Sunday, 17 August 2008

The Press - lost in the hills again!

On stuff.co.nz today is a story about the missing Aussie climbers being found and brought down to the Hermitage. The article is accurate enough, saying they were on the Mueller Glacier, but then some sub editor wrote this intro; "A helicopter team has now rescued the six Australian climbers stranded on Mt Cook."

Here we go again; I've also seen "on Mt Cook" applied to people who were 40km away in the head of the Godley, and in the Murchison - why do people who have no clue about the geography think they can write this stuff without needing to get a map out and check? It happens elsewhere too; I've seen tramping parties rescued from the Dart Valley described as "climbers on Mount Aspiring".

Later: the NZ Herald's web site got seriously carried away, describing the group "...battling neck-high snowdrifts and avalanches while they were trapped on Mt Cook."

To illustrate the error, imagine how this would be received. "Christchurch car crash kills two - A couple died when their car slid off the road between Kaiapoi and Rangiora in Canterbury last night." Imagine the letters to the editor if they printed that!

I suppose in some ways the Press's assumption is a further illustration of the Christchurch-centric attitude that is so common here. The world is divided into "Christchurch" (which is important) and "not Christchurch" (which nobody cares about). At Richard Stallman's talk yesterday, the person introducing him said "We hope to get Richard south to see Milford Sound", and all around the room people stared at each other in baffled incomprehension - "But that's not in Christchurch, why would anyone go there?"

It is very difficult for outsiders to break into any profession in Christchurch; I've seen CVs read then put in the reject pile because "He may have 10 years' server management experience, but it wasn't in Christchurch." And don't even start on which schools people attended...

Right, enough grumping - how about the overnight Olympic medal tally, then? Golds for Valerie Vili in shot put, and the Evers-Swindell twins in the double sculls, silver for Hayden Roulston in the cycling pursuit, bronze for Mahe Drysdale in the single sculls, and George Bridgewater and Nathan Twaddle in the pairs. Not bad for a country with the same population as Melbourne or central LA.

And to cap it off, the All Blacks beat South Africa 19-0. Maybe that will shut up the armchair experts who were ready to lynch Graham Henry a few weeks ago.

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