Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Little pieces of a big picture

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  • Lilith __,

    I've just taken my cat to the vet for her routine surgery. The vet's running as normal, the rubbish trucks are doing their regular round, builders down at the school are back at work building the new hall, things seem semi-normal in our area.

    There are a few old brick buildings near my place in Woolston that have serious damage, and there are a few brick chimneys that have fallen around the neighbourhood, but on most streets you really have to hunt for any sign that anything's happened.

    The confusing thing for those of us in the middle of the "devastation" is that most stuff just isn't devastated. There is some severe damage in patches, especially in the CBD, Bexley, Avonside, part of Brighton, and Kaiapoi, but most of Chch is much as usual.

    We have all been fielding worried calls, texts and emails from all over the world, which is lovely of course, but also slightly confusing! I keep wondering if I just haven't noticed how bad things are.

    One of the great strengths of Twitter and Facebook is that you get to hear from a range of voices, which gives some perspective. TV and newspapers focus on the worst-affected places, and their viewers and readers assume what they are seeing is representative: it isn't.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3450 posts Report Reply

  • amanda peter,

    Everyone in our house is bit jaded by the living through that wee bit of history and not being crushed. Although the kitchen was a winning combo of choc sauce & broken glass & 'the room at the end' upstairs awash with the record/book/ cd detritus of far too many happy years in student radio.

    However, this is really a very specific request, very lovely humans with 2 cute little boys, a little baby & one lovely, very elderly dog have had their home trashed by earthquake.

    So attempting to find a long term renter 3+ bedroom home in Merivale, near primary school..any ideas??? Thought casting a wide net through such a constructive group may come up with some ideas.

    Otautahi-the flat city • Since Sep 2008 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I've already had a slightly tetchy exchange via Twitter with Jonathan Milne about the Herald on Sunday's front page and lead story.

    Turns out, I've got a bit of a problem with their editorial too.

    This:

    Yesterday morning, within an hour of the quake, hundreds of people were loading their families and photo albums into cars and pulling out on to the main roads - roads that were cracked, even liquefied, roads on which the traffic lights were out.

    Still more people hit the streets out of pure curiosity, excited to see the damage caused by an earthquake that might be "The Big One" most New Zealanders have been anticipating all their lives.

    And where were the calming and authoritative voices telling them to stay in their homes? TVNZ, the state broadcaster, had nothing but grinning Paul Henry reruns until after 7am. Perhaps they figured that as the power was out in many parts of Christchurch, there was no point bothering - not enough ratings points.

    Johnno, who sometimes comments here, had a good response to some similar snark in a discussion of Clare Curran's post on Red Alert. Basically, the TVNZ staff who provided pictures from 8.30am left their homes and families and went into an area of unknown dangers to work.

    Milne defended the HoS coverage by telling me that some of his team "had their own homes and families to worry about", but the paper doesn't seem to have extended such a thought to what other media workers had to deal with in the couple of hours after the quake struck.

    Then this:

    Government ministers Gerry Brownlee and John Carter finally turned up at the Beehive at 8.30am - four hours after the quake. Carter, the civil defence minister, said he had not yet spoken to the Prime Minister.

    It could have been an episode of Dad's Army. We're going to have a conference call, said Carter. "Don't panic."

    By the time the Government finally put John Key on an Airforce plane to Christchurch yesterday afternoon, any chance of demonstrating real, unifying leadership was gone.

    Good grief. I presume Carter was at home in his electorate -- in Northland. Did Brownlee leave his own family in Christchurch to get to Wellington for an 8.30am statement? That doesn't seem slack to me, in either case. And how on earth is the same afternoon "too late" for the PM to get to Christchurch on a military flight?

    Where was the stirring national political leadership, telling residents how they should look out for their families, check on their elderly or vulnerable neighbours, and avoid hasty over-reactions? Who knows.

    You know, I think people didn't need the Prime Minister to tell them to look out for their neighbours.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18892 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    I think people didn't need the Prime Minister to tell them to look out for their neighbours.

    One thing we would have appreciated was more of a focus in the media on civil defence info. They had an opportunity to warn us to do things like boiling water, and such advice was buried near the end of reports, if it was there at all. A lot of us were wondering if it was OK to flush our toilets, and if we needed to make alternative arrangements. National Radio was about the only news outlet that got stuck into CD information and practical advice. It was really appreciated! The finer points of emergency sanitation may be embarassing or dull for those outside of the affected area, but getting these things right becomes terribly important if you might actually need to use it.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3450 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    You know, I think people didn't need the Prime Minister to tell them to look out for their neighbours.

    More to the point, I don't think Ministerial media calls were really a priority on Saturday morning.

    Ian Daziel has just replied by text. They've lost a couple of chimneys, have books in disarray (I dread to think!) but are otherwise good.

    Double yay! Steve's workload is heavy enough without being left to annoy me all on his lonesome. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12001 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The finer points of emergency sanitation may be embarassing or dull for those outside of the affected area, but getting these things right becomes terribly important if you might actually need to use it.

    Yes, Ross Mason has been making the same point on t'other thread. It's one of the key things that people need to know and, as you say, only Radio NZ has been consistently doing it right.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18892 posts Report Reply

  • BlairMacca,

    The HoS coverage was farcical, but not surprising. Milne's Twitter response about 'unreported looting' seems as farcical, all the reports I have seen from police are that crime is lower than normal levels.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 201 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    Spot the difference:

    What Colin Espiner from the Press said: "Whole sections of the older parts of Christchurch had buildings with rubble all over the road." What the Sydney Morning Herald reported: "Whole parts of Christchurch were reduced to rubble."

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3450 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Not defending HoS at all. Looters in vans pillaging affected suburb, reports resident in passing. In same article, others believe their area's construction method is unique and modern.

    Residents think it is because the land had been a swamp, sucked dry and filled with dirt for the subdivision. They say the development should never have been built.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16669 posts Report Reply

  • BlairMacca,

    Also the Good Morning America coverage was hilarious, crossing live to London for a report of New Zealand???

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 201 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    only Radio NZ has been consistently doing it right

    Public service ethos for you - while others just looked for the best newspron angle, including our ex-state TV company.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16669 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Sockburn

    Named after an historic incident where someone once burned a sock?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Man, that "massively proud" tweet by Milne redefines the boundaries of shamelessness.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7378 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    Well Blair, Christchurch has always been described as a very English city, so it is only right London be consulted

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 889 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And on a slight tangent, I recently was looking at the New York Times' 9/11 coverage -- this was utter chaos (and enormous danger) almost literally in the NYT's back yard but they just managed to keep their editorial shit together. Don't know how they did it, but the Herald on Sunday (which was presumably made up in a perfectly safe newsroom in AUCKLAND) doesn't come out of the comparison well. Even New York's infamous tabloids kept it (relatively) restrained.

    The Herald on Sunday made an editorial call to go for a red top tabloid disaster porn front page. Well, that was their call and freedom of the press and all that. But they've got to own it.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12001 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The HoS coverage was farcical, but not surprising. Milne's Twitter response about 'unreported looting' seems as farcical, all the reports I have seen from police are that crime is lower than normal levels.

    And if there was indeed "widespread" and "unreported" looting, it's a bit of a puzzle that the HoS didn't report it either. Their own story refers only to "several" liquor stores and one pharmacy being stolen from, in the first couple of hours.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18892 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    The HoS coverage was farcical, but not surprising. Milne's Twitter response about 'unreported looting' seems as farcical, all the reports I have seen from police are that crime is lower than normal levels.

    Via Scoop:

    It has been reported by the Christchurch police that there was one incidence of looting following yesterday’s earthquake. The looting occurred in the Christchurch CBD early yesterday morning and involved two men attempting to smash a shop window. According to Police, the two men were caught in the act and arrested and that since then there have been no other incidences of looting.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 901 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    And how on earth is the same afternoon "too late" for the PM to get to Christchurch on a military flight?

    If he'd been properly prepared he would have been there early. Twelve hours late is just slack.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    Turns out, I've got a bit of a problem with their editorial too.

    As much as I hate the expression Nanny state, it seems that this is exactly what the editorial is crying out for.

    Civil defence procedures are intended to work without ministers. Even if every single minister had been on a week-long trip to Incommunicado, the emergency response would have been exactly the same.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 796 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Just checked my recording of the coverage from Saturday morning.

    About, 10am, police Inspector Al Stewart in response to a question from Rawdon Christie about looting reports:

    "It wasn't extensive, it was a couple of isolated incidents and we dealt with them as they came up."

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18892 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Yes, but that's supposedly Milne's line, no? That other instances went "unreported". It would be interesting however to know if they actually "happened".

    What worries me the most is what's going to happen when the Big One comes. The HoS has already burnt through "Doomsday", they might have to settle for "AAARRGHH!".

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7378 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    We have all been fielding worried calls, texts and emails from all over the world, which is lovely of course, but also slightly confusing! I keep wondering if I just haven't noticed how bad things are.

    One of the great strengths of Twitter and Facebook is that you get to hear from a range of voices, which gives some perspective. TV and newspapers focus on the worst-affected places, and their viewers and readers assume what they are seeing is representative: it isn't.

    This. Also, Lilith, you live quite close to us, I think.

    The evolving use of Twitter by Chch people through this I find fascinating. First we just wanted to hear from people, we needed to have contact with them even after we knew no-one was dead.

    Since then, it's been about gathering and distribuing information. We're not so much interested in citizen journalism as in managing to find out (not an easy task yesterday afternoon) that the schools would be closed, and then passing that information on down chains we know we can rely on. Facebook a little, but it's too slow. Twitter.

    So this morning, as interesting and contradictory of what they've been seeing people might find the information, I'm letting people know we had our rubbish collected so that people whose rubbish day is Tuesday know to put their bins out. Yesterday there was nothing on the (generally good, but sometimes slow and erratic) CCC website about it.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4366 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Give JK some slack, it was the weekend and Hawaii to Christchurch is a bit of trek even by private jet.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4459 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Civil defence procedures are intended to work without ministers. Even if every single minister had been on a week-long trip to Incommunicado, the emergency response would have been exactly the same.

    Exactly. Heaven forbid, a disaster might actually even kill the relevant minister.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2135 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Give JK some slack, it was the weekend and Hawaii to Christchurch is a bit of trek even by private jet.

    Yeah, there's been a lot of this sort of thing on The Standard as well, and Whaleoil is trying to blame the earthquake on Jim Anderton. I hope you're all amusing yourselves.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 901 posts Report Reply

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