Quoted or first hand, sexist comments aren’t appropriate

North and South was launched during the ag-sag when we weren’t buying anything we didn’t absolutely need. But a kind family member gave us a subscription for Christmas.

I used to read each issue from cover to cover, savouring every word. 

The standard of writing was so good I’d enjoy articles even if I wasn’t particularly interested in the subject.

Although the magazine is smaller now I don’t spend the same amount of time savouring the stories. But if the profile on Judith Collins in the November issue is anything to go by, at least some of the stories aren’t to be savoured anyway.

The writer keeps intruding on the writing and for some inexplicable reason feels the need to note:

One of the few previous profiles of her was in student newspaper Critic,  which took the time to not that she had “one of the few decent racks in parliament.”

But the bigger error is, quoted or first hand, a comment about a male MP, or anyone else, being well hung isn’t appropriate and nor is one about a woman’s breasts. It’s bad enough in a student publication (and for the record Critic is a magazine, not a newspaper). It’s even worse when in an issue of what has been a deserved winner of the Magazine of the Year title several times.

The writer makes another stupid observation further on:

Yes her parents were dairy farmers but they were not Daimler-driving gin-swilling plutocrats.

Were any dairy farmers in the 60s – or at any other time – Daimler-driving gin-swilling plutocrats?

This says a lot more about the writer, his attitudes and ignorance than the subject of the profile and it’s not the standard to which North and South normally adheres.

P.S. When I read the story I remembered Quote Unquote had posted on it. The comment from Cactus Kate is a gem.

13 Responses to Quoted or first hand, sexist comments aren’t appropriate

  1. poneke says:

    she had “one of the few decent racks in parliament.”

    Call me ignorant, but what does that mean? It must be offensive for you to have raised it, but the phrase means nothing to me.

    Who actually wrote this offensive article?

  2. I didn’t know what ‘rack’meant either. Must be a generation gap thingy, but then last I heard, Nth & Sth was trying to appeal to a younger generation. I grew up on a farm in the 60s (born in 1953) and my Dad first drove a Plymouth, then a Zephyr, then a Holden. Even Sir John Ormond drove a Holden. And they drank whisky. Ladies drank gin, or sherry. Simple research would have discovered this. Actually Daimlers would not have been considered stylish, more nouveau.

  3. Richard says:

    Thank goodness I was not the first person to ask about “racks” – next time I call my daughter (aged 24) must ask how her racks are. If she says “DAD!— I will know the author of the N&S article is aged 25-30 and I am out of touch. If she says Dad – what are you talking about? I will know the author is aged below 25.
    HP, just like you- and it was my mother who gifted me N&S each year for 20 years until I quietly cancelled it after Fairfax? took over. Its all advertorial and puff
    DC:- Your description what was driven and drunk is apt
    What needs to be added is the food – at least on my uncles farm. Out at sunrise followed by breakfast- porridge,with cream, brown sugar, kidneys, eggs- morning tea–scones with cream—must stop and look up the Edmonds Cookbook for a laterday feast- how indulgent.

  4. Bill Bennett says:

    When I first arrived in the country, North and South was by far the best monthly magazine in New Zealand. It quickly brought me up to speed on many important (and not so important) issues.

    Then at some point it just turned into a rather weird, somewhat bitter publication.

    At this rate it is going to end up as a “lads mag” like Ralph. Who will be the first centrespread?

    New Zealand could really do with something like the old model North And South. It’s a pity no-one invests in print publishing any more.

  5. poneke says:

    So who wrote this article?

    Unfortunately, N&S is not sold where I live, and as ACP mags are not online, I can’t look it up that way.

    Like Deborah, I used to work for that magazine. For a whole decade actually. But it sure lost its way when Robyn Langwell was given the heave.

  6. homepaddock says:

    I’m not at home to check the name of the writer but Quote Unquote says it’s Paul Little: http://quoteunquotenz.blogspot.com/2009/10/silliness-in-north-south.html

  7. poneke says:

    That’s interesting. Unless there are two of him, Paul Little is a senior journalist, with a long career at the Listener and even a stint as editor of Metro.

    However, he suffered a mid-life crisis, running off with Wendyl Nissen, the editor of a women’s tabloid. Maybe that explains it.

  8. Deborah says:

    I’m no fan of Judith Collins (as you might have guessed, HP 🙂 ) but that is simply not on, at all.

  9. It does have Donna Chisholm writing for it now, who’s a proper journalist and knows how to craft a feature story. And Mike White’s good too. Fairfax didn’t buy Nth & Sth, it’s been owned by ACP for ages but that didn’t used to be the problem. Kerry Packer, for all his faults, at least was a publisher in the true sense of the word. He was content to hold on to Nth & Sth and Metro as two top rate current affairs magazines, just breaking even financially, because they gave his stable credibility. Then when his flash harry son took over and – disastrously as it turned out – just wanted to cream it from the gambling side of the business, Nth & Sth was the first to suffer. There were other reasons, involving certain persons who thought Robyn Langwell didn’t know the first thing about editing a magazine, but I won’t write them here. She truly was an extraordinarily good editor.

  10. Deborah is right – Robyn was an extraordinarily good editor. The thing is that an editor can only be as good as her publisher, and Packer junior is no publisher. I do not envy the current editor.

    Magazines do have to change or they die. But it was very odd to see that line about “Daimler-driving gin-swilling plutocrats” in North & South of all places. It’s a basic rule of journalism: never insult your readers.

  11. pdm says:

    HP please tell Deborah that at age 63 (and a half) I knew what `a rack was’ so it is not a generation thing. Perhaps her formative years on Ugly Hill Road were too sheltered but then again I bet her brothers knew what it was and at least one of them is older thsn me.

  12. Cactus Kate says:

    My mother asked me if I would like a magazine sub for my birthday. Poneke there is a site that sells them but for international it costs about twice as much again in postage than the mag.

    Normally I would have accepted the offer and asked for either Metro or N&S but as both mags have “jumped the shark” recently I instructed mother to insert money in my bank account so I could go out on the piss.

    At least the hangover from that wont last a whole year.

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