Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Where nature may win

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  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Paul Williams,

    Michael: What Paul said. All the people on the ground are human beings in a situation I wouldn't wish on a dog -- and dealing with a hell of a lot more grace and dignity that I would be able to muster. The media, however, seem to be determined to stage their own version of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and there's nowhere near enough good.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I've caught up with the Campbell Live stories now -- I had to stop watching 3 after the Dunbar story. I'm still appalled at the way 3 News has dumped on Pip Timms.

    One night she's invited to share her grief on Campbell Live -- and the next she had to watch her estranged husband (who hasn't seen her and her son for eight years) and his brother repeatedly imply she'd sent her 17 year-old son to his death. It led the news. I really, really hope someone's feeling some moral doubt about this.

    OTOH, the Campbell interview with the family group who wanted a team to go in was fair enough -- right or wrong, they expressed a coherent view; they had a right to be heard. Richard Langston's story on the Greymouth Star was very good.

    But the robot story was little more than a hit-job on Knowles, based on the feeble claim that he'd "changed his tune".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    OTOH, the Campbell interview with the family group who wanted a team to go in was fair enough -- right or wrong, they expressed a coherent view; they had a right to be heard.

    Fair enough, as far as it goes. But, FFS, I still think reducing stressed and terrified people to tears on camera is crossing all kinds of lines. There's just a nasty and distasteful element of disaster pornography in play that the media need to own -- and never will. Of course, YMMV.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    OTOH, the Campbell interview with the family group who wanted a team to go in was fair enough – right or wrong, they expressed a coherent view; they had a right to be heard. Richard Langston’s story on the Greymouth Star was very good.

    yes, fair enough. I caught Campbell's accusatory questions right after the showing of the mine video and that soured my view. Trying to pin blame shouldn’t be excused by “just asking questions”.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    yes, fair enough. I caught Campbell’s accusatory questions right after the showing of the mine video and that soured my view.

    Is that part online? I couldn't see it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    I doubt if they are moving the drill rig around by helicopter.

    That was quoting Peter Whittall at last night's press conference, where he said that the next drilling site was being cleared and once they break through on the current hole they'll "strip the rig down" and move it to the next site by helicopter. I certainly hope that he was speaking from direct knowledge of how it's being done.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3934 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce,

    yes, fair enough. I caught Campbell’s accusatory questions right after the showing of the mine video and that soured my view. Trying to pin blame shouldn’t be excused by “just asking questions”.

    He had a dig right at the end in closing that the video should have been released earlier is that what you mean ?

    Judith Collins on the radio this morning claiming it hadn't been released earlier because it wasn't in the the *right format* and it *took hours* to convert it. Tui Billboard there.

    The Herald this morning strongly implying it was released only after they asked John Key about its existence.

    Although I guess to the experts it didn't tell them anything they didn't already know, that there had been a massive explosion.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 361 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Only if 3 have their full news bulletin from last night up online. I saw the press conference, and then 3 cut to "the news" just in time to lose the audio of Campbell's questioning. The news itself, though, did broadcast His Obnoxiousness' questions in all their obnoxious glory.

    I couldn't bring myself to watch Campbell Live. A grieving family demanding action, of any sort, isn't something I'll willingly watch when I understand the decision-making processes that're going on at the mine. Knowing now that they want Knowles replaced just reinforces that decision, because I really don't want to hear people implying that he's doing a bad job because he won't risk the lives of those who're safe and well, and that some other officer might be a little less concerned with doing the job properly and rather more concerned with keeping the families and the meedja happy.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3934 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Oh dear -- and it looks like National Radio is going to be pushing the "frustrated families" line hard this morning, with a side of Phil Goff "raising questions" about mine safety.

    ETA: Anyone know where I can get a cheap bedside radio-alarm clock? Seriously -- just thrown mine at the bedroom wall and it's not working any more.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    He had a dig right at the end in closing that the video should have been released earlier is that what you mean ?

    yeah, of all the possible lines of questioning I thought that was unpleasant. Were the rescue team supposed to spend time considering how to combat possible scape-goating? Maybe they should have released it earlier but they probably had a lot of other things to do and now they have to defend themselves on top of it all.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz,

    because I really don’t want to hear people implying that he’s doing a bad job because he won’t risk the lives of those who’re safe and well, and that some other officer might be a little less concerned with doing the job properly and rather more concerned with keeping the families and the meedja happy.

    Amen.

    While any member of a rescue team wants to get on with the job (and some may even want to take unnecessary risks to do it), the whole reason for having someone higher up making these hard - and they are pretty gut wrenching - decisions is so that we don't end up with even more bodies. After seeing Knowles performance, I'd do rescue work for him anyday because I know he's not going to risk my neck without having thought it through fully.

    Oh dear – and it looks like National Radio is going to be pushing the “frustrated families” line hard this morning, with a side of Phil Goff “raising questions” about mine safety.

    Not often I get mad at Morning Report but even the Susie Ferguson with Knowles interview this morning just grated:

    Ferguson: But the longer this goes on, the less likely it is you're going to get a good outcome. How long are you prepared to keep people there?
    Knowles: I'm not going to put a time limit on people's lives.
    Ferguson: Are you confident in your own leadership?

    FFS.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 299 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Fair enough, as far as it goes. But, FFS, I still think reducing stressed and terrified people to tears on camera is crossing all kinds of lines.

    Having seen it, my guess is that the family contacted Campbell because they needed an outlet for their questions, due to dissatisfaction with current crisis management / family communications.

    Campbell himself said very little, other than "what would you like to say?". The miner's step-father and uncle spoke for ten minutes, surrounded by about half a dozen other family members.

    I couldn't bring myself to watch Campbell Live. A grieving family demanding action, of any sort, isn't something I'll willingly watch when I understand the decision-making processes that're going on at the mine. Knowing now that they want Knowles replaced just reinforces that decision, because I really don't want to hear people implying that he's doing a bad job because he won't risk the lives of those who're safe and well, and that some other officer might be a little less concerned with doing the job properly and rather more concerned with keeping the families and the meedja happy.

    I can't help but note the irony in your constant attempts to shut down any enquiries here, on the basis that those who comment are inexpert to do so, yet you're happy to form (and publish) judgements about an interview you've not seen.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to 3410,

    Inquiries are questions, comments are comments. Questions that don't have implied comments about the quality of decision-making are one thing, but you haven't presented many of those. Your questions are veiled criticisms of Knowles and the others who're running the operation, and you get snarky responses from me because it's been explained repetitively why things are as they are.

    I don't need to see the interview to know that I don't want to see it. I don't need to see it to know that they may have gone to Campbell but it's still unhelpful to broadcast demands for action from people who're distraught. It doesn't help them, ultimately, except as a channel for anger, and they'd be better served by taking up the counselling that's available. It doesn't help the rescue teams. It doesn't help the incident management team. The help is to TV3's ratings, and to those who're convinced that Knowles is a know-nothing monkey who needs to be replaced so that the real men can get in there and "do something".

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3934 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I can’t help but note the irony in your constant attempts to shut down any enquiries here, on the basis that those who comment are inexpert to do so, yet you’re happy to form (and publish) judgements about an interview you’ve not seen.

    Matthew isn't "shutting down enquiries", he's expressing an informed view. We're in no position to make enquiries anyway, only to speculate.

    I'm extremely uncomfortable with the scapegoating of Knowles, who is saying things people don't want to hear because that is his professional job. Do you seriously think he's not desperate to do something? He's right there, at the centre, rather than in a suburban armchair. He has to get up and tell the bad news to the families once or more a day. And he does it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    That doesn't mean that his actions aren't open to scrutiny - they're just not open to scrutiny by us, because we know jack shit. But if the rescue is unsuccessful I would expect the investigation to extend to what was done in the aftermath of the disaster.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7412 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen,

    ... the police (who might be good at taking over and administering an incident but are not experts in mine rescue) are presiding over amateur hour at the (literal) coal face.

    I thought Tom touched on what's bugging some people, but he's 180 degrees out. It isn't "amateur hour" at the coal face, it's stone cold by-the-book professionalism - "Best Practice Mine Incident Management", by people who sat through the same lectures as Matthew. And these professionals know they are accountable and any deviation from the book would be a career-limiting step. As long as they follow procedure, any inquest will exonerate them. The police do procedure well.
    It isn't that some people want a Hollywood response, they just want a more human response.
    Of course if my own son was down there I'd want to don the breathing gear and go in, without waiting for permission from some arse-covering bureaucrat. I wouldn't expect or want anyone else to be responsible for my actions. But equally, I'd be beyond angry if some other cowboy decided to ignore the experts and drive a digger down the tunnel to rescue his son. I'd want someone to be responsible for preventing his actions. And I guess that's why we end up with procedures to follow, and why Knowles isn't just some arse-covering bureaucrat.

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 207 posts Report Reply

  • Heather W.,

    Just in:

    9.34am: The bore hole being drilled at Pike River has broken through into the mine.

    In its report, Newstalk ZB said a rush of hot gas came through when the final layer of rock was broken.

    And the restarted Army Robot got another 500 metres into the mine before running out of power.

    North Shore • Since Nov 2008 • 187 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    I’m extremely uncomfortable with the scapegoating of Knowles, who is saying things people don’t want to hear because that is his professional job.

    Amen.
    Not only is his job to say these things to the media, it's also his job to say it to the rescue teams. Fortunately it appears that they understand considerably better than many others that it serves nobody's purposes (except churnalists') if a rescue effort triggers another explosion that kills the rescuers.
    Knowles is the guy who will be fronting an inquest from the response side (as opposed to Pike River who'll be fronting from the cause side). He'll be doing it without rescuers being killed, because he's the IC and thus the person with the best overall knowledge of what's happened since the explosion. And if rescuers do get killed he'll be doing it because he's the IC and it happened on his watch. As IC, his job is to not get rescuers killed. The Operations Manager might be the person with command responsibility (the Incident Controller is a coordinator, not a commander), but the IC is the man at the top and unlike most other management structures there's no passing the buck to subordinates if it all goes wrong.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3934 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Matthew isn't "shutting down enquiries", he's expressing an informed view. We're in no position to make enquiries anyway, only to speculate.

    I was asking a question which was bothering me (and others). On day three they were "looking at sourcing" an appropriate fibre-optic cable. On day four they were "looking at sourcing" a second robot, after the initial failure of the first. Considering that the operation has had an open offer of any required help from both the NZ and Australian govts. (among others) from day one, I don't think it's unreasonable to ask if forward planning is all it could be.

    I was actually hoping for someone to explain why my fears are baseless.

    Anyhow, clearly this line is not helping, so I'll just stop now, okay?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Roger,

    I couldn’t bring myself to watch Campbell Live.

    I gave up on Campbell Live early this year when he joined the race to the lowest common denominator of human 'interest' stories, and as someone else so eloquently put it... disaster and accident porn. He used to be a journalist, not a ratings ambulance chaser.. though I guess that that is what increasingly passes for news now.

    The media, however, seem to be determined to stage their own version of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and there’s nowhere near enough good.

    I just can't stand it... over an hour of 'news' on TV3 of experts saying they have nothing to tell us and un-informed journalists and presenters speculating to each other. Tried channel hoping but TV1 did not seem much different. Although I do want to know what is going on in the mine, I have given up and switched to BBC/CNN to actually get some NEWS. Or am I just becoming a curmudgeon?

    Auckland • Since Jun 2007 • 175 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    First: I've got to check myself before I wreck myself. Goff was actually pretty solid on Nine to Noon -- given plenty of chances to score political points, and avoided them all. Due credit happily given.

    Having seen it, my guess is that the family contacted Campbell because they needed an outlet for their questions, due to dissatisfaction with current crisis management / family communications.

    @3410: And the actual news content could have been perfectly conveyed without reducing a mother to (perfectly understandable) hysterics on air. Or giving an estranged husband a chance to trash his ex-wife in a truly revolting way.

    I'm sorry, but I just get tired of the media not owning their own shit -- or is "editorial judgement" one of these notional post-modern constructs we hear so much about?

    It isn't that some people want a Hollywood response, they just want a more human response.

    You know something, Stephen, I think people like Knowles are fucking human. If you want to put that label on anyone, I'd direct it at the media concern trolls who aren't actually responsible for anyone's lives here.

    And, of course, if Knowles had been "human" and sent in a rescue party that had been killed in a second explosion they'd be the very same people screaming for him to be strung from from the nearest lamp post.

    ETA: QFT, Roger. I remember when Campbell Live was launched, and we were promised the anti-Holmes. Substantive prime time current affairs for grown-up put together by actual journalists. Mission definitely not accomplished, guys. And what drives me aboslutely nuts is that there's a lot of talented people at Three -- not least John Campbell himself. So WTF is going on?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to st ephen,

    Disaster response by the professionals is little more than application of many years of accumulated hard lessons. Much like military doctrine being the result millennia-worth of examples of men killing other men in an organised (and not-so-organised) fashion, rescuing people after it all turns to shit is advised by lessons written in the shed blood of others.
    I'm sure that Knowles has at least some cognisance of the CLM aspect of fucking this up before the global media circus, and certainly as a Superintendent he'll have some degree of career ambition, but he'll also be aware that heroic efforts frequently go horribly wrong. The experts in mine rescue certainly will have explained to him just how it can turn to custard in the blink of an eye, and it will be those experts who're advising Knowles that this is not the time to send in rescue teams. A good IC listens to the experts, and Knowles certainly comes across as a very good IC. Unless he's incapable of taking advice from anyone, and I would question how he got to Superintendent if that's the case, he'll be listening to the men who have experience in incidents of this kind and allowing them to steer the decisions.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3934 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Is that part online? I couldn't see it.

    His questioning was really two parts - why wasn't it released earlier [because it wasn't relevant], and then well why are you releasing it now [somehow it's now become relevant people now can understand what happened].

    My impression after watching the press conference was that the team [Inspector, Mine CEO, Commission, Minister] were building us up to having less hope of this ending with any good news at all. The video was part of that.

    3410, I think there's valid questions to be asked about the forward planning in terms of sourcing equipment before it's needed as well. I hope the post-whatever assessment looks at that.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6227 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen,

    Just to be clear Craig, I agree with you. I'm not the "some people" I was referring to.

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 207 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    CLM?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

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