Monday, August 30, 2010


Another good column by Tapu Misa in today’s New Zealand
, this one about the danger of re-victimizing victims
of crime by trying to give them, as Chief Justice Sian Elias is
quoted as saying, a ‘sense of ownership of the criminal
justice processes.’ I won’t re-rehearse the arguments—you
can read them here—but will say again that Misa is one of
the best columnists currently writing in New Zealand. In my
closing media comment for the year on Nine to Noon last
December, in fact, I named her columnist of the year. She is
no great stylist in the sense of being a flashy user of words
—a metaphor in a Misa column is quite an event—but has a
terrifically well-ordered mind that enables her to drive to
the heart of any issue, however complex, and write about it
in a simple, direct, sensible, human way. This is an ability
not given, alas, to many columnists, most of whom, not
having enough to say, or not knowing how to sustain what
they say over the length of a column, soon lapse into tired
rhetorical postures or, worse, anecdotal ramblings. To draw
on all that you know about something and write coherently
and interestingly about it for 500 words or more is not as
easy as it may sound, and certainly not if you have to do it
every week without fail. Tom Scott once said to me that
anyone can write one brilliant column in three—the trick is
faking the other two. I spent eight years trying to cultivate
that trick myself, when I followed Tom as the Listener’s
political columnist, and by the end I’d been wrung dry.


Anonymous said...

Two hundred and eight three here,217 to go, you can do it!

Old Geezer said...

Misa is the only columnist I have ever felt moved to write to, congratulating her on tackling a neglected topic with thoughtfulness and grace.
She even had the good manners to reply with thanks.
When will media bosses learn that employing "provocative" columnists to be only rarkers-up of readers is, in the end, a self-destructive pursuit? That we actually appreciate some constructive comment backed by genuine research?
Go Tapu!

Giovanni Tiso said...

I'm always impressed by Misa, and besides her admirably compassionate voice she's one of the few political and social columnists who's not afraid to broaden the perspective a little from the here and now. Her column following the release of the 2025 taskforce report last year was very good in this respect I thought.