Posts by Rex Widerstrom

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  • Hard News: Improving quality by cutting service,

    First off, bias isn't sloppy subbing, it's bias. Personally I'd be happier if the various news outlets who've abandoned any pretence of objectivity just admitted it. The UK has survived with the Independent obviously leaning left and the The Sun leaning right etc. People know what they're buying and filter what they're reading accordingly. Or not. But at least there's no pretence.

    But even if a tabloid stoops to running "Gotcha!" to 'celebrate' people's deaths it can at least respect its readers sufficiently to ensure that what follows is properly subbed.

    I've just been asked to fill in for the holidaying editor of a small, privately owned community newspaper. It employs four journalists, a sub, and the editor then checks and re-subs every page before it goes to press. And he was bemoaning the lack of a proof reader because the occasional small error was still getting through.

    That paper is bulging with advertising and makes a healthy profit, yet maintains a bigger staff-per-reader ratio than any similar newspaper I've edited or worked on. Clearly the readership, and advertisers, respect and respond to the product. It runs three editions covering different towns and its staff live locally and know the area. It was started, in fact, as a photocopied newsletter by a middle aged housewife with no journalism background, who still contributes.

    Interestingly, there's competition from another paper, part of a state-wide chain owned by the local daily. It survives by offering advertisers good prices on package deals covering different regions. If it wasn't part of a huge conglomerate it'd never survive on its own merits, as it has none.

    It's a replay of the mistakes made by radio, which they're only just realising. They too thought they could agglomerate operations in Auckland and no one listening in the fiercely parochial south-of-the-Bombays would care. They were wrong.

    Unless David Kirk and his ilk wake up to this simple formula their cost-cutting will eventually see them become so small they disappear up their own fundament. The real damage will be to the profession of journalism, as working for a "Pagemasters" style operation, where you have no clue about the people or the places in the stories you're subbing, holds no appeal.

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 157 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: "Evil called: Can you make a…,

    Kyle Matthews: That might make them incompetent. It doesn't make them not evil... or otherwise.

    I was just channelling Forrest Gump (or something)... you know "evil is as evil does"... and CT haven't done anything effectively evil for about seven years now.

    It's kind of like John Key twirling his chair round in his underground evil HQ, clad in his silver jumpsuit, pinky finger to corner of mouth, and announcing "That's right, well you should fear me, for I have hired... Crosby Textor!!! Mwahahahaha!!!"

    Only to have his minions shuffle and cough embarressdly and mutter "Uhh... boss? Actually... ummm... since you've been frozen in ice that whole time, umm... they're not actually all that good any more".

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 157 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: "Evil called: Can you make a…,

    Evil? Doctor Evil, maybe. As much as Hager might want to prepare the way for blame-shifting after an electoral drubbing his thesis ignores two important points:

    First, Crosby Textor aren't that evil any more. They failed to save John Howard. They failed to get Michael Howard across the line. And their "small target" strategy for Boris Johnson overlooked the fact that his status as the "anti-Livingstone" was what appealed to his core supporters. Fortunately for Johnson he was an outspoken colourful character whose strong views were already well known - not something that can be said about Key.

    So a fairly blunt and nasty campaign worked in Australia in 2001. Let's not forget that had a boat load of refugees not co-operated by sinking on cue, the "strategy" would have been... well, what, exactly?

    Then it was warmed over for Michael Howard (you could almost see where "Michael" has been pasted over "John") and failed. And it's been failing since, as evidenced by the fact that the Liberals aren't in power anywhere in Australia and, what's more, don't look like ever being.

    They've definitely lost their lustre in Australia, where bipartisan firms like Government Relations Australia (GRA) and the Labor-leaning Hawker Britton are seen as better strategists.

    Second, that when Labour gets a pasting at the polls by the undeserving National Party it will be solely and completely the fault of Labour and, in particular, their behaviour during this past term. The level of hubris displayed by this government and in particular this Prime Minister has been nothing short of breathtaking. Not for nothing is she being compared to Muldoon. I even came across one lefty defending her behaviour in the same terms the other day - that "at least you know what she's thinking".

    Yes, but if the majority of people you claim to represent think otherwise, and you don't even try to win them over but instead force laws through, you're toast.

    To blame the work of "evil" consultants (I know you were exaggerting Russ, I suspect Hager and others believe the hype) is to give them credibility they don't deserve and to excuse those truly responsible.

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 157 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Google Trending and MGMT,

    Russell, this might work for playing WMA files on a Mac: Flip4Mac.

    We use it a lot in our edit suite where we're running Final Cut Pro on multicore G5s and people womble in with stuff they've "helpfully" burned in some Windows-only format or other. It seems to convert just about anything to anything.

    Proviso: I don't drive it so don't know all the ins and outs; plus I'm not sure how it may or may not deal with DRM stuff because I just won't go there for broadcast stuff - too annoyingly complicated when there's libraries of royalty-free music around.

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 157 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Tragedy into Crisis?,

    Michael Laws might have declared on Sunday that "South Auckland is the badlands of New Zealand … not a place that you choose to live. It is a place that you end up..."

    What, like you "end up" in Wanganui after getting up to your mascared eyes in the s**t for telling porkies and blaming it all on Antoinette in Hawkes Bay and Wellington?

    I lived and worked in South Auckland for over 2 years. Aside from the usual yoof hanging about making a nuisance of themselves the folk there were no more nor less menacing than anywhere else I've lived.

    And since many of them had genuinely fallen on hard times I found more people willing to lend a hand and greet you with a smile when you needed one than I ever found living in Remuera when I moved north.

    It really is about time the media stopped paying for this predictable, knee-jerk bigotry from "commentators" from whom - and about whom - we've heard more than enough.

    There's people who consistently write better researched and more challenging stuff here on PA, and even over at Kiwiblog and The Standard. Time for some new blood, surely.

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 157 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Feeling Unserious,

    Okay, so I'm currently producing the first DVD released by Toby. It's a live concert... this is an UNedited clip. Reviews welcome :-)

    Shameless link whoring: www.tobymusic.com.au

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 157 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: If Britain Jumped off a Bridge...,

    Four hours is no time at all to permit a jury to deliberate on a complex case. Is that applicable to every case, Graeme? So, for instance, a jury which heard the evidence in a case which stretched over weeks of complex testimony would be under pressure to reach a verdict in half a working day?!

    The underlying message I think this will send to jurors is one that too many people seem to assume in any event - that the Police only arrest and prosecute those who are guilty.

    Thanks for highlighting these issues, by the way. Like Lyndon I thought I was pretty smart because I'd caught up with the substance of the Bill on double jeopardy (which also concerns me) and depositions.

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 157 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Friday Fun,

    From the fount of good TV that is the ABC comes The Gruen Transfer, a new show about commercials that contrives not to be a cheap clip show of TVCs that happen to have won an Axis Award but actually manages to intelligently dissect the genre.

    Highlight of the first episode: DDB's "pitch" for whales... though not quite in the way you'd expect.

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 157 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: How many children with cancer…,

    shep suggests:

    ...facetime is important.

    So you're saying this was a conference with plenty of facetime to synergise about repurposing the Mission Statement so as to improve deliverables to key stakeholders? ;-P

    Yep, sounds like damn near every conference I've attended (including those I've spoken at, and yes, almost always drew the 1st spot, 2nd morning and had to contend with a hangover).

    From living in Christchurch & the centre of anything is in Wellington or Auckland, it is really good to meet the boss, et al.

    Well I guess that depends on who your boss is. I could have gone a long, long time without having to encounter most of the people I've ever worked for.

    But point taken. However, wouldn't it be cheaper to fly the boss, or even several bosses, round the country (economy fares, of course) to meet the workers, then let bosses and workers interact on line? Seriously - I'm presuming someone has done the figures on both options at some point and they're out there somewhere?

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 157 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: How many children with cancer…,

    I see Craig has beaten me to it, but it's a point worth re-stating: Why couldn't this have been done by video conference?

    Most of us who've been to conferences know that the information delivered by endless hours of PowerPoint could just as easily have been done online.

    Getting to travel, spend the night in a nice hotel, have some posh nosh and generally get a bit of a break from the humdrum routine is part of an unspoken bargain between us attendees and the organisers - "If you promise to try and pay attention while we drone on, we'll let you have a bit of fun in the evening".

    Most conferences - including this one - are a huge waste of money. However if APN choose to do so, the only people entitled to grouch are their shareholders. When a state agency does it - especially, as Craig points out - one whose "clients" would benefit from the money then yes, it is a legitmate target, even if it's the National Party who're making the bullets.

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 157 posts Report Reply

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