NZ Herald officially ejects any pretence at basic respect

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This just formalises what has already been happening anyway. There have been articles where John Key has been referred to as Key while, in the same article, Andrew Little was Mr Little – a somewhat childish way to show disrespect and which side the writer is on.

A lot of bylines have also disappeared. Whereas the Herald used to push its own staff as celebrities, turning Fisher, O’Sullivan and Nippert into household names, this hasn’t actually been a good thing. Especially in the case of David Fisher, his byline has become a liability, and any unattributed work is probably read more because of it.

As they prepare for a “merger” with Fairfax (one is actually nearly broke, but the other has a better reputation – you guess which), there will be clashes of interest, clashes of egos and clashes of cultures. There will even be discomfort as people who left one organisation under a cloud suddenly find themselves working with, or even under, previous colleagues. Also, one way to make the disappearance of certain people less obvious is to make them virtually disappear now.

The other change that has been introduced to the point of ridiculousness is the insertion of the Herald’s name into every second or third paragraph, for example “The Herald understands…” and “The commissioner told the Herald that…”.  This is, of course, a side-effect of not being able to refer to the self by the reporter.

The dropping of honorifics is a small step. It will be interesting to see if there is a similar attempt at trying to clean up the inferred slurs by introducing consistency where one person is labeled an expert or commentator, and the other a far-right controversial blogger. We’ve seen Labour candidates presented as independent experts, while true independent experts are vilified with a string of negative and emotive adjectives. Just dropping honorifics won’t solve that and will continue to erode the old paper’s public credibility.

 

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