Adventures in Stockphotoland

For a while now, I’ve been noticing and collecting stock photos that are used to “illustrate” the news, and thinking about what the invasion by Stockphotoland means for journalism. It turns out to be a bit of a rabbit hole kind of issue … The more you think about it, the weirder it gets, the harder it is to find clarity. So while waiting for a few govt departments to get back to me with info for a completely different story I’ve been trying to write, I put together a blog post cum think piece on the question, that went up at The Hand Mirror, where it was titled “Pregnant and Headless”, then (slightly rewritten and added to) at Werewolf as “Airbrushing the News”.

I thought I remembered discussions from Back In The Day about the importance of trying to represent the community in which a newspaper lives via the people, stories, voices it covers. Images are so powerful in this regard, and file or stock images that act as a kind of key word for a story even more so, since they represent that story. Which is why the use of stock images is so insidious. It’s not just that they don’t come close to representing the community in which our news media lives, but that they far too often actively reinforce stereotypes: understandable since most of the stock is from the U.S. And as Angela Phillips wrote in the Guardian (there’s a link to her piece in the Werewolf article), the choice of image primarily reflects how the person choosing the picture sees the world.

I’m still thinking about this issue; I know it’s hard being a photo editor, but I’m coming to the conclusion that only news photos should accompany news stories (or relevant file pix, of course, that directly relate).

(Uh, I’ll leave this short post stock-image free.)


Book Update: Events, Reviews

cover-jpeg-mediumThis is the year of the book for me, and it really hits high speed in September when the Prochoice Highway takes to the road. In the meantime, there are a few book related events percolating over the winter, and the list is kept up-to-date over at the Highway’s events page. Here’s the latest rundown:

27 June 2013: Alison McCulloch and Morgan Healey will speak at the Wellington Rape Crisis AGM. (Not a public event.)

24 July 2013: Auckland launch of Fighting to Choose. 5:30 p.m., Gus Fisher Gallery, Shortland St, central Auckland.

26-27 July 2013: An ALRANZ/Highway book and info stall at the CTU Women’s Conference in Wellington.

29 July-2 August 2013: Otago University Students’ Association Women’s Week. Details TBA.

23-25 August 2013: A Highway book and info stall at Labour Women’s Conference: Community Building Project, Onehunga, Auckland.

25 August 2013: Ladies’ Litera-Tea. From 1-5 p.m. Auckland. Details TBA.



January 18, 2014, Listener, Reviewed by Rosemary McLeod

Women’s Studies Journal (NZ), 2013, 27:1. (Links to a PDF) Reviewed by Linda Bryder.

October 19, Otago Daily Times:  Abortion Rights Struggle Makes Compelling Read, by Elspeth McLean

September 2013:  (links to pdf) Journal of Primary Healthcare, Vol 5, No 3, Sept 2013, by Dr. Carol Shand

August 16: Online in the Nelson Mail, by Sarah Dunn.

July 2. Scoop Review of Books, by Megan Whelan

June 25. The International Socialist Organisation of Aotearoa/New Zealand, by Shomi Yoon.

May 23. At the Booksellers New Zealand Blog, by Nikki Whyte.

May 9. At the Daily Blog, by Queen of Thorns.

Cover Girls

My first-ever time on the cover of The New York Times Book Review with a review of Janet Frame’s stories: Between My Father and the King (published in NZ as Gorse is Not People).

New York Times Book Review, Sunday, 26 May 2013

New York Times Book Review, Sunday, 26 May 2013

…then inside:


East Cape: Pig Dogs and Books

Love this sign, about 15 minutes east of Opotiki:


But of course the scenery! Actually, the two below are from an earlier trip in mid-winter 2011. It’s not that green right now, but this time I was in too much of a hurry to stop and take proper scenery pix. Which is bad.

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Beware, the Sequel

So, I wrote a column on the Beware Americans Bearing … Well, Anything for my BOP Times Saturday spot. It’s another one that didn’t seem to make it online, so here’s the pdf version

Welcome to my site

Welcome to my Web site. It’s home to a bunch of my published writing (well, links anyway), including feature articles, columns and book reviews. There’s a page about my forthcoming book on the recent history of the abortion rights struggle in New Zealand, and, of course, this blog right here on the home page. I welcome comments and feedback, but comments will be moderated and the usual rules apply: no personal attacks or gratuitous meanness, nothing defamatory or offensive.