Unlikable people doing rotten things

Fairfax have a piece on Hager with photos that would have to compete with some of Colin Craig’s for the top prize in self-righteous sanctimony.  It was really hard to read.

But here’s a snippet for you, just so you know the sacrifices he’s made to make the world a better place.

NICKY HAGER ON…

BEING A PUBLIC IDENTITY
“I am naturally happier out of the public eye. I’m happy working away on my own for years. I do the public stuff because it’s part of the job. It’s not really my thrills.”

WHETHER HE’S A ‘LEFTIE’
“If it means party politically – the Labour Party or the Green Party, then no. Because I studiously stay away from parliament and parties and everything. If what leftie means is that I care about the environment and human rights and civil liberties and transparency and – unsurprisingly for someone with my family background – a skepticism about the use of war as a political tool for foreign policy, if that makes me a leftie, that’s fine. But actually, there are tonnes of people who are called ‘right’, who vote National, who feel the same way. I call those kind of bedrock values in our society.”

WHY PEOPLE TALK ABOUT SECRET SUBJECTS
“I think it’s partly the New Zealand character, which is not too formal and strict. And the other crucial ingredient – the secret of success – is I actually went around asking people. I actually approached them. I don’t think a single one of my sources – practically in my entire career – was a whistleblower who was going to go out and do it on their own.”

FAILING TO APPROACH THOSE CRITICISED TO GET THEIR SIDE OF THE STORY
“I’m so comfortable with this, because the true objective of going for comment is not some ticking the box, it’s to be accurate, fair and balanced. That’s the purpose. And if the only effect of going for comment is that you don’t get any meaningful comment from them, and you don’t get any information and you just tip them off that they might want to sue you or cause you trouble, then there’s no gain from that. The responsibility to be accurate, fair and balanced has to be dealt with in your research and what you write. And everyone who does this knows this. You can kind of be beaten up for not going for comment, but when you do go for comment, you don’t even get a comment – if you get anything, you get two sentences of spin.”

THE STATE OF INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM IN NEW ZEALAND
“I think it’s much as it always has been. You could declare it dead, except that individuals still do stuff. The way I see it is, it’s like the state of art and novels in New Zealand: It should be completely impossible. We’re too small, it’s not financially viable, it will never happen, give up now. And yet, people still want to do it. So luckily, people still write their books and make their documentaries and pursue subjects they’ve felt strongly about sometimes for years on end. And that’s investigative journalism. It happens in New Zealand mostly outside the newsroom.”


Hit & Run alleges three-year-old Fatima was one of six civilians killed in a botched New Zealand-led raid. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

THE TIMING OF HIT & RUN‘S RELEASE, THE DAY BEFORE FORMER PRIME MINISTER JOHN KEY’S VALEDICTORY SPEECH
“I don’t expect people to believe it, but it’s completely coincidental. Because you can’t plan a book launch five days before, or whenever he announced when his valedictory was going to be. [Actually seven days earlier]. You can’t organise it in that amount of time. It’s completely impossible. That means the bookshop and the publishers and the printers and everything has all been lined up and they all just sit around, hoping John Key will announce his valedictory, and then we’ll leap in there. It just doesn’t work that way. So, it’s what you might call, a conspiracy theory.”

THE 2014 POLICE RAID ON HIS HOME, FOLLOWING DIRTY POLITICS
“The truth is that it was quite shocking. It felt really bad afterwards. It wasn’t a happy house, and I couldn’t bring myself to tell people it had happened. It felt really bad. And then we got over it. Because no-one had died. No-one had got sick. And we fought it and won. But it feels very intrusive. And it also felt – I had just finished a book about some really unlikeable people doing really rotten things and I had put myself out there in the public interest and I knew I was going to get criticism, but it seemed really wrong that I was the one getting my house raided and my life turned over. So it wasn’t great and I completely got over it and I’d do everything again tomorrow.”

 

– Nicky McDonald, Stuff

 


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