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May 14, 2007 | by  | in News |
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Mainstream media jumps on Salient bandwagon, fucks up pretty bad

VUWSA exec contemplating Press Council action, VSM supporters wetting pants

The VUWSA exec made national headlines once again last week for a night of antics in March involving psychic hotlines and office graffiti.

The antics of Welfare Vice-President Heleyni Pratley and (now sacked) Women’s Right’s Officer Clelia Opie made headlines in the Sunday Star-Times, the Wellingtonian (where it was the front page story!) and Radio New Zealand.

The Star-Times article, ‘Uni Seeks Costs Of Psychic Calls By Drunk Student’, reported on both Pratley graffiting the VUWSA office in a drunken rampage and Opie racking up over $4000 in 0900 calls to psychic hotlines.

As all of the participants in the events declined to comment on the issue, much of the article was sourced from an anonymous comment on the Salient website, and previous articles in Salient.

However, it contained a number of factual inaccuracies, which, at the time of writing, have yet to be corrected on the online copy on – despite being contacted by Salient writers on the day the story came out.

The Star Times misquoted Salient about what Pratley’s graffiti entailed, and neglected to add that Opie was not an elected student official. In fact, she had been co-opted to the exec, after Amy Mitchell – the WRO elected in last October’s general election – resigned before the university year began.

Opie was later removed from her position by an exec motion to rescind her co-option, and a staff member has filed a complaint to the university about Pratley for a breach of student conduct.

The Star Times article also confused that the VUWSA exec’s attempts to retrieve the costs were being made by the university, and suggested that the psychic hotline calls were made to a single number during the one night, which Salient can now reveal was not the case. The title also suggests Opie was drunk at the time the calls were made – which Salient has never reported to be the case.

The article also, quite mistakenly, referred to Salient as “the student union’s website”.

Star Times editor Cate Brett declined Salient’s interview request, stating in an email that “The Sunday Star Times’ piece was drawn entirely from the President’s report and your own and other student accounts of the incident.”

Brett continued: “When members of the student leadership body behave in such a fashion, it is certainly a matter of public interest.”

A Google search revealed that the story’s author, Lois Watson, has worked in journalism for around thirteen years (including two as Chief Reporter at The Press in Christchurch) and has a Qantas Media Award and a Jubilee Prize to her name.

A profile of Watson on reads: “During her career she has specialised in local government and health reporting, but can turn her hand to any topic and has a knack for simplifying complex issues for the everyday reader.”

We at Salient believe she may have taken the ‘simplification’ to an extreme.

VUWSA President Geoff Hayward says the executive is currently contemplating its response, including a complaint to the Press Council.

Laura McQuillan With some MSM hate from Nicola Kean

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About the Author ()

With her take-no-prisoners, kick-ass attitude, former News Editor Laura McQuillan adequately makes up for her lack of stature. Roaming the corridors (and underground tunnels) of the University by day, and hunting vampires and Nazi war criminals by night, McQuillan will stop at nothing to bring you the freshest news.

Comments (10)

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Sites That Link to this Post

  1. Salient » Editorial | May 14, 2007
  2. Salient » Coddington walloped! | June 11, 2007
  1. Mike Heine says:

    I’m still struggling to see why us VSM supporters should be losing control of our bladders from this. If Salient wants to be taken more seriously then maybe you need a new headline writer. Don’t let dumb attempts at humour (which only leads to equally dumb journalism) ruin what has been a far better publication than last year’s stuff. With the exception of that, good issue this week.

    As for the SST, I’ve been telling people for years how bad that paper’s been getting. Who could forget their ‘Spot the Difference’ front cover with Brash and Pauline Hanson, as designed by Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove? I gave up on that paper a long time ago!

  2. Laura says:

    I believe the headline is a very accurate portrayal of the events. Much better than some of the nonsense me and Grant come up with late at night. However, you’re more than welcome to lend us some of your creative genius.

  3. not a salinet lover says:

    It is really funny, Salient, a magazine that fucks up news all the time, writes something about newspapers fucking up the news. Someone calling the kettle black eh?

  4. Mike Heine says:

    Laura – sorry but the article had nothing to to with VSM. So the headline went woefully inaccurate right after the words “Press Council action”.

  5. Laura says:

    Sorry, are you not the same Mike Heine who called at least one media outlet to tip them off about VUWSA and spread the message of VSM? Or was that someone else by the same name? News travels fast, even in ‘dumb journalism’

  6. Nicola says:

    Mike, the headline was a reference to Student Choice et al calling for heads to roll after the Clelia/Heleyni story broke. It’s a joke. Duh.

    not a salient lover, I’m sorry, what?

  7. Mike Heine says:

    Laura – I spoke to The Wellingtonian yes, and the Herald On Sunday rang me also. Your point?
    I’m dreadfully sorry if you thought you’ve stumbled on some kind of secret conspiracy, but I having been keeping anything secret.
    For the record the SST was nothing to do with myself or Student Choice.

    Re the headline, I wasn’t angry, I just thought it was dumb. I’m over it.

  8. Mike Heine says:

    Also, re the ‘dumb journalism’ – I was merely referring to the headline. As I said earlier I thought it was a very good issue this week.
    Deep breaths everyone… and oooouuuut.

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