Hard News by Russell Brown


F**kin' Choice

Dunno about you, but I thought this week's first episode of the new (and last?) series of Outrageous Fortune totally bloody rocked. The writing crackled, as you might expect, and the characters are now so familiar as to actually seem like family. But some new elements were tremendously well realised on screen.

The party-pill sequence was glorious (do you, er, know where I could get any of that stuff, purely for journalistic research purposes?) and Charles Mesure's performance as the new cop in town was stellar. The best line of the show came in an exchange between him and Van:

"How did you get my number?"

"I'm a detective, Van. I fuckin' detected it."

Fuckin' choice.

Meanwhile, Loretta's drug experience has moved her to write a blog post bout drugs and what hypocrites people are. Bless.

While I'm doling out the praise, I feel bound again to say that Metro magazine is really on a roll. The magazine's two most prominent feature writers, Simon Wilson and "editor at large" Donna Chisholm, have settled into distinct and useful roles.

Wilson is essentially phrasing arguments about Auckland -- you don't have to agree with him, but you won't be left in any doubt about what his point is and why he's making it. (This month, why a Supercity is really a good idea; last month, Auckland's sleepwalk to the Rugby World Cup.)

And Chisholm is just writing great magazine features. Her two stories this month are quite different -- one about loathing and fear and vehicular murder in the suburbs, the other a look at who and what makes the concert promotion business work -- but both are thoroughly absorbing. I'm just a but puzzled at how she's managing to also be editor at large and feature queen at the back-from-the-retirement home North & South.

I'm presuming that this revival of fortune can't really be attributed to the departure of group publisher Debra Millar -- her position was only disestablished in April -- but her absence certainly doesn't seem to have hurt.


Nicky Hager has a very readable summary of an 11 month defamation action brought against hum by Lynton Crosby of political strategists Crosby/Textor. He regards it as little more than a meritless act of legal bullying, and he would seem to be right.

In the settlement which has now ended the action, Hager has agreed to correct a slip of the tongue (he conflated the company principals' names and referred to "Mark Crosby" in the Radio New Zealand interview in question) and to clarify that he had indeed not been referring to Crosby/Textor in a sentence about political dirty tricks against Helen Clark. After demanding $100,000 in damages, comprehensive apologies and (hilariously) the disclosure of all Hager's sources, Crosby has got nothing else.


Apart from a total fail on characterising a Republican "hacking" incident (read the comments) Salon's Joan Walsh has written an impassioned, forceful backgrounder on the wingnut assault on Obama Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. The Republican Party appears to be in some kind of moral and intellectual death spiral.


And The Times' story on the Chinese government staging its annual shutdown the social internet as the Tiananmen anniversary approaches sees Twitter arrive as a platform important enough to be suppressed.

And the Chinese blogger Michael Anti last week noted in an interview that Twitter is a particularly rockin' tool for Chinese internet users -- because you can say a lot in 140 characters:

Twitter is a new thing in China. The censors need time to figure out what it is. So enjoy the last happy days of twittering before the fate of Youtube descends on it one day.

By the way, I want to point out that the Chinese Twitterland is funnier than the English one, for a Chinese tweet can have three times the volume of an English tweet, thanks to the high information intensity of the Chinese language. 140 Chinese characters can make up all the full elements of a news piece with the "5 Ws" (Who, What, Where, When and HoW). But the joy of the Chinese Twitterland is more fragile, and I hope that it will live longer in this country.


And finally, Freeview owners might wish to tune into tonight's Media7: I think it's one of the best we've made. It kicks off with an interview with Bridget Saunders about that unusual Close Up interview, moves to a panel discussion about on-and-off the record where Close Up producer Mike Valintine respons to what Saunders has said and Duncan Garner says more -- way more -- than I think has ever been said about the night John Key went on the turps with the gallery journalists, and ends with another one-on-one with trauma photographer Jim McMillan. There's also a nice piece by Sarah Daniell about how Peter Bromhead got the sack and a Qantas award for outstanding achievement in the same week.

Also tonight, I'll be appearing on the "our Virtual Identity" panel at LATE at the Museum, to which I am really looking forward. There are still tickets available on the door at the Auckland Museum from 6.30pm or online. And the panel, with Finlay Macdonald talking to Nat Torkington, Dr Wayne Hope, Juie Starr and me, starts at 7.30. Later on, Phil Dadson, Lawrence Arabia and DJ Cian. That's really very groovy.

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