Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: McVicar and the media

187 Responses

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  • Stephen Judd,

    3410: I'm sure they do realise. That doesn't matter. He is a reliable source of a well-worded emotionally appealing quote, any time, day or night. Why would you talk to some pointy-headed academic who doesn't rouse the passions when you could talk to Garth?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • LegBreak,

    Hopefully he’ll get sucked into an “I think my argument is so powerful that it's not necessary to talk about it” type moment.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1162 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    Hopefully he’ll get sucked into an “I think my argument is so powerful that it's not necessary to talk about it” type moment.

    Stringing 'em up high on three fun-loving levels

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    We discussed the issue at some length, and decided it made more sense to have McVicar there to answer questions, rather than some proxy. I guess you'll just have to trust me to do it right.

    Just be prepared for any Walker-Muldoon moments.

    Oh yes, and McVicar's idol, Sheriff Arpaio, has been sued by the Feds for stuff including, but not limited to, abuses of power and doing a Winston-First-on-P on 'illegal' migrants. Bringing that up would be priceless. And you could also throw in the riots and custody deaths at (GEO Group-owned) Reeves County Prison too.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5418 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    The trouble with the Listener covers is that they make me mad before I get to the article which means that I read in a hyper-critical frame of mind and am in danger of missing the good bits entirely.

    I only still get it because I pay by direct debit and it would take actual effort to unsubscribe.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 719 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    I'm sure they do realise [that SST is not an organisation; it's just him!]

    I can find the post, but Editing The Herald once featured some correspondence between a Herald journalist and a reader asking why McVicar gets so much airtime. Her response was basically that anyone is free to start an organisation.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    3410: that would be the same New Zealand Herald that actually has a special tag for "Assault and Homicide" on its website, presumably for people who are especially keen on violence porn.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    That's the one!

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • johnno,

    Part of McVicar's appeal to journalist is his availability. Radio journalist in particular need to constantly update stories throughout the day. Knowing that McVicar will answer his phone, and give you a usable grab, means he is gold. It doesn't really matter what he says if you're desperately trying to fill a hole for the next hourly bulletin.

    The other string in his bow is his "closeness" to victims of crime. His message and profile means that family members of victims will approach McVicar, looking for help, answers, a sympathetic ear, whatever. Journalists looking for their "please cry on tape" moment when then find it easier to go through McVicar than to approach them selves. He smoothes the way, presumably offering advice as to what the victim might want to do, and which media organisations/journalist will give the most favourable coverage.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that crime reporting might decrease slightly in the next 5 years. Media organisations rely on listening to police communications to hear new crime. Some freelance TV camerapeople have made a very comfortable living from listening to scanners and being the first media at a scene. For TV, pictures are king, and without those pictures, a crime will often pass by with little or no acknowledgement. With the police slowly but steadily rolling out encrypted digital communications that the media cannot listen to, I suspect that crime reporting on TV might start to fall away.

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 111 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Since in a way the McVicar phenomen is the product of editorial decisions, it would be nice if consciences were pricked by having those editorial choices brought into the foreground too.

    And we'll have Bryce Johns of the Waikato Times -- one of the best editors in the country, in my view -- there to answer to that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    I have a sneaking suspicion that crime reporting might decrease slightly in the next 5 years. Media organisations rely on listening to police communications to hear new crime. Some freelance TV camerapeople have made a very comfortable living from listening to scanners and being the first media at a scene. For TV, pictures are king, and without those pictures, a crime will often pass by with little or no acknowledgement. With the police slowly but steadily rolling out encrypted digital communications that the media cannot listen to, I suspect that crime reporting on TV might start to fall away.

    Wearing my "I work with technology" hat, I'm ashamed that I never ever thought about that.

    Got any other thoughts on TV crime reporting?

    And Russell, can you get johnno on Media 7? You could pixelate his face so he can still work afterwards ...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    So yes, while I can accept the idea of "you should get past your prejudices on the presentation and actually read the content", from a marketing point of view, it just seems incomprehensibly stupid to me. I'm perfectly ready to concede that I'm missing something that more media-savvy types understand.

    My guess is that the Listener's covers are targeted at a particular demographic: the supermarket newsstand browsers. For a magazine whose circulation is dominated by subscribers, it's the 2000 newsstand sales that make a "good" issue.

    As you have correctly observed, this is also a good way to alienate regular readers and demean the stories inside.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    My guess is that the Listener's covers are targeted at a particular demographic: the supermarket newsstand browsers.

    But isn't that "professional women 18-54"? ie the same demographic they're offending? THAT's what puzzles me. I'm not confused by Coke Zero and Lynx making ads offensive to women, for instance, because their target market is men.

    (Okay, actually... I do have some issues with those ads being degrading to _men_, but I feel I am in danger of turning into a Whining Machine.)

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    I would like to know whether Garth McVicar ever reads research or policy reports or anything academic (which would inevitably contradict his beliefs) or is being anti-intellectual an important part of his public appeal?

    What does he think about forgiveness? Does he give any credence to forgiveness as a precursor to healing?

    Have Simon Collins on

    Yes please. Not just on this issue but as a great journalist who not works for a major right-wing daily and also believes in social justice. In the neo-liberal 1990s his free newspaper City Voice was about the only sane Wellington media outlet.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Grace Dalley,

    I'd love to see another half hour of Marilin Waring, talking about anything at all.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2008 • 138 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I'd love to see another half hour of Marilyn Waring, talking about anything at all.

    She's a brilliant panelist -- if occasionally a challenging one for the host ;-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    What does he think about forgiveness? Does he give any credence to forgiveness as a precursor to healing?

    Thank you Hilary. This sums up for me the biggest problem with popularised criminology as represented by McVicar and the SST. It is hard for most people to grasp the concepts of accountability and forgiveness in the same sentence, but they are not, IMhO, mutually exclusive. Hope is a powerful force for good, on both sides of the equation.

    What does McVicar think of restorative justice?

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • johnno,

    Stephen, pixellation is probably a good idea in my case for most of the time. My feeling is that it will get a lot harder to cover breaking crime, at least for the next 5 years or so. The Police have created a secure web page that they make available to certain media outlets. Supposedly, all local Police jobs are entered into it. There are two problems with it. The most obvious is that the media are completely at the mercy of the Police as to what gets added and what doesn't. The second is that the amount of information about each job is so limited that it is impossible to tell if an event is newsworthy. A hypothetical example - two drunks pushing each other about outside a pub might be listed as a disorder. A full-on battle between patched gang members might be coded in the same manner. In the US, some local media organisations have successfully argued that the local police force is required under the Constitution to provide a police radio receiver to them. The local cops are still able to turn-off each receiver if it is misused.

    For TV, good pictures are absolute gold. From my observations, I think TV3 tends to work harder and smarter at getting better footage. The bosses at 3 really seem to value good pictures. They have a better network of scanner listeners, and they have hungrier freelancers and staff cameras who tend to be more aggressive in pushing the boundaries. The encrypted communications will take away the best tool they have. The only thing that might change this situation in the near future would be universal high-speed wireless connectivity. Potentially, citizens who witness some sort of crime will then be able to shoot high quality footage and upload it within minutes. The quality of the filming might be lacking, but the immediacy might make up for it.

    TV will still continue to cover crime. It will continue to be a very easy type of reportage to do. It usually has a simple narrative with good guys and bad guys. Individual crimes do not require much in the way of resourcing, no investigation, no pouring over documents, no hopeful OIA requests, no real need for experienced expensive reporters. Too tempting for a budget-minded news exec.

    (edited cos I'm crap at writing)

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 111 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Yes, more of Marilyn please. She's one of our few public intellectuals and public policy experts, and her international work on women's unpaid work was years ahead of its time. She's never been valued much by NZ, perhaps because she's not a sports hero.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The bosses at 3 really seem to value good pictures. They have a better network of scanner listeners

    At least one of whom is also top value on Twitter.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    What does McVicar think of restorative justice?

    He's been known to diss it as 'wet liberal' thinking. After all, the Sheriff of Maricopa is his idol.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5418 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    I have a sneaking suspicion that crime reporting might decrease slightly in the next 5 years ... With the police slowly but steadily rolling out encrypted digital communications that the media cannot listen to

    I wouldn't count on that, actually.
    If it does play out as you predict, it'll be considerably less than five years before we see the results. The nationwide roll-out of the digital radios is happening this year, after trials in a few locations around the country. Tactical squads (AOS, STG) and the DPS have been using encrypted digital for several years, and the project to deploy it to every portable and mobile radio is now in the final stages. I can state this with some degree of authority, as I have an acquaintance who works as a radio engineer at Police national HQ and is closely involved.

    My hesitation is based on apocryphal stories from Australia (Sydney, I think it was), where after rolling out digital radio and refusing to accommodate the media in any way - after all, getting those annoying camera monkeys out of the way is a huge benefit to police officers - a major murder investigation encountered a wee roadblock: a press conference was held to ask for public assistance, and all the major news outlets agreed amongst themselves to not attend. Their argument was that they need action footage to retain eyeballs. People want to see officers in tactical clothing, pointing firearms, or people being cut out of cars. They don't want to see file photos or shots of an empty street every time there's an event worth reporting. So the story goes that the media sent a message, and the police heard it, with the resolution being that newsrooms of reputable outlets were given the ability to listen in on police comms.
    Assuming that this is a semi-accurate account, and I certainly see no reason to disbelieve that the major players would collude on something like this to achieve a long-term benefit, I wouldn't be too quick to conclude that the cops going to digital radio will keep the media in the dark.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    What does he think about forgiveness? Does he give any credence to forgiveness as a precursor to healing?

    What does McVicar think of restorative justice?

    I have no interest whatsoever in what McVicar thinks on any of these issues. To me the question is why anyone cares what he thinks?

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Alec Morgan,

    Good luck with Garth. It is interesting to glimpse that unguarded TV moment when such apparent numbskulls sometimes reveal why they bother.

    Another pesky bloke is Mike Sabin of Methcon who is increasingly “gone to” by media and various Nats. Sabin, a retired youngish detective with a racist reputation in the backblocks of the Far North has been mentioned here before. His ‘nice little earner’ via Methcon includes a minimum $1000 fee to run a basic ‘P’ seminar for skint communities suffering from spinoffs of said ‘P’. Meantime Sabin chips in recon to his old buddies down at the station. Nice.

    Garth is a bit antsy about revealing SST funding too.

    Tokerau Beach • Since Nov 2006 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Garth is a bit antsy about revealing SST funding too.

    That's certainly something I hope Russell will ask about: how does SST justify its obsessive secrecy about funding sources while also pretending to be a charitable trust? Is it really so shameful to let the public know from whence the money came?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

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