Dying newspaper’s last gasp

Written By: - Date published: 1:22 pm, March 12th, 2010 - 32 comments
Categories: Media - Tags:

You’ll have seen the government’s furious response to the Sunday Star Times “commission[ing] people masquerading as terrorists to attend Super 14 Games”.

From the sound of it, the SST got some people with fake explosives on their person (sticks saying TNT and an old timey alarm clock?) to go to the games and hang out.

None of fake explosives were detected by security or the Police. Nothing happened and no-one even knew about it until the SST asked the government for comment today by the looks of things.

It’s pretty clear the SST is planning to run a front page shock story on the weekend: ‘Terrorist threat to World Cup’ with a whole lot of wowserism about how ‘potential terrorists infiltrated packed stadiums during high-profile rugby matches’

It’s irresponsible as hell, but more than that it’s desperate and sad.

Like all the major newspapers, the SST is slowly dying. According to the ABC circulation stats, it is printing just 167,000 copies a week now, down from 182,000 only two years ago (the Herald on Sunday is also in decline and the major dailies produce 50,000 fewer copies than a few years ago). You can’t survive that kind of decline for long.

More than anything, this pathetic stunt is a dying gasp of a has-been format. One that shows everything that is wrong with the vacuous, sensationalist dinosaur media.

32 comments on “Dying newspaper’s last gasp”

  1. Why would people pay for a newspaper, where you can get news online for a free that is updated instantly?

    Someone needs to be fired for this stunt.

    Just out of curisoty, it said they dressed people up as terrorists. What do terrorists dress like????

  2. tc 2

    Last paper I bought was to wrap a roast in whilst it settled before carving…….haven’t found a better use….oh and the puppys area, so 2 uses.

    • Herodotus 2.1

      tc in todays time where we have a greater conscience on “Green” issues and saving money,. You could save some money and utilise the local papers as the courier etc., this also assists in limiting our balance of payments as there is less money being expatriated offshore to Aussie in dividends (every litttl e bit helps) I am assuming that you purchased these papers recently.
      Is this not a case of the media making their own news, obviously todays world is not eventful enough or is it just to difficult to actually go out in the real world and investigate happenings?

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1

        obviously todays world is not eventful enough or is it just to difficult to actually go out in the real world and investigate happenings?

        No, the problem is that it costs money to do decent investigative journalism and the corporates don’t want to pay as it eats into their profits.

  3. Lew 3

    And yet — the SST remains one of the country’s best newspapers. Sad, but true.


    • the sprout 3.1

      Agreed, despite being shit it’s still streaks head of the HoS. What a sorry state of affairs the msm in this country is 🙁
      Hooray for corporate duopolies!

    • lprent 3.2

      I’d agree with that.

      I scan the Granny if there is a copy lying about for nuggets of actual information, or I scan their site on the iphone on the bus. In either case it takes minutes, typically. The Saturday Herald usually has a bit more meat, but the speed of scanning it is only limited more by turning the pages than finding articles that I want to read.

      However I buy the SST and read it which takes about 15-20 minutes over brunch. There is always a lot of stuff that I want to read.

      Generally I find that the best news source for most things are the links left in comments and posts here and in other blogs. Of course it helps that I have to read the comments here.

      • Lew 3.3.1

        Eh what? By the standards of the rest of the newspapers in the country, and indeed plenty of them in the rest of the world, the SST ain’t bad. It’s not the New York Times or The Guardian, but it’s pretty good.

        Not to say they shouldn’t be lined up against the wall for this particular stunt, of course. But it’s a sad commentary that it wasn’t, say, the Sunday News behind this, but an actual proper paper.


  4. tc 4

    I take ones from work and as for the ‘courier’….what’s that ? Our local rag wouldn’t cover a roast quail let alone a decent piece of meat.
    And as for media making their own news…..Ali mau’s TVNZ coverage….say no more, she even got her own soapbox to match her mates indignant rants……sleep with dogs….hello fleas.

    I agree with Lew…..there’s actually the occasional piece of journalism so of course that’s not sustainable.

  5. Irascible 5

    Any technique to boost attendance at a religious ceremony and increase interest in the RWC eh? We should ask ourselves what is the newspaper industry coming to when it runs sections on “The state of Rugby in NZ” as “serious” journalism (Herald) and the SST explores the NZRUs security status. No wonder the Newspapers are a declining feature of NZ life.

  6. rocky 6

    Seems I disagree with pretty much everyone here. I think it’s an important story that we have police with massive resources for counter-terrorism activity who spend their budget pretty much solely on political activists rather than real terrorism threats. Showing how easy it would be to carry out a terrorist attack somewhere that could actually be a target is what I would consider legitimate news.

    • Lew 6.1

      But Rocky, it’s bleeding obvious that it would be easy for an individual or group to target a sports match or other mass gathering. That’s part of the price we pay for having a relatively free society. The SST hasn’t really proven anything the guys from Pulp Sport don’t prove every week.

      A more responsible course of action, since venue security isn’t managed by police but by private security goons, would have been to undertake the experiment with police knowledge and approval to the extent possible. This might not have made for the big headlines, but it would have meant an actual test of our immediate security provisions without the risk and damage associated with a false alarm. I’m sympathetic to what the SST were trying to do; only they got the execution about as wrong as it’s possible to get it without actually causing an evacuation, lockdown and actual counterterrorism action to kick off.

      Also, be careful what you wish for; stunts like this won’t divert attentionaway from legitimate nonviolent activism; they’ll generate greater interest in and antipathy toward them, because they heighten (rather than lessen) peoples’ awareness of threats which are, in rational terms, irrelevant.


      • Rich 6.1.1

        Yeah, the main reason we don’t have bombs going off every five minutes is that there isn’t anyone with a sufficient grudge to want to make one, let alone die in the attempt. That, and the fact that it’s relatively hard to obtain explosives and make a bomb without being detected.

  7. prism 7

    Now you put the story in context Eddie as a last gasp from a dying paper I feel sad rather than angry about this story. What a shame that we are losing newspapers. I like to look at hard copy and not peer at screens all the time and I like to look back to reread and find the story still there on the page.

    It is dangerous to be dependent on electricity for every little thing we want to do, including being informed about things. Yet cutting down trees, we probably need to conserve. We still need them for other things,, and then fires in the dry seasons we are getting will take so many.

    • Lew 7.1

      Because the printing presses can run without electricity. And the banks of computers used to lay pages out. And …


      • prism 7.1.1

        Don’t state the obvious Lew. I’m thinking about how without electricity everything closes down when reliant on the internet. With newspapers the imprint is made, then continues in existence and can be accessed outside the electricity/net loop. That system still uses energy for sure, but the newspaper makes news so accessible, and long lasting in that form also, as researchers combing archives find.

        • Lew

          I see what you’re saying now — not producing the historical record, but storing/accessing it.

          Still — do you seriously foresee a time when there’s no electricity?


          • prism

            Well Lew once everything becomes dependent on electricity, and there are regular moves to facilitate this, then knock it out and human transactions and work virtually stop. What a monopoly to have for some big corporation and a great target for te****ists.

            The birth rate also goes up which adds to world over-population. Bet you never thought of that outcome! It happens regularly every time there is some extended outage.

  8. randal 8

    hey folks its their own truth that the juvenile kiddie corps employed by the sst can do what they like because relatively speaking they didnt mean it and its nearly time for a hamburger with fries and besides if the fans at the rugby cant take a joke its not their fault.

  9. prism 9

    Yeah no sense of humour eh.

  10. randal 10

    yeah right p.
    if they do something then its funny.
    if the police bite back then its police brutality or stupidity.
    if you control the meedja then you can do what you like.
    they too busy looking for a STORY and a SCOOP instead of getting off their bums and looking for some real news.

  11. Bill 11

    And then there is the possibility that all this SST stuff is not quite the height of irresponsibility that some are thinking…that they didn’t run the stunt that many assume they did, but rather have just indulged in another piece of harmless and misleading marketing hype designed to boost sales this coming Sunday.

  12. prism 12

    Ooh Bill that’s pretty convoluted and scheming – are they that clever or twisted?

  13. prism 13

    Says it all about this spurious “investigative” newsmongering.
    SST – BIG BOLD Headline – Major flaws in stadium security exposed. 14/03/10

    Look out for next week’s in depth scandal.
    “Major flaws in newspaper integrity exposed. ”

    captcha – consistency!

  14. Years ago I use to enjoy reading the SST, especially the business section that had good articles about a wide range of things.

    However over the last 12 months, the business section has become incredibly boring. It’s always talking about the same old businesses and personalities with a focus on property every month. (What suburb are you in…. were you a winner?)

    In fact the only value it seems to have is the woman’s magazine in the middle for my wife.

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