Tagged: journalism FAIL

Random recommended reading

I just keep finding so many interesting articles on the dozens of blogs I follow that I’m thinking random recommended reading may become a thing, so I’m sticking it on a Monday after my warm fuzzies post because no one should have to do too much thinking on a Monday.

Help Family Planning with an international study on period pain.  You need to be:

  • Between 18 and 50 years old
  • Having regular periods with moderate period pain 
  • In good general health
  • Not already taking hormonal contraception or have an IUD
  • Prepared to use condoms during the study if contraception is required

The News With Nipples takes on the endless fight against bullshit passive-language reporting of sexual attacks (trigger warning for sexual assault.)

Best headline of all time / proof we’re living in the future: Giant NASA spider robots could 3D print lunar base

Mississippi douchebags protest against a school respecting a student’s gender identity.  Because letting a person meet the dress code already in place for their gender is exactly the same as not meeting the dress code at all, and that’s how you know it’s the trans student who wants “special treatment”.

HIV has been cured in a child for the first time.  YES.

Want a good reason to oppose a 4-year parliamentary term?  Check out who’s in favour, and why.

Melissa Harris-Perry on the real Harlem Shake and why white folk seriously need to stop mockingly appropriate shit which isn’t theirs.

How Nusreta Sivac has helped to get rape treated seriously as a war crime.

Jessie Rose Foote is a better person than you

Jessie Rose Foote, the daughter of two people who made horrible and deeply personal comments about her orientation while arguing against marriage equality, has now had her side of the story told in the Herald.

Under a different byline, one notes.

And Jessie sounds like a damn lovely person.

Despite it all she said she still loved her parents very much.

“Of course, I’d like more than anything to still be in their lives like I was. It’s just sad that, through their interpretation of the Bible, they’ve had to take such a stand,” she said.

Jesse Foote, did, however, admire her dad for standing up for what he believed in.

“I just wish he believed in something that wasn’t condemning my lifestyle. It is just heartbreaking that these strong religious beliefs have to come above everything, even family, and cause such division.”

If he was willing, she’d gladly resume their father-daughter relationship.

Despite the rift, Foote, the middle child of five, said she made sure her 11-year-old daughter visited her parents regularly.

“They’re not bad people and I want my daughter to go there because I think it’s important for her. They are, after all, her grandparents.”

Suffice it to say … I would not be so magnanimous.  So all kudos and warm fuzzies to Jessie.

None to “journalist” Kathryn Powley – or, perhaps, the douchebag sub-editor who chose to put this little summary at the top of the article:

Conservative stance pits parents against lesbian daughter.

Um, it’s not a “conservative stance”, it’s labelling her entire life as “evil”.  And she’s not just a “lesbian daughter”, she’s a parent, too, in a committed civil union.  But expressing “Homophobic bigotry pits douchebags against an independent woman they still seem to think they own” wouldn’t give us the same “middle NZ vs scary radicals with buzzcuts” vibe, would it now?

Congratulations to the Herald for finding its ethics.  Boo hiss for losing them again practically immediately.

Two sets of parents – and two very different, telling relationships with their kids

I suppose the Herald should be congratulated for trying to find balance in this article on marriage equality.  Two sets of parents with wildly different reactions to their child’s sexual orientation, looking at the marriage equality issue from both sides …

But I don’t think they really thought this one through.

Sue and Wayne Bennett of Ngaruawahia are super-supportive of their son, Tim.  Tim is quoted as saying

“I was really scared of coming out because I could see from TV how people might react, but I actually found when I came out that the bullying stopped and I was accepted for who I was,”

His mother Sue is quoted as saying

“It was a celebration when Tim came out because we could all actually be honest with each other. We could support him and share stories with him and just enjoy being part of his world.”

By comparison, David and Penelope Foote of Whangarei are super-not-supportive of their daughter, who is unnamed.  Their daughter is quoted as saying


Her mother is quoted as saying

the discovery that she was in a same-sex relationship was “the most traumatic thing we have ever been through”.

“It’s the result of abuse she has suffered [with men],” she said.

And if that right there doesn’t tell you which side in this debate is about compassion and empathy and which side is full of judgey haters, I don’t know what will.

There’s just one big question.  Does David and Penelope’s daughter even know that her orientation – and, this being New Zealand, her identity – has just been used by her parents to make prejudiced bullshit statements in one of the country’s major newspapers?

Supplementary:  Did the Herald even give enough of a fuck about this unnamed woman to check if she was okay with her privacy being shredded by parents who it seems like she’s not even talking to any more?

If only people felt like they could TALK about the obesity epidemic!

Seriously, that’s the take-home message from this article on the Herald about how terrible it is that children are fat.  You don’t need to click through to find the balanced, definitive science on this, because what more could you possibly need to know than the identity of the first person quoted:

The director of SureSlim New Zealand, Phil Pullin

A scientist and a gentleman if ever there were one.

A major issue I have when I get into arguments about THE OBESITY EPIDEMIC with otherwise critical, analytical people is this:  how do you not see the ridiculous, head-desking contradictions which abound in all “reporting” on this “problem”?

The article starts off talking about putting children as young as 6 on commercial diet programmes – and even Weight Watchers thinks that’s a silly idea, for context.  But then of course there’s the handwringing:

[Phil Pullin, man who runs a programme which puts 6-year-olds on diets] said weight problems among children was an increasing trend.

… [Spokeswoman for Fight the Obesity Epidemic, Dr Robyn Toomath, said “It’s much more that we don’t appreciate the extent of obesity.”

Yet a mere 9 newspaper paragraphs later:

Good Talks speaker on body image Rachel Hansen said children were bombarded with unattainable messages from the media, peers and even their parents that girls should be thin and beautiful and boys strong and muscular to be accepted by society.

“I’ve seen children as young as 3 and 4 saying, ‘I’m too fat, I can’t eat that’.”

Ah, yes, three-year-olds rejecting delicious food.  A clear sign that “we” don’t “appreciate” how terrible a lifetime of fatness is.

And yet so many otherwise-analytical people will immediately jump up to say “oh yes that’s a problem, that’s terrible reporting, that’s a contradiction, but obesity is still a problem.”

It’s like someone’s adapted the script of a terrible sexist two-dimensional sitcom mother:  “Oh sure you like living alone and you love your apartment and your last relationship ended horribly and you’re trying to get comfortable with your own identity, but don’t you think it’s time you found a man?”

Let’s play “find the evidence” – foetal alcohol syndrome edition

So the next theatre of the war against pregnant people is going to be our terrible binge-drinking ways, apparently.

You can always spot these Issue Of The Day Which Is Actually Not An Issue stories by the way they go on and on and on about “evidence” yet produce none (see also:  rainbow parties, gay marriage destroying society, obesity epidemic).

This story from Radio NZ is a wonderful illustration of this point:

The National Addiction Centre says there may be as many as 3000 children born in New Zealand each year with the syndrome.

Actual numbers of children identified with said syndrome?  Sadly not provided.

Director Doug Sellman says evidence shows the situation is far worse in New Zealand than in other countries, due to the binge drinking culture here.

Actual statistics comparing us to other nations, especially other nations known for getting pissed up large?  Sadly not provided.

Children’s Commissioner Russell Wills says there has been an explosion in the number of children with foetal alcohol syndrome.

Children’s Commissioner’s actual facts and figures about the number of children with FAS?  Sadly not provided.

A Northland school principal says he sees about three children a year with foetal alcohol syndrome and their lives are ruined by it. …

Actual statistics for the Northland region?  Sadly not provided.  Roll size of the school in question and comparison to nationwide rates of FAS?  Sadly not provided.  Principal’s medical degree which qualifies him to diagnose FAS?  Sadly not provided.

Identification of Northland as a poorer region more likely to have higher rates of alcoholism, drug abuse, and lower rates of preventative healthcare, to name just a few possible contributing factors?  Sadly not provided.

Disclaimer that the “journalist” in question didn’t just shop around schools until a convenient horror story came along?  Sadly not provided.

The actual point of the entire article?

Mr Newman says the mothers of foetal alcohol syndrome children are often very young, and it is heart-breaking to see the damage they have inflicted on their children by drinking while pregnant.

He says drinking in pregnancy is a form of child abuse and should be a criminal offence.

There we go.  Let’s pass laws to control the irresponsible wimminz who are ruining precious babies’ lives.

Other things sadly not provided in this 478-word story?

  • Any kind of analysis of the level of support young pregnant people get
  • Any kind of addressing the fact that “yoof binge drinking” doesn’t just spring up out of nowhere and maybe when young people’s parents stop having shitfights over which city gets to host an excuse for drinking The Sevens or another excuse for drinking The Sacred V8s, or when our Parliament doesn’t clutch its collective pearls at the notion of Denying The Elderly Their Sherry, They Fought For Our Freedoms, then we can point accusing fingers at those teenagers who just magically decided getting off their face was funny
  • Any discussion of what constitutes “binge” or “excessive” drinking, and what level of drinking is actually connected with FAS.  I mean, it’s not like this shit isn’t on Wikipedia, for a start.

Before anyone wants to jump in and say “YOU JUST HATE BABIES AND THINK WOMEN SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO ANYTHING THEY WANT”, here’s the thing: when people have dependency problems, prohibition has historically achieved fuck all. When people are, say, poor, pregnant, unemployed and living in fucking Northland, they may have a hell of a lot more crap on their plate to worry about than being perfect incubators. When the prospect of being pregnant (and probably unable to access abortion services because it makes influential old dudes cry) is actually a really fucking terrible one, some people may well hit the bottle hard.

Hating on pregnant people, banning The Demon Drink, sure, all that is going to make smug wankers feel totally awesome.  It isn’t going to fix the problem, it isn’t going to improve the lives of the people affected by this problem, but that’s never really the point, is it?

ETA:  But wait, there’s more!  What’s wrong with this statement?

He told Radio New Zealand on Friday that the source of the problem was that women were drinking during pregnancy.

He said 40 percent of pregnancies were unplanned.

Gee, maybe some comprehensive sex education, better access and information about contraception, and generally giving people the ability and autonomy to plan their own reproduction could help with that!  Wait, no, BAN DRINKING.  Next up: seafood, oranges, good cheese.

Way to cheapen some good statements on language and culture, Nation

Maybe I’m missing something here.  Maybe The Nation just deliberately whacks odd headlines on top of its post-show transcripts.  What puzzles me is how Tim Groser saying fairly good-sense things like:

Speaking today on TV3’s “The Nation”, Mr Groser stressed that it was a personal view but he believed we should be teaching Maori to every five year old.

”This is turning the usual Pakeha argument on its head, because what I think should happen is that you introduce very young children from New Zealand to the idea of biculturalism and more than one language, and then they will be able to learn other languages as their personal circumstances fit,’ HE SAID.

“There’s a whole lot of research to back this view up.

“This is not a conventional view of the Maori language issue, understand that.”

Mr Groser said learning another language gave people the ability to look at things from a different cultural perspective and pick up on this.”

Deserved a reductive, pandering headline like:

Learning Maori might make it easier to learn Mandarin

Because (a) NOT WHAT GROSER SAID.  Yes, there’s  a small line in there about learning additional languages later in life, but that’s because you have made biculturalism and multilingualism normal.

(b) THANKS FOR DUMBING THAT DOWN FOR US.  Because we can’t just expect that when a current government minister, albeit from a personal perspective, is talking about the benefits of independent foreign policy or the massive advantage we give people by getting them to think in different ways, plus a bonus doing-a-good-thing-for-Maori-culture-and-language, that people can see the value.

No no no, everything has to be boiled down to “IF WE APPEASE THE BROWN PEOPLE HERE WE CAN GET MORE CASH FROM THE YELLOW PEOPLE LATER.”  Even when that’s not what anyone said.

Thanks for clearing up how post-racial and not-needing-to-be-spoon-fed we are, Nation.

Oh, I say, what a cad, mm, what?

An Australian has been charged in connection with a protest which disrupted “England’s iconic Oxford-Cambridge boat race”.

I assume his Australian-ness was important enough to mention on the front page of Stuff because it means we can all sit back and congratulate ourselves that no Kiwi would dare offend Old Mother Blighty’s sacred rituals in such a way, or something.

And obviously he’s caused a great injustice because, would you believe it, chaps, bloody Cambridge walked away with the title!  I say, damn poor job, &c.

… are we serious, here?  I get Easter weekend is a slow news period, but surely it would have been more efficient to just have a ticker running across the top of the Stuff front page saying “Imperative to feel pathetic attachment to elitist traditions of colonial forebears!  Derive nationalist pride in being well-behaved little colonist children!  Dem those demmed Aussies!”

Naomi Madelin: totally *is* fucking kidding us

Well, she finally got back to us, and the only charitable conclusion I can come to is that Naomi Madelin is a seriously bad writer.

The less-charitable conclusion is that she churned out a shallow, nasty piece of “writing” perfectly suited to the Sunday Star-Times (hey, times must be tough for freelance writers), doesn’t understand how the internet works, and thinks she can backpedal out of this.

See, now she’s deigned to reply to anyone on Twitter (though not many of us), the story is that she was just offering a suggestion about how as a society we need to embrace compassion and empathy more.

It’s a lovely message, except for the fact it bears no correlation whatsoever to the piece of shit appearing under her name in print and online.

The most egregious line, about how women need to “give men a chance” by embracing our femininity – a line fairly read by many as saying that women acting unwomanly makes me violent – has blessedly been removed by Stuff, who for once have acted with a modicum of responsibility (though it didn’t stop them republishing the piece in the first place).

But let’s boil down the remainder of the piece for any message about how “women & men” should be more compassionate etc.

  1. Wikipedia says Kwii women aren’t feminine
  2. Women rate themselves as less feminine than men do, and this has absolutely nothing to do with a culture which tells women to judge themselves much more harshly than others
  3. A person selling feminine farmwear thinks women want to wear more feminine farmwear but are nervous of the reaction, and this has absolutely nothing to do with women in traditional male roles having to prove themselves twice as hard to get taken seriously
  4. A professional makeup artist thinks there’s more to femininity – like tolerance and sensitivity.  Madelin thinks these attributes, which she seems to accept as naturally feminine, give women “strength” – oops, no buying into the masculine-as-superior language there!
  5. ForbesWomen’s list includes women who are feminine, but Madelin doesn’t explain how she’s using the term there, they just are and I’m sure it has nothing to do with the pressure on celebrity women to look conventionally attractive as much as possible
  6. Women need to stop “giving the message’ that being male is better.  Yep, that one’s totally all on women.
  7. A guy once saw a woman logger who was very feminine.  This again has nothing to do with the demands on women in men’s roles, and Madelin again does not explain what she means by “femininity”.
  8. People feel uncomfortable with the notion of femininity, but shut up, suffragettes wore long dresses!!!  They didn’t drink beer like you filthy modern ladettes!

Sorry, Ms Madelin.  I’m just seeing a whole lot o’ judging-women-for-Doing-It-Wrong and very fucking little analysis of the causes of violence in our society, much less any kind of critique of masculinity which equally calls on men and women to put aside gender stereotypes and build society anew on a basis of equality and acceptance.

Because, you know, that would’ve been a good article to read.

Principal Ian McKinnon accepts bullying as normal, a joke

[TW for bullying and abuse apologism by authority figures]

Ian McKinnon, principal of Pukekohe High School, has a bit of an integrity problem.*

See, several of his students attacked another of his students, possibly in a sexual manner.

And Ian McKinnon seems to think that there’s a magical line between assault-which-is-just-boys-being-boys and assault-which-is-actually-something-he-actually-has-to-give-a-fuck-about.

“The incident involved a male student who was held by others and who was then assaulted.

“Whilst what took place may well have started out as a joke among a group who knew each other, its outcome was far from that. It was very upsetting for the victim and for a number of students in the area, many of them friends of the victim.”**

Here’s your problem, Ian: you think just ganging up on a guy and pinning him to the ground for the purpose of giving him shit for transferring schools is just a joke amongst a group who knew each other***.

Presumably once possible sexual assault with a weapon is involved, it’s “gone too far”.

And here’s the thing: Ian McKinnon thinks he’s showing no tolerance for this shit.  I mean, the boys involved have been excluded, parents have been informed, what else has a guy got to do?

“Nobody condones this sort of behaviour or any type of physical assaults and it’s hugely upsetting when people have to witness it, and they were upset about it.

“Kids just don’t know when to stop with some of their behaviours.”

Oh, that’s right.  We could take one fucking minute to wonder why some kids “just don’t know when to stop”.  Or, hang on, we could look at the fact that their principal is explicitly saying that the beginning of this assault was just a joke, that the problem was that things like cornering another kid behind the gym and pinning him to the ground went too far.

And then we could pinpoint pretty clearly that the problem is that Ian McKinnon, right there, shows he condone bullying and violence against other students.  Until the police get involved, and then it’s totes bad, mmkay.


*The Granny Herald also has an integrity problem for giving that article a headline analogous to “Bluebeard’s wife killed for being a nosy bitch”
**Bonus dickpoints for focusing on how upsetting it is for the witnesses, not the victim, Ian.
***Of course they fucking know each other, Ian, they go to school together.

Are you fucking kidding me Naomi Madelin

Unbelievable quote of the day:

Eighty-four per cent of people arrested for family violence are men. Half of all violent crime in New Zealand is family violence. The statistics go on. Perhaps the way to give men a chance is for women to appreciate their own femininity more.

The rationale being, apparently, that women trying to be more masculine are the ones “sending the message” that being manly is better … because violence is an inherent part of manliness (and remember, it’s us nasty unshaven feminists who hate men, right) and what the fuck am I even reading.

Oh, right.  I’m reading an SST article by a freelance writer who starts off acting outraged about something Wikipedia says (unfortunately, said quote cannot be verified by Google), then insists femininity isn’t just about wearing frocks, it’s about how we carry ourselves, and seriously seems to think that women choose to deny their inner need for frills in a complete absence of dominant culture which might, you know, treat men as the default, the norm, the aspirational.

I don’t know where to start, but I know where Naomi Madelin could’ve fucking started:  a basic Google search for some feminism 101 blogging on masculinity and the construction of gender, looking up the notion of high femme or the active and long-standing debate about traditional femininity and feminism, picking up the OED, or, I know, having a fucking clue about something before she churned out an erratic, incoherent attack-piece yet again laying the fault for all the world’s ills on stupid, silly women.