A new world record for pots calling kettles black otherwise known as hypocrisy, has been set by the ‘Dom.
Having in recent years abandoned news reporting for trivia and scuttle-butt and massively reduced the size of their paper, they’ve been hammering Cadburys, for… wait for it…
Selling at the same price, various well established chocolate brand items, only now reduced in size.
Given the Dom’s own shocking record on this score, their gall in slamming Cadburys for this practice defies belief.
That said, in fairness the principal reason for the Dominion Post’s massive circulation decline over the past 15 years since amalgamation with the Evening Post, is the dramatic (world-wide) collapse in newspaper reading.
Like Department stores, yellow pages directories, High Street shops and so many other long established businesses, they’ve been victims of the Internet.
But in part they’re also to blame. Under the previous editor they delivered an annual 12% circulation collapse, the worst performance among all major New Zealand newspapers, due in no small part to their ludicrous fictitious front pages – fictitious that is, in taking an absolute non-event and puffing it into a story. One Wellington identity attempted to republish then in book form but was prevented by the laws of copyright.
Yet every Saturday the ‘Dom produces a top quality broadsheet, reminiscent of yesteryear.
Mind you, they blotted their copybook spectacularly recently in according lead status to a ridiculous non-story. This showed a photo of a woman sitting on a grave weeping. It recounted her absurd claim that she’d been crying for days on end. And why? Because the Makara cemetery staff in a recent clean-up exercise had mistakenly and temporarily, put her sister’s name plate in the wrong place. For the record her sister died nearly 40 years ago. This sort of crap simply insults readers. Meanwhile, well into that otherwise excellent edition a real story was buried, this recording a fellow having swum across Cook Strait underwater.
A further bugbear was their Australian owner, Fairfax’s Board ineptitude, mainly directed at cost-cutting, thereby compounding the downwards spiral. Fairfax now want to cast off their New Zealand newspapers and claim a value of circa $100million for them. On face value the current profit numbers more than support this figure.
But investors concern is never today but instead tomorrow, thus the scorn the $100m figure was greeted with by share-market commentators. There will be no tomorrow for our newspapers with their steadily collapsing circulations.
Here’s a helpful suggestion for the Dominion-Post’s journalists, doubtless fretting about their future. They should follow the example of Truth journalists in the 1970s when it was then the country’s largest circulation newspaper. They demanded (and received) over and above their salaries, embarrassment money for working for Truth. The case for the Dom’s staff receiving this would seem overwhelming.
Encouraged by this triumph, Truth’s political writers then had a crack at demanding danger money for attending the then burgeoning Social Credit Party’s annual conference. If I recall correctly some other media journalists followed suit with their employers. They had a damn good case too for if the Social Credit Party served any useful function, it was to identify the country’s lunatics and provide them a raison d’etre.
But surely beyond dispute the case for the Dom’s staff receiving embarrassment money is overwhelming.
Recalling Truth’s glory days brings back wonderful memories. Weekly columns were written by the then three main political party leaders plus me. One evening while playing chess with their news editor Tony Dominik, he being a former New Zealand junior champion, Tony griped about only having time for one game as it was his turn to write the horoscopes.
Tony was a dear friend who died young. I dedicated my first novel to his memory.
Anyway, on hearing this my spirits soared. I know journalists and if there’s one universal and ageless characteristic they all possess, then that’s laziness, thus my offer to take over the horoscopes was greeted with relief by Truth’s journalists at being free of this burden.
My god I enjoyed it. For the first month I played a straight bat, trotting out the standard nonsense. Then I gradually livened things up with ever more preposterous riding instructions for the following week.
This eventually led to a phone call from editor Russell Gault, advising he wasn’t publishing my latest effort as it was completely over the top.
“Have you had any complaints?” I demanded and he admitted he hadn’t, but my, how that soon changed.
For Russell called in a panic on Friday (Truth appeared every Tuesday) and begged me to resume. It transpired the Post office had literally been delivering in vans, thousands of letters from madwomen across the land, apparently traumatised by the absence of my riding instructions for the week. So back in the saddle I went.
One week I told all women born in August that if they went to Westport the following week and walked about carrying a red handbag, they’d meet the love of their life.
A few days after it appeared, out of curiosity Tony phoned NAC, Air New Zealand’s predecessor, and tried to book a flight to Westport, as he planned to nip down there to see if women bearing red handbags were bowling about.
“We can’t book you”, the receptionist cried. “We’re being inundated. There must be a huge conference there so we’re putting on extra flights”.
Logic says some of those women must have scored a spouse resulting in due course, offspring who thus owe their existence to me.
That troubles me as it’s reasonable to assume the union of deranged women and slavering Westportians aint likely to have produced Nobel Prize winners but instead, offspring at the axe-murderer end of the human spectrum, a classic example of unintended conseprents from otherwise well-meaning gestures.