Waiting for the hearse

January 10th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

I could not believe One News the night before last, when during an (un-necessary) live cross, one of their reporters said how they were hoping to get live footage of the hearse going by (after the ballooning tragedy). I actually yelled at the television – which I do not do often. That was silly and tacky.

I’m not alone it seems. Throng blogged yesterday:

Sarah Batley’s live cross on One News tonight was utterly disgraceful and disrespectful to the 11 people who died tragically yesterday in the hot air balloon crash in Carterton, their families and their friends.

Desperately hoping to be live while a hearse drives past with bodies of the victims is incredibly distasteful, offensive and unnecessary.
It was offensive. To be fair to Ms Batley, she may not have been the one who decided to make mention of waiting for the hearse. It is one thing to include coverage of a hearse in a story. But the way they reported how they were “hoping” to get live coverage of it crossed a line – significantly.
Whale has blogged on this also. When Whale says it is distasteful, you know it definitely is :-)
I contrast that to the good example of the photographer who captured photos of the balloon tragedy. Rather than sell them to The Sun or whichever tabloid will pay the most for them, he gave a copy to the Police for official inquiries, and deleted the originals. Big ups to that man.
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40 Responses to “Waiting for the hearse”

  1. Longknives (4,044 comments) says:

    What an utter disgrace- Back in my day (when I studied journalism) there was a component of the course called ‘media ethics’. This has obviously gone by the wayside coinciding with the seemingly desperate race by the two channels to see who can employ the more brainless ‘eye candy’ for their viewers…

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  2. GPT1 (2,042 comments) says:

    Unnecessary live crosses are becoming the norm rather than the exception,. This was just one of the tackier examples. A live Cross seldom adds anything to the news – it just means you get a repeater stumbling over their words rather than an edited piece.

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  3. Manolo (12,622 comments) says:

    Vultures of the lowest order.

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  4. George Patton (330 comments) says:

    indeed, the photographer who co-operated with the police and deleted inappropriate photos is a person to be respected for their integrity.

    Compare that with the goose Bradley Ambrose who taped the PM with a hidden recorder and sold his story to his hack mates at the herald on sunday.

    PS – why exactly did Bradley Ambrose change his name?

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  5. Scott Chris (5,675 comments) says:

    Meh big deal. I don’t watch that crap anyway, but if I had been her producer, I would have told her to try and get a shot of a hearse and some grim faced or crying people. That’s just the news business. She was simply silly enough to parrot her producer’s instructions. But then, a lot of reporters are just parrots.

    Heck, a shot of a dead miner would have been gold. Oh that’s right, they got one didn’t they?

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  6. Falafulu Fisi (2,176 comments) says:

    What the heck do they teach at journalism school? I reckon that one doesn’t need to spend thousands of dollars on studying journalism. They can learn on the job.

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  7. nasska (9,501 comments) says:

    The crash site is, at a guess, about 500metres down a side road off SH2. When I drove past yesterday afternoon Somerset Rd was blocked to traffic but there were two TV news type cameras set up across from the intersection presumably to record the comings & goings from the site.

    Bad enough the sensationalism of the initial reporting of the crash but this attempt by the MSM to milk the last drop of emotion & pathos out of the incident is pathetic.

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  8. dave (985 comments) says:

    Obviously journalism school is not the same as it was when I was there – or else editors here in NZ don’t really care about ethics and sensitivity. Actually, on TV, they care more about how a journo looks rather than what she says.

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  9. flipper (3,269 comments) says:

    Spot on DPF… And earlier today in the General Debate, I said as follows:

    “…… how about we examine the “benign, sensitive and considerate” MEDIA coverage of the Carterton tragedy.

    The Masterton, Carterton, and Greytown areas are essentially rural support towns, with a bit of tourism in Greytown. They are open-hearted folk who treat everyone with respect – well, apart from some rat bags that make “war” on their own.
    But on Saturday last the media pack (no bloggers!) descended upon the area like locusts – flesh eating locusts.

    Local (apparently APN ) media types joined in the frenzy. But it was left (no pun intended) to TVs one and three to scrape the bottom of the barrel. They camped outside houses, they confronted elderly relatives (there are quite a few, possibly more than 100 in the area, with lurid tales of injuries) awoken suddenly from much needed sleep and so it continued . Residents were forced to turn-off telephones and shut down cell phones (how did they get those unadvertised numbers?). Then officialdom sought to intervene – sotto voce. The Police became concerned and warnings were issued. The locals became agitated and told the TV bimbos what they were, using the vernacular to the ultimate degree. The TV bosses expressed surprise that their 23 year old bimbos, straight from the TV “reporter/presenter” sausage factory, were described by the upset folks as “nothing more than c….”.

    All this really says a lot about the state of news gathering and presentation in NZ – all, apparently, in the name of competition.

    The Law Commission Is clearly hinting at a revision of the Press Council / Broadcasting Standards arrangement. The Carterton tragedy may well be the spark that burns some of these self-important twits. Whatever, it is surely time for a clean-up.

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  10. Linda Reid (385 comments) says:

    They probably focus on teaching remedial English.

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  11. nasska (9,501 comments) says:

    Linda Reid

    That & the art of speaking about 1000 words/minute while drawing audible gasps of breath reminiscent of someone in the terminal stages of emphysema.

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  12. Kimble (4,092 comments) says:

    This sort of behaviour is what you can expect from privatisation. Oh wait…

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  13. Northland Wahine (542 comments) says:

    Sensationalist tabloids would be proud of such coverage. To use such tragedies solely for viewer ratings encourages ghoulishness. It is anything but news worthy journalism.

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  14. David Garrett (5,120 comments) says:

    “media ethics” is a total oxymoron in this country…has been for 20 years or more….They need the kind of awakening they are getting in the UK….

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  15. Kimble (4,092 comments) says:

    Does everyone else miss the days when the live cross was used for things that actually required it?

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  16. youami (45 comments) says:

    Utterly disgusting coverage. The same thing happens anytime someone dies tragically. The moneyshot is when they capture the grieving relatives breaking down in tears after the event.

    Media coverage of most things is appalling these days (eg women’s mags, News Ltd etc), but we keep consuming it…

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  17. Elaycee (4,066 comments) says:

    Not sure why we are surprised – TV1 has been steadily dropping to the same, crass gutter levels of ‘journalism’ as TV3, for the past year or so. This instance where a breathless bint was seen trying to pad her lines to try and coincide her rehearsed ‘story’ with a shot of a hearse leaving a crash site, is just another example of the depths to which ‘journalism’ has plummeted in NZ in recent years.

    This TV1 ‘news’ item was crass, crude and totally unprofessional.

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  18. Scott Chris (5,675 comments) says:

    God, it’s as if people feel they don’t have any choice but to watch the news.

    I think it’s referred to in media circles as the “Rubber-Neck Principle”. If it makes people look, it’s newsworthy.

    Speaking of which, here’s something tasteless and funny:

    VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED (YOU HAVE A CHOICE NOT TO WATCH IT)

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  19. tvb (3,938 comments) says:

    Sadly this does have news value. The grim pictures of the hearse leaving brings home to people the tragedy of these events. I am neutral regarding the coverage.

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  20. MT_Tinman (2,790 comments) says:

    tvb (2,288) Says:
    January 10th, 2012 at 11:54 am
    Sadly this does have news value. The grim pictures of the hearse leaving brings home to people the tragedy of these events. I am neutral regarding the coverage.

    I have sat here for a full minute trying to think of one solitary way a hearse moving a dead person(s) is news.

    The fact that the tragedy happened was news, the death of 11 people was news, at a pinch the reaction of friends, relatives, onlookers and those working the aftermath was news and maybe even the funerals will be news but a hearse (possibly) moving bodies?

    Please explain your reasoning.

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  21. BeaB (1,946 comments) says:

    And so many do this that I think they must be taught to – hold the mike with one hand and use the other to emphasise every word, as though they are conducting themselves. There’s a Maori woman announcer on TV1 who even does it sitting down.
    Why can’t they put their hand in their pocket so we don’t have to be distracted.

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  22. ben (2,386 comments) says:

    I yelled too.

    Thought I was the only one.

    I’ve found nearly all the balloon coverage about unwatchable. Some combination of awful sensationalism (esp. Batley) and non-news on how lovely the victims were.

    Although I am grateful to live in a country with free media, I sure wish they could use normal language and be representative in their coverage. I do think media is destroying itself by abusing trust in usually needless resort to hyperbole and sensationalism. Perhaps this is unavoidable under competition but I think it will destroy their own market.

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  23. OTGO (457 comments) says:

    Reporting of the news is about emotions and the capturing/showing of them. You’ll never hear a journalist asking a person, “what actually happened?”. Instead you’ll hear, “How did that make you feel?”.

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  24. Mobile Michael (364 comments) says:

    This is hardly new, I was a pallbearer at a funeral 15 years ago that had media coverage because the deceased had been murdered. As I came out of the church there were two cameras blocking the way to the hearse.

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  25. labours a joke (442 comments) says:

    I dont watch one and three news anymore. Utter crap. Get most of my daily info off this blog and Whales. You can also just ignore silly contributors like scottchris.

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  26. Paulus (2,295 comments) says:

    Whaddaya mean – she and all her contemporaries have a Polytec “degree” in Media Studies.
    That’s what makes them “special”, along with a sort of good looks and a body, but cannot speak other than incoherently.

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  27. ben (2,386 comments) says:

    Some reporters are better than others, and age does seem to moderate them a bit. Sarah Batley was especially offensive I thought but the next night it was Ruth W-W and she was better, and D-M Lever was actually quite informative on the Rena live cross. I wonder if it is the reporters’ willingness to push back on pressure from bosses to amp things up? Or perhaps it is trying to make a name for yourself as a younger reporter that’s driving things.

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  28. redeye (626 comments) says:

    I’d be interested to know how the news ratings are travelling. Relative to days gone by.

    I certainly don’t watch the TV news any more unless I’ve missed the cricket score or some such pressing issue. And there was a time where I wouldn’t have missed it.

    Like most posters I have little interest in watching a live cross to some junior reporter standing outside a deserted police station waving his arms around and speaking like he has to exaggerate every 3rd word.

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  29. David Garrett (5,120 comments) says:

    To be fair, the exaggerate every third word thing has been round for donkeys…Rod Vaughn does it, and he is considerably older than me…

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  30. calendar girl (1,108 comments) says:

    Thanks for that comment, BeaB @ 12:10. You have articulated my own continual frustration at contrived gesticulation now used routinely by almost all live-cross TV news presenters. It makes many presenters look unnatural; they seem to be putting on a choreographed performance rather than addressing viewers sincerely, as people.

    Why is the difference important? Because it goes to the very heart of the trust that should underpin serious news reporting. If a news medium erodes trust through its own manipulation of presentation, its news loses respect, reliability and value. Those running “media studies” courses in educational establishments seem blind to that likely outcome.

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  31. tvb (3,938 comments) says:

    It is the pictures more than the dialogue. In life we are amongst death including the tragic circumstances of the balloon deaths. Pictures of the hearse are a poignant reminder of that. Some people clearly find that hard but I can cope and feel for the deceased. I have no difficulty withe news value of this. Death should not be hidden away.

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  32. orewa1 (425 comments) says:

    I had exactly the same reaction – yelled at the TV in response to the “waiting for the hearse” comment.

    Incredibly poor taste. A change from the mandatory police cars and ambulances. But honestly, if this kind of crassness seriously sells more potato crisps and toilet cleaners, we need to examine ourselves as a society.

    On a similar but lesser note – the 2 most overworked words in journalism now are:

    HORRIFIC – used to describe any event that is unfortunate; mandatory in the description of every accident and misfortune. Often given greater credibility by attribution to an authority – e.g “one of the local dairy owners described the accident as “horrific.” Recently used by Radio NZ News 3 times in one bulletin.

    SHOCK. In the reporting of every adverse incident it is mandatory to describe the people affected as being “in shock.” “Shock” is actually a medical term for a specific condition. Yet daily we see whole families, cities and nations being described as “in shock.” Lazy journalism.

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  33. MT_Tinman (2,790 comments) says:

    tvb, the only time I’ve heard of that a hearse should’ve made the news it didn’t.

    That being the time an undertaker, customer aboard, was stopped by police after being clocked at 100mph west of Otira en-route to Greymouth.

    The undertaker told me he suggested to the cop that as he had done thousands of “K”s at 30KPH he was sure he had built up some credit.

    Strangely the cop didn’t see it that way.

    As for the pictures of the hearse thing, simple archive footage of a hearse would have sufficed, pictures of the hearse were simply unnecessary and not in the least news worthy.

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  34. trout (865 comments) says:

    News gathering is now a competitive sport. No doubt the good residents of Carterton will be continually harassed to provide copious tears; every funeral will be a media event. God forbid they may even find a representative of the ‘families’ who will appear every night speculating on anything and everything. And of course there must be someone to blame.

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  35. BeaB (1,946 comments) says:

    Remember when we used to get informative news, sensible interviews with intelligent people and no soppy, manufactured sentimentality or outrage.

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  36. BeaB (1,946 comments) says:

    orewa1
    chaos
    carnage
    closure
    reeling

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  37. DJP6-25 (1,229 comments) says:

    Longknives 10:06 am. When it comes to ‘journalisim’, you’re probably dealing with people who think ethics is a county in southern England.

    cheers

    David Prosser

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  38. TM (78 comments) says:

    This is modern journalism. No information, no in-depth story, but as long as you put the TV reporter in front of something it makes it look like they are part of the action and something is happening. Added bonus if you get footage of emotional people or images that evoke emotion.

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  39. Nookin (2,887 comments) says:

    Frontman: We cross now to Dumb Blonde who is in Carterton waiting for a hearse.
    Dumb Blonde: Thank you, Frontman. Here I am in Carterton waiting for a hearse……………waiting………..waiting. It’s not here yet Frontman.
    Frontman: Rivetting stuff, thank you Dumb Blonde. More breaking news, later.

    Do we award Pulitzer Prizes in NZ?

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  40. mavxp (490 comments) says:

    What we need to rediscover is our long lost appreciation for British understatement. Dust it off, and try it for size.
    I think we will find it fits us rather well, and like all things classic, it never really goes out of style.

    I read this recently, lamenting its loss:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/things-are-getting-a-tad-sticky-how-the-great-british-understatement-is-dying-a-slow-death/story-e6frg6so-1226233548392

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