The national identity of our country is the land of the long white cloud. That description – a point of pride for most Kiwis – probably comes across to most foreigners as ‘a place where it’s always overcast, gloomy and nondescript’ – not such a good selling point. Perhaps a more appropriate title should be the land of “laid backs”. We have probably the most down-to-earth attitudes in the world, demonstrated by national icons like Sir Edmund Hillary and Peter Jackson. How many other movie directors of similar importance would wear shorts to world premieres? In New Zealand it’s almost expected protocol to hear “settle down” or “that’s pretty full on” after an outburst of emotion or pride.
Being so laid-back (almost horizontal) means that Kiwis are not as prone to whinging, despite our British ancestry. For the purposes of this editorial I’d like to break step with that heritage and moan about the media. In this area two things irk me; the way tv presenters talk, and the senseless puns that finish news stories. These often go along the lines of:
(Following a news story about motocross racing, in a vocal style that is thoughtful, playful and empathetic) “Well Mike, that story has left me in the dust”.
Stronger criticisms of the media probably should refer to inaccurate and misleading representations, because taste is hardly important. As an ideological entity the media is supposed to be impartial, accurate and unbiased. With these criteria it’s difficult to see how they could have portrayed a story originating from Salient any less accurately.
On May 5, three weeks after being reported in Salient, the Sunday Star Times described “Opiegate”- the incident involving former acting Woman Rights Officer Clelia Opie’s inappropriate use of psychic hotlines. The errors in that article are numerous and are clearly spelled out by News Editor Laura McQuillan’s article ‘Mainstream media jumps on Salient bandwagon, fucks up pretty bad’ in this issue of Salient. When Salient contacted the Sunday Star Times they failed to acknowledge these errors stating that; “The Sunday Star Times’ piece was drawn entirely from the President’s report and your own and other student accounts of the incident.”
Why they didn’t bother to interview either Geoff, Opie or a representative from Salient is a mystery. Without blowing our own trumpet I’d say we did a better job, but then again I’m the biased editor. This standard of reporting undoubtedly contributes to the finding that 65 per cent of people believe the news is reported accurately. While that result shows a fair level of trust, another finding from the same ten-nation opinion poll shows that 41 per cent disagree that the media covers all sides of a story. That’s a statistic that news organizations should be wary of and from this edition on Salient has taken steps to let you put your trust back in the media. For the first time Salient is introducing video to its website in the form of short confessionals. The idea is simple – just come up to the Salient office sit in front of our iMac web cam and tell the world your deepest secrets.
Clips will be streamed on the Salient website. It’s a development which could influence the future of Salient in significant ways and has tremendous potential for creating and describing news. My gratitude must begin with Hamish and Simon from Catch Design who have been instrumental in giving an abstract idea its foundations. Jon McQueen and Spike also deserve praise for their work securing the iMac, enthusiasm and hard work. Finally Nick Archer deserves a special mention for his countless hours working on ideas and concepts some of which have made it on our website and all of which are unpaid.