Monday, September 10, 2012

Greg King at the Wintec Press Club

Regular readers will know that I am a regular freeloader at the Wintec Press Club lunches. This year’s host is Steve Braunias (his brilliant new book, Civilisation: 20 Places on the Edge of the World, will be in shops in time for Christmas present-buying) who last time invited Winston Peters as speaker. As Murray Mexted would say, that performance was egregious: my award-winning report is here. This time Steve redeemed himself by inviting as speaker a serious person, Greg King, the criminal defence lawyer who earlier this year defended Ewen McDonald who was accused of murdering his brother-in-law Scott Guy in Feilding.

The idea of these lunches is that media veterans talk informally – alcohol is served – to the students from Wintec’s media course, where Steve is Editor in Residence, and I make a point every time of disabusing at least two students of any idea they have that journalism is a sensible career choice. Too late for the two young women I spoke to: one is already working at a good provincial newspaper and knows exactly where she wants to go next; the other will graduate soon and is going to apply for the same job. Sounded awful to me – in a part of the Waikato where there is a lot of unemployment, teenage car crashes and nasty cases of child abuse. But both were smart as anything, positive about the industry, and will be successful. And then, because they are smart as anything, they will go into PR. 

I was seated next to David Slack the Metro wit who is from near Feilding (Kiwitea), as is my wife (Halcombe), so we and our families all had a keen interest in the Scott Guy case – as did the rest of the country. Apart from David and me, and my old friend David Cohen who was also at our table, it was a glittering crowd. Guests included Dame Malvina Major (shoes: red slingbacks), Sarah Ulmer (shoes: sensible black low heels), Charlotte Grimshaw (shoes: sadly not visible from my seat), Marcus Lush, Sir Patrick Hogan, Garth McVicar, Te Radar, and a bunch of journalists and editors from the Waikato, Auckland and even Wellington. 

King was superb. He spoke for 20 or 30 minutes without notes. He was smart, funny, and focused on useful material for the students. He told a true-crime story that was the single most distressing story I have ever heard. People were in tears; I tried to tell my wife about it that night and couldn’t get the words out. This wasn’t murder porn – his point was that murders of brown people go unreported, even such a shocking one as this, but there is a huge media appetite for murder stories about attractive young white people. He was also very good on how TV especially presents a distorted version of how a trial happens. He gave chapter and verse – photos and clips of the accused from one part of the trial shown with a voice-over about a completely different part. Previous speakers I have seen at these lunches have been mainly politicians or media types, who have their place (apart from Winston Peters), but this was someone who knew what he was talking about and was very clear about how damaging the media can be in its selection of what it does and doesn’t present to the public. It was chastening.


Anonymous said...

So what kind of shoes were Marcus Lush, Sir Patrick Hogan, Garth McVicar and Te Radar wearing? MCP.

Stephen Stratford said...

Black, and brown.