Hard News by Russell Brown


Call it what you like

Call it what you like, no journalist likes being made to print a "clarification" by management; least of all one that seems as unnecessary as that foisted on the Bay Report by its proprietor.

The editor and reporter involved at the little APN paper have "agreed wording" that lets them stand by their original transcript, so we can perhaps conclude that Key did say "wages drop", just as he has on other occasions said things he didn't mean to say. Is it really the newspaper's job to spell that out to its readers two months after the fact?

I think this will be regarded as a tactical error by the National Party -- which spent the latter part of last week putting it about that there would be a "retraction" of the quote -- and as lapse of judgement by APN management. It's less that there was a complaint made than that this curious non-retraction was deemed an appropriate response. You don't need to go as far as The Standard to think it's a poor state of affairs. I suspect there are some APN journalists looking sideways at their proprietor this week.

Mediawatch had a report on the affair yesterday.

Saturday was a beautiful day for Pasifika. I rode my bike down in the morning and walked the Western Springs site before it got too crowded.

Public agencies have a significant presence at the festival: the police and the Army were recruiting, the Ministry of Justice had an outstanding-fines outreach, the Minster of Education seemed to be genuinely enjoying his role as the garlanded "games master" at the stand for the Team Up project, and ACC was everywhere, along with Sparc and Creative New Zealand.

The communities that gather each year at the Springs are, I suspect, not always easy to reach otherwise. The response to an appeal for reviews of the day suggests they are not particularly engaged with their city paper's website, for example.

But mostly, it was about song, dance and food. I got a curry, found some shade and watched some Niuean matrons dance, then moved on and heard a church choir turn out an exuberant version of Bill Withers' 'Lovely Day', with extra bonus Jesus lyrics. They were happy, I was happy.

On the other hand, I was deeply sad yesterday to learn that Finn Higgins' body had been found. I knew Finn through his postings to Public Address System and I greatly admired the clarity of his thinking and writing, and, before he walked out of his home on February 11, I was planning to ask him to do some guest blogging here.

Recently, he sent me some personal emails after we had an upsetting time with our son's education. Those emails meant a lot to me. He told me about his own struggle through the system, and of how much he loved his life now:

If I'm going anywhere with this it's to say that even the virtually complete rejection of formal education that I managed doesn't need to be the end of the world. I had to deal with some serious anxiety and a few years of relatively crappy jobs when I started working, but I'm now 26 and have managed to work my way into a situation where I can go after jobs I care about and enjoy, and where I can apply myself and my skills to do things that have value to me. I'm also comfortable enough socially that I have a wonderful partner who I love dearly, and who can put up with my occasional odd turns very sweetly and effectively. I wouldn't claim that life is perfect or that I'd not have preferred things to have gone differently, but it's all survivable and doesn't have to go bad places.

My experience has been that generally life eases up on people with intellectual/practical skills and social difficulties as an adult Particularly if they're good with computers or play the drums, two areas where being socially inept are practically badges of merit ;)

Finn overcame so much to succeed in his short life, he had such a brilliant attitude and he was so damned clever. It seems so unfair that none of that could save him from his illness. My thoughts go out to his his friends and family, and especially his partner Sophie and his sister Zoe, who came out from Britain to look for him. I feel so sad. I wish I'd known him.

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