Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: It's not OK to just make stuff up

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  • Russell Brown,

    A decline in the incidence of domestic violence would indicate success, not simply an increase in reporting - which, at first blush, suggests an increase in the acts themselves.

    That's not really a reasonable measure. A key aim of a campaign like this is to encourage reporting. If reported family violence jumps by nearly a third after the campaign airs, either:

    1. After the campaign airs, the actual incidence of family violence leaps by nearly a third in six months, absent any known trigger.

    2. After the campaign airs, people are encouraged to report family violence (which we know to be notoriously under-reported), and the number of incidents reported jumps by nearly a third. The campaign would seem to have achieved one of its goals.

    On balance, which is the more likely scenario? I'm fairly confident in saying that it's 2.

    if prosecutions increase then the campaign can only be judged a failure - to alter behaviour and not just awareness or attitude.

    See above. It has altered behaviour: it has reduced tolerance for family violence, reflected in a greater willingness to report (that is also, it should be noted, the view of the police).

    If you think that a generational problem can be fixed in a year, you're setting the bar so high as to make it not worth bothering.

    Whatever your ideology is it isn't ok to behave violently. But the spat between you and Ralston is hardly a beacon of pacific manners.

    You must be of a particularly delicate disposition, or not read blogs a lot. I'm not interested in a "spat", but I have exercised my annoyance with the columnist's poor work by trying demonstrate what's wrong with it, and citing evidence to do so. I haven't even used any rude words.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    There are the 'if you get drunk you'll get raped' ads, those are great...

    My position has long been that ALAC should run an ad showing men in a similar situation - walking home drunk, getting abducted or attacked. I'm sure it's not an impossibly rare situation.

    It'd go a long way to emphasising the underlying intent of the ads, which is I'm pretty sure is "if you get boozed out of your mind you're placing yourself at serious risk of [X]". I understand the point Emma makes about the 'Lisa ad' and have seen it made elsewhere, but I still don't subscribe to the belief that ALAC seriously intended women or anyone else to stay off the sauce entirely or suffer the consequences. Any more than they intended for men to avoid boozy barbecues on the pain of Inevitably Throwing Kids at Walls.

    Presumably rape was chosen for the ad as a powerfully negative outcome for a risky situation, although perhaps more thought could have gone into whether that specifically was the best choice for the Lisa ad. A lot of awful things including rape can happen to people staggering home in the dark. Unfortunately the only place I can imagine seeing a PSA in which a drunken man gets raped on the way home would be in Eating Media Lunch , which probably says a lot about the social messages I've inadvertently digested. (If you're bored feel free to pick my post about to try and work out the source of this mental conditioning, but don't make too much of a mess or Russell will have to sweep it all up, okay?)

    I really feel for the makers of these ads. They are almost certainly highly educated people who are aware of all these representational issues, but through the requirements of government funding they're still faced in the end with having to design the ads to try and produce the greatest reduction in social cost per advertising dollar - and no, I have no idea how in the hell they would work that out either. Don't suppose there's an informed PAS member to help out?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1611 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    It's bad that I totally LOLed then, right?

    Sometimes you've got to laugh -- even if it's through gritted teeth in the dark -- otherwise you'd cry all the bloody time. Or hit someone, which is totally not OK...

    But perfectly seriously, ALAC were absolutely unreprentant that that advert was supposed to be "provocative" and "in your face". Which is well and good -- but you could say the same if I stood in the middle of Queen Street at rush hour, pulled out my cock and started chanting "binge drinking is bad, m'kay" while tossing off.

    What got is that I think it was mixing up a pretty reasonable message (that if you're going out drinking, you should be careful about getting in dangerous situations) with a very very bad one (that women are somehow responsible for policing male sexuality).

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    "It's not the drinking, it's how you're acting like a total whore."

    It's bad that I totally LOLed then, right?

    I say that's Craig's Awesome Line of the Month, myself.

    Cut him a little slack Danielle. I don't think it was meant as "she provoked me so I had to beat her".

    Perhaps not. But you know that 'dogwhistle' theory, where people say things that resonate on a certain frequency with people attuned to hear them? That post was chocka with them. Maybe it was just a coincidence.

    Just out of interest, what ads are out there with a clear focus on females with regard to behaviour or thought process?

    B got most of those public service ones, but the commercial ads which stress the Important Killing of Germs spring to mind for me. If you don't wipe this down your FAMILY WILL GET DISEASES and it'll be ALL YOUR FAULT, you bad mother! Etcetera.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    I understand the point Emma makes about the 'Lisa ad' and have seen it made elsewhere, but I still don't subscribe to the belief that ALAC seriously intended women or anyone else to stay off the sauce entirely or suffer the consequences. Any more than they intended for men to avoid boozy barbecues on the pain of Inevitably Throwing Kids at Walls.

    I'd agree with that. I also agree with Julie (I think it was Julie, heartfelt apologies if I've got this wrong) that the other female ALAC ad, the one that features Dennis From Accounts, is just fine. Woman gets drunk and makes a poor decision you can tell she's going to regret. I've done it myself. From memory, all the male ALAC ads feature a drunk person doing something stupid. The Lisa ad differs because it features a drunk person having something done TO them. That's where it falls off the rails I think, as well as pissing off a section of its target audience.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    Just sticking to public service ads, there are also a lot about health and parenting, exhorting women to breastfeed, get various checkups for the sake of your whanau, don't be afraid to talk to your kid's teacher, give your kids healthy food, ya de ya.

    It's useful to note, too, that this kind of social marketing is usually run at a considerable arm's length from the Beehive. Ministers don't micro-manage the marketing campaigns of ALAC, the Health Sponsorship Council, QuitLine, etc.

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Just sticking to public service ads, there are also a lot about health and parenting, exhorting women to breastfeed, get various checkups for the sake of your whanau, don't be afraid to talk to your kid's teacher, give your kids healthy food, ya de ya.

    Sure, but I think it would be fair comment to say that 'scare the bejesus out of your target demographic' was in the brief for any of those campaigns. There is an argument that 'shock and awe' PSAs are effective, and even necessary to cut through the media noise. I'm pretty sure the agency formerly known as the LTSA and Police would argue that graphic road safety ads were worth the enormous controversy when introduced in the mid 90's.

    Nor do I think health authorities have any apologies about the all the way in your face strategy used to convince parents to get their children immunized with the MenB vaccine.

    But I just think you've got to be very careful about the messages you're sending with campaigns like that.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • anjum rahman,

    My position has long been that ALAC should run an ad showing men in a similar situation - walking home drunk, getting abducted or attacked. I'm sure it's not an impossibly rare situation.

    tame, too tame. given that some men who get drunk commit rape, they could try running an ad with the theme "don't get drunk, you might turn into a rapist", as has been suggested by someone over at the hand mirror. or given the impact of alcohol on domestic violence, they could try a "don't get drunk, you might go home and beat your kids" rather than the accidental injury one they've chosen. now those would be attention-grabbing, but i somehow suspect there would be a lot more opposition to them, and they wouldn't be winning awards in the way that the "lisa" ad has done...

    hamilton • Since Nov 2006 • 130 posts Report Reply

  • Luke Williamson,

    How about we raise the drinking age to 20 again and ban alcohol advertising. Either that or make it legal to drink anything at any age and legalise ALL drugs and do snazzy TV campaigns about how it's not OK to take acid and drive if you've already been on the P for a day.

    Warkworth • Since Oct 2007 • 297 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Father, dear father, come home with me now,
    The clock in the steeple strikes one;
    You said you were coming right home from the shop
    As soon as your day's work was done;
    Our fire has gone out, our house is all dark,
    And mother's been watching since tea,
    With poor brother Benny so sick in her arms
    And no one to help her but me,
    Come home! come home! come home!
    Please father, dear father, come home.

    Chorus:
    Hear the sweet voice of the child,
    Which the night-winds repeat as they roam;
    Oh who could resist this most plaintive of prayers
    "Please father, dear father, come home."
    Father, dear father, come home with me now,
    The clock in the steeple strikes two;
    The night has grown colder, and Benny is worse
    But he has been calling for you:
    Indeed he is worse, ma says he will die--
    Perhaps before morning shall dawn;
    And this is the message she sent me to bring
    "Come quickly, or he will be gone."
    Come home! come home! come home!
    Please father, dear father, come home.
    Chorus:

    Father, dear father, come home with me now,
    The clock in the steeple strikes three;
    The house is so lonely, the hours are so long,
    For poor weeping mother and me;
    Yes, we are alone, poor Benny is dead,
    And gone with the angels of light;
    And these were the very last words that he said
    "I want to kiss papa good-night."
    Come home! come home! come home!
    Please father, dear father, come home.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    "It's not the drinking, it's how you're acting like a total whore."

    It's bad that I totally LOLed then, right?

    I say that's Craig's Awesome Line of the Month, myself.

    seriously. I've been ranting about that ad for months, and that's the first time anyone has made me laugh. Nicely done Mr Ranapia.

    The problem with the Lisa ad is the context. I'm not quibbling with the message, that if you get drunk you will put yourself in dangerous/stupid/potentially embarrassing positions. Sure, we've all had 'Denis from accounts' moments. But when you put the Lisa ad in the context of the other two - Man slams childs head into cupboard, man gets himself into fight - it's pretty clear where they blame is implied. And that, to steal a line, is not OK.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • slarty,

    Ralston (like Garth George) always reminds me of an old Bernard Manning joke:

    "You've probably seen his arse - it's about an inch below his nose"

    Since Nov 2006 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    A propos Ralston...I was in a taxi in Auckland yesterday morning and NewtalkZB (I think) was on. The "hostess" was a lady who simply dripped poison into the ears of her listeners. I wanted to stop the cab and get out, it made me feel quite sick.

    Ralston has a similar effect.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Marian Hobbs

    Yay, have we found a columnist from the land of UK?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    With the establishment’s blessing and encouragement, Boot’s ideas, no matter how insane, enter the mainstream debate, crowding out by the laws of scarcity other ideas and other thinkers who might actually help us and the world.

    the Exiled.

    There are people who know things about domestic violence, people with credible writing and reasoned opinions. And Ralston gets given 800 words and an audience of hundreds of thousands?

    Yeah, I get that he can write well, about many subjects. But the whole media model has to change. It relies on a limited number of opinion generating correspondents to wax about whatever is topical, in a way that blurs into talking authoritatively, through citation of whatever hot 'fact' or theory they've stumbled across lately. It's not something that I mind in itself terribly, but when there aren't many balancing op pieces by experts in their fields (who are very often eager to engage with the public), it creates more heat than light.

    Don's right about talkback too. It is a cauldron of ill-formed opinions, stirred by hosts that shut down those that don't fit within the narrow parameters of their 'debate'.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    All good, though awareness of advertising is meaningless unless it translates to action.

    The only really useful thing that has been said about advertising is "Advertising works 50% of the time but nobody knows which 50%" (usually attributed to Lord Kellogg). But in terms of changing social attitudes (not just selling stuff), it is probably better to do something than nothing.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2562 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Yay, have we found a columnist from the land of UK?

    And either the ex-MP for Wellington Central, or a Radio One DJ.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    And to refresh our memory, here is the central advertisement in question. Remarkably non-gender specific, and addressing all areas of society. I was amazed when I saw it for the first time this summer - it was quite something.

    If Ralston really wanted something to complain about, he should move to Australia, where the Government ran a series specifically on violence against women. The ads make an interesting comparison.

    This was part of a Coalition Government initiative. The ads were since suspended by the Labor Government, on account of their evaluating their 'effectiveness'.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    The only really useful thing that has been said about advertising is "Advertising works 50% of the time but nobody knows which 50%"

    When consumption of your product (reporting of domestic violence) goes up by 29% in one year, you've got some evidence your advertising has worked.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    And to refresh our memory, here is the central advertisement in question. Remarkably non-gender specific, and addressing all areas of society.

    On viewing it again, Ralston is definitely talking out his butt, and needs to watch the advert again.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Max Call,

    Thanks for those links George

    It would be interesting to see if Russells post was re-written as a Letter to the Editor if it would get published?

    Fruit Bowl of New Zealand… • Since Jun 2007 • 153 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    The ads were since suspended by the Labor Government, on account of their evaluating their 'effectiveness'.

    I should say that this wasn't a specific slight against violence prevention - they've taken to cutting back dramatically on every type of spending.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Jessica Trask,

    The concerns expressed by Bill Ralston about the failure of the “Its Not Ok campaign” and its focus illustrate that Ralston’s lack of analysis of family violence. A fuller investigation would enable him to locate Fergusson’s arguments within the body of family violence literature that overwhelmingly dismisses research arguing that women and men are equally perpetrators of family violence.

    As mentioned by Brown - should Ralson wish to develop an understanding of family violence he can access specific information in a factsheet addressing the gendered nature of family violence and a wealth of surrounding literature at the New Zealand national centre for collation and dissemination of family violence literature and research – the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse at www.nzfvc.org.nz

    The ‘It’s Not OK” campaign is widely acknowledged by community and government as helping to get family violence out in the open within Aotearoa-New Zealand. This success is best illustrated by the 29% rise in the New Zealand Police family violence statistics in 2008 with some 70,000 incidents reported to NZ Police.

    Regards
    Jessica Trask
    Outreach Coordinator/Research
    New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse

    Wellington • Since Jan 2009 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    And to refresh our memory, here is the central advertisement in question. Remarkably non-gender specific, and addressing all areas of society.

    Thanks for the links George. This confirms what Tim Michie and I suspected (see page three): that these ads are actually not overly "males hit females" focused anyway.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1165 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    From memory, all the male ALAC ads feature a drunk person doing something stupid. The Lisa ad differs because it features a drunk person having something done TO them. That's where it falls off the rails I think, as well as pissing off a section of its target audience.

    Which is what I realised very belatedly after having made my post, and not as crisply as you've put it either. Cheers.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1611 posts Report Reply

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