27 September 2011

Sloppy Dominion Post

I don't know Bronwyn Torrie, but her article called Councillor headed for North Korea demonstrates once again my point that journalism in New Zealand is hard to find.

She should be ashamed, the article should be withdrawn and rewritten.

The story is about how the Deputy Mayor of Porirua City Council has been invited to North Korea by the regime.  She is going paying 40% of the cost of the trip herself, the rest paid for by North Korea's useful idiots in New Zealand, the wholly sympathetic Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)- New Zealand Friendship Society.

Bronwyn's first faux pas is in calling it the "Korea-New Zealand" Friendship Society, as if there is one Korea.  Her second one is failing to do any research on it, otherwise she would have found out that the Society is very pro-North Korean.  Its own website admits this with the vapid comment "We were impressed by the DPRK position of forming an independent political philosophy and system which was Korean".  Impressed by the Orwellian pseudo-Stalinist ultra nationalist, ultra-militarism behind the most pervasive and absurd personality cult ever known?  Oh please.  Wouldn't have taken long to find that gem Bronwyn.   I can excuse that she didn't do the research to reveal that Society Chairman Don Borrie (who has visited North Korea many times) praised Kim Il Sung publicly in the 1970s in a book published in North Korea a copy of which resides in the Victoria University of Wellington library.

However, it is after she has reported the basic "ins and outs" of the story that she makes the biggest and most embarrassing amateur mistakes:

She said "Relations between North Korea and New Zealand have been cool since Kiwi troops fought to prevent South Korea falling to communism in the 1950s.

Relations became more frosty when North Korea began testing nuclear weapons in 2006

What? So New Zealand's relations with North Korea were worse when it had diplomatic relations (which it did in 2006) than when it was fighting with the UN Police Action to overthrow the DPRK after it invaded the south.  How could it be MORE frosty when New Zealand had diplomatic relations from 2001 (which were suspended in 2006) compared to fighting a war?

"The North Asian country has been largely closed off from the rest of the world since it became a communist state in 1948."

Well Bronwyn, it didn't exist before being a communist state in 1948.  There was no "DPRK" or "North Korea", there was Korea, indeed the north was claimed by the Republic of Korea which was declared weeks beforehand.  Better to say that "after it was formed as a result of the division of Korea by the Soviet refusal to recognise the government in Seoul" beforehand.

Other statements were correct, but then she comes out with this banality:

"foreigners have to gain permission to enter the country"

Wow, amazing.  Like getting a visa?  Like you need to do for China and Russia?  Like permission you get at every single border control point?  With the exception of the Schengen area in Europe and the British-Irish border, this isn't unusual.  Do you really expect to enter most countries without visas?

Finally, she finishes with this awful statement:

"Although the New Zealand Government opposes North Korea's regime, politicians have made visits there".

Bronwyn.  Where did you get this from? The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade?  The Minister of Foreign Affairs?  Your own laptop? How does the government "oppose" the regime? Do you think the DPRK would maintain relations with a country that "opposes" it?  How do you think the Ambassador from the DPRK accredited to New Zealand would take this report?

This article is best when it is reporting the basics, but it falls apart when Bronwyn tries to write about history or politics.  It has mistakes akin to a high school newspaper.

It's just another reason why New Zealand newspapers are NOT world class, indeed articles like this are simply unprofessional.

Shame on you Bronwyn Torrie, shame on the editors for letting this get published.

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