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October 12, 2009 | by  | in Features |
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No good will ever come from reading news in Salient

“Oh, people read news,” man about town BK Drinkwater reassured me. “People read news.”

I have been lied to by BK Drinkwater before. In 2003, the man who lived E34 at Weir House told me that Radiohead’s ‘We Suck Young Blood’ had “killed” his clown. He later recanted saying he never had a clown and that Thom Yorke’s piercing vocals always found acquiescence with his “sexy” psyche.

That lie I could forgive, but the former has taken a while to digest—nine months long. I was led to believe writing news was something to be proud of, that in a magazine choc-full of razzamatazz, zing, zang, and zop, people would appreciate a few solitary pages of serious reporting. Alas, this young heart of mine beat a thousand times a lie, and the blood pumped aplenty this year.

I have witnessed a number of up-and-coming writers suit up a dictaphone and notepad and become journalistic superstars. Our own Jessy Edwards, who was but a bored wee thing covering Exec meetings, slung her way to winning a national award for her newsiness. Some of you may be contemplating joining the news crew under the wise eye of Ms Rarah Sobson. Be warned, friend: no good will ever come of it.

How Salient’s News Gets Made: A Primer

Every Monday morning bang on 11:00am, a group of rag-tag news volunteers descend upon the Salient office hoping their beloved News Editor has something worthwhile to impart. He never has, and doesn’t feel the least bit guilty for it. But they sit, and stare, and anticipate anyway. So he sits, thinks, and forty-five minutes later, he’s sent them away carrying knapsacks of newsness over their shoulders large enough to last a week.

Then he thinks to himself: “Imma kill those volunteers one day.”

Tuesday rolls around, and down into the bowels of the VUWSA office I go, joined by an equally enthusiastic Jackson James Wood to meet Still-President Jasmine Freemantle. We sit awkwardly for 20 minutes thinking of something intelligent to ask. Given that nobody in the room really wants to be there, we dream up open-ended questions that allow the president to talk non-stop for 19 minutes 40 seconds. It’s an unspoken relationship that has worked well for the last year.

On Wednesday, stories begin to flow in. They’re usually awful and require most of the day to repair.

On Thursday, I write. My fingers ache and bleed but by 10:43pm the week’s dribble is usually done. Then the phone rings at 10:45pm, and some VUWSA jabroni has set a primary school on fire or something, and so the week’s top story is thrown out the window.

On Friday, I lament. Saturday, I rest. Sunday, I anticipate. Monday, I weep, and find myself explaining to my volunteers why daddy cries.

Why Salient Has a News Section:

Having studied the media in me-dia stud-ies, I’ve come to learn why western civilisation needs the news. News has an untenable role to play in ensuring the plebs don’t get smooshed by the elites. We need the likes of The Dominion Post, Campbell Live and Barry Soper to keep people like Don Franks and Mark Blumksy honest.
At Victoria, we have a government of sorts. They’re more like a club—a “No Homers” club of student politician and ratbag surfboard-riding radicals.

The VUWSA has a reputation for being a shifty group. They’re responsible for approximately $2 million of Victoria students’ money, and have a chequered spending history, the details of which can be found in the news section of Salient!

With Roger Douglas’ Voluntary Student Membership bill sitting on the horizon, it is more important than ever to make sure a largely indifferent student journalist keeps their Eye on the Exec.

There’s also the itty bitty fact that there’s 25,000 or so students knocking about—the size of a small town, really. Stuff happens; people do things—it’s a fact. It’s nice to hear about the goody gumdrops moments, but there’s a bountiful bevy of bad stuff too.

“But Michael,” you say. “If nobody reads news, then why have news?”

Oh, Little Johnny Puddleface, hush now. We need news because it gives those 1500 people who vote in VUWSA Elections something to bend their egos over on Salient’s website. The likes of “Hank Scorpio” and “smackdown” need an arena to air their articulate and well-rounded thoughts. Without the news, where would these people be? What would they be doing? How would they fill their days—with something worthwhile?! Nay, upon thine honour, scourge, withdraw your argument.

Why You Haven’t Read the News This Year, and Probably Shouldn’t Start

You’re feisty—I like that. You’re a rabid sassy snap, crackle and pop power ranger of a reader. You like your stories quick and witty. You like your letters long and pretty, your photos high res and your comics Bugger All’d.

All these features can be found at the back of Salient. The news, in all its brazen glory, occupies eight pages at the front of Salient. You have no incentive to read the news. Salient isn’t a cover-to-cover read. It’s a, “Well, fuck, I’ve come to uni an hour early—KIA ORA, DAYLIGHT SAVINGS, KIA ORA—so I bet—oh, look, Salient. Hey, I wonder what that idiot courier driver is doing this week…” sort of thing.

But don’t start now on account of me. You’re really not missing out on much. Take this year, for example:
—Joel Cosgrove owes you all $1200, and won’t pay it back.
—An irate motel owner called Vic students the “scum of the earth” and invited us to “go save the fucking whales.”
The VUWSA opted not to lay a wreath on ANZAC Day.
—Your fees went up, your service levy doubled.
—Joel Cosgrove set a New Zealand flag on fire.
The VUWSA botched a by-election, costing you sweet, sweet $$$
Salient came up with a hilarious pun starring a convicted double-murderer, and warmed the heart of the nation with its plea for contrition.

I’m absolutely certain nothing of worth will happen over the holidays, so rest quite assured, your ignorance is—and has been—appreciated.

Where to from here?

No doubt whoever’s drunk enough to want to edit Salient’s News Section in 2010 will have their hands full. Should the VSM bill come into law, should Max Hardy slip in his drool, should the university up fees by 20%, should Joel Cosgrove, you know, breathe, there will be stories to tell, things to learn, and happenings to be aware of.

But, of course, you’ll be too busying facepalming over Vegeta_Newtown_32’s disappointing thoughts on Windows ME to give three fifths of a you-know-what.

As for me, well, I’ve learned a lot. After a year of all the VUWSA/Victoria/Students/NZUSA/Anne Tolley malarkey a lad can handle, I never want to sit in this chair and adhere to the fucking inverted pyramid ever again.

BK Drinkwater owes me something for this. My sense of anticipation may never repair.

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About the Author ()

Kia ora, biography box, kia ora.

Comments (2)

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  1. Brunswick says:

    Well done, that man.

  2. Chopper "Deck Chair" Reid says:

    Yeh alright alright mate chill down a wee bit mate. Me n some mates are calling in sick tomorrow why don’t ya come round n take a load off n meet some of the boys – there’s Andy, Peely, Strompy, Galoshes and Mack the Pervy so fuckin don’t holdout just a few lads drinking some fuckin piss n some backyard cricket hero bullshit ay? See ya then mate, it’s your shout

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