PEOPLE INSIDE ME ARE ASKING ME TO BLOW UP CITY HALL.
Well I did it. I spent a whole year watching over this damn forsaken cancer of the town, the Dominion Post.
It was a gruel, I’ll admit, even more of a gruel than living in the rotten damn forsaken hole that I call a flat. (And did you once hear me mention that words student and loan you complaining vermin?). An uncomfortable year setting myself to the task of reading an uncomfortable newspaper, I was intending to make this column a general press watch. And I tried at times, but once you’ve spent an hour or two a day with the Dominion Post you’ll be begging for release from viewing what other incompetence the New Zealand Press can throw your way. And it’s all mostly fucked.
You turn on the TV, and One News comes across like a disorientating remix of a good news program. And not like an Aphex Twin remix, where you can at least claim that it’s art but secretly feel that you are missing out on something and that if Mummy loved you more you might be smarter. It’s like one of those crap DJs who make the songs that play on ZM for thousands of years but are really just made up of four notes. 3 News is alright, but I still can’t figure out who Mike McRoberts reminds me of. And Carolyn Robinson makes me want to lock her in my basement and torture her the least out of all the news presenters. (What is it about female news presenters and violent, depraved fantasy?) But John Campbell, the station’s poster boy, is turning into the biggest disappointment. He had promise, but he’s so busy hocking that cheesy shit-eating grin to the public and playing footsie with Telecom that he wouldn’t know what was going on.
Prime TV does not deserve a mention. Prime is the glue factory where horses go after they’ve been shot. There’s no coming back from Prime, is there Paul Holmes?
It’s our daily print media that has had it in New Zealand. Screw Don Brash, the real congealing and corrosive cancer in our society is the media, and the Dominion is especially guilty. Trumped up assholes with eyes for profit strip back production values to a minimum, working journalists’ hands to the bone. It’s bullshit. Self serving arrogant toss. Cartoon ideologies battling it out. What good does it have to proceed the left-leaning Vernon Small with the rightleaning Richard Long? Do we really need to act surprised when they back the parties that they are heavily affiliated with? This whole left-right, your turn, my turn bullshit is lazy. It gets in the way of actually debating anything of worth, and having to find writers with skills of analysis. Fuck, the Herald manages on occasion (but is still shit). Why can’t the Dominion have real writerstoo? We just try and ape Crossfire-esque American bullshit. You can have so many voices partitioned into so many different places and it’s all just preaching to a million different choirs. Who really learns anything?
It’s lazy. How many different nationwide papers does Joe Bennett’s column have to be syndicated in before we realise that he’s just trading off the same routine? How long before we realise that Rosemary McLeod is a bigot? The Dominion Post will always be huge no matter what, no matter how far it falls from the tree. No matter how little news of worth makes it on the front page and how biased and racist that news happens to be. It’s the sad truth, people just want to know what happened yesterday. People want to see it reinterpreted, and made sense of. And there’s no competition for major papers anywhere. If you are an advertiser and want to reach a large audience, you go with the Dominion, or you go with the Herald. Or the Press. Quality doesn’t fit into the equation. Newspapers aren’t about the readers. It’s not about you. You don’t even factor into it. You should, but you don’t. Newspapers with monopolies clear out more space for advertisers everyday. The Dom has even reduced arts coverage even further, one of the only areas of the paper that don’t suck. Whatever will replace it?
And when smug, awful newspapers who sit in the awkward no man’s land between poorly written and advertorial want to pat themselves on the back, they hand out awards. But c’mon! How often can we sit back and take the Sunday Star-Times telling us that it’s New Zealand’s best weekly newspaper?
None of this makes any sense. The news is supposed to be about you, the reader. And it’s not. And that’s all you can really break it down to. Without being desperate, without referencing 1984 and feeling apocalyptic, the newsmen just don’t care about you anymore. They have their monopolies, where they manipulate your need to know. But they don’t care if you like it. They can’t care. Because look at it. It’s not. We’re supposed to be free and educated, but our daily newspaper is a fucking children’s book. After a year of trying to drink all this in, applying an incomplete university education to the media world around me, I feel stodgy, and crushed. Bored and defeated. I don’t want to read a newspaper anymore. I am done. Our lives are mediated through the media. And you’d think the news media would be a key component of that. But when they’re drunk at the wheel, and we are relying on them, where does that leave us?
And when will we pull down the newspaper and rise up? The newspaper is just not fun anymore, because it hasn’t quite realised it’s own bullshit yet. Now tabloids, that is where it’s at my friends. That’s bullshit that can call it’s own bluff. And that Lindsay Lohan. Boy!
Anyway, a good and resounding fuck you. You won’t be reading me no more. We are the lazy ones, idle in mind, and truth be told, if a good newspaper started up in this town, no one would even buy it.