Journalism warning labels

August 24, 2010

Tom Scott is bang on the money. I need some of these for the pages I don’t work on at work. Although, in saying that, often I have no choice but to leave stories be.

It seems a bit strange to me that the media carefully warn about and label any content that involves sex, violence or strong language — but there’s no similar labelling system for, say, sloppy journalism and other questionable content. I figured it was time to fix that, so I made some stickers. I’ve been putting them on copies of the free papers that I find on the London Underground. You might want to as well.

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I’m not sure which is my favourite but I know my friend Jeremy will love ‘Medical claims in this article have not been confirmed by peer-reviewed research’. Believe it or not I’ve actually subbed a story with a paragraph beginning with: ‘According to Wikipedia…’. This is no lie. Every week I encounter recycled press releases which are a real drag. A couple of weeks ago I wrote the headline ‘Verbatim press release’ on a motoring story about a new Land Rover. It obviously didn’t go to print, but it highlights how frustrating it is having to write a headline for a raw press release. It’s an illusion that we’re headlining such a story as there’s only one real headline for each of these. The result is you feel like you’ve done what the PR behind the release wants you to do. It sucks. Even more so when whoever penned the release is a bad writer.

Anyways, check out the rest of the labels on Tom Scott’s site, they’re a good laugh.

Can you say unattributed, speculative editorialising masquerading as factual news?

It is increasingly thought that her body was disposed of – possibly cut into pieces and weighted down with concrete – in the Hunua Ranges between Auckland and Waikato.

Whoa! That’s pretty explicit, not to mention sensational. So, who said that again?

New Zealand Herald, Friday August 20

New Zealand Herald, Friday August 20

How’s this letter to the editor from one regional New Zealand broadsheet.

I read a brief in a newspaper that reported a man who was found guilty of manufacturing P and wounding a police dog was sentenced to three years’ jail time.

This man could be out on parole in 15 to 18 months’ time. Where are the consequences for his crimes?

Without severe consequences, authorities will never achieve a reduction in crime.

Everyone knows the difference between right and wrong, which is why those with criminal intent act in secret, after dark, in disguise, and with weapons and intimidation.

Without knowing the full details of the above case, this level of punishment for these crimes only encourages criminals.

But the UN protocol on prisoner treatment (among many other UN accords signed by various New Zealand governments), seeks to do just that – encourage criminality – which is one of the many causes of a breakdown in society, leading to the UN’s “One World Order” intervention in our country.

Many have forgotten, including the current crop of politicians, that it was under the duress of the UN that we, and most other Western nations, abolished the death penalty for murder, rape and treason.

There are many other aspects of our lives that are controlled by the UN; spiritually, morally, socially, economically, militarily and so on, and all this from an organisation which boasts to be a “forum for world peace”.

Where does one start? The letter begins simply enough; as the usual right-wing argument of “to solve crime we need to make sentences harsher”, but somehow it degenerates into a full-blown conspiracy theory claiming the United Nations is responsible for the ills of society.Whoa. I’m all for being skeptical and reading between the lines, but “One World Order”? You’ve got to be kidding me. I was planning on dissecting the “ideas” raised in this guy’s letter, but to be honest I can’t even be bothered.

Hyphen fail

July 29, 2010

This blurb ran on a story in today’s Viva pullout in the Herald:

Viva’s eating out editor Nici Wickes takes us on a personal tour behind the scenes of her new TV cooking/travel show, World Kitchen

Don’t forget your hyphens, kids.