The Waikato Times, whose first edition was published on 2 May 1872, became a morning paper on Monday. It has also gone mad.
On Saturday it ran a terrific section on the history of the paper so far, with various old and not-so-old hands reminiscing, with particular reference to stellar staffers such as Michael King and also the brilliant Philip Harkness, one of the greats of New Zealand journalism, who took over as managing director in 1961 at the age of 28 and turned the paper into one of the best in New Zealand. Some of us thought it was the best. It fearlessly took on local-body and national politicians. It took on Muldoon. In 2011 it’s no big deal to editorialise against the government, but back then it was very brave.
Philip was a great talent-spotter – Michael King, Judy McGregor, Warwick Roger, David Beatson, Richard Long and many more. In this section there’s a great photo of a youthful and beardless Michael King at Poukawa holding a pair of moa leg-bones. Unfortunately none of this material is online, which is a shame. I suppose that Fairfax regards it as merely local history but it isn’t – it is social and journalism history of national importance.
As to madness, the #2 story on yesterday’s front page was about a man selling pig carcasses in Hamilton West door-to-door for charity, taking people’s money and – guess what? – not delivering the dead pigs. The heading was:
Alleged cheap-pork scammer now faces roasting
Yes, you know what to expect from the story. It begins:
A door-to-door pork peddler has been arrested for telling porkies. The man was selling meat but failed to bring home the bacon and now faces a grilling from police.
The man, aged in his 50s, was arrested on Monday afternoon and charged with fraud after being caught taking payment from a potential victim. The arrest follows publicity from the Waikato Times about the porcine prank.
Nawton resident Gerry O’Neill contacted the Waikato Times after he paid $150 to a man who claimed to be selling meat for charity. The meat was never delivered. Following the article, the Times received emails and calls from embarrassed Hamilton West residents who put their trotters up and admitted to being taken in by the porkies.
Oh dear. It’s all a bit hammy.
Today’s front-page #2 was about a gang member caught doing something illegal. Specifically, owning a snake. The headline was:
Man gets more jail time, but his snake is hiss-tory
I fear we are in for a run of animal-related puns at breakfast.