Bottom line - if Poneke, Kiwiblog and lefthandpalm think you are full of shit, you probably are (1).
What is the cause of this latest outburst of spleen?
A story in the Dominion Post (whose front page promotion of the show inspired Ponkeke's wrath) about "Lower Hutt police being flooded with possible new leads" following the season finale of the series (2). Read on, however, and it turns out "flooded" means "dozens of calls" (3). Sorry, but a few dozen (and I bet it is a very few dozen) phone calls resulting from a show with an estimated audience of half a million doesn't count as a flood. Substitute "trickling," or perhaps "dribbling."
This is important because the last line of defence for the show - after "We're trying to solve a murder, here!" and "At least we are bringing solace to grieving relatives" have been overwhelmed - is that it rekindles public interest in cold cases and generates new leads for the police.
Only, in this case, it hasn't. The vast majority of the calls will be worthless, I'll bet - cranks and attention seekers who have convinced themselves they have some importnat information, and self-described psychics with 'additional' revelations that will divert even more police resources into fruitless rabbit chasing.
I don't expect Sensing Murder to engage in self-criticism. The program's function is to make Ninox and the associated psychics money - particularly given Ninox's revenue woes (4). Sensing Murder is ratings gold for Ninox and I don't expect them to do anything to jeopordise that. It has also helped the alleged psychics who star in the show (only the naive would think that it is about the dead people whose spirits are supposedly contacted) (5).
Nor do I expect the viewers to engage in sceptical examination - though I'd hope that Sensing Murder is so extreme in its manipulation that some at least will be compelled to question its value.
I would expect journalists and commentators to raise questions about the show and the claims made about it. The Dom Post, however, fails to do that. I don't know why The Dom Post opts to give Sensing Murder such an eaasy ride - though there have been other occasions when it has attracted my attention for Shoddy Journalism and Obvious Bias (6).
All in all, the Dom seems to be following a business model that emphasises superficial entertainment and dramatic - though inaccurate - headlines over journalism and investigation. It is rather disgusting to see a newspaper try to imitate Britain's tabloids - or the journalistic standards of Sensing Murder itself.
1 - "Surprise. DomPost puts sad free ad for Sensing Murder’s ghoulish charlatans on page one, while the Skeptics’ response gets page 12," posted by Poneke on Poneke's Weblog, 7th of September, 2007 (http://poneke.wordpress.com/2008/09/07/sense-2/), "Sensing Murder," posted by David Farrar on Kiwiblog, 7th of September, 2008 (http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2008/09/sensing_murder.html) and as described previously on lefhandpalm (http://lefthandpalm.blogspot.com/search/label/Sensing%20Murder)
2 - "Tips pour in after psychic show," by Greer MacDOnald in The Dominion Post, 11th of September, 2008. Reproduced on stuff.co.nz (http://www.stuff.co.nz/4688332a11.html)
3 - ibid.
4 - "N.Z. Producers Sound Bankruptcy Warning, Wellington," by Phillip Wakefield in The Hollywood Reporter, 27th of June, 2000. Reproduced on allbusiness.com (http://www.allbusiness.com/services/motion-pictures/4863067-1.html)
5 - "City case one of psychic's favourites," by Kelly Makiha, published in the Rotorua Daily Post, 30th of September, 2006. (http://www.dailypost.co.nz/localnews/storydisplay.cfm?storyid=3703446&thesection=localnews&thesubsection=&thesecondsubsection)
6 - As described previously on lefthandpalm: http://lefthandpalm.blogspot.com/2008/08/what-is-wrong-with-journalists-in-this.html. Astute readers will note that I stated to 'occasions' when the Dom Post had attracted my ire, but there is infact only one. There is a lesson for the Dom here - learn how to write accurate headlines. Once they stop claiming a few dozen phone calls is a 'flood' and a fall in Nationals poll represents them 'romping ahead,' I'll use singulars and plurals correctly.