Cracker by Damian Christie

Fly, piwakawaka, fly

A couple of weeks back I said I’d expand on my sweeping generalisation, “the Sunday Star Times has gone to the dogs”. A few of you out there will say to yourselves, “A-ha! Look how wrong you are Damian, the SST just picked up the Qantas Award for Best Newspaper, didn’t it, eh?”

Sure. And if you needed any more evidence decline of the SST’s standards, read this self-congratulatory piece of Fairfax propaganda, which was not only fit to appear on page A3, but occupied a full 300 square centimetres therein.

Not taking anything away from those who won Qantas Awards (Deborah, Matt) on Friday, but isn’t it apparent these things are just a network's/publisher’s marketing tool vaguely disguised as an awards ceremony? Look at the Qantas Awards for television. Two competitors, dozens of awards to be divvied up between them, no-one’s going home empty-handed, but most importantly: You can guarantee there will be plenty of gongs to boast about on the billboard you’ve booked for tomorrow.

It’s the same with the newspaper awards. Both the Herald and the SST were able to fill many a column inch with how well they’d done on Friday night. I think it’d be more relevant to see the fate of most of those bits of cardboard. How many actually get framed by the journos who win them? How many end up propping up the wonky kitchen table to stop it from rocking? And how can any ceremony where Jim Hopkins wins an award for Best Humour Column have any credibility?

Speaking of No Credibility, why does the Sunday Star Times find it necessary to refer to the Qantas Awards as “the print industry’s equivalent of the Oscars”? I’m sure we know what an award ceremony is, perhaps we could make our own comparisons in future. For what it’s worth, I prefer “the print industry’s equivalent of the Victoria State Government Community Safety and Crime Prevention Awards (and while we’re on the topic, a big congratulations to Sgt Cath Wilkins, winner of the award for “Responding to and Investigating Fabricated and/or Induced Illness/Injury in Children.”)

Russell’s already taken a bit of a swipe at the SST for their shoddy sensationalist journalism relating to the underage sex issue, and he’s quite right to do so. To my mind, the Government also needs to take some responsibility for being quite so willing to flip-flop on this issue. It must have seen the media moral highground coming a mile away, and it should have been thankful it wasn’t seized on earlier. It’s just a shame Labour’s so on the back foot at the moment as to care about such trifling matters as “public opposition”. It wasn’t so concerned last year when it came to the axing of the Privy Council and the lifting of the GM moratorium, back when Helen was a “victim of [her] own success as a popular and competent Prime Minister”. Troubling times, indeed.

Other stand-outs from the “Newspaper of the Year” this Sunday? The front page has a great article ‘They can’t take that away’. The harrowing tale of little Shaun Thomas, who had patterns shaved into his hair like Idol winner Ben Lummis and got sent home from school as a result. Fool.

I will concede, Mike Hosking’s second effort as star columnist in the About Town section was a lot better than his first. I don’t know whether he saw the irony in writing his maiden column on the very topic he’s just spent many thousands of dollars trying to keep out of the limelight – his children – but hopefully they won't become his fallback topic of choice. In any event, someone needs to do something about his ludicrous by-line pics. I’m as much a fan of reinvention as the next ex-Goth, but it looks as if he stepped outside one day, straight into a gale of hair-gel and stubble. Mike, the people are laughing.

I got an odd email today. “Come down to Aotea Square, the ARC are giving away a thousand native plants at midday.” Well you don’t have to offer me free stuff twice, so by ten past twelve I was down there, and now am the proud owner of a wee Kohuhu sapling. I don’t know who’s paying for it, but if it’s coming out of the exorbitant rates increase, at least I can say I got something tangible back for my buck. If you missed out, why not just say I got your share too? In fact – please – come round to Cracker HQ for a beer in ten years or so, admire Our Tree, marvel at its little purple flowers and go “awww” as piwakawaka flutter about. It’ll be nice.