Every morning for half a century, receiving my natural human right of breakfast in bed, a morning ritual wherever we are, my partner lays everything out on the side table, and hands me the morning paper.
And as always in Wellington, I first glance at the front page to see what trifle (usually a local body matter) the Dominion-Post is beating up into a fictitious story, before going to page two to do the Telegraph crossword. When that’s finished, it’s on to the back pages to do the two word game challenges, followed by the quite good crossword. Finally, to the obituaries to check I’m not there.
Then, with low expectations, I revert to the front page and read the paper. Last Monday that morning ritual duly occurred.
I looked at the front page and to my astonishment found it was now written in Maori, a language known to very few New Zealanders and I’d venture, only a handful of Dom’readers.
A small print sidebar advised in English, “we’ve been racist, contributing to stigma, marginalisation and stereotypes against Maori”. This guff followed for the next four pages and for six consecutive days with, “We apologise”.
In the last couple of months, ever since the ownership and editor changes, the Dom’ has irritatingly, periodically lapsed into maori words in the middle of articles, for no explained reason.
“New Zealand” is now unmentionable, instead with no public say in the matter, (along with government Departments and Radio New Zealand), apparently our country’s name has been changed.
Anyway, I turned to page two only to find it and the next three pages full of unmitigated tosh about the Stuff newspapers’ historic presentation of news pertaining to maoris. It was so bad and so hyperbolic I won’t insult readers by repeating it.
And as said, for the next six days they kept it up.
Day two featured a banal congratulatory comment from the Prime Minister.
Give us a break. I’ll wager Jacinda never volunteered it, rather a reporter sought her view, as indeed he, or probably she, did with Judith Collins. To her credit Judith wryly poked fun at this tripe.
On Saturday they ran two pages of ignorance and outright lies about how bad their newspapers had treated maori sports stars.
In the process they touched on a subject of specialist knowledge to me, namely Herbert Slade, a maori who “fought” John L. Sullivan for the heavyweight championship in New York in 1883. Their ignorant gripe was the delay in reporting this back in 1883, plainly a slur against maoridom.
This brought back memories of being contacted by a maori sports organisation a few years ago who were planning on publishing a book on maori sports history. I begged them to keep Slade out of it as including him sullied the achievements of Ruia Morrison, Michael Campbell and numerous All Blacks and other distinguished maori sportspeople.
As always when maori organisations have sought my advice, usually financial, they ignored it and in this case treated Slade’s utterly bogus bout seriously. The fact was he wasn’t a boxer and couldn’t fight his way out of a paper bag and the “bout”, for reasons I outlined to them, was essentially a Barnum type hoax on gullible New Yorkers.
Since this daily nonsense began, literally and I mean that word, everyone I’ve spoken to has declared they will not be renewing their subscription. I certainly won’t as it’s now insulting to confront this daily guff.
It was not only an insult to their readers who in their readership acceptance they tacitly implied were racist, but also prominent former editors such as Robin Bromby, Karl du Fresne and sports editor Bob Fox who all protested bitterly and with justification at being branded racist.
As Bromby accurately wrote, “You have besmirched the reputation of all of the thousands of journalists who have worked for the newspapers over many decades”.
du Fresne kicked their ignorant mushy heads over their pitiful mis-use of the word “racism” writing,
“If the accusation of racism still meant something, it would be damning. But in 2020 the word racist simply means anyone who doesn’t conform to the authoritarian orthodoxies of identity politics”.
In one of their ongoing daily fictions they apologised for the absence in their past of maori editors.
Funny that; I received my first weekly newspaper column 55 years ago from one of theireditors, the late Jim Webber who was maori.
I knew Jim well, lived with him while my house was being built and have no doubt he’d have joined in with du Fresne, Bromby and Fox in anger at this fictitious slur.
The Stuff fleet of papers is now stuffed as they ran this guff across the country.
Obviously they don’t get what a newspaper is. Let me tell them.
A newspaper is an assembly of pages on which is printed news. The preposterous apologising nonsense of the past week was not news. It was fiction.
The BBC’s slogan is “We Don’t Just Report the Story, We Live It”.
Stuff could adopt one, namely, “We don’t just report the news, we make it up”.
The Stuff fleet of publications was bought by the current owner for the asking price of one dollar. Thanks to this madness she has now reduced that value to zero.
I’m aware the Herald management was elated at this turn of events as Stuff, now being stuffed, paves the way for them to fulfil their ambition and create a national quality newspaper with excellent journalism.
There will certainly be a place for the mostly senior, better Dominion journalists, of which there are many, now reduced to commentators.
This ludicrous occurrence, as I noted on Friday, was in the words of a prominent Wellingtonian, “The Greatest Commercial Suicide note in history”.
Newspapers, like so many other activities have been decimated by modern technology. Young people don’t read them for if interested, news is available to them instantly on their devices. But some newspapers still hang on with fast collapsing readership, read and subscribed to as a life-long habit by older folk. Probably the average age of their readership is about 60.
Writing this abominable insulting garbage for past purported racism implies their readership were equally culpable in accepting it.
Insulting your customers has never been a smart commercial move. I say it again; Stuff is now stuffed. In one inane move they’ve reduced their one dollar purchase price for the entire fleet of newspapers to zilch.