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UPDATE: Link To Mr X's Identity Posted
As I suggested in todays' column, someone has already posted a link to a foreign news story carrying the identity of "Mr X." The link was posted to a New Zealand usenet newsgroup this morning.

Note: This column represents the opinions of the writer and as such, is not purported as fact
Where's The "Best" News? 25 July 2002 Edition
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Where do you go to get your daily news-fix?

If you're one of the millions who still think that TV is the best place to get all the latest information on current events and news stories then maybe you ought to think again.

Most of us will remember that the "QANTAS Award Winning" news programme One News spent a good long time wiping egg from their faces over the Lyprinol fiasco a couple of years back -- but hey, they've learned to check their facts now; right?

Sorry, despite their endless self-promotion as the best news programme on the box, One News still seems bent on not letting facts stand in the way of a good story.

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During the promos for last night's news, and later in the 6pm News Hour, eager viewers were reliably informed that a dangerous virus had been discovered in the Antarctic huts used by the explorer Robert Falcon Scott.

What's wrong with this story?

Well, the TV channel that repeatedly has trouble with health-related stories seems not to know the difference between a virus and a bacterium. Anthrax is most definitely the latter despite what One News tells us.

I was going to link to the One News version of this video but my totally up-to-date version of IE6 complains because I won't let it execute an Active-X control and refuses to load the video.

<BITCH> For goodness sake TV1, why do you have to show us how clever you are by using a klutzy embedded media player when being able to play your video through a stand-alone version would be just so much easier and simpler?? At least provide the option -- people might even be able to link to your videos then!</BITCH>.

In order to get around this dullardry on the part of TV1 and ensure that a larger percentage of readers can see what I'm talking about, here's a vidcap I made of the news-promo run just before 6pm (220Kb AVI DivX 5/MP3 or 1.2MB MPEG)

What's my point here?

Well maybe it's just that once again the Net has proven itself to be a more reliable and accurate news source than TV. Even the web version of One News's story doesn't make the virus mistake. Perhaps they keep their best news writers for the Web and let the second-tier people write the TV copy?

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    Am I just nit-picking?

    Maybe so -- but surely those seeking to claim the title of "best" ought not be tripped up on small but important details. Are the entire newsroom and the presenters themselves so ignorant or riddled with alzheimers disease that they don't remember the myriad of stories published about the anthrax attacks in the USA a few months ago where it was quite plainly stated that Anthrax is a bacterial pathogen?

    Gosh, I think One News even carried some of those news stories themselves!

    Another topical story getting plenty of air-time right now is that of the attempted kidnapping of a "prominent citizen" in Wellington this week.

    The identity of that citizen has been suppressed by the courts and he has been referred to only as "Mr X" in the local media -- but wouldn't you know it, the Net has once again scuttled the best efforts of our courts.

    Yes, just as in the case of that infamous US millionaire done for drug possession a year or two back, Mr X's identity has been published by an overseas newspaper on their website (and presumably in print).

    Now, since I have no intention of spending any time in the pokey or handing over large wads of cash to the crown's coffers by way of a fine, I'm not about to publish a link to the page carrying the story -- but I'm sure that someone will do so before the suppression is lifted. Even if the link isn't published however, most Net users who really want to know will probably be able to find it themselves if they look hard enough.

    So, once again, the Net gives us access to news and information that is otherwise considered verboten by the powers that be -- and once again the publishing of a simple hypertext link could result in stiff fine or even a jail sentence.

    Has the Net really turned court-ordered name suppressions into little more than a joke -- leaving the local media powerless to disclose a name while offshore news websites can do so with ease and total immunity?

    In light of these two events and similar ones that have gone before it's little wonder that news-related websites are consistently amongst the most popular destinations on the Net.

    Now, if we could just wake up the average couch-potato to the fact that they're not getting the full story -- or even the proper facts at 6pm each night, maybe we'd all be better off.

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