Mercurial muck-raker takes swag in controversial decision

The exclusive revelation that Paul Holmes has moved to Australia, citing “better conditions” and “better pay”, looked a cast-iron prize-winner in this week’s Alcohol Sponsorship Press Awards. But when judges read more carefully they realised the Paul Holmes in question is a tradesman and not the guy off the TV, and that wouldn’t do at all.

 But another New Zealand cross-Tasman export fits the bill. Tabloid tearaway enfant terrible Jonathan Marshall takes the wine for his jumbo-sized scoop in which he sneakily recorded Australian shock jock Alan Jones saying horrible things about Julia Gillard and her dead father.

“It’s just like the teapot tapes, except this time the only John smirking is Jonathan Marshall,” said stand-in judge Toby Manhire, in an incoherent effort to identify a witty and topical New Zealand link. “That man Marshall should be appointed director-general of the GCSB.”

“The committee worked late into the night debating the ethics of the award,” added the chair of the ASPA ethics subcommittee, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The very means by which the muck-raking, mercurial Marshall obtained the story has been the subject of ethical debate, and his ethics in years gone by have been debated, too. But just as our debate was getting really ethically exciting, we were reminded of the historic bias of the Alcohol Sponsorship Press Awards towards graduates of the Hamilton Wintec media thing. Given that Marshall is Wintec’s most muck-raking, mercurial alumnus, he wins.

“Also,” he or she added, “Alan Jones is a total dick.”

Stand-in convenor Manhire warned that the following four paragraphs would be a cut-and-paste job of the usual cut-and-paste job and were intended for readers who may not be aware of the Alcohol Sponsorship Press Awards (ASPs).

The awards, established in November 2011, are held in association with Grower’s Mark, and are announced every Friday on the Twitter account @SteveBraunias. There are usually about five finalists, and the winner is awarded two bottles of wine – as such, the ASP credo is, “We don’t take the piss. We give it."

The award recognises excellence and strangeness in New Zealand media, including social media, blogs and things like that. The judging panel comprises a seasoned media professional in each of the four main centres, as well as Brisbane and Dubai.

Previous winners include Abbie Jury, Bradley Ambrose, Don Scott and John Armstrong.

This week’s other finalists:

  • An ASPA gold star goes to the subversive comic genius running John Key’s Twitter account. Vintage stuff.



  • Chris Barton for penning in the NZ Herald the best of the week’s many commentaries on the GCSB JK-KD ballyhoo, and particularly this line: “For the PM it's the political equivalent of having to apologise to Wile E Coyote for dropping an Acme Corporation anvil on his head.”


  • John Campbell and his Campbell Live empire for the magnificent school lunches campaign, which reached its giddy climax last Friday night, just after the deadline for that week’s ASPAs had cruelly passed. Great show, thoughtless scheduling.


  • The Dominion Post for its report about a woman who successfully appealed a parking ticket, despite its slightly misleading headline “Victory for 'little man' as parking ticket waived”.


  • And (the Dim-Post blog), Rose Manins at the Otago Daily Times deserves a special mention for a genuinely interesting report about the world of parking offences – concerning the 29th annual parking enforcement officers’ conference. Her piece concludes: “Yesterday, association committee member. Heather Miller delivered a presentation on the history of number plates and today there will be a parking enforcement photograph competition before the association's annual meeting.”