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Friday, 18 April 2008


A professional newspaper, a real newspaper, is interested only in faithfully informing people of the facts. It strives to make the closest possible approach to the truth. It strives to ensure that its articles present a fair, accurate impression of whatever it is reporting. It always gives right of reply to people mentioned in the story, so it calls them, it tells them a story is to be run, partly to be courteous, but mainly to ensure that it gets its facts right at source. It also chooses headlines that are both true in themselves and accurately catch the essence of the story. It always takes seriously its role as a medium, a transparent medium, so it conveys what happened in a manner uncoloured by journalistic activism, personal ideology, or the desire to beat up mythical muck. It does not stoop to gratuitous insults.

Waiheke Week, better called Wicked & Weak, is therefore not a newspaper worthy of the name. It is grossly unprofessional. In essence it is nothing but the malignant mouthpiece of a man whose views may seem to make sense to him but make none to those of reasoned perception. The fundamental dictum of logic--'If, if and only if the premise is true and the reasoning is true'--needs to be foremost in his awareness. It seems entirely absent.

In the latest issue, he plumbs the depths of hyprocrisy by condeming in his editorial the practice of playing the man not the ball--which he has been doing to me for weeks!

He has nothing against my Thames-Coromandel initiative that is true and reasonable. Not could he, but he hates me, so in he pitches.

He should remember that 'Hatred is the poison you drink in the hope that someone else will die.' His hatred only damages him on the inside. It does not affect me. I just feel sorry for him. He needs to get himself untangled.

Wicked & Weak lacks principle. Its publisher, under his nom-de-plume Surfdale Sally, even made light of his arrest for drink-driving.

He, and his editor, should read and keep to the principles set down by the New Zealand Press Council; they need to learn to be professional journalists; they need to learn to be people of integrity who keep to the fundamental principle of law--'recognition of the inherent dignity and worth of the human person.'

That the publication is capable of writing good articles that inform the community is witnessed by the story it did on the new seismograph being installed on Waiheke. But it habitually blurs or ignores the line between news and editorial comment, and the variability of its reporting does not inspire confidence in enough of its content to make it worth reading.


But in its issue of the 15th of May 2008, Wicked & Weak's publisher, under his nom de plume Surfdale Sally, again descended into the pit. What follows was my response to that, sent as a letter to the editor of that publication.

I challenge the publisher of Waiheke Week, who also publishes as Surfdale Sally, to put his money where his malice is--that he pays the full costs for both of us to take a battery of psychometric tests and psychological interviews (with three separate psychologists so as to get a broad, expert balance), on condition that we both see each other's results and that your paper then publishes them, in full.

Then we shall see who has the most normal psychological profile. Me, or the man who obviously thinks that gratuitous insults, character-assassination, lies and the wilful abuse of the truth are commendable activities. Me, or the man who obviously has a problem with alcohol, who has in print treated lightly his recent drink-driving charge, and whose body-language as he walks down the street is revealing and interesting.

Me, with four national awards for IT journalism, including best in the country that year, or the man whose publication again and again breaches good principles set down by the New Zealand Press Council. Me, or the man who likes to call himself Surfdale Sally and insult people, or treat as amusing people who are so drunk that they cannot stand up (Paralytic And Falling Over--PAFO--is his term), or make 'jokes' that are about as funny as a train-wreck, etc.

Me, or the man who loves to be highly selective or abysmally careless in what he states as fact, and frequently falls most foul of William Blake's profound observation: 'The truth that's told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent.'

Me, or the man who is clearly not interested in truth, or logic, or balance, or natural justice, or fair play. For example--in one of myriad instances--he omitted to publish the fact that a judge declared me to me 'a man of good character.'

So, Mervyn Bennet, I lay down the gauntlet. Do you have the guts to show the world what you are really made of? I do. So fork out, take the test, publish the results, or shut up.