Posts by James W

  • Hard News: Fix up, young men,

    It all comes down to a lack of empathy – people seem to struggle to care, or at least put themselves in the victim’s shoes, without having experienced it themselves. I mean we have a Prime Minister who appeared to struggle with that when he bullied that waitress repeatedly, and how many people leapt to his defense?

    There are studies showing that empathy is a trait we’re born with, but also evidence there’s been a decline in empathy since the 1980s. My theory is the selfish, “me” society, free-market capitalism western nations have been subjected to since Regan’s 80s is mostly to blame. We’re taught to look out for number one, user pays, demonise the underclass and beneficiaries, poor choices leads to poverty and abuse. Empathy is weakness. To survive you need to be selfish.

    As this Wired story says, selfish behaviour breeds more selfish behaviour. The good news is the opposite it true, too – kindness spreads. So, in a hippy dippy way, maybe part of the solution (beyond the immediate of punishing the culprits), is to be nicer to people.

    Since Jul 2008 • 132 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Not yet standing upright,

    As a professional designer who wanted a flag change, I find the final four are exactly how I expect a crowdsourced competition judged by non-professionals to look: bloody awful. I will likely be voting to keep the current flag now, in the hopes of another (properly run) go down the line.

    (And I picked what I call the NBA flag – the Lockwood red and blue – would be the favourite before the call for submissions. It appeals to people who like the current flag but want something a bit more 'Kiwi'. It's perfect design-by-committee.)

    Since Jul 2008 • 132 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Everybody has one,

    When did anyone think Hosking was a journalist? Did anyone think Paul Holmes was? And Hosking's entire career is modelled after him. He's literally taken over every position the man had.

    I'm actually completely fine with Hosking not being a journalist, and everyone being aware of that. Everyone has a perspective and we know his. Just be upfront about it and stop pretending you don't have a bias.

    Since Jul 2008 • 132 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: Beyond 'a bad look',

    The "we just report the facts" argument is disingenuous, at best. It suggests the journalist is unaware of agenda setting or priming, or the simple fact that not everything is reported all the time – there's always judgement calls being made. "Just the facts" is their way of saying "we're staying out of it", which Jay Rosen points out is no longer the best route for journalists to take:

    For a very long time, the logic behind “he said, she said” journalism, and “get both sides,” as well as, “I’m sorry, but we’ll have to leave it there” was that operating this way would reduce risk to a news publisher’s reputation. When you have both sides speaking in your account, you’re protecting yourself against charges of favoring one or the other. By not “choosing” a side — by not deciding who’s right — you’re safer.

    You’re safer because you could be wrong if you choose, so why choose? You’re safer because even if you’re not wrong you can be accused of bias, and who needs that? You’re safer because people will always argue about [fill in some bitterly contested narrative here] and you don’t want to be a contestant in that. In the middle is safe. Neither/nor is safe. Not having a view of the matter is safe… Right?

    Increasingly that is not right. More and more — but not always — the “no position” position is the chancier move, especially when disputes turn on factual questions and checkable claims. A newsroom that goes with “he said, she said” when a call can be made is engaged in reckless behavior that may easily blow up in its face. That wasn’t true ten years ago. But it is now.

    Since Jul 2008 • 132 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Behind Baltimore,

    Mic.com has a good explainer article up here, including this passage which punched me in the gut:

    A 43-year-old man was arrested for public urination…

    He was handcuffed and placed in a transport van in good health. He emerged a quadriplegic.

    Before he died, he complained to his doctor that he was not buckled into his seat when the police van "made a sharp turn," sending him "face first" into the interior of the van, court records state. He was "violently thrown around the back of the vehicle as [police officers] drove in an aggressive fashion, taking turns so as to injure [Johnson], who was helplessly cuffed," the lawsuit stated.

    Johnson, who suffered a fractured neck, died two weeks later of pneumonia caused by his paralysis. His family sued, and a jury agreed that three officers were negligent in the way they treated Johnson. The initial $7.4 million award, however, was eventually reduced to $219,000 by Maryland's Court of Special Appeals because state law caps such payouts.

    Since Jul 2008 • 132 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Will the grown-ups ever…, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Honestly, and I’m not proud to be this cynical, I think the only way an adult is getting into this particular room is when The Herald and the “gossip media” manage to hound someone into a suicide’s grave.

    The Debbie Gerbich case gets very close.

    Since Jul 2008 • 132 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Public art is no place for committees,

    How is the Taxpayers' Union and Family First an "unusual coalition"? Two right-wing reactionaries hiding behind the pretence of an "organisation" whose sole goal is to get into the papers as much as possible. They're a match made in heaven.

    Since Jul 2008 • 132 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: Sunlight Resistance,

    Nixon had to resign because of the cover-up, not the crime. Key's genius is he never had to cover anything up – he fully admits to people in his administration dealing with people who hacked into the Labour website, even comparing it to something the All Blacks would do to the Wallabies. That's the difference.

    Since Jul 2008 • 132 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: We can do better than this,

    As I read today's Herald piece on Slater using the former prostitute to dig dirt on public figures, I wondered how much power Slater would instantly lose if we all stopped giving a shit who was sleeping with whom. After all, the reason he's been able to wield so much power over people (including, it seems, journalists and politicians) is because the public eats up the gossip and "scandal" he provides. We need to stop providing a market for this crap. Which isn't to downplay the revelations of Dirty Politics or the people involved, who absolutely need to be held accountable.

    Since Jul 2008 • 132 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The crybaby philosopher,

    Maybe we should use Paul Henry's definition of what a New Zealander looks like.

    Since Jul 2008 • 132 posts Report Reply

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