The Paua Palace

My royal blog, life, opinions and me, it’s all about ME.. Right?

3 Sides to Every Story Yours, mine and the truth.

Posted by pauaprincess on September 28, 2007

In the latest on the Christchurch shooting, the offender has been named as Stephen Jon Bellingham.  According to his flatmate of a week, Nicola Koster he’d been taking party pills;

“He had taken a couple of party pills on Monday then started flipping out … He just gradually started saying stupid things and yesterday he started talking gibberish.”

The stuff front page is running an emotive article topped by a father and his 3 children, who witnessed the shooting.  The headline is “Why did you shoot my friend?” Which 5 yr old Jayden Prior, one of the children allegedly asked the officer, who allegedly responded, Police don’t get paid enough to go home in a box!  This family pretty much insist that Bellingham was shot in cold blood and the article ends with a family member of Bellingham’s stating that the family are trying to come to terms with what happened and “he was a great guy”. I’m sure he was up until Wednesday.

The NZ Herald, perhaps in reflection of the current support for Police in their views column, has the front page headline “I saw Hammer man charge officer“and a statement that completely contradicts yesterdays witness reports.  

“It was blatantly obvious that he was going to try and give the police officer a good whack with the hammer.”

They reprint yesterdays statements and seem quite frankly confused at the completely contradictory statements.  Welcome to the world of the Police! No two witnesses view events in the same way as any Policeman will tell you.  No doubt the PCA and police investigation team will make sense of all these alternating views, by placement of each witness at the time, to track the movements of Bellingham and present it coherently at court.  Something the media cannot and will not do in their bid to sell news.

The media’s sensationalist bias toward the Police is becoming old. 

The public are sick of it judging by the majority comments in your views, just as they are sick and tired of seeing offenders getting minimal sentences, retrials and home detention. 

I feel for this man’s family, I really do.  When my friend K’s daughter was killed in the London bombings of 2005, she was literally hounded by the NZ media as she made plans to go to London to bring her baby home.  What did they want her to say?  In their moment of profound grief, it was the last thing she needed and who amongst us was curious about it?  It was a tragedy, her tragedy and it certainly didn’t serve the public good to have K on the front page, it didn’t increase their knowledge, it didn’t prevent a future occurrence, so why?  Surely the fact it had happened was news enough?

This is much the same, the media are going to seek out anyone who knew Stephen Bellingham, from his parents to the guy who served him at the local dairy. 

It’s interesting that in every report, they stress that Stephen Bellingham was from the North Island.  What’s with that?  I’ve never seen the reverse stressed in a news report and plenty of people who commit crimes in the North Island come from the South?  Are they trying to insinuate that South Islanders wouldn’t do something like that?  It’s not true, look at what happened in Aramoana.

It’s  a fact that the public have lost respect for the Police, in part that is a result from the Police habit of saying nothing following a contentious incident and allowing the media to publish speculation and conjecture at will and in part because of recent publicity surrounding 20 yr old rape allegations and the resulting case.  The media continue to undermine their position because it gets people all riled up and sells newspapers, advertising spots and attracts viewers.

The Police are beginning to speak up in answer to the media’s speculation, a good recent example being the inference in the Pumpkin Case, that a ceremonial sword handed back to Xiu on the morning he departed NZ, was still sealed in it’s evidence bag, despite spurious suggestions by the media that Police had handed Xiu the weapon to kill his wife An An Liu.  Police need to be willing to answer every charge by the media when possible (remembering some facts are kept within the confines of the Police for evidentiary purposes and to prevent trial by media rather than court), with fact to stop the sensationalism in it’s tracks.

The Public need to censure the press when they go to far.  While it’s all very well for the Police to be transparent and accountable for the public good, which is the media’s defense to putting such incidents under the microscope, we should be holding the media equally as accountable.  After all who is monitoring them?  Who is pointing out their every error of judgment?

The media need a line drawn in the sand as to what is acceptable and essential to the public good with their reporting.  They are there to tell us the factual news, not spin it to suit their agenda.  This month they are against the Police, next month it could be Nurses, Taxi Drivers or Shopkeepers, do you want to be the subject of their unbalanced and unfair stories?

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6 Responses to “3 Sides to Every Story Yours, mine and the truth.”

  1. GNZ said

    The public and the media itself censor regarding the paris Hilton issue and yet it kept getting reported I suppose because people wanted to hear about it at some level. I do not know what we can do.

  2. Perhaps it’s time the media started listening to the public. Judging from the comment around the various BB’s and your views etc, the media trying to turn this man into a martyr isn’t working in the slightest.

  3. panoramia said

    The public does control the media, democratically, by voting with dollars. You don’t like that newspaper? = so don’t buy it = it goes out of business (well, that’s the theory).

    Choice is: impose control by force (regulation, official censorship) or allow vested interests (corporates, magnates) to continue the status quo; or set up in opposition (yay for blogging!)

    On the subject:
    I’d like to see any/every ‘police shooting’ publicly investigated AS IF it had been by done a civilian. But who can impartially police the police? Certainly the police can’t. Someone should, for the police as much as for all the rest of us, it cuts both ways.

  4. The PCA is vastly misunderstood by the public, it is independant although they use police investigators, all decisions are made by the PCA which is run in the main by retired judges. I agree that we need to scrutinize, we don’t want cops acting with impunity, I just deplore the lack of balance and the way media consistently turn offenders into victims.

  5. panoramia said

    Like when some sweet innocent 15-year-old learner driver illegally out after midnight, illegally low-flying in a car illegally filled with drunken passengers innocently smashes the life out of some transgressing miscreant trying to get home from night shift down at the works — then innocently fails to stop for the swine cop ruthlessly pursuing him/her? Gotcha, I think …

  6. Exactly. I notice the Herald has brought some balance back into the picture over the past two days, stuff however continues to push their tired barrow.

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