Monday, December 17, 2007

Just the year? How about the decade?

Louise Nicholas was named New Zealander of the year by the New Zealand Herald. It's a great article, and it shows how far the media has moved on this.

Media outlets were always willing to have a buck each way on this story. The coverage during the trial last year was sensationalist and more sympathetic towards the rapists than critical of them. The media were perfectly willing to give Brad Shipton's brother, and airtime to trash Louise Nicholas. Even now Clint Rickards gets huge coverage for his interview with Willie Jackson.

The media has also given space to Louise Nicholas's supporters, particularly after the suppression orders were broken (which was ridiculous - because the media sure knew all the suppressed information).

As time has gone on Louise Nicholas and her supporters have got more airtime, and the rapists' supporters have got less. Partly that's because as the trials have ended Louise Nicholas has been able to speak for herself. But I think it's mostly because Louise Nicholas's story resonates.

Many people, far too many people, believe Louise Nicholas story, because of personal experience. But the resonance in Louise Nicholas's story goes further. I've heard radio hosts, on shows like Nine to Noon, expressing surprise at the unanimous support for Louise Nicholas. The media sympathy for Louise Nicholas is a result of the huge support she had, not the other way round.

So I congratulate the New Zealand Herald for getting at least one thing right this year. But it's not the New Zealand Herald that gives me hope, but the people who read the Herald. There's a lot of work to do, to create a world where Louise Nicholas's . But the response to Louise Nicholas suggests that there are people who want that work done, which is start.


  1. For the most part the media is a force of nature - they write positive stories or negative stories based in various cues that that story will sell and they intentionally sit on information that undermines that story.
    It might as well be dumb luck determining whether an individual gets a sympathetic hearing or not.

  2. Hooray! Louise Nicholas is totally a hero. She stood up for justice and truth and what's right, at immense personal cost to herself, and I love her for it. Looks like the Herald got something right for a change.