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A solution to the Bridgeman problem

Written By: - Date published: 10:06 am, December 9th, 2011 - 24 comments
Categories: newspapers - Tags: ,

I have a theory that the Herald employs Shelley Bridgeman, Garth George, Kerry Woodham, Peter Bromhead, Deborah Hill-Cone, Jim Hopkins, and Paul Holmes as columnists only because, while a relatively small team of monkeys on typewriters could spit out much more cogent and insightful pieces well within deadline, the price of bananas these days makes it more economical to fill the space between ads with whatever dross these seven throw-up.

Just yesterday, Bridgeman wrote a piece – for which, don’t forget, she would have been paid something between $500 and $1,000 – about how she had once seen lots of contrails in Barcelona (name-dropping places, people, or products – and long-winded explanations of obvious things is how Bridgeman gets to her word limit) but they didn’t look like normal contrails so maybe chem-trails were real and the governments of the world were engaged in a massive conspiracy involving thousands of commercial aircraft to spray the world in some chemical for some reason and have you heard about HAARP, Wikipedia says some people says it’s an earthquake weapon although the people who made it says it’s just some science thing but understanding science is hard when you’ve had a couple of martinis (and did you know that cloud-seeding is real? Wikipedia says so), but a scientist said the contrails were perfectly normal in given atmospheric conditions, and so maybe chem-trials weren’t real or maybe they were or, maybe, you know, like whatever.

There are those who think that Bridgeman is this country’s best, driest satirist whose work is performance art, mocking both the medium of the newspaper column and anyone who would take a newspaper columnist seriously. The grounds for this is that sometimes she seems to giving you the wink that satirists do by writing something so stupid/bizarre/outrageous that you realise the whole thing is a put on. A bit like when Holmes wrote about his discovery that New Zealand is effectively still in recession because people weren’t buying the luxury olive oil he makes as a a hobby. But I prefer the theory that she’s just a lazy moron whose husband knows someone senior at the Herald.

Danyl at Dimpost invited his readers to submit comments where they take a famous piece of NZ literature and convert it to Bridgeman’s style. The results are wonderful: the educated liberal elite laughing at the vacuous rich elite.

But, seriously, is this the best our national paper can do? This absolute fucken garbage?

Here’s a better idea, dear Herald editors. Get a sub-editor to cruise the blogs (you know they’re doing it anyway) and pick out a handful of the best each week. I’m not just talking political blogs – all kinds. There’s so much gold that washes down the blogosphere river every day, it shouldn’t be hard to pick out a few nuggets (hey – there goes a nice descriptive, coherent metaphor, for example). Once they’ve found a few really good pieces each week, the Herald would then write to the authors and say ‘we’ll give you $100 if we can reprint your article and, thereby, bring a massive new audience to your blog’.

Granny saves money, the blogger gets exposure, and the long-suffering reader gets something worth reading.

So, how about it Herald?

24 comments on “A solution to the Bridgeman problem ”

  1. Yeah and they seem to be dropping Tracey Barnett just as she was getting to some brilliant stuff on the absurdity of the election:

    “Here’s what I fear: Personal affability won over our own values – and no one wants to admit that loud. There isn’t a mandate this Govt says it now holds. There is only the man. We voted for comfort food. That is if we bothered to vote at all…”

    No wonder she had to go, and leave that shining turd of irrelevance Jum Hapkins smirking on the page.

    • Jackal 1.1

      Tracey Barnett is/was perhaps the NZ Heralds best writer so that’s a pity. Perhaps more to do with her excellent environmental articles than anything else. I mean god forbid a journalist who actually tells the truth… National would be sunk if they all started doing that.

      • ianmac 1.1.1

        Yep Jackal. Read that one by Tracey and applaud her for her courage in writing it against the Herald tide. Wonder why she is leaving?

        • CnrJoe 1.1.1.1

          Tracey Barnett ++, Really? they’re dropping her?

          • dave brown 1.1.1.1.1

            Who knows. She certainly seems to get “huge satisfaction” from the job.

            ” This is my last column as a regular columnist for the Herald. Without doubt, the most interesting, infuriating, inspiring part of what writing in this space has been about for me – comes from you.

            Once, an elderly woman emailed after a column I wrote on rape. She had never told anyone until that moment. The entire week letters poured in from silenced women using their buried voices.

            I remember my reaction. I strode into the lounge, planted myself in front of the television as if God had just handed me the 11th commandment, and announced with my voice breaking, “If you do not like your work, if you do not find some kind of satisfaction in what you do by the end of your days, you will have lived a very, very poor life.”

            I’ll stick with those words until the day I become compost.

            I have found huge satisfaction writing in these pages. Your bizarre, funny, psycho, articulate, intelligent, ridiculous responses are what have made this column such good, interesting work.

            Above all, thanks for listening. It’s been a privilege.

            http://www.traceybarnett.co.nz

            or Twitter @TraceyBarnett
            \http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10771923

  2. Blue 2

    I think you have fundamentally misunderstood what the Herald is about, Eddie.

    It’s read by elderly right-wingers (the Garth George, Jim Hopkins and Paul Holmes fan club) and middle-aged Remuera-ites (the Shelley Bridgeman, Kerre Woodham and Deborah Hill-Cone fan club).

    The trick to a good opinion piece for a newspaper is to keep your core fan-base happy, but to generate a lot of discussion.

    These writers do that, because anyone else who reads them immediately writes in and tells them they’re full of shit, and the fans write back and say they’re bang on, and the paper can claim to be ‘leading the national dialogue’ and pat themselves on the back.

  3. tc 3

    The herald major use is as packing material/compost and wormfarm fodder…..seeing the Peter blake memorial the other night just reminded me how far past his use by date Holmes is.

  4. Roy 4

    Thank you for the link to Danyl’s page on which people rewrite famous literature to match Bridgeman’s style. That’s the funniest webpage I’ve seen for quite a while, and I am envious of the talent of the entrants.

  5. randal 5

    there is no shortage of good writers.
    the problem is the papers dont want to pay but most of all the moment you get the paper in a lawsuit then you are fired.
    fearless journalism went out when news of the world phone hacking came in.

  6. ghostwhowalksnz 6

    Hill Cone is a so called Business columnist yet has no business insights or interviews anybody of consequence.

    Its bizarre. I remember an article on horrid ACC who wanted two premiums because she had two jobs. hello !

    The weekly compensation is based on your previous income. Would she really only want to get half the payments for say 3 months while she recovered from a car accident.

  7. aerobubble 7

    The hearld is merely reflecting a rather dumb nut attitude… …like the lawyer on TV who thought the Morse case – where a protestor burnt flag – was wrong because most ‘right thinking’ people would.
    Sorry but that’s nonsense, any thinking person would realize that all types were called up for service, and some of those servicemen are still around and might ask their grandkids to burn a flag on armistice day in their will. And why not, its freedom of expression not what ‘right thinking person’ feel is their emotional right.

    NZ is an out of touch quaint backwater with a lot of talking heads who know diddly squat about economics (yet have economic degrees), or what makes for good law (yet practice it)… …take another example English overseeing the large fraud in our history! Or Peak River Mine where it looks like had the miners being running the mine they’d still be alive. Or our capital gains vaccuum fueled debt addiction we can’t kick.

    We know what the problem is, summed up for me by Key rushing to sign up for charter schools and limits on government spending, so that NZ can be the last bastion of neo-liberal theory put into practice, all the while the world is rejecting neo-liberalism.

    Imagine for a second, we have been brilliantly placed to reap high commodities prices and yet we have had three years of slide because of the preciously bad state of the governments (of both ilk).

    But its worse. Now I hear that miners were allowed to use explosives to paint the walls of the mine (in case of explosion). But what’s worse are explosives cause fractures, and would that explain the gassy nature of the mine – and also – the timeline of collapse then gasing, then massive explosion. No wonder the experts called in the wake of the tragedy would not go in, if they heard the miners were letting off explosives to paint the walls. And what about the re-sell value – pretty much its a dangerous hole in the ground that nobody in their right mind would buy surely???
    I must be missing something, because using explosives to save time seems remarkable stupid.

    New zealanders are nuts, and it starts with papers like the Herald feeling no shame in print crap for people in power to read crap, and then produce crap thinking. The whole point in having back office workers is to make time for the idiots that you’ve hired to take their sweet time mulling over the issue so they can turn up a bright idea like not under regulating, and actually doing some frakking oversight.

    Yeah, the miners of peak river frakked the walls!!!

  8. Cactus Kate 8

    Well well….The Standard now espousing competition in a labour market? Never.

    First up I doubt Shelley gets 500-1000 a column but that’s irrelevant. She already has a following and readership larger than any blogger as she’s in the NZH. There is a plethora of housewives out there who love her material. Bag her as you may, she has a following Danyl never would have.

    What you are suggesting is that bloggers provide their labour for less than someone who relies on that income. Expanding that theory to all print media, it is little wonder the MSM hate us. Also isn’t that what unions picket and lay their tools down for?

    If you are offering your services for a miserly $100 a time, It says more about your perception of your own value. I had a column in a paper for almost 3 years and apparently I was paid more than most of the regular contributors. That c@@ted them off, but for the right reasons. Being used as scab labour undercutting many columnists that I actually think are pretty good, is that what you really want? Not really something the NZ Bloggers Union should be taking part in.

    • lprent 8.1

      I suspect that you kind of missed some of the more subtle irony in the post.

      Anything published in the Herald and therefore on their website has a bigger readership than any blog. It is what you’d expect after building a mass circulation for more than a century. On the other hand it also costs a damn sight more than the costs of running a site like this.

      So as their remaining classified advertising siphons off into Trademe, their physical edition dies with the demographics, and they increasing look like a nonspecializing blog with advertising – they are going to continue to rely on the intellect of someone like Shelly Bridgeman to draw in punters? Quite simply there is the whole world to draw on. There are more interesting blathers out there – even yourself.

    • felix 8.2

      Have you read the column, Cactus?

      There’s no way anyone could take more than ten minutes to write that. It’s like a twelve-year-old girl’s diary entry.

      Even being extremely charitable and allowing her twenty minutes so she’s got time to find the power button on the computer, her rate at $100 per column would be $300 per hour.

      Hardly scab wages Kate. Are you advocating raising the minimum wage to $300 per hour or something? If not, then why are you afraid of the market? Don’t you believe in competition any more?

      p.s. what do you mean she “relies on that income”? Is she entitled to that income for some unstated reason? Does she live in a parallel dimension where she can only work one hour every three weeks?

    • Jackal 8.3

      Cathy Odgers

      Expanding that theory to all print media, it is little wonder the MSM hate us.

      The MSM hates us? Such a generalized statement deserves all the scorn The Standard will allow me. There are perhaps a few journalists who dislike the fact that blogging is becoming more relevant, but it’s doubtful that they “hate” en mass the entire New Zealand blogosphere. In fact I suspect many in the main stream appreciate the availability of a variety of opinions that help them develop their own reports.

      Being used as scab labour undercutting many columnists that I actually think are pretty good, is that what you really want?

      No! The obvious contradiction is that you want socialism within journalism while otherwise espousing free market capitalism… you can’t have it both ways Catcus. I thought you were some sort of lawyer… don’t you know about negotiating contracts?

      Whereas you seem determined to work your way further into irrelevance, some writers are determined to develop their skills to one day have their opinions put to print. In this context, the contractual arrangement for that would best be negotiated by a bloggers union… if one actually existed.

      No wonder Team Cunliffe is behind if you are quite *that* subtle.

      David Cunliffe is behind according to whom… Slater and the DF? Using your generalizations they are apparently scabs and therefore irrelevant compared to the MSM. Personally I hope Labour are listening to neither in making up their minds about their next leader.

      You are still espousing scab cheap labour.

      It seems your mindset of absolutes is not confined to your racism. The debate concerned blogger’s sometimes being more capable than mainstream journalists, which is an argument I totally agree with.

  9. Cactus Kate 9

    No wonder Team Cunliffe is behind if you are quite *that* subtle. You are still espousing scab cheap labour.

    • lprent 9.1

      Jez CK, can’t you read.

      1. My name isn’t on the post – I am not Eddie. I don’t expouse anything from the post except that I agree with Eddie that Bridgeman is a shit writer. I notice you don’t express an opinion on that.

      2. I don’t care much about unions one way or another because I have never been in one. The only times I have dealt with them has been from the other side of the negotiating table. My only opinion on them is that if they weren’t here, then they should be invented – collective agreements are easier to negotiate.

      3. I am not on any team for the leadership. I have strong quibbles about both candidates, more about David Shearer than David Cunliffe. I am on Team Labour.

      4. Are you usually as bigoted, presumptive, and evidentially stupid in real life? Or is this just a persona for the blogs?

      5. You do know how to use a reply button? Do you need assistance with how to use it?

  10. McFlock 10

    Cactus, I thought the right wing liked the concept of competition keeping prices down? 
     
    And “scab labour” isn’t a competitor – it’s when someone is paid to keep the workplace going when the regular employees are on strike for long term sustainable improvements in pay and conditions. Frequently scabs are higher paid than the regular employees. Nice attempt to kidnap the language of the left, though.

  11. millsy 11

    Katie babie, if there ever was a New Zealand Bloggers Union in this country, no-one would force you to join it. In fact they would prefer you not to.

    Anyway, its Friday night, shouldnt you be out on the town cruising for a married man? of course, somehow I doubt that any man would want to bed a prickly person like you.

  12. Sorry Folks not sure point of comments it seems to be playground argument so is shit writer yes she is no she not. To bad you couldnt be bothered to do any research to assess wether or not Bridgeman or Barnett had apoint instead of taking the piss and in doing so showing your own ignorance.

    Forget wikipedia the European Union desingate HAARP to use thier own weapons as a “Climate weapon” several commerical version also exit visa the technology geonegineering the subject of 2010 UK Parlimentary report into the need for regulation over this technology.

    Geowarfare is likewise verymuch a reality and can be seen by the fact that last month when I caught up with the Otago University policitcal discusion group two of the people doing arms control as part of their doctorate thesis both included HAARP as part of their research in rlation to next genration weaponry currently coming off the production floors right now.

    One thing certain Eddie I would’nt pay you a cent for your blog largely as you obviously dont bother to do an iota of research before forming self inflated opinons based on your narrow ill eucated perspective of the world which any arsehole can do – talk abut kettle calling pot black.

    In fact you largely proove my point Blogs are for loosers who lack the talent to get a real publisher or have content which would entice a regular audience to pay for the privilige or stick along around long enough to warrant any one thinking it was worht spending hard money on visa advertising revenue.

    • The Voice of Reason 12.1

      Jeez, Ben, not much point calling Eddie ‘ill eucated’ (sic), if you can’t write anything but illiterate gibberish yourself. You have completely missed the point of the article in your rush to defend the HAARP paranoiac position, which is that Bridgeman appears to get paid for a minute’s googling and ten minute’s typing on any number of vapid subjects. Just happened to be the HAARP fantasy this time, that’s all.

  13. Roy 13

    Latest Bridgeman effort is to whine that fitting her one (1) child into age-appropriate car restraints has been SOOO hard. First two responses are from mothers-of-four, both saying it’s a piece of cake!

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