continued with his work, while the ACBDD official talked to the back of his head. Ken was in serious breach of a local body by-law.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Catch 22 and the war on terrorism

image

Some days ago I wrote a post in the form of a short story. In the story a young man walks into a New Zealand Army recruiting office. He’s 23 and his resume makes it clear that he’s the sort of candidate the Army would welcome with open arms. The recruiting officer can’t believe his luck. This kid is officer material for sure. He tells him as much. But the ideal candidate expresses a reservation about signing up. He wants an assurance that he will never be placed in harm’s way, that he will never be asked to go to war. The recruiting officer is astonished. With as much patience as he can muster, he points out that it’s the New Zealand ARMY the young man wants to join – a fighting force. Armies go to war. Soldiers are trained to fight. Though he might never be required to risk his life, the assurance he seeks clearly cannot be given.

“I know all that, of course,” the young man says, “I thought there might be exceptions. Thank you for your patience.”

Two weeks later a hooded gunman mows down 15 people at a Westfield mall. CCTV footage will  show him  hacking off the head of a late-middle-aged man with a serrated knife before running from the complex. In less than 12 hours Isis has claimed responsibility for the slaughter.

Within 24 hours the young man reappears at the door of the Army recruiting office. The recruiting officer looks up from the papers on his desk. “You’re back!” he says, “What changed your mind?”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Um, er, like, y’know and what the hell happened to the schwa?

schwa

We Kiwis are as a rule not a highly articulate people. We tend to the taciturn and, when we do have something to say, struggle to get the words out in a coherent flow. We ‘um’ and ‘er’ our way through the simplest proposition. Even those in the speech-making business, whom you might expect to be fluent  –Trevor Mallard, John Key and the lovely David Shearer come to mind – pepper their responses with time-to-think, space-filling noises. And you could have driven trucks through the late lamented Rob Muldoon’s rasping ‘ers’.

I sometimes think that this phenomenon may reflect the emphasis placed in Kiwi culture on the virtue of humility. Our heroes blush when praised and pronounce themselves “humbled” by the nation’s applause. The word seems to indicate they feel their success wasn’t  deserving of such acclamation. Overt celebration of a win or achievement might suggest vanity. People might think they were “up themselves”. So they keep their heads down and communicate through half-closed mouths and clenched teeth.

To be absolutely fair, the fear of public speaking – from making a two-minute speech at an office “do” to addressing the United Nations – is recognised as being near the top of the commonly accepted list of debilitating phobias. But our Kiwi inability to express ourselves fluently can be observed in everyday conversation and not just in those scary situations. We stammer and stutter, mutter and mumble.   Read the rest of this entry »

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An atheist reflects on God, religious belief and Isis [Updated]

Isis

I was 18 or 19 when I told the local Church of Ireland minister in Dunmurry, Canon Robert C Ellis, that I was an atheist and could no longer sing in the church choir or superintend the Sunday School classes on the council housing estate in nearby Seymour Hill where I lived with my aging mother. [Note the background similarity with John Key, though it stops there!)

Canon Ellis, whose initials ‘RC’ were a cross he had to bear, was  a liberal on most things, including sex, but his liberalism did not extend to the Roman Catholic faith which he could not stomach. He was a gentler man than Ian Paisley, though cut from the same cloth in matters sectarian.

My declaration that I no longer believed in God did not faze the Canon one bit. His brilliant son Stuart had, like me, found and then lost religion. The university did that to impressionable young minds.

“You can,” RC said, “continue to attend church, sing in the choir and teach Sunday School. Just don’t say The Lord’s Prayer or take communion and confine your teaching to the historical account of Jesus’ life.”

I spent a day or two considering this solution before deciding that it really wasn’t feasible for the person of conscience I considered myself to be.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Why are New Zealanders so effing loud?

shout (1)

Dizengoff on Ponsonby Road is one of the area’s better know eateries with a particular reputation for excellent coffee. There are plenty of tables for diners inside the cafe but, like several other local establishments, the acoustics aren’t great. When the place is less than half full you can’t hear yourself think.

Like most Auckland cafe patrons, if the weather is temperate, I prefer to sit outside. Dizengoff  boasts two pavement tables, one on either side of the entrance. Each table seats six people, three a side. You are cheek by jowl with anyone sitting next to you.

As a general rule diners aren’t particularly comfortable sitting immediately next to strangers and least comfortable if there’s very little space between the chairs or tables. This is in part a reflection of our sense of personal space and in part because we neither want to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations nor to have them intrude on ours. Common courtesy dictates that when seated next to a stranger in a restaurant or cafe – not to mention in a cinema or theatre – we keep our voices down.

On a recent Jim Mora panel I confessed to a penchant, as I was leaving a restaurant after a meal, for approaching any diner whose loud or droning  voice had annoyed me, making an ironic or sarcastic remark and walking off leaving them (and their fellow diners) to contemplate their crimes. Read the rest of this entry »

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I offer my humble opinion on Eleanor Catton’s treason

Photo: Robert Catto

Photo: Robert Catto

I arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand in mid-September 1964 to take up a lecturing position at Canterbury University. My wife, infant son and I had been airborne for around 36 hours with a two-hour break in Los Angeles to have a shower and freshen up. We were greeted at Christchurch airport by the head of the German Department, not yet a professor, who escorted us to his Volkswagen Beetle into which we poured ourselves, our child and our luggage with some difficulty.

We were, it transpired, to be billeted in a motel until we found permanent accommodation. The motel was in somewhere called Riccarton where the yet-to-be-professor said he would deposit us while we ‘settled in’.

As we were shoe-horning ourselves out of the V-Dub I twisted my ankle on the unexpectedly deep culvert that is a feature of some New Zealand cities, but unknown in Northern Ireland and Scotland.  A twisted ankle is extremely painful and I made a comment along the lines “stupid bloody gutters”. My new boss responded that if I wasn’t going to like it here, perhaps I ought not to have come.

I would later discover that it was a prerequisite of acceptance to New Zealand society that you should “like it here” and fulsomely express that liking from the moment your plane touched down and certainly no later than the second  when your feet met the tarmac at the bottom of the gangway. Jetlagged heads of state, visiting politicians, Hollywood stars, the famous and semi-famous were greeted by anxious media with variants of the same question: “What do you think of New Zealand?” occasionally more directly expressed as “How do you like it here?”    Read the rest of this entry »

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On the uncanny resemblance between John Key and Sergeant Schultz

images (1)

In the 30-odd years that Judy and I have been providing media advice and training to prime ministers, prostitutes and pretty well every profession in-between, our teaching mantra has remained the same: “Be straightforward, tell the truth, admit your mistakes”. It’s a practical rather than a necessarily moral slogan. Being straightforward with the media, telling the truth and admitting your mistakes is quite simply the only strategy that works. Everything else will get you into trouble or more trouble than you’re already in.

Our experience of our elected representatives – left, right and centre – has led us to the conclusion that most are reasonably honest and that the lying politician is a much rarer creature than the general population appears to think. Persuading MPs, Cabinet Ministers and the men and women who held the top job to be straightforward and tell the truth has not been a difficult or even a necessary task.

But will the buggers admit their mistakes? No way. To avoid the usual accusations of left-wing bias on my part, I’ll cite two examples from my side of the house. Helen Clark and the painting which she signed but didn’t paint; Helen Clark and the police car speeding her to Eden Park to watch the rugby.

Neither of these were hanging offences and reasonable explanations (or excuses if you prefer) could have been offered for both: PMs put their moniker on all sorts of things with charitable intent; the New Zealand Prime Minister arriving late for an international footie match isn’t a good look. And anyway, these cops are brilliant and safe drivers.

But Helen, who had been brought up in a family where lying was just about a capital offence, was unwilling to own responsibility for either of these relatively minor transgressions. She was reluctant to admit that she’d made a mistake or even that she’d failed to prevent others making mistakes on her behalf.

The outcome in terms of public and press reaction was extremely negative in both cases. Simple concessions, perhaps with a touch of humour, could have avoided all the fuss: “Well, I sign a lot of things for charity; but maybe I didn’t make it clear that I hadn’t actually painted the picture. I couldn’t paint like that to save my life; Yes, not a good look, I’ll admit, and not a good example to other drivers. Guilty as charged, I’m afraid.”

The problem with denial when you’ve done something wrong is that far from making the issue go away, it amplifies and protracts it. Admitting your mistakes tends to have the opposite effect. Your opponents may have a field day of self congratulation, but it will at least be brief.    Read the rest of this entry »

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Andrew Little: A Man for the Time?

In an ideal world good men and good women would be elected to government; the best would achieve high office and a few the highest office in the land. New Zealand, still one of the least politically corrupt nations in the world, may well have come closer to that ideal in the past than many other developed countries.

In the sixties the arrival of television in New Zealand complicated this simple equation.  The largely impersonal relationship between voter and politician, limited mainly to town hall election meetings and radio broadcasts, was gradually displaced  by the intimacy of the television close-up and the advent of the increasingly personal and probing political television interview.

In one sense this was for the public good. Television had the potential to reveal the cracks not only in the politicians’ policies and claims but in the facade of personal virtue which they hoped to project. The small screen was and remains a more effective lie-detector than radio or the town-hall meeting. It exemplifies the dictum that a picture is worth a thousand words.

But television in the 21st century is also first and foremost an entertainment medium. Those who appear on it are required to engage their audience, to hold their attention, to perform. As my colleague Ian Fraser once put it, “to act themselves”. If indeed it ever was, being a good person is no longer enough. You have to look good as well.

Whether being good and looking good, whether being yourself and acting yourself are entirely compatible is not something I want to canvass here. But I do know that if you don’t “come across” on television, your chances of political success are greatly and quite possibly fatally reduced.    Read the rest of this entry »

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Man meets gorillas – up close and personal!

My Cook Island friend Bill Carruthers sent me this. I’m not sure how widely publicised the clip has already been but I thought it was absolutely wonderful. Enjoy and be amazed:

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The New Zealand Herald: Demise of a Quality Publication

Herald Front Page

Under the editorship of Shayne Currie the New Zealand Herald has been transformed from a quality newspaper into little better than a trash tabloid.

I need to be a little more precise here. Mr Currie has responsibility primarily for the Monday-to-Friday Herald and it is to those editions that my remarks apply.

The Weekend Herald, which appears on Saturday, is edited by David Hastings.  (*See correction below.) The Sunday Herald is edited by  Miriyana Alexander whose function appears to be to make even the Monday-to-Friday Herald look good. It is a wretched publication.

Now if Mr Currie or Ms Alexander had the slightest interest in Brian Edwards’ opinion of their papers – which they certainly haven’t – they would reply that their circulation figures and the Qantas and Canon media awards on their office shelves tell a different story. In those terms they are extremely successful publications. And they would be right.

My only comment would be that tabloid trash and high circulation go together in pretty well every Western democracy and that there are so many media awards and so few major newspapers in New Zealand that it is almost impossible not to have accumulated several shelves-full.

Shayne  and Miriyana would therefore be entirely within their rights to dismiss me as a journalism snob. But we journalism snobs have hearts and we are entitled to mourn the loss of the quality publication that the Herald once was. We are consoled by the excellent Weekend Herald, but there are signs that the populist wolf is already sniffing at the door there too. Read the rest of this entry »

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