James at Editing teh Herald has started the Golden Garth awards aimed at rewarding the recipients at the Granny. You should all get over there and suggest candidates. I’m puzzling on it myself because there are so many good candidates.
I’m aware that some think that the Dom Post is worse than the Granny, but you’re wrong. I can’t read the Dom Post because they haven’t produced it on an iPhone readable format yet, so I can’t read the rag. What I can’t read, I consign to the dust of a previous century.
At least the Granny has a smart-phone format that I scan-read on the bus. I also scan freebie copies of the antique hard-copy format at the cafe while waiting for the wake-up third coffee of the day (also known as “how to get up the lift without snarling” coffee). Seeing a hard-copy given away by Granny means that I join the interesting fifty percent or so of their ‘readership‘ figures that they sell to advertisers. Subscriber numbers are so 2oth century – as well as being pretty damn embarrassing.
The readership numbers themselves are kind of weird – do they count my iPhone access? I read that because it is convenient and I largely avoid the advertisers. But I’m digressing into a rant about newspaper responses to new media formats1. Lets get back to the Golden Garths…
The categories for the Golden Garth are:-
- Worst Opinion Columnist: It’s going to be difficult to budge the man himself from this award but, if anyone can do it, it’s almost anyone else writing opinion columns for the New Zealand Herald.
- Most Egregious Example of Advertising Masquerading as News: A Herald favourite, be it a press release dressed up as news, or just an unprompted gushing about a major advertiser.
- Biggest Media Beat-up: Once the Herald has tasted blood, there’s no limit to how many times they’ll ring up Bos McCoskrie and find out what he thinks. Hone Harawira is a racist, AND didn’t wear a motorcycle helmet? AND he went to Auckland Grammar?
- Worst Article: The big one. It’s the ‘Best Picture’ of the Golden Garths, and there’s a lot to choose from.
You’d think that this is easy, but as Danyl at DimPost says on the worst opinion columnist
But here’s the fascinating thing you’d be wrong. Garth George is not the Herald’s worst writer.
But when I consider other national newspapers or magazines I can think of columnists I don’t like Michael Laws, say I just can’t think of any regular columnists whose work is literally incomprehensible, so it seems strange that the country’s largest newspaper has so many of them. Does anyone else think this is a bit weird?
I do, indeed2. This is the category I’m most interested in because it is the closest to what we do here. When I started to think about it, there is a hell of a lot of choice.
The iconoclastic bombast from Rotorua is well-written and usually pretty damn clear about what Garth thinks. I have a soft spot for George because he writes clear vitriolic and totally unambiguous opinion about whatever has him riled this week. It is often wrong in fact, but always very clear.
The political columnists are just about as bad, but better written. John Armstrong would be a favorite amongst authors here, but again you can argue about his content (until recently largely National party spin), but not his writing style or the clarity of his argument – we just find it a bit simple minded. Same with Fran O’Sullivan (largely Business Round-table spin) but well written and very clear about what she thinks and why. Audrey Young seems to wander around with well written pieces that often seem to reflect who she talked to last about what the punters want to see. What is curious about her is that her blog pieces are usually a lot better than what gets into the Herald.
But lets not focus on the negatives. I really do miss Colin James. He was probably the closest I’ve seen to writing balanced assessments on politics in the Herald – probably why he had to leave. Brian Rudman is a good quality read because I always learn more than I already knew when reading his articles, and he still writes for Granny.
You could go to the stark raving columnists generating fluff pieces like Jim Hopkins3, Noelle McCarthy, Bill Ralston, Rosemary McLeod4 or John Roughan. You have to share the particular context that their head was in at the time they wrote the column, otherwise their columns are essentially incomprehensible. Michael Lhaws is in a different category – all you have to do is look at what opinion gets him the most attention.
Then there are others. Like some of the editorials which are often so outrageous you can see why they are totally anonymous. There is so much choice for the Golden Garth.
Say what you like about the unpaid writing around this site and other blogs. People get paid for writing some of the twaddle that passes for opinion pieces that winds up in the Herald. They really need to add a comments section that cuts holes in some of the waffle and improves the writers.
Finally in the comments at EtH5 there is this absolute gem about a ‘news’ article also known as “unchecked press release” so characteristic of the Granny.
Certainly the worst article I saw in the Herald this year was this piece from Alice Neville, in which she reports that 1080 and brodificoum were detected in various biological samples from the Hauraki Gulf, without revealing that the testing device used was an Electroacupuncture machine, not anything actually suited to the purpose: