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Key comment taken out of context

11 November 2015

The comment John Key made in Parliament yesterday about rapists and child molesters has been taken out of context to make it sound worse than it was.

This post is not written to debate the rights or wrongs of the comment, but to point out what it actually meant in context. I was in the public gallery at the time.

The Prime Minister was asked what the Government was doing for the detainees. His response what that the best support was to get them back to NZ while awaiting their appeals. He added that it would take longer for some like rapists and murderers because he wanted to make sure that other New Zealanders on the same commercial flights as them were safe. That would take more time and could involve other options like chartering planes.

When this explanation was dismissed by opposition MPs, he said something like, “You can support the rapists and murderers, but I’m more concerned with the safety of other New Zealanders when they are coming home.”

In that context, it’s more understandable why he made the comment. He wasn’t talking about rapists and murderers generally, but only those who could potentially be a threat to other travellers. You would think that’s a sensible response, but judging by the response to his reasoning for the delays, Labour appeared to disagree with it. That led to his comment. This context has been left out of many media reports.

Context concerns are common among my media training clients. The problem is that edited news stories can never include all the details. There isn’t enough space. That can lead to distorted meanings. The answer to this in a media interview is not to say anything that can’t stand on its own. How many times have you heard someone say they were taken out of context? It happens all the time, but it can usually be avoided in interviews. It takes media training and discipline.

But with live events like presentations or Parliamentary Question Time, it’s far more difficult.

For more on my media training, contact pete@mediatrainingnz.co.nz or 029 200 8555.

Filed under Media Training

Written by

Pete is a leading New Zealand media trainer and regular blogger for his company, Media Training NZ . He has helped leaders from all sectors of society communicate with the media and other stakeholders. Pete is a former daily newspaper reporter and press secretary in the New Zealand government. From these roles, he understands the media process from both sides of the camera.

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