On winners and losers by underground

Like the sadist I am, sometimes I like to watch Fox News, cheerleaders of religious conservatism, where the likes of O’Reilly and Hannity make the most ridiculous assertions. According to Hannity, Obama is a socialist because of the US’s increasing deficit, despite George W Bush’s efforts to plunge the surplus he inherited into the red. Yesterday, I enjoyed Hannity slating the network’s opposition for their criticism of the Fox-endorsed anti-Obama “tea party” protests. While I believe it is part of the media role to often advocate a cause, organising anti-government protests is hardly fair and unbiased. And who are the people protesting? They are not the millions who took to the streets objecting to Bush’s illegal war and the erosion of civil liberties. They are tens of thousands of people who voted for the guy that did not win a democratic election last year. They are the sorest of losers, who supported a failed president for eight years and have written off the guy who inherited his mess; a troubled economy and a fractured nation. They are Hannity and Co.’s rent-a-crowd.

In New Zealand, the Left have had to stomach a National Government for six months and, even more difficult, the realisation that John Key is not as bad as previously believed. Key’s empty rhetoric and lack of substance pre-election concerned many, but his inclusive, measured governance has caused a re-think from many. There are indications unpopular policy may be in the pipeline and their pre-Christmas rush and their 100-day inaction may have given opponents some amnunition, but for the time being it’s plain sailing for the Government. The losers of the last election will need to regroup and consider their moves for the future. Let’s not see the pathetic sore-loser response shown by the tea baggers across the Pacific.


Who’s blogging? by underground
March 9, 2009, 4:12 pm
Filed under: Journalism, Philosophy | Tags: , , , , ,

Blogging is the internet version of newspaper’s letters to the editor and radio’s talkback. Rather than the media dictate what comments and opinions are aired or published, these formats allow for feedback from the general public. But who is talking? Who is it that writes to the editor? Who rings up the radio station? Who keeps an active blog?

At our community paper with a readership of around 25,000, we get a steady stream of letters to the editor. A vast amount, however, are from familiar names. Typically, but not always, these people have a lot of time on their hands as they are retired. Their gripes are usually with council, many are valid, many are the products of idle minds.

The same people get on the phone calling up late night talkback, complaining about anything and everything.

So who’s blogging? Who are the people behind the most active blogs, many updated as often as daily?

My last post was a month ago, and even then it was a book review. As a reporter I spend most of the day in front of the computer either writing the news or reading the news. In my spare time, doing the same thing but for my blog is hardly appealing. It has to be something I want to get off my chest or something on my mind I want to put online that spurs me to put up another post. Last year as a student I could put up as many as a post a day. Readership skyrocketed! But now I simply do not have the time nor the energy. So who does? And why do they?

I’m not quitting my blog. I’m just writing when I want to, not writing to keep the weekly ratings above 300. Next post might be some time away!

Review: Where underpants come from by underground

Writer Joe Bennett’s energy and enthusiasm is legendary, captured not only in his regular television appearances but also in his newspaper columns. His sentences race wildly like a high speed chase, weaving through ideas, from one thought to the next, ceasing abruptly with a bizarre observation. It is his ability to describe scenes and experiences which I love, as he will use the most inappropriate words to most aptly convey what he means. It is truly a wonder how he does it.

Where underpants come from follows Bennett’s exploration through China, as he searches for the raw materials that constitute his $8.59 underwear  purchased from the Warehouse. The underwear serve as the vehicle for Bennett’s investigation into globalisation and China’s evergrowing role in the world, as well as the country’s social, historical, political, religious and economic makeup.

His energy and enthusiasm are what makes his quest possible, as he convinces firstly the Warehouse, and then their numerous suppliers, to allow him to see how his cotton undies got from the cotton fields of China to the shelves of New Zealand. What to some may sound like a boring story, Bennett ensures is anything but, with typically bright descriptions bringing his observations to life. For example, a maitresse ‘d at a Shanghai restaurant is described as “wearing what looks like the uniform of a London parking warden and her hair is tied back in a manner that the Soviet Union’s champion woman tractor driver of 1956 would have found just a little severe”. From then on she is referred to as the “tractor-driving champ”. Genius.

I’ll be hunting down Bennett’s numerous other books to give me more late night laughs.

Kiwis beating the Aussies – Take that Murdoch! by underground

Deborah Coddington is not the only one to be impressed with this year’s TWN, AUT’s student newspaper. The Australian Journalism Education Association were equally impressed, awarding TWN the “Ossie” award for ‘best regular student publication 2008’ in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. And not did we win that, we also won a second category – the ‘Dr Charles Stuart Prize for Best Student Publication (Any Medium)’.

It would be interesting see what the standard of publication we were up against and compare how different journalism schools approach the challenge of producing a newspaper. The skills one learns from doing so are valuable in ‘real world’ journalism, as I am now finding out. I recommend all journalism students who are interested in getting into any aspect of print journalism to take any such paper on offer at your university/institute.

Good luck to the TWNers for next year, let’s see if you can make it two in a row! Continue reading

Don’t worry, the future of New Zealand journalism is in safe hands! by underground

I’ve just had an opinion piece by Deborah Coddington in the Herald on Sunday bought to my attention. Coddington commented on the performance of the media through the election, commending some for fine work, whilst slamming others for their waffling and incompetitance.

“And why, on election night, did Sainsbury have Noelle McCarthy wittering on breathlessly?

She came over like a pretty little teenager woken up by adoring dad to join the grown-ups’ party.

It was cruel to watch and McCarthy was completely out of her depth.

The Irish lass is dangerously muddled – does she want to be a celebrity or a journalist? Posing for gossip pages in designer frocks is not really the best way to be taken seriously.”

However, and this is where my and my fellow former student friends get to slap ourselves on the back, Coddington says the future of journalism is in safe hands.

“And are we in New Zealand well-served in the future?

Most definitely, if the publication put out by AUT journalism students, Te Waha Nui (Big Mouth), is any indication.

I picked up their pre-election special in late October and was impressed – good questions asked, short items clearly written, no sign of student smart-arse.

Let’s hope they’re our future Cliftons, Robinsons, Edwards, Clarks – political reporters who’ve become household names for their talents and skills, as opposed to celebrity scribblers who rise without trace because they can dress up and attend the opening of an oyster.”

Well done Te waha nui 2008! Now let’s try find some bloody jobs. Sorry Deborah, but it looks like we’ll end up in PR!

Is google reading my emails? by underground
November 14, 2008, 11:07 am
Filed under: Journalism | Tags: , , , , ,

Having just started up a google email account, I was pleased to notice the lack of flashing advertisements blaring across the screen For you see, on my little laptop those adverts practically freeze my computer. I have to scroll down the screen in order to get the ad out of view so other pages can load. Otherwise I’m stuck. News sites often have these moving adverts in the middle of the news story, rendering the story unreadable on my laptop (hint: if you have this problem, read story in print mode!). The worst site for this, however, is the hotmail inbox page. Recent changes have prompted my move to Gmail, as one can no longer scroll down to remove the advert from view.

I was pleased to see no such adverts on the Gmail inbox page, and can now read my emails without fear of an epileptic seizure or risk not being able to view another page for ten minutes whilst I wait for a computer to come out of its own seizure. The adverts are much more subtle, in fact it was a few days till I actually noticed any.

Emailing an journalism lecturer about Thomas Friedman’s book Hot, Flat and Crowded (does anyone recommend it, it looks good), these adverts came up next to the email reply. Continue reading

Winner of the second leader’s debate? Those not watching and those not there. by underground

TV3’s John Campbell did a marginally better job than One’s Mark Sainsbury to keep the debate civil, but Helen Clark and John Key were again intent on talking over each other and providing viewers with ample reason to reach for the remote. For those of us who stayed turned there were moments of entertainment, particularly when Campbell commented that it was unprecedented for two politicians to argue over who was responsible for negotiating such an unpopular law as the repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act. Witty remarks aside, there was very little substance to the exchanges between the Labour and National leader.

Again analysts are giving the points to Key simply because he didn’t lose. Well he certainly didn’t win either. But Clark’s effort will not slow the momentum National have and after tonight, I fear a National victory may be even closer. Continue reading