Now the NZ Herald is paying Bob Jones to break the law
If you go to Bob Jones’ latest article on The Herald, it might look a little different than it did this morning.
That’s because they’ve removed the section where he patted himself on the back for telling someone to commit suicide – who did.
The Herald’s response has been incredibly limp:
Editor’s note: This column has been amended following further consideration of Bob Jones’ comments. We apologise that the original column caused offence to some readers.
Further consideration, you note. So they’d already considered the column, and it took a lot of people on Twitter saying “Are you actually fucking kidding me?” for them to think that hey, maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.
And of course it’s the offence caused which is the problem. Not the fact that telling someone to commit suicide, and congratulating yourself when they do, is really fucking evil. We already have plenty of history to establish that the Herald’s editors don’t give a fuck about publishing Bob Jones’ thoughts on rape victims deserving it and burning women’s houses down because he doesn’t like their driving.
But here’s the thing: it’s also illegal.
Accio section 179 of the Crimes Act:
Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years who—
(a)incites, counsels, or procures any person to commit suicide, if that person commits or attempts to commit suicide in consequence thereof; or
(b)aids or abets any person in the commission of suicide.
Bob Jones would appear to be ever so slightly in breach of the law – as well as a terrible person who will, if there is any god, spend eternity trapped in a hybrid car behind a woman driver.
For this little episode, he and the editors of the Herald are deemed Officially Scum.
News media and blogs: where’s the line?
Cameron Slater’s blog Whale Oil has been found to not meet the Evidence Act’s definition of “news medium” – meaning he doesn’t get to claim the right to protect his sources’ identities.
The Evidence Act defines “news medium” as
a medium for the dissemination to the public or a section of the public of news and observations on news
From the Herald report:
Wellington media lawyer Steven Price said the thrust of the Law Commission’s report was that bloggers who were serving the functions of free speech and a free press should be treated as media and be entitled to media privileges.
“Still, it is concerned that the reporting be dispassionate and reliable. It can be argued that Whale Oil doesn’t measure up on that criterion.”
This point really interests me, because I think there’s a big grey area if you look at the whole range of blogs and bloggers in New Zealand. And what about looking at group blogs as a whole vs. at the work of individual posts or posters? At any one time on the front page The Standard you could have a serious, info-dumping post from lprent on climate change, full of citations and graphs. Sure, he’s obviously pushing a certain agenda, but is that enough to rule the post out as “news”? On the other hand, it could be sitting next to a post from me or Zetetic which is a big opiniony rant. But if opiniony rants mean The Standard as a whole isn’t media, what about the Herald, which publishes Bob Jones on a regular basis, and daily anonymous editorials?
Do Public Address and Pundit count more as “news media” because their authors are (I believe) all writing under their legal names, and because many of them are often quoted or relied on for comment by traditional media?
If we treat the media-blog divide as a spectrum, where’s the line in the era of Stuff Nation?
Do I think Whale Oil should count as news media? Probably not. Neither should Ideologically Impure, for that matter. Highly partisan and personally abusive? Fuck yes. But when Keith Ng breaks a national news story at PA? I think that’s news.
The irony is that one of the reasons the line is blurred, and one reason Slater may sincerely believe he qualifies as a “journalist” for the purposes of the Evidence Act, is that our undeniably-mainstream media keep using him as a source. When the Len Brown affair broke on Whale Oil, Stephen Cook was frequently referred to as a “journalist” (which is again confounded by the fact that he has worked as a “proper” journalist) in the media.
I don’t have any answers. But I think this judgement is going to be an interesting, early data point in what has to be an ongoing discussion about where blogs and media sit in relation to each other.
Quickhit: how to do online news reporting right and wrong, electorate boundaries edition
Doing it right: the Dominion Post (i.e. Stuff) with a surprisingly useful, interesting interactive map which allows you to switch between 2007 and 2013 boundaries.
Doin it rong: 3 News, with a “full list of changes” which is really only helpful if you know every suburb involved, and if every suburb has clear universal delineations. As someone who lived at a flat which was situated in three different suburbs depending on whether you were asking NZ Post, the council, or the Electoral Commission … nope.
Massive content warnings for rape, rape apologism, and police rape culture.
So. I don’t really have words, right now. I have a lot of SHITFUCKING SWEAR WORDS but they don’t add up to anything incoherent. My whole body is tensed with anger.
There’s this latest revelation, from 3 News, that Police did have a fucking complaint and they asked her – a 13-year-old – to re-enact the fucking assault with FUCKING DOLLS. And Willie Jackson and John Tamihere are officially scum. And I’m going to be fucking angry about this forever.
If you want to call out RadioLive’s advertisers, Giovanni did the hard yards and has listed them on Twitter:
And the wonderful Ally Garrett has a post at The Wireless about self-care. May I also offer zooborns.com as a great online source of happy feelings.
I’m taking some comfort in the fact that yes, there are the detractors and the victim-blamers and the fucking scumbags who must literally be okay with rape and sexual coercion – but this week we’ve seen a lot more pushback from the side of good, and a lot more people taking that side instead of brushing off the issue.
I’m going to hold on to that.
DAMNING: a review
The Labour, Green, Mana and CTU websites haven’t got it along their top ribbons: it’s still just “Media releases” and “Contact Us”. Nothing either anywhere along the bottom navigation bars, if they have them. Are we to conclude from this that the new internet blog experiment “the daily blog” is just that – a blog and nothing more? Without promotion from the political left it appears this blog thing is designed to be a minor distraction at best.
How they think they can completely revolutionize the online left without inbound links from the actual left is beyond me – that’s an automatic fail right there. It’s part of some muddled thinking given an airing in five to ten posts a day by the chirpy editor who has attempted to explain that the left are not well served or connected in the mainstream media …. but they do want to know what’s going on … and they want to hear a solid leftwing perspective on current events … so they need a website which attempts to be a news site … but the media are corporate shills anyway so no one really wants to emulate them … but it’s really unfair they don’t get NZ On Air funding. These threads don’t weave well – it’s conceptually a bit straight-up-fucked-to-hell, the way they are trying to set it up.
It is difficult to reconcile what they are saying. On the one hand, “We desperately need Public Broadcasting” – a concept so serious it gets its own German capitalisation. On the other, “It’s part of the wanky Wellington money-go-round actually”. Some questions are begging: Who is this blog for, besides the half-dozen white men who write half the content? And why don’t THEY get NZ On Air funding, huh?
And what kind of self-respecting leftwing blogger actually buys into the idea that the private sector is “leaner, meaner [and] more dynamic”?
My thought when this was originally announced some months ago was that it was the beginnings of a serious leftwing discussion hub – something more media-focused than The Standard, more explicitly leftwing than Public Address, less bugfuck surreal than Tumeke. How – after all – can a leftwing website justify building a platform if the end result isn’t a diverse lineup of interesting voices curated to influence mainstream commentary? That surely must be the long-term objective. That is where this should be going and it would be a disappointment were it not to arrive at that point in the future. Those were my initial, slightly long-winded, thoughts.
So what of this website?
Firstly it is at its own address – thedailyblog.co.nz. Which I suppose makes sense since Geocities shut down. Secondly it has a ridiculously busy front page … because the internet generation like clicking five different buttons to get to the content. Is that the presumption here? Presenting it like someone threw up on a WordPress template isn’t appealing. Thirdly, there are ads, but so what, shut your fucking face and use AdBlock if you don’t like it, because as a leftwing blogger I certainly don’t believe in stupid concepts like “the public good unfettered by commercial concerns”, and living in Auckland is haaaaaaaaaaaaaaard.
And fourthly there are blogs from a bunch of white dudes from Auckland who are probably over 40 (all right, I have actually investigated this and turns out you can judge books by their covers).
It seem utterly redundant given the sheer volume of content you could be producing from 30+ contributors, but the site also spams you with unedited press releases from political parties and unions, videos which are trending on Reddit, five-year-old cat macros, and gratuitous boobs. Are we not totally over blog websites which churn out clickbait spam to artificially bump their pageviews? I am totally over it.
The main page is overwhelming. Certainly from a basic web useability perspective it is unfathomable.
So what constitutes success for this venture? Will it be audience numbers for the site alone – because it sure isn’t having any effect on the wider media narrative around political issues. It isn’t built to get people to engage freely or develop a community either. How are the admins measuring this – and do they care?
I have gone past the front page, because I actually bother to do basic groundwork when I review things, and I see very little of what was promised in the press release:
I’m not quitting the NZ Blogosphere, I’m intending to change it.
TheDailyBlog.co.nz will bring together 30 of the best left-wing bloggers and progressive opinion shapers in NZ all onto one site to critique the news, the media, and politics to provide the other side of the story.
What was the slogan again? “Want to support this work? Donate today.” More like “Don’t, and won’t.”
Oil and colonialism: what’s happening at #Elsipogtog
The people of the Elsipogtog First Nation have, for weeks, been standing in the way of a petrochemical company’s wish to frack their land. In both senses of the term. Fracking will fuck up their water supply and endanger their treaty-guaranteed rights to live of their land. They’ve protested peacefully. This week, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police sent in camo’d snipers.
And the “mainstream” media didn’t give much of a fuck until persons unknown set fire to RCMP cars. Which just handily provided an excuse to start making arrests.
This is a story which is played out all the time. It’s a story about global capitalist interests running roughshod over people who have been systematically fucked over for generations and who aren’t expected to be able to resist. They do. And we should – at the very least, from the other side of the world, where it’s hard to “do” anything to actually help – know about it.
Elsipogtog: “Clashes” 400 years in the making
Why I will never be a paid political commentator
It’s time I face up to a harsh reality, folks. I’m just never going to be taken seriously as a political commentator.
You’ve all tried to warn me about this for years. You’ve desperately looked for ways to open my eyes to the fact that a sweary, nasty, unladylike blogger can never really be seen as credible on big important matters. I ignored you. I rebuffed you. Sometimes I told you to go fuck yourself.
I was wrong.
The recent weeks have finally made the message sink in, and now I have to acknowledge the error of my ways.
See, I thought people would find it amusing if I parodied the way that rightwingers like to use household budgets as an analogy for Government Budgets. But this was just me being silly and foolish. I should have, in all sincerity, compared fiscal policy to a nasty stereotype about fat people and diabetics. Then I might have a column in the NBR.
I thought I could bring together strands of a wider social issue and consider its implications for political activism in NZ. I should have, instead, jumped to conclusions without doing a basic Googling of the facts and screamed that a high-profile politician was a liar and a fraud. Then Nine to Noon might ask me to join their panel.
I thought I could foster a bit of discussion on the limitations and criticisms of poverty-line simulations. Instead I should have wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, lost my job in disgrace, and metaphorically shat on the experiences of poor people from orbit. Then I could be on The Vote.
I thought a weekly round-up of random articles which interested me would be a fun idea. I should have just copied-and-pasted all the articles into my own “blog”, churned out a few fact-free press releases based entirely on my own opinion, and pretended to be an organisation of concerned citizens. Then I’d be the first person journalists call for a quote.
I thought a pseudonym would allow my ideas to stand on their own. I should have just been born an old white male senior Herald reporter. Then I’d get a weekly go at the anonymous editorial.
I guess my clickbait just isn’t the right kind of clickbait, and my nastiness isn’t the right kind of nastiness, and my secret identity isn’t the right kind of secret identity. Oh well.
[Daily Blog reposts] Last night’s Vote: let them eat blankets
This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 20 June 2013.
Serious note: KidsCan and Plunket are two amazing organisations which help kids in need without, to the best of my knowledge, being judgey shitheads. Think about supporting them, yeah?
So, last night’s episode of The Vote, a show where Guyon Espiner and Duncan Garner really strut their “we are such fucking awesome journalist” peacock stuff, dealt with a complex issues which affects the lives of many vulnerable Kiwis, especially children, in a thoughtful, sensitive and informed way.
No, wait, I’m sorry, that’s completely wrong.
What Espiner and Garner did was happily reduce the issues of poverty, deprivation, child abuse and a vague, undefined notion of “bad parenting” to a circus act.
Look! Here we have lined up the extremist Christian right of the country, representatives of Family First, the Conservatives, and Destiny Church, to say money don’t buy me love and hate on parents who are doing it wrong!
And look! Here we have actual advocates for the poor and unprivileged, representing the medical community, poor and unemployed Maaori, and “dysfunctional families”! (The silly fools think they’re here to actually discuss the issues, but we’ll soon fix that!)
And throughout it all Garner and Espiner grandstanded (grandstood?) and pretended to have one view or the other, while a studio audience and denizens of social media came to probably exactly the same conclusion they started with, either “I hate poor people and have no concept of real poverty” or “I think this is a fucking complex issue so I’ll pick the bigger structural cause.”
The tell is at the end, when Espiner and Garner crowbar in a little talk-piece about how obviously it’s a complex and difficult issue and obviously both parenting and poverty place a part in kids’ lives, standing there and pretending they haven’t just reduced serious social issues into a custard pie fight.
Like they haven’t let Christine Rankin talk about “a bowl of cereal and milk costs 37c” – because they, too, live in a magical world where supermarkets sell you a single serving of cereal and milk at a time, and milk doesn’t require refrigeration (even when it’s in the more-expensive-brand’s lightproof bottle) and refrigeration doesn’t require electricity.
Like they haven’t just let Hannah Tamaki waffle on about how families in cold houses should just snuggle under a blanket – literally a minute after Celia Lashlie talked about horrible cases of family sexual abuse – and pretend that no church ever forces people to tithe.
Like they haven’t just brushed over Hone Harawira’s clear, brutal facts about the median income in Te Tai Tokerau ($12,500) or incidences of “third world disease” rheumatic fever (90, I believe in the last year.)
As much as I knew the “debate” itself was going to anger me, it was the cheap theatrics combined with the overwhelming sense that we were all meant to be so very impressed by the Serious Journalism going on that saddened me.
But then I reminded myself that this was exactly as to be expected, given the trailer for 3rd Degree basically involved a circle-jerk about how amaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazing Espiner and Garner were as journalists.
So of course the Vote’s production team turned 270,000 children living in poverty into a farce. They probably don’t even realise.
Radio NZ: reputation jeopardised
[Radio New Zealand] said the way [Matthew Hooton] expressed his opinion was unacceptable, and fell well short of our standards for fairness and balance, so this week we also asked Radio New Zealand how can you be sure Matthew Hooton won’t make further politically-motivated claims in future, which might also jeopardise that even-handedness and political neutrality they value.
Well, Radio New Zealand replied that Matthew Hooton had raised a legitimate subject on Monday, in the context of Nine to Noon’s robust political debate, from the left and from the right, but its concern was the accusations of lying, which were addressed, they say, by Nine to Noon on Thursday morning’s apology and clarification.
Well Radio New Zealand also added, in live radio we can never give an absolute guarantee that comments won’t be made by contributors which might jeopardise our reputation for even-handedness and political neutrality, but we will continue, they say, to do all that we can to maintain that reputation.
From Mediawatch, 29 September 2013.
Segment starts at 9:23, quote from 16:51-17:47
You know what actually “jeopardises your reputation”, Radio NZ?
1. Claiming that Matthew Hooton’s comments were raising a legitimate subject but that it was the accusations of lying which were the problem. The subject he raised WAS the accusations of lying. THAT’S ALL HE SAID.
2. Crying about the dinnamic environment of live radio when you’ve already set a precedent for refusing to re-hire commentators who spew crap all over your microphones.
3. Saying you’ll do “all that you can” to maintain your reputation while also [GO TO 2].
4. Referring to anything which happens on Nine to Noon involving Matthew Hooton and Mike “I agree with Matthew” Williams as “robust political debate”.
(Oh, and obviously we now have a new bar for measuring one’s political gullibility: when Matthew Hooton says “There’s a growing sense”, do you assume it’s only growing because he keeps mentioning it? If so, congratulations: you can grasp basic political strategy. Moreso than Nine to Noon’s producers, apparently.)
Talking about labiaplasty
I was emailed the link to this article on the NZ Herald about the rise of labiaplasty.
It’s actually not the absolute-worst article in the world and contains some really good input from Dr Virginia Braun of the University of Auckland and George Christy Parker of Women’s Health Action Trust. They cover concepts like a lack of good sex education and understanding that our bodies are diverse and unique things.
The only person who’s actually saying labiaplasty is on the rise is Dr Murray Beagley. Who makes a living performing labiaplasty. He’s quick to talk about not being judgemental and not enforcing beauty standards … but then he turns around and says “of course if I wasn’t doing labiaplasty there’d be plenty of other surgeries I would be doing” – as though pretty much all of those aren’t part of the same set of beauty standards.
He also keeps slipping into body-judging phrasing, like when he talks about “whether we should prioritise [people] with protruding labia over [people] with pendulous breasts” – i.e. treating protruding labia and pendulous breasts as inherent problems to be solved.
As a person with pendulous breasts: go fuck yourself, Dr Beagley.
But the thing which most pisses me off, dear readers?
Headline of video: “Labiaplasty: creating the perfect vagina?”
Headline of article: “Vagina surgery on the rise in NZ”
Herald subeditors may find the following diagram helpful.
I mean, can anyone actually quantify the amount of irony involved in the Herald publishing a report which talks about a lack of information about what genitals look like without managing to work out that the labia ARE NOT THE SAME FUCKING THING as the vagina?
And why do I have the strangest feeling that an article about testicle-related surgery wouldn’t be headlined “Penis surgery on the rise”? Or that such an article would never be written in the first place?