Thursday, 14 May 2015

Little Petal

Thin Skinned Media

The NZ Herald is no grey lady.  True, its moniker back in the day used to be "Granny Herald".  Venerable, stable, weighty.  But like many media it has been outpaced and outdistanced by the mass democratisation effect made possible by emerging electronic media.  Like most "mainstream" media it has responded by cutting costs (usually quality reporting staff are the first to go) and by sensationalising the news to attract readers.  Granny Herald has morphed into a bimbo with diamonds on the souls of her shoes. 

Breathless sensationalism is now the staple diet.  Virtually every news story has to be twisted to allude to a  subterranean scandal.  But recently it has sunk to new levels.  It has been caught editing readers' letters to the Editor critical of the paper's performance to blunt the criticism and cast itself in a more favourable light.

A hyper-ventilating article has been published suggesting that a particular charter school was wasting taxpayers' money.  The sub-text was that the state was being more generous to charter schools than the normal teacher-union controlled school.  It was the sensation-du-jour on the part of one wannabe Herald journalist.  It has been pointed out numerous times that such "comparisons" actually equate oranges with apples, confusing start-up costs with operational costs.  But in this case it was worse.  A charter school had used funds from other sources to buy some sports equipment.  "Profligate waste from charter schools" was the sensationalist hype of the paper.  Serious, professional reporters and media-of-substance just don't do that sort of stuff. 

The letter written to the paper by a reader to correct the nonsense was written by David Seymour, Under-Secretary to the Minister of Education.  He has published his original letter, together with the Herald's editing.  

To be sure, newspapers often edit letters from readers to shorten them.  But in this case, the editing was clearly with intent to remove criticism of the rag.  The bimbo's make-up is flaking off.  It's not pretty.

Hat Tip: Kiwiblog

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