Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 4. 1965.
Sir,—In his editorial "The Quid Kids," H.B.R. asserts that "It is time the public learnt what good reporting is."
It is clear that H.B.R. himself has not the faintest inkling what good reporting is. If he did have two things would have been different. He would not have levelled criticism at the Press Association. And he would presumably have used his knowledge of what good reporting is to advantage by ensuring some products of that art appear in the journal he co-edits.
I agree with H.B.R. that the current state of the New Zealand Press is unsound. But the reasons for this are complex and many. H.B.R. mentions none of them, and certainly the Press Association is not to blame.
Reporting in itself cannot project a uniform view of New Zealand as H.B.R. alleges. Reporting is concerned with fact, with events, with news—not with comment, intepretation and analysis. The Press Association is concerned solely with the distribution of reports.
H.B.R. seems to think that competition in news gathering is desirable. American experience has shown that competition more usually has the disfunctional effect of distorting news. Anyway clearly, the NZBC do not share H.B.R.'s view—the Corporation applied to join the Press Association and was refused.
It is true that the P.A. is a member of Reuters—it is also a part-owner. But does H.B.R. realise that the overseas news coming into New Zealand comes from United Press International, Associated Press, A.A.P., as well as Reuters? In fact, all this news is assembled and edited in Australia.
This gives a far wider coverage than H.B.R. suggests. Does he know that the NZBC is now buying a Reuter overseas wire?
If H.B.R. is really concerned with good reporting, I suggest he puts his own house in order. The front page picture. "V.U.W. from Cable Car" reported nothing—it was actionless and meaningless. Why was it published? To fill space?
If Salient seriously wants to improve itself let news be published—properly reported. If the Editors know anything of the principles of typography, sub-editing, photo-journalism, layout and editorial writing they could perhaps begin to demonstrate this.
More in sorrow than in anger.
P.S. Just who are the Press barons of New Zealand anyway?