Shame on the Herald

… for trying to run game on New Zealand, scaremongering the Foreshore and Seabed hÄ«koi:

That was on page four of the dead tree edition, and online here, under the headline “Opponents put up roadblocks to bill”. Use of this outrageously unrepresentative photo makes a number of unjustified implications which aren’t present in Claire Trevett’s generally factual and balanced article. These include:

  • Most obviously, the suggestion that the marchers are gang members, with the implication of violence and public menace that creates, despite the fact that the march was peaceful having been mentioned in the opening sentence of Trevett’s article;
  • Creation of a general equivalence between Māori protesters and gang members, with all the racism that implies;
  • The suggestion that opponents of the foreshore and seabed legislation are acting on a separatist “black power” imperative, when the article makes clear that the opponents mentioned in the headline are an ideological grab-bag consisting of the ACT and Green parties, and Hone Harawira;
  • The suggestion that the marchers are literally blocking roads, when the article makes clear that the roadblocks referred to in the headline are metaphorical, and little more than the usual sort of procedural delaying tactics employed in Parliament to drag out the progress of a bill — in this case until next week, when the hÄ«koi reaches Wellington.

The core message of this choice of photo to accompany what is mostly a story about the trivial frustrations of a government trying to pass an unpopular law is this: Māori radicals and gangs are forcibly blocking this law, and they will block you from the beach as well.

It would be absurd if it wasn’t so offensively misleading.

(via Pascal’s bookie)


5 thoughts on “Shame on the Herald

  1. “The suggestion that opponents of the foreshore and seabed legislation are acting on a separatist “black power” imperative,”

    is what it screamed at me. The whole ‘the roadblocks in Te Urewera are coming to your beaches’ narrative, alongside the caption with it’s ‘look who’s coming to Wellington’ vibe.

  2. .. and the more subtle meassage that the BP member is behind the more innocent looking protestors, with the image revealing what lies beneath.

  3. Yes an old trick, and a still dubious one, photos can be so evocative. Plus open to interpretation when used in a general reader ‘news’paper setting without adequate context and explanation supplied.

    For years the NZ Herald dug out the most demonic looking mugshots of union leaders and activists and in recent times one H. Clark. During the 81 Tour the Herald regularly used pics of heavily booted and helmeted Black Power and King Cobra members in their coverage. In reality BP and KC members were a minority presence in Patu Squad at some Auckland games, notably the final Eden Park game as Tom Newnham’s “By Batons and Barbed Wire” attests. The vast majority of marchers were not gang affiliated and in fact were jersey wearing middle class moralists, but you would not have known that if Herald photographs were your primary visual source. Muldoon had decreed the tour was a law and order matter, not about racism, and the Herald helped make it so.

    Misrepresentation by a msm outfit that could, but is unlikely to, do better is the theme of the post I guess, and the likelihood of further scaring the pakeha horses on an issue that needs more detailed specific understanding not less.

    Whatever the possible negative splashback for the current hikoi, Black Power members are quite entitled to be involved in civic and political affairs, and an element of the group has been so for many years.

  4. Great that you mentioned that, TM, it occurred to me after finishing the article, but I’ve been too busy to properly research it and work it in.


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