• From the Guardian

    America’s hall of shame

    Freaking brilliant.

    Highlights: 19 ED Hill. Ms Hill is the Fox News anchor who referred to Barack and Michelle Obama’s on-stage fist bump in early June as a “terrorist fist jab“. I guess she’s well familiar with the various and sundry ways in which couples express intimacy – she’s been married three times herself. Fox announced in November that it wasn’t renewing her contract.

    17 Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher. The man better known as Joe the Plumber wasn’t a licensed plumber. He owed back taxes. He shocked even a Fox News anchor with his cavalier relationship to the facts. Let’s hope he’s 14 minutes into his allotted 15 minutes of fame.

    16 John Edwards. How could a person run for president knowing that he’d cheated on his cancer-stricken wife with a woman who subsequently bore a child? (He denies paternity.) What if he’d actually won the nomination, and then this news came out? He gives bad judgment a bad name. – And I used to quite like him. No wait, that was John Kerry, my bad

    15 Heath and Deborah Campbell. You know, the parents who named their son Adolf Hitler Campbell. Nuff said. – OOOOOh, yeah. And their daughter Aryan Nation Campbell. Could they grow up to be anything BUT white supremacists? I hope so

    9 Eliot Spitzer. The prostitute-visiting ex-New York governor, remember? Usually, when a scandal breaks, one reads the reports and starts thinking, “Well, I can see how they could wriggle out of this one.” Even when the Lewinsky scandal broke, I could see how Bill Clinton might get out of it. But when the Spitzer story broke, it was evident instantly that he was dead meat.

    4 Rod Blagojevich. “Whatever I say is always lawful, whatever I’m interested in doing is always lawful.” Uh-huh. Depending on what comes out at his trial, he’s a strong contender for an even higher spot in 2009.

    2 Sarah Palin. Does she really deserve to be this high? Never in my adult lifetime has one politician so perfectly embodied everything that is malign about my country: the proto-fascist nativism, the know-nothingism, the utterly cavalier lack of knowledge about the actual principles on which the country was founded. So, heck, you betcha she does!

  • Plagiarism and public figures

    Poor Noelle McCarthy. She must be feeling pretty embarrassed right about now. I’m feeling sad for her; I quite like her columns, she’s young and down to earth and she’s had a pretty meteoric rise through the ranks of NZ media. Plus she’s rather hot. Not to sound all lame and gushy teenage girly, but it’s rare to have a female media figure to look up to and admire (reading the TV news doesn’t count, and am I the only one who doesn’t see the great appeal of Samantha Hayes??)

    I can see how she might have mistakenly borrowed from articles she’d read; I have a terrible memory but for some reason I read phrases and sentences that stick with me forever and I go around muttering them to myself. It’s like they’re burned into my brain and I usually have no idea where I first got them from.

    I find it amusing to obsserve how Fairfax are all over it – they’ve run about four stories so far. APN, well, hardly a peep out of them, not surprising really as she’s a columnist for the Herald (she really needs a new photo though, the one they print ages her about a decade).

    I hope it all blows over, etc etc. Of course it might turn out she’s been plagiarising for months and has never had an original thought of her own, in which case I’ll be badly disappointed.

  • Inspiration

    Sometimes our humdrum everyday journalism makes me cringe. i’ll flick through the newspaper and sympathise with the reporters who have to write about petrol prices, or rates increases, or funding for schools. but i was really proud today to read the herald’s stuff on nia glassie. i hadn’t really been able to bring myself to read more than the bare details of the case; it saddened and horrified me too much. but today i read it all every single word. i was disgusted, revolted, and i imagine the journos were too. but they made good on an incredibly hard job. it reminds me of something robert fisk said when he spoke at aut. We have to be impartial, yes, but on the side of those who are suffering.
    i hope one day i will be able to write with the same grace and empathy they did.

  • So I got my copy of Verve with my two stories published (although without a byline) last week, along with my cheque. YAY!!

    However – my wharf story was hideously edited and chopped out any mention of opposing viewpoints. I was so proud of managing to get comment from an informed resident who didn’t agree with the proposal. That was ALL edited out. Pretty disappointed. I hope to be able to use the story in full next year for my portfolio, and maybe follow the issue up later as well seeing as it’s going to be an ongoing one. Just goes to show how much business interests affect editorial. I guess they wouldn’t want to piss off one of their big supporters.

    I desperately hope the lady I interviewed does not see the mag, seeing as after all that hassle, everything I wrote about her was cut – and she was so passionate.

  • Bullet points

    • I’ve always dismissed the idea of being a freelancer. Freelancers are flakey, insecure, don’t get benefits. I didn’t think I would have the discipline to get anything done if I didn’t go into an office every day. But writing for Verve and Cafe Philosophy this year has shown me that i could, in fact work from home. It would be really¬† nice in some ways. No more rushing around in the mornings or waiting for buses that are invariably late.
    • I’ve been finding it hard to draw the line between advertorial and editorial. Writing my Unitec story, for example. But I think an easy way to look at it is to see if there are any news values, ie, writing about Unitec if it was just opening, vs what I wrote about the courses it offers – basically a plug for them
    • I was freaking out not long ago about being 20. Two entire decades. But at some point I realised that I have plenty of time. The general plan is to work for a couple of years, then go overseas once the boy gets qualified (he’d be a couple of years behind me) and then work/travel for a year or two. then, in theory, come home and hopefully be able to buy some sort of place to live in. By then I’d still only be in my late 20s – not even 30. Pleeeenty of time.
  • Thoughts on Austin Hemmings

    it’s really interesting for me as a comms student to observe the different viewpoints of us, studying the media, and then seeing the other side of issues at work.

    key example: austin hemmings. people were outraged and flooded the paper with emails about how disgusting and disgraceful it was to print a front page pic of the sheet covering his body with his shoes still visible. cold and harsh as it may sound, i didn’t feel a whole lot about it either way . i figured they were illustrating the story, it wasn’t a closeup, it’s all in the pursuit of truth, getting all the facts out and telling a story. of course i could understand why people were upset, i just didn’t particularly share their opinion.

    then our tutor explained, in her unimitably intense way, that it was done because it was such a hideous, heinous crime – yes, it was there to shock, it was meant to make us feel ill to drive home the fact that this was random, unplanned and totally shocking.

    i’ve tried, i’ve really tried to imagine how i would feel if it was a relative of mine who had been the body in that picture. how would i have felt? i honestly did not have a problem with it. i tried to imagine it under different circumstances. having been run over by a bus? shot in a robbery? murdered in cold blood? yes, in those situations i started to not feel so okay about it.

    i think for me it was the fact that he would have died trying to help someone. that element of heroism. that made all the difference and was why i couldn’t quite agree with everyone who was completely outraged at the publication of that picture. like it or not.