Antics of some media 'despicable'

Air New Zealand victim support workers just to get a foot in the door of the homes of distressed families.

There have also been reports of some news agencies opening their chequebooks to get people to talk, with media from all over the world fighting for stories and video footage.

Inspector Brigitte Nimmo, police welfare co-ordinator, told the Greymouth Star the antics of some media groups were "despicable".

"It is very disturbing that the media can behave in this manner and I have seen first-hand the effect it is having on the families."

There was a lot of anger towards the media from many of the distraught family members, she said.

The Star is aware of one incident in which a journalist left a microphone attached to someone they had already interviewed, to gather more sensitive information.

Since Friday's explosion, the number of national and international media flocking to Greymouth, working in shifts, has swelled to over 100.

School gates around Greymouth have been closed tight and many have teachers on guard constantly to ensure the pupils are not hounded by reporters.

Some schools report having had journalists loitering around the school gates attempting to interview children.

At the media conference yesterday morning, an Australian reporter asked Superintendent Gary Knowles why a "country station cop" was in charge of the operation, because in Australia it would be the mine manager and union.

This was met with jeers and guffaws from New Zealand media, with one commenting loudly: "Jeez, go back to Australia."

Police Minister Judith Collins said questions from Australian journalists over the police handling of the rescue were disgraceful.

The New Zealand police were in charge of search and rescue operations here and Supt Knowles was experienced and fit for the job, she said.

"This is an extremely experienced police officer who has had to deal with a lot of very grave and difficult circumstances before. He is acting at the highest levels of professionalism that we expect from New Zealand police."

Supt Knowles was not a mining expert but had support from 65 experts, Ms Collins said.

She said they were cheapening the work of the other journalists in Greymouth and not respecting what the families were going through.

A second Australian journalist, from Australia's Channel Seven, asked: "Can you imagine New York firefighters standing around the World Trade Centre waiting to be told they shouldn't go in if there were lives in the balance."

Pike River Coal chief executive Peter Whittall said that was an inappropriate question.

"I'm not going to comment guys are underground, I'm not going to answer a question like that."

- Reporting by the Greymouth Star and NZPA


Add a Comment