Karl du Fresne has a very good blog post on the photo of the aunt of the dead Kahui Twins kissing their headstone.
My third thought had less to do with Mona Kahui and Stuart King than with the media’s role. The photo at the cemetery was taken by John Selkirk, the Dom Post’s veteran Auckland photographer. I don’t think John just happened by chance to be at Mangere cemetery with his camera gear when the couple turned up. The paper had obviously been tipped off in advance. In fact the couple’s attendance at the cemetery may well have been dependent on the Dom Post turning up too.
Would Mona Kahui and Stuart King have gone to the cemetery and kissed the twins’ headstone if there was no newspaper photographer there to record the occasion? Of course I can’t say. But instinct and experience makes me sceptical.
If the couple were merely intent on expressing sincere grief and affection for the dead twins, there was no reason for a newspaper to be present. So the event was at least to some extent contaminated by a PR motive. I suspect the Dom Post was enlisted as an accomplice in the couple’s plan to get their child back.
I doubt Karl is wrong.
If this was the case, Kahui and King were only doing what politicians, pressure groups and PR firms do all the time – staging what the British journalist Nick Davies calls “pseudo events”, manufactured to generate publicity and therefore advance an underlying agenda.
These are not genuine news events which happen spontaneously. They are publicity stunts, orchestrated to attract media attention.
Greenpeace is an acknowledged master in this field, scoring prime newspaper and TV coverage every time its activists unfurl a protest banner on a nuclear power station or abseil on to an oil rig. Would they do it if the media paid no attention? Of course not.
Photo opportunities are to Greenpeace what sex is to Paris Hilton!
UPDATE: Karl blogs that the Dominion Post have stated that there was no arrangement with the family. They just sent a photographer there as they figured there was a reasonable chance family members would go there. Big ups to the Dom Post for doing it the right way.