Mixing two things together in stories

September 14th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

One of the things which annoys me is when stories are made more sensational by combining two things together.

An example would be say there were 50 people killed and 8,000 people assaulted, and a story says “In the last year 8,050 people were killed or assaulted by criminals.

We get this in this Press story. The headline was:

Taxpayers fork out $550,000 for bash

Now journalists do not write the headlines. Sub-editors do. I saw the headline and my blood pressure rose. $500,000 on a function to launch the Christchurch blueprint would be an outrage.

The first para was:

A launch party and promotional material for the central Christchurch blueprint cost taxpayers more than $500,000.

Now do you see the issue. There is a big difference between the launch party and the actual costs of promotional material for the plan. The launch party should be modest, but considering the importance of the plan of course you are going to spend money on making sure people in Christchurch can access it and know what is proposed.

The lavish event held in July to launch the Christchurch Central Development Unit’s vision for the city included free beer, sparkling wine and canapes.

Lavish means extravagant. Now maybe it was. How much of the $500,000 was spent on it.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority () said yesterday that the $549,989 bill for the event included signage, an interactive 3D computer view of the blueprint, print material, information videos, the website, 3D modelling and animation, catering and technical support.

I don’t think 3d modelling of the plan is really related to whether a function is lavish.

“This is not a one-off cost for one night. The majority of material is still being used to promote the plan on an ongoing basis,” the spokesman said.

The event was defended by Cera chief executive Roger Sutton.

“We are trying to attract something between $5 billion and $10b of investment to Christchurch and I think we have to have a bit of razzle- dazzle for investors to take notice and come to our city,” he told Radio New Zealand.

So how much was for the actual function?

“It took place in the city council foyer. It is hardly like we hired out the Hilton.”

Not that lavish.

At the end of the day, I have no information on which I can make my own judgement as to whether the function was lavish. Sparking wine doesn’t make it lavish.

What would have been useful is a breakdown of the costs, with specific reference to how much was the food and drink bill. It may well be that the spending was on the high side. But I can’t tell from the story.

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11 Responses to “Mixing two things together in stories”

  1. Reid (16,511 comments) says:

    The faceless sub-editor is only doing what Campbell does: discredit at all costs all the time regardless of truth anything and everything the hated tories do.

    Perhaps it’s Colin Espiner, what’s he doing these days?

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  2. Redbaiter (9,103 comments) says:

    Why do we lag so far behind Japan in the matter of earthquake repairs?

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  3. PaulL (5,987 comments) says:

    Beer, wine and canapes in the council foyer. Maybe times are tight in newspaper land, but where I work that wouldn’t be considered lavish.

    The problem is that there is pressure on to make everything exciting. It’s like watching a discovery channel documentary, where some guy’s driving a big truck along the road. I’d be interested in the truck – tell me something about the engine, the load, anything interesting (that’s why I watch discovery channel). Instead the voice over is saying “the driver is at incredible risk every moment of this journey, at any point the steering column could break and the truck could veer off the road killing 1,000 school children” or something else equally inane. It isn’t actually necessary to manufacture excitement, we can just be told the facts.

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  4. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    It would annoy me more if I felt that people actually trusted journalists or the news generally. Thankfully, most New Zealanders (of all political stripes) accurately see them for what they are: vain, pretentious, unethical, not particularly given to systematic or analytical thinking, not very well-read, prone to demagoguery or and sensationalism.

    I think this year the readers digest poll put them in the same category as real estate agents, telemarketers, door-to-door salesman and prostitutes in its most ‘trusted professions’ list. My only quibble with that (and with the list generally) is that journalism is not actually a “profession” – as if journalists were somehow reporters equivalent to lawyers, doctors and engineers in terms of specialist training and expertise.

    But, thankfully, there hasn’t been a time when journalists have been less important to the opinions of the people generally.

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  5. Redbaiter (9,103 comments) says:

    “But, thankfully, there hasn’t been a time when journalists have been less important to the opinions of the people generally.”

    I know what you’re saying, but they still reach a large sector of the population with their politically partisan crap.

    Things are changing for sure, but the largely Progressive mainstream media scum still provide the ready made political narrative for a large part of the population, (and especially the real dumbarses).

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  6. Reid (16,511 comments) says:

    Why do we lag so far behind Japan in the matter of earthquake repairs?

    Because we had to wait for the aftershocks to stop before we launched the investment campaign because no-one was going to invest while they were going on. Also EQC had to start virtually from scratch with all the learning and upskilling that entails.

    I grant Brownlee should have been using more PR skills like Liarbore would have done, if only to be seen to be doing more, quicker even if not actually to be doing so, but that’s not a big deal in the context of everything else IMO.

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  7. labrator (1,850 comments) says:

    I think it’s great that the Domion Post has dropped the broadsheet format.

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  8. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    3D graphics modelling and illustrations are pretty standard in the construction industry now. Architects are geared-up to do it.

    Did anyone notice when the idea of a Waterfront Stadium for Auckland was announced, and that very day the TV news ran a 3d fly-past of the scheme design for the stadium by Warren & Mahoney? It’s not like you’re producing Avatar ffs!

    A by-product of the way we draw plans for buildings now, is you can then generate impressive-looking 3d renders of them for not a lot more effort. This is hardly “Lavish”, it’s just how we work now.

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  9. PaulL (5,987 comments) says:

    Cato, you’re upset that journalism is considered a profession – right alongside prostitution?

    Ultimately people will get what they pay for. If they choose to purchase news from organisations that specialise in what colour underwear Britney Spears is wearing today, then more of those organisations will arrive.

    My personal prediction is that we’re going to have a few very high quality global media organisations, perhaps aggregating high quality content that is produced online. Organisations like The Economist (and, for those on the left, the NYT). Organisations that actually do some analysis and report content.

    There’ll be an increasing number of specialist news sources – blogs and the like.

    And there’ll be an incredible array of dross, as there is today.

    Those who have the smarts to seek out and find more competent news organisations will receive that news. The great unwashed will get increasingly dumbed down content. The quality content will become more global.

    Longer term, we’re going to continue the trend of the wealthier and more international type people having more in common with their peers in other countries than with their fellow countrymen. Eventually we’ll have a whole class of people who feel more like they’re citizens of the internet than they feel like they’re a citizen of India or China or NZ. And that will change a lot about how people interact, and how countries interact.

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  10. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    Why do we lag so far behind Japan in the matter of earthquake repairs?

    Three reasons:

    (1) Autocratic Government – in Japan.
    (2) A massive industrial economy – in Japan.
    (3) Plenty of world-leading construction technology that is still years away from being introduced in the rest of the world is already accepted and used as standard – in Japan.

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  11. MH (762 comments) says:

    and the milk shakes are free. Costs could have been reduced but since the gang of 4-8 are at the wheel who knows? Who genuinely in the Govt or in the opposition is going to do the investigation into these costs,either now or in the future.Money means nothing to these people,the day MP’s passed their own super retirement scheme in the dead of morning was THE day the public watchdogs,journalists and the voters gave up caring.Fancy creating a separate retirement scheme that is far superior to that offered to ordinary Kiwis as a reward for public service.

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