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Paul Smith: Media tripping...

Media tripping…

NZ Media Comment By Paul Smith

Took a mid-winter holiday this year. It's become the Kiwi Custom. Except that mine was a holiday from media. Having been a media junkie all my life I decided to kick the habit. So I cancelled the New Zealand Herald; listened to radio news purely by accident and switched channels whenever News bulletins reared their pretty heads.

But… like any cold turkey, I desperately needed the odd fix to help me through. So I snuck a look at yesterday's headlines in waiting rooms, or at sections stuffed in the back of taxis or Air New Zealand seats. But only the headlines you understand. I needed this break I told myself - at the same time as I secretly felt I had to know.

Then, waiting for a flight, somebody offered me the Herald. "Take it" an inner voice urged. "You'll be hooked' warned another. I took it. Mainlined on the news menu. But there was no euphoria, no highs.

Media holidays prove ignorance can be bliss, conferring a kind of innocence. But the world still turns and the moment your eyes open, can be shattering.

When I read the paper I saw this: On the front page four policemen charged with assaulting a prisoner in a cell. They denied the charges. The Crown summary described among other things a skull split and the cell spiced generously with pepper spray

Inside the paper, revelations in the Dewar trial. And there was Nia. Ugliness here and overseas. But within the paper were a few encouraging signs - people helping each other and their communities. Sadly it was the darkness that remained along with questions about a society which seemed to my fresh eyes, almost alien.

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Sometimes it's easier to turn away from all this but in the end, unrealistic. At some stage we have to face the world, warts and all. There will always be recycled media agendas of violence, conflict, trivia and ideological claptrap of one kind or another.

Coming back from this holiday they somehow seemed more venomous. Temporarily, I'd lost the immunity news confers every time we get our news fix. Question is, why do we need immunity at all?


Paul Smith is a journalist, author and founder of the website, www.kiwiboomers.co.nz .


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