Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Where nature may win

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  • Russell Brown,

    I think the scapegoating of Knowles has become a form of insanity.

    Here's the video of Knowles being asked two weird and insulting questions this morning.

    And Stuff's story about the second questioner, Ean Higgins of The Australian.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22227 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    It's stating the obvious at this point, but opinions as to whether Sup. Knowles managed this event as well as he could, or whether Pike Co. took all necessary precautions before the accident, aren't going to be decided by independent enquiries after the fact. They're going to be found guilty or innocent in the court of public opinion as directed by the local news media, and the weight of that public opinion is what will determine what actions are taken by the government or other interested parties.

    I'd like to believe that these things could be decided by independent expert reviews based on a rational analysis of the facts, but that's just not how our culture operates once something becomes a lead story for days at a time.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    There are two bodies entombed at Strongman because they couldn't be recovered, even for all the heroic work done in the hours immediately after the explosion. We have local precedent.

    What that does say, though, is that Pike River may well be closed for good. If it's too dangerous to go in after people, it's definitely too dangerous to go in after coal. The explosion's guesstimated location is pretty much smack in the middle of the active diggings, if I'm reading the map right.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4090 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Andre Alessi,

    It’s stating the obvious at this point, but opinions as to whether Sup. Knowles managed this event as well as he could, or whether Pike Co. took all necessary precautions before the accident, aren’t going to be decided by independent enquiries after the fact.

    Certainly the inquest (because it's pretty certain that there's going to have to be one) is going to be quite the circus. Yapping journos baying at Knowles' heels, Whittall being bailed up by the media hounds, the imagery creates itself.

    One aspect I don't know anything about, and can only guess at, is how any decision will be made that the occupants of the mine cannot possibly have survived and all efforts will cease. At some point it may have to happen, and a call like that is far over Knowles' pay grade even if he is the IC. Would it have to be decided by the Chief Coroner? The chief medical officer of the West Coast DHB? A combination? Application to the District (or High) Court?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4090 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Fuck, those questions are apalling. Seven breakfast TV is as you'd imagine; vapid crap. The Australian, on the other hand is a well regarded paper. It has a bias I don't share but it's credible and serious. They should pull this reporter. But Brownlee's right; Australians care deeply about what's happening in NZ and not just because they have their citizens down the mine.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2269 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    But Brownlee's right; Australians care deeply about what's happening in NZ and not just because they have their citizens down the mine.

    Well, indeed -- as I've said elsewhere on PAS, more of my whanau are Ngati Bondi nowadays. Ditto for my partner -- two of his three living siblings are in Australia, and have been long enough to be on the verge of great-grandparenthood. :)

    But I sure hope if the position were reversed, this kind of nonsense from a Kiwi hack would be greeted with a stern injunction for said hack to get his hand off it.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12359 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I should note that I’ll be discussing the media dimensions of Pike River with trauma psychologist Ian De Terte and Denis Welch on this week’s Media7.

    And later in the show, we’re staying with a chat about the royal wedding news with Sarah Henry. Hopefully that won’t be too jarring.

    Anyone who wants to join us for the recording will need to come to the Victoria Street entrance of TVNZ by 5.40pm today. A little earlier is fine.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22227 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Hopefully that won’t be too jarring.

    Nah -- have a funny feeling any light-ish relief will be pounced on with relief. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12359 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Unless the speculation can improve current efforts, then it can wait, surely? Although dodging responsibility does seem more likely once the media glare dies down, and some good bigger questions have been raised already, right now they just seem unhelpful to anyone but those whose jobs involve audience ratings. When did dignity stop being a news value?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19413 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    In particular, given that robots are absolutely not standard mine rescue equipment, it’s not surprising at all that it would take time to organise them, and longer to get them in from the US and Australia. You’d have trouble getting people over here immediately, and that’s without having to ascertain that the robot is in fact at all suited for the job.

    I would have assumed that these robots would have been specialised enough to require support staff to be sent too. Does anyone know if that's the case?

    Since Sep 2009 • 444 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to SteveH,

    It's hard to tell. The robot from Utah is, apparently, winging its way down under courtesy of AirNZ, but no mention made of support staff.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4090 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Another unhappy analysis from the Science Media Centre.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22227 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Another unhappy analysis from the Science Media Centre.

    That's about the third time I've seen them make informed comments on the current situation. Good to see them doing the job that they were set up to do, hope the media pick up on them and their experts.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6241 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Whittall seems realistic about prospects in this brief clip which also features some of what I imagine is the classic Aussie journo-ing in question.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19413 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Some interesting wording in that. The first impression is that if guys were close enough to an end wall they might've been protected because of the pressure wave being deflected off compressed air, but it doesn't then explain that that protection is entirely from the pressure wave and doesn't extend to methane and CO collecting and suffocating the miners.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4090 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    I was impressed with Fran O'Sullivan's piece today, calling for directors of Pike River to step up and support Whittall. He definitely looks like a man in desperate need of a hug, and someone else to share the load of fronting for the company, and Fran recalled that the CEO of Mercury died of a heart attack during the Big Dark while facing a media onslaught without the backing of his Board.
    Incredibly for Your Views, the comments are mostly rational and thoughtful. The only madness comes in the last comment, from a guy who says that both Pike River and the military should've had "an army of robots on hand, tested, and ready for action." I think that maybe the Business section gets a slightly better class of commenter.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4090 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    This comment by "Curmudgeon" in the FranO column above best sums up what sets Whittall apart from the typical executive:

    "I think this man is proof that promotion from within is best practice. He worked on and in the mine, he knows the workplace and it's staff, and seems to be a feet-on-the-floor kind of joker.

    Much different to most of todays technically qualified but practically incompetent suits who need a PA to make their coffee and remind them to take a pee.
    Lets all hope the Whittall mould still exists and that there are more like him out there."

    And notice the resemblance with this gem from the Dog & Lemon Guide...

    "British cars were designed on the precept that suffering builds character. There is no other reasonable explanation for the years of diabolical designs inflicted on the people of Britain and her colonies.

    Simple, yes, practical sometimes, lovable even, but never easy. Unlike the Japanese system, whereby the man managing the assembly line probably used to work there, the rigid British class system ensured that the people who made the decisions were almost always completely out of touch with reality.

    Probably the best example of this is the Morris Minor. You probably think of the Minor as a traditional British design, yet if Lord Nuffield, (head of the company that owned Morris) had had his way, the Morris Minor would never have been built. Lord Nuffield fought tooth and nail, first to stop this silly new design from being developed, and then to stop it going into production. It was only the sheer will of its designer and his allies that gave the public the chance to vote with their chequebooks."

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5312 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Jane Clifton offers a sunny assessment of coverage.

    Journalists, especially television journalists with their camera crews and women's magazine-fodder front people, need to get as close to the action as possible.

    They need to ask questions, even dumb, obvious ones. They need to be "all over the story".

    It can look like Madame Defarge at the gallows with her knitting, waiting for the bodies.

    But in essence, it's nothing of the kind.

    ...

    While there are big questions to answer, such as those about mine safety, regulation, emergency preparedness and rapidity of response, there is a decent sense of restraint, even in the hot-headed TV newsrooms, about hammering these issues now. There will be plenty of time for inquiries, accusations and recriminations later. Now, the media's priorities are the same as any decent citizen's: to wait and hope for a good outcome, even while bracing for a tragic one.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19413 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Another unhappy analysis from the Science Media Centre.

    That’s about the third time I’ve seen them make informed comments on the current situation. Good to see them doing the job that they were set up to do, hope the media pick up on them and their experts.

    Same deal during the Christchurch earthquake -- they've become the go-to guys for actual expert knowledge. Media get the information promptly and, increasingly, use it. Peter Griffin should be proud of his work in getting the SMC to this point.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22227 posts Report Reply

  • Marion Ogier,

    I've been pretty unhappy with the coverage by the media. With no instant results it sometimes seems they are scurrying around digging up anything and everything regardless of the human cost. However there was at least one compelling interview I saw on today's lunchtime TV3 news with John Sturgeon the NZRFU president on tour in England. A resident of Runanga, a miner for many years and friend and neighbour of some of those trapped he didn't pull any punches. Seeing his craggy scarred face, the tears in his eyes and the powerful realities of what he said made compelling television.TV can work by playing it straight without all the contrived drama of deliberately seeking out the most aggrieved and aggressive.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2010 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    I think that maybe the Business section gets a slightly better class of commenter.

    As long as the discussion doesn't touch on welfare, taxes or social policy.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I've been pretty unhappy with the coverage by the media.

    Media is a bit generic, though, no? I've been happy with the RNZ coverage. And mostly with newspapers coverage as well. Scoop has been useful. I can't comment on TV because I don't watch it, but there are a lot of outlets that from where I'm sitting seem to be doing their job quite well in what are difficult circumstances for journalists and editors too.

    (Disclaimer: I mean I don't watch the news on TV. I'm not one of those insufferable anti-TV people.)

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to Marion Ogier,

    For those interested, the interview Marion mentioned is here.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2269 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    ood to see them doing the job that they were set up to do, hope the media pick up on them and their experts.

    I'd prefer the media to hire reporters, editors and subs who are scientifically literate and numerate. Guess that's going to have to go on my "not in this lifetime" wish list right behind special adult cuddle time with Russell Tovey.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12359 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I'd prefer the media to hire reporters, editors and subs who are scientifically literate and numerate.

    Yeah, but going through the SMC and talking to actual experts and reporting what they say is always going to be a good thing for the media to do, whether or not they have reporters who have scientific literacy or not.

    A reporter with a good general science knowledge still isn't going to know enough about coal mine disasters and the gases and dangers inside them so will still need the experts.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6241 posts Report Reply

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