Hard News by Russell Brown


When it's Not Okay

Kristin Dunne-Powell's interview on 60 Minutes last night was important, and, I think, the better for being held back two months. Had it run as scheduled, days after Tony Veitch's guilty plea, it would have been subsumed in the mania around the case.

Now, I think the following passage in particular can stand alone. It picks up where Paula Penfold asked her why she fabricated a story (she "fell down the stairs") about the serious injuries she suffered after being assaulted by Veitch:

Why didn't you tell them the truth?

I knew that as soon as I told someone, it could escalate out of all control. Because of who he was. And I was protecting him, his confidentiality. I was ashamed.

Did at least a part of you not say, "I've just been the victim of a serious domestic assault -- I've got to go to the police"?


Not at all?

Not for some time. I was in denial of the sort of relationship I had been in. I was in denial of being … a battered woman. No one unless you've been in that situation, no one can understand. And that's why for me it's important to say something.

Because there are women in households all over New Zealand, and they are not just Maori, and they are not low socio-economic … There are women who are confused of their own feelings, and of the behaviours of their partner. And it is, it's a spiderweb that abusive men stitch around you.

I'm not a stupid person. I'm educated, I'm intelligent, and I got so caught in that trap. And if I can get caught in that trap, anyone can.

She has, of course, had help in finding these words. But they are so important because they put a real face on what can otherwise become a cliché about family violence happening in any kind of home.

I thought the report itself was well-handled. It was sympathetic, but Penfold certainly didn't lob soft questions at her subject. Given the way some media organisations have behaved over this story, I think credit is due here.


Something else Dunne-Powell said in that interview -- about living for three months "with the curtains closed" -- is at the heart of this week's Media7 show. We're looking at privacy and the media from two angles.

The first is the news media's pursuit of prominent and newsworthy people. The unfolding scandal of the News of the World's phone-tapping and voicemail hacking of possibly hundreds of people in Britain represents a new extreme. But what goes on even in more workaday reporting, here? Are victims re-victimised? Do others invite the attention? Panelists there are Simpson Grierson lawyer Tracey Walker and Star-Times deputy editor Miriyana Alexander.

Also, we'll look that the privacy of ordinary folks in the context of shows such as Target (which is made by Top Shelf Productions, the same company as Media7) with its hidden cameras. For that panel, it's Steven Price, Screentime's Philly Isles, and the founder of Top Shelf, Vincent Burke.

And to wind up, we'll compare and contrast the branding and advertising of your three mobile phone networks, with NBR's Hazel Philips and Whybin TBWA's Dave Walden.

If you'd like to join us, we'll need you at the Classic in Queen Street before 5.30pm. If you'd like to come along, click Reply and email me to say so.

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