Monday, 27 March 2006

Harmeet Sooden story - 'We have a right to know.' Do we?

There is reported to be "growing disquiet" over the deal struck between Harmeet Sooden and TV One News. One commentator over the weekend, Jim Tully, was whining that this sort of "cheque-book journalism" denies other media "access to people in the news," and interferes with "our right to know."

This gentleman is as academic, so you can perhaps forgive him not knowing what he's talking about. However, those signing up to join the complaining chorus now include the other media who have been "denied access," Helen Clark, and -- almost predictably -- National's broadcasting spokesman. Selling the story "raises important issues about truth and honesty" says Georgina te Heuheu in as flaccid a statement as a National spokesman has made for some time.

One thing Clark and Co seem to have overlooked: we have no "right to know." Media organisations have no 'right to access' to people in the news. In fact, the rights go all the other way. The story is not ours, it is Harmeet's and his family's to sell, and they have a right to sell it for whatever they can get, or to keep their mouths shut and their story to themselves if they wish. It's their story, not yours. The fact that they can sell the story shows that lots of people do want to know, but wanting to know gives you no right to know.

You have a right to know? No, you don't.

UPDATE: I should just say that if the amount being paidby TVNZ is $30,000, as is speculated, and the UK government decided to charge Harmeet $30,000 for his rescue, I wouldn't have a problem with that. Would you?

LINKS: News boss defends deal - Newstalk ZB
TVNZ deal annoys others - NZ City
Nats attack TVNZ over Sooden story - Stuff

TAGS: Politics-NZ, Politics-World


  1. Another question is, who wants to know? I mean, he's a wrong-headed pacifist who got abducted and nearly killed by the very 'victims' he was in Iraq helping. 'Nuff said.

    Perhaps we should write to him & suggest he gives a proportion of his earnings from selling the story to a charity doing good work in Iraq? :-)

  2. I like it Duncan.

    I note that your earlier post on this scum mentioned that he had been rescued by the SAS. Obfuscators wishing to fog up this point say that no shots were fired, that the compound was found abandoned and that he was thus released by his captors. Following the link you gave and further links thereafter, I found out that the SAS had found two of the captors, interrogated them and found out about the three hostages and were executing a raid which the other captors heard coming. They abandoned the hostages and took off.

    Don't let any obfuscators tell you the SAS weren't responsible.

  3. Yes, but by the same token TVNZ should just stop bullshitting and admit it pays for stories - rather than obfusticate by saying payments in kind (i.e. flying Soonden's family to an undisclosed location along with a camera crew) kinda, sorta, don't really count. It would also help if Ralston, and his predecessors in state-owned television and radio, were quite so pious about the evils of "chequebook journalism".

  4. I believe selling your story is fine.

    I don't like our taxes being used to buy it!

  5. A good point well made, PC.

    As an aside... the vicious virgin has publicly said "Sooden, don't go back!" I say "Sooden, go back as soon as you can, you sodding traitor. Piss off back to Baghdad on the first available flight and see if your sorry arse is saved next time!"

  6. Totally agree PC. Selling the story is ok by me, it is his story.

    However... I wonder why people commenting on this story seem to hate Harmeet Sooden? Is it because he was trying to do some good for others (rather than exploit them for oil and building contracts).

    I'm not bothered about the details here: whether he's got any sort of story or not; or about whether it's paid for by an organisation that has no credibility; or about whether or not he was "liberated", or whatever you might call it, at a cost of hundreds of thousands. I am bothered about the Coalition of the Greedy invading countries for profit though. It is something that we may well end up on the receiving end of, one day. Then we become the insurgents.

    I wonder if Harmeet will celebrate his return with a couple of bottles of Epic Pale Ale?

  7. Sell the story by all means; ownership of that is clearly established. But do I give two tosses for it? Not really. He's just another lame brained fool and should've been left with the terrorists.

  8. Does this mean if he writes a book or make a flim that the profits go to the New Zeland people since we paid for the rights?

  9. I have a right NOT to know. Watching the news angered me with it's fluffy, breathless, vapid content; I was starting to lose my self respect sitting there not blinking, slackjawed and breathing through my mouth when I was not asleep and drooling. The current affairs shows were just that, a show. The opinionated drivel that passed for investigative journalism was making me even mean feat. All in all the political equivalent of Women's Day and No Idea. I sold my house on the condition the buyers took the TV sets as well.

    Do yourself a big favour, arsehole the teev, you will find you won't miss the crap foisted on you by the likes of Harmeet Sooden filtered through the breathy cretins at TVNZ.

    Here's a preview: Chump want trouble, chump go to Baghdad and get trouble. George Bush to blame.
    Something must be done. As for Arab chumps making trouble, Arab chumps nice people, capping our mate unfortunate but understandable. Chump didn't ask for SAS help. SAS not nice.

    Cut to Briscoe's ads.

    Rinse and repeat with new chumps.

  10. amen George. Too bloody right!

  11. Anonymous nonsense deleted.

  12. The cut& paste having what relevence to the topic?

  13. I filed it under 'spam,' Oswald. :-)

  14. How much has this cost the NZ taxpayer, I wonder? Probably less than the British and US taxpayers.

    re: TV. I gave up on it a few years ago. Though I'll take a peek at the World Cup, later this year.

    Unfortunately National Radio, which I really did like (put your "taxpayers money" rants aside for moment folks and concentrate on quality programming), is heading in the same direction as state TV. Some of the best shows on air, the US Public Broadcasting ones, have all but disappeared since all the programming changed. Now we get to hear inane Brian Crump interviews of Rubiks Cube experts.

  15. RNZ went downhill after Maggie Barry. Kim Hill took it to the pits. You would get interesting subjects to interview and they would be grilled and put on the defensive by the so-called hard questions. These were spat out by irritating females who seemed to be in the permanent grip of PMS. They sounded like a row of rat traps being set off. They dont want answers they are just proud of their questions. Opinionated aggression seems the theme. What ever happened to getting the best out of a subject? I never heard Maggie back off or saw her intimidated or meek; I never heard her get churlish either.

    Time to raise the standard RNZ!


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