Last year, at a Wintec Press Club lunch, I listened to Paula Penfold tell the story of how she and Eugene Bingham put together their reports for TV3's 3D untangling the monstrous conviction that put Teina Pora in prison for a rape and murder he never committed.
It's the kind of story journalists like to hear. It helps us believe that in an era of shrinking budgets and sagging standards, what we do can still matter. But, as Penfold acknowledged, there's a deeper story here: that of private investigator and ex-cop Tim McKinnel, who spent six years working to free Teina Pora and in the process exposed some unpleasant truth about our justice system.
It's the story told by Michael Bennett in his new book, In Dark Places:
Bennett's book is a bracing read: pacy, accessible and important. He joins us this week on Media Take to talk about it.
In what has become a kind of crime and punishment special, we also talk to reformed gang member Fa'afete Taito, Deirdre Nehua of the prisoner reintegration service Out of Gate, and the Salvation Army's Reina Harris about the backdrop to a Waitangi Tribunal claim over persistently high rates of Maori incarceration and reoffending.
And we'll also take a hard look at a news phenomenon that's been doing my head in: the feckless and and often nonsensical stories about "meth houses" and contamination. As this Science Media Centre roundup of expert opinion indicates, the conflation of the risks at properties formerly used for methamphetamine manufacture and those where meth has simply been used is deeply misleading.
Ironically, I hadn't seen that opinion when I scripted a video for this week's show, but I came to the same conclusion: at best this stuff is confused, at worst it's simply bullshit. And it's bullshit very frequently driven by companies with a direct interest in generating public alarm. (Also: by government ministers, with much the same motivation). News stories end up full of wild and contradictory claims and property owners are relieved of yet more money.
NB: props to the person in digital at Newshub who actually reported on the expert opinion. Everyone else seem to have been in no mood to let the facts get in the way of a good story. Anyway, here's Richard Pamatatau from tonight's show:
You can watch the Media Take show here on demand.
And there's also an additional online-only Q&A session with all the panelists here. It's pretty interesting.