Revealed: Silly Season's stupidest story

KeallHauled

Chris Keall

The missing ingredient from this summer's shark stories – an actual shark.

Judging the stupidest story of the Silly Season wasn’t so much fun this year, thanks to the nasty, salacious edge to some of the clickbait stories (Nick Grant chronicles the NZ Herald’s crowd-pleasing coverage of a sexual assault here).

However, there were still some good, wholesome examples of mainstream media attempting to fill the summer news void with mindless stories.

The first runner-up is the Facebook-sourced “New Year's revellers build sandcastle in Coromandel estuary to avoid liquor ban,” as reported by Stuff – although the TV news shows also covered it, including the group’s cheerful but slightly dubious claim that it had thwarted the law by setting up outside New Zealand’s territorial limit.

The unluckiest silly story subject was Palmerston North man Bruce Thomson, who was used in a Stuff story on the dangers of investing in bitcoin after losing "several hundred thousand dollars" – hot on the heels of starring in a story about how to make a mint out of the cryptocurrency. At least they could have changed the picture, though maybe he should just be thankful they spelt his name correctly in the second article (hat tip to holidaying Auckland man Matt Nippert for spotting that one).

The stupidest headline goes to this NZ Herald effort, screen-grabbed for posterity by Brett Roberts before being eventually fixed, or at least made less silly:

The stupidest front-page headline was "I thought I'd be eaten by a shark" – a quote from a fishing boat accident survivor who in fact saw no sharks (not that that stopped the sometimes shark-crazed Herald on Sunday).

The stupidest shark headline (special mention) prize goes to the Sunday Star Times for this effort. It seems that, again, there were no sharks but it does at least give us a new word: "sharkiest," used in the sentence "the 'sharkiest' time of the year."

And the stupidest story was this Sunday Star Times effort (which, sadly, doesn’t seem to have found its way on to Stuff) – “Lotto cash leaving in foreign suitcases”:

Despite the exciting intro – “Watch out lamb and wool” – an Official Information Act request reveals foreigners who buy scratchie and Lotto tickets actually win stuff -all money compared to our multi-billion major exports. In fact, if you include the fact the Lotteries Commission gets to keep the money from unsuccessful backpacker punters (such as the hapless trio featured in the story), the Crown probably comes out ahead.

I’m not sure if anyone has ever collected their Lotto winnings in cash, either. But if they did then, yes, I suppose they could stuff it in suitcases as they left the country.

Anyhow, it's now time for journalists whose Lotto dreams did not come true over the Christmas and New Year break to get back to the business of serious news.


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8 Comments & Questions

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Two prawns were swimming around in the sea one day. The first one was called Justin and the second one was called Kristian.
They were continually being chased and threatened by the sharks that inhabited the area.

Eventually Justin had had enough. He said to Kristian, "I'm fed up with being a prawn. I wish I was a shark, and then I wouldn't have to worry about being eaten all the time."

As he said this, a large mysterious cod appeared and said, "Your wish is granted!"

And believe it or not, with that Justin turned into a fearsome shark.

Kristian was horrified and so immediately swam away as he was scared of being eaten by his old friend.

As time went by, Justin found his new life as a shark to be boring and lonely. None of his old friends would let him get near them as they thought he would eat them and so they just swam away whenever he approached.

It took a while, but eventually Justin realized that his new menacing appearance was the cause of his sad plight.

Then one day he was swimming all alone as usual when he saw the mysterious cod again. He thought it'd be better if he could go back to his old life so he swam to the cod and begged to be changed back. The cod worked his magic and suddenly Justin was a prawn once more.

With tears of joy streaming down his cheeks Justin swam straight to Kristian's home.

As he opened the coral gate, the happy memories came flooding back. He banged on the door and shouted, "Kristian, it's me, Justin, your old friend. Come out and see me again."

Kristian replied, "No way! You're a shark now and you'll just eat me. I'm not being tricked into being your dinner."

Justin shouted back "No, I'm not a shark any more. That was the old me. I've changed...

I've found Cod. I'm a prawn again Kristian."

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I feel bound to note that NBR wouldn't normally publish such a, uh, comment but it's been allowed in this instance thanks to it being more sensible/worthwhile than the stories cited above

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I've collected my Lotto winnings in cash - all $15.00 of it
So there.

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I have to admit, Herald-watching has become a source of much fascination for me. Everything from their bizarre headlines to their abysmal proof-reading provides me with a mix of amusement and dismay. The story yesterday about the train in Sydney that "failed to break" was another subtle piece of goodness. It didn't fail to break, it clearly did break... when it failed to brake.

The one that still takes a lot of beating for me is "No one found unconscious in Auckland car park" from June last year:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11874627

Gold, that one.

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Don't forget the four days of coverage on a woman who went bare-chested to a concert.

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..and then acted surprised when idiots reacted to it. It was all about getting her five minutes of fame. It's a pity they didn't just use their heads and not play her game, and just ignore her.

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Yes, my lengthy rant about it here: https://www.nbr.co.nz/opinion/media-snapchat-herald%E2%80%99s-bottom-bar...

And with 'A Glittery March For Consent ' scheduled this Sunday in Auckland, presumably there's much more coverage to come

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The most pathetic story for me, was when Allied Farmers made a big deal out of their dividend payment to it's investors, that amounted to less than a parent would give their kid for pocket money.

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