Friday, January 14, 2011

The enigmatic Steve Braunias

NBR is quite rightly behind a paywall but I hope that Mr Colman won’t mind me quoting this brief report:
The popular Sunday Star-Times column by the enigmatic Steve Braunias has been axed from the pages of its Sunday magazine supplement and the departing columnist hasn’t held back from hacking into his former boss.
Sunday Star-Times editor David Kemeys said Mr Braunias’ last column would run on February 5 and seemed nonplussed at the high-profile departure.
“Columnists come and columnists go,” he said. Mr Kemeys was unwilling to elaborate on the reasons for Mr Braunias’ sudden exit. “That’s private between us and Steve,” he said.
”No it’s not,” said Mr Braunias.
He said Kemeys had been wanting to rid the column for some time, and that a mutually abusive email correspondence between Mr Braunias and a reader precipitated the departure.
Mr Braunias said of Mr Kemeys: “Editors come and editors go. I expect the paper will soon enough despatch the mediocre hack back to where he came from, which I understand is nowhere.”
The loss of a column is unlikely to leave the mercurial Mr Braunias with nothing to do.
In addition to regular features in North & South and Metro, he is a panellist on TV books show The Good Word, editor in residence at Wintec in Hamilton [no, that was 2010 and doesn’t roll over to 2011 – SS], and last year received a $35,000 grant from Copyright Licensing to publish New Zealand: The Biography.
Steve’s a good guy: he’s from the Mount and I’m from Tauranga so we semi-share our turangawaewae. But from what I understand, he called the reader in question the C-word. Possibly justified, possibly not. But the first rule of journalism in my book is that you don’t insult the reader. Even if they write in green ink.

On the positive side, now that Steve is no longer writing the column, perhaps he will turn his energies and attention to completing the novel for which in 2009 he received $20,000 from the Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship and five months of solo residence in the Sargeson flat in Albert Park. I lived there briefly – it’s a nice flat and very conducive to writing. I hope to see Steve on Monday in Auckland so, as I always do when I see him, I will cheerily ask how the novel is going.

Footnote: The Auckland occasion is former Quote Unquote contributor Tim Wilson in conversation with Noelle McCarthy about his novel Their Faces Were Shining, which is really, really good. Everyone is invited as long as you let Lily know you are coming.

Page 8 of today’s Herald on Sunday has the full email exchange between columnist and reader, for those interested. Main story here, emails only in the paper paper.


Anonymous said...

When you see Steve, ask him if he is Alix Bosco.

Stephen Stratford said...

I did see Steve but I didn't ask him if he is Alix Bosco because I know he isn't.

And no, I'm not telling.

Cactus Kate said...

It's a bit disappointing if in responding to (probably rampant) abuse that as a writer you cannot use the "c" word.

Lets hope Steve used the "f" word in front to get value for his dismissal.

Actually if Steve is reading now he's toasted anyway perhaps he would like to forward a copy of the readers comment and his reply for non-censored republication either on Quoteunquote or Asian Invasion. I would gladly oblige.

Bill Ralston said...

I am given to understand the reader had already emailed him describing him, quite accurately but somewhat rudely, saying "you're an ugly f---er" to which he replied "and you're a c--t".
What makes it interesting is the reader, a woman, is a police prosecutor who sent the email from a Police email address.
Can you say c--t on the police server?
And why complain to that lickspittle editor when you started the obscene language exchange.
This needs inverstigating!

Stephen Stratford said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephen Stratford said...

Thanks CK and Bill - I did know that Steve had been provoked with those words. It is extraordinary that a police officer would address a journalist in that way. What on earth could they have been discussing, and how quickly did the tone descend? Wouldn't we all like to see a transcript of the preceding conversation - a sort of Vagina Dialogue, perhaps.

I am given to understand that questions were asked at Fairfax as to how I came by my information. It certainly wasn't from anyone there, cross my heart.

I think we all remember some announcements made a few years ago at TVNZ that were being txted all over town as they were being made. Journalists can't keep secrets, bless them.