Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria, Wellington. Vol. 22, No. 9. Thursday, August 13, 1959
Read all About it — A Reporter's Lot Is Not A Happy One
Read all About it
A Reporter's Lot Is Not A Happy One
If an inquiring and news avid public find that their papers do not contain enough spicy or gruesome (i.e. sex offences or accidents) details to satisfy their scandalous and sadistic appetites, they must not blame the reporters, whose appetites are even lower.
They must lay the great dumbness and eternal silence at the door of the police.
Those mocking, silent, uniformed men inside are bound to the wails and furniture with red tape, yards and yards of it, their sole function being to pass the buck from one to the other in an everlasting and eternal circle of incompetence.
Take the case of our keen reporter who had received from a benevolent chief a cutting pertaining to a fatal car accident. Bubbling with enthusiasm our reporter stuffs reams and reams of copy paper into his hip pocket and tootles off to the station.
Bursting into the office, be brushes aside a fat policeman asleep in the doorway and, stemming his rush momentarily to see that the cop had fallen, fortunately on his head (he was okay), assumes the traditional stance.
This is done with the precision of a squad presenting arms, one-two-three, legs wide apart and firmly planted, body braced against an imaginary gale. One-two-three right hand to pencil, left hand to copy paper, which is whipped out and held a yard in front of face, pencil poised a foot away.
A skinny policeman draped round the telephone raises his left eyelid and drowsily murmurs "all quiet, Dominion."
Laying a clipping from the Post distastefully on the counter, reporter says "Fatalaccidentmankilledinmotorcaraccidentthismorningwhatdoyouknowaboutit?"
"What accident? Was there a man killed? Tell me about it," says the sergeant, tying a love knot of red tape round the third finger of his left hand.
Feigning ignorance and with a blank stare, which is hardly distinguishable from their normal expressions, the other policemen start grinning in their sleep.
His equinamity undisturbed, our reporter carefully details all he knows of the accident.
"If you know all that, why ask us . . . you know more than we do," says the sergeant with an arch leer which is nothing but the grimace of a nitwit cracking a weak joke. A drowsy snigger escapes from bodies round the room.
"How did it happen—was he drunk—what time did it happen—how many were injured and how," says our reporter.
"Oh, I Couldn't tell you that," says the sergeant, casting a speculative glance round for a suitable recipient for the buck about to be passed. "I wasn't on duty. I didn't hear about it till I read about it in the paper."
His eye lights on a recumbent body fettered to a table leg with a piece of pink tape. "Constable O'Toole was on duty this morning—ask him."
Constable O'Toole titters "Ask Murray, I was having tea when it happened."
Constable Murray's relaxed look of stupidity slowly thickens to a look of triumphant cunning as his lightning brain thinks out the answer in advance: "Sergeant Wope reported on it. I was there but he made the report. Can't tell you anything."
"Can I see the report?" asks our man over-hopefully.
"What? He hasn't handed it in yet. It's in his locker and no one can see it till its exquisite detail and intricate composition are worked out."
"But the accident happened 11 hours ago. When does the Senior know what happened?"
"Probably a couple of days yet . . . might even be weeks," says Murray.
"Where's Denby, then?"
"Oh, he's home in bed. Just finished. Tomorrow's his day off."
"Where does he live, then?"
"Oh we couldn't tell you that." chorus the cops. "Against the rules."
The grinning figure of a flabby-faced policeman enters the office and makes for the sergeant's office.
"Ah," they say, "there's Constable Green—he might know something. His sister-in-law once stayed at a seaside hotel with Denby's wife's mother's uncle. Small world, isn't it."
"Constable Green," they chorus, "there's a man to see you."
"Let him wait," growls Green. Five minutes later we follow him into the office.
"Whadder you want?" he says, back turned, fishing in his locker.
"He wants to know what I won't tell him about that accident," interjects the sergeant, with a wink.
A broad smile slowly creeps over Green's face. Turning slowly round, and grinning from ear to ear, he says: "What Accident?"
[Only the names have been changed to protect the reporter.—Ed.].