Ah, the Christmas/New Year break – or the silly season as it's known in the trade as journos scramble to fill column inches with the courts and Parliament shut, and most news-makers at the beach.
Here's my pick of the 10 best (or should that be worst?) efforts in what media scientists are calling the silliest season on record.
1. Picture exclusive: John Key and wife Bronagh enjoy their Hawaii getaway (NZ Herald)
Judge's comment: See John reach for a coffee! See John stand around while his car fills with petrol! See John staring at a brochure, looking slightly bored! A privacy invasion completely without news merit – or even tabloid or entertainment merit. Whatever the Herald paid for its exclusive, it was too much. (See Privacy Commissioner John Edwards' comments here.)
2. How New Zealand spent Christmas day (Stuff)
Judge's comment: What do you do when you draw the short straw? Drink through it, of course. Stuck in the newsroom on Christmas day, a trio of journos poured themselves drinks, invited Kiwis to share their Christmas pics, then cut and pasted them into an article. A handful of photos included an upturned pavlova and a can of Red Bull.
3. Turtle found wandering Nelson streets (Stuff)
Money quote: "We're used to seeing hedgehogs up here but never this."
4. Invercargill teen who rides cow wasn't allowed a horse (Newshub)
Money quote: "It's probably good for the cow to get out and do something different."
5. Tightened Speight’s caps are a pain (Otago Daily Times)
Money quote: "We seem to be struggling to open them as quick as we used to."
6. Gondolas soar above gridlock (NZ Herald)
Judge's comment: No they don't.
7. Southland greenkeeper discovers hidden talent cherry spitting (Stuff)
Judge's comment: Should have kept it hidden.
9. Drone footage captures a killer whale eating a shark (NZ Herald)
Judge's comment: A generally disappointing shark season has seen the Herald forced to run wire stories like this. Sadly, nothing in the class of the 2011 article that alleged a shark swam up the Wanganui river.
10. Mysterious planet Nibiru will smash into Earth and the world will end in October 2017 (NZ Herald)
Money quote: "Elites might already be preparing for the end."
Sometimes, it does feel close.
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