The Sunday Paper – a Treat or a Let-down? by Trevor Plumbly

Non-stories on Sunday

I can still remember when the Sunday paper actually contained news and a fairly good range of opinion-based articles. Thumbing through this Sunday’s offerings, I wonder if I might be better informed buying The New Zealand Woman’s Weekly (apologies to that magazine and to well-informed New Zealand women everywhere). Let me test your tolerance by sharing a few of these journalistic ‘scoops’ with those of you fortunate enough not to buy the bloody rag. From my iPad, under the ‘latest’ news, I am told: ‘Actor out to be grog-free’. I’ve never heard of the actor, but I understand he appears in a locally produced soap opera. But ‘grog-free’ is not the thrust of the story folks! Wait for it…He’s got a fear of wearing Lycra! And that helped to push him on the wagon for six months. Gosh, gasp! Be still my beating heart. I’ve always felt that Lycra is one of life’s few absolutes: either it does or it don’t, so to speak, therefore its use should be restricted to those under a certain age or weight, but certainly not as a tool for abstinence.

Silly Season Stories

The silliness continued with the paper holding a poll to ascertain how the rest of New Zealand regarded people who live in Auckland (I promise I’m not making this up). The poll showed that 45% of those polled felt that Aucklanders held themselves in high regard. Astonishingly, some malicious buggers recorded they just didn’t care, but the Manager of Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED) hailed the result as positive. As I’m writing this, I hear on the radio that the Rape Crisis organisation has been placed in the ‘competitive bracket’ for funding, along with sports clubs! Maybe you need a catchy acronym to get access to the public trough and be featured in the Sunday paper.

Next up: ‘Kobe Bryant now on Twitter’. Why this pearl should be of interest to readers of a New Zealand newspaper is quite beyond me. I thought, or maybe hoped, that the bottom had been reached with the earth-shattering news that one of our leading rugby players had a knee problem AND his wife was pregnant. If their medical conditions were reversed it might have galvanised interest but, as it was, it illustrated our journalists’ ability to take ‘ho-hum’ to Olympian levels.

The drivel continued with: ‘Kardashian worries Kris Humphries will ruin baby joy’ (if you’ve got a weak constitution stop reading now). It seems, according to a ‘close source’ that the evil Mr Humphries might seek custody of the child through the courts. ‘All he cares about is hurting her’, the source states and then blabs on: ‘Kim is a fighter; people thought she took advantage of him, but it was the other way round, she did love him and gave him 100%’. Any sympathy here should surely be reserved for the unborn child. This particular gem was mined from the ‘Hollywood Life’ website and for it to take space that could be allocated to news that directly affects New Zealanders is an insult to readers’ intelligence.

Real Stories

Where have the stories that really matter gone? Even though it’s holiday time, the same serious problems are endemic in our society, but it seems that journalists’ minds are elsewhere, concerned only with trivia and gossip. What will it take for them to come to their senses and stop ignoring the desperate financial plight of Women’s Refuge, Rape Crisis, and many other charities struggling to survive and help in spite of draconian funding cuts? The failure to take account of  issues such as the appalling increase in alcoholism, alcohol related crimes, serious child abuse and domestic violence at all levels of society is unprofessional, unfeeling and almost shameful.

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