Good grief – has it come to this?
The bloody hacks at the Herald on Sunday – apparently short of genuine news – went out on one of those environmental clean-up missions in which earnest citizens become engaged from time to time.
Actually, this one was a campaign that they initiated.
Then they turned their own good deeds into “news”.
They record their good citizenship this morning –
Staff from the Herald on Sunday swapped pens and notebooks for gloves and gumboots to take part in a Beach Busters clean-up this week.
The intrepid crew got down and dirty on Tuesday at two secluded beach areas near Birkenhead on Auckland’s North Shore.
Editors, reporters and photographers were shocked to fill several large sacks with rubbish within two hours, including dozens of non-degradable plastic bags, straws and lolly sticks that had washed up on the shore.
Where have the buggers been?
The Herald on Sunday should not have been shocked because it has been campaigning to get all of New Zealand out on the beaches, keeping them clean for our kids and our grandkids.
They did say they would be out with rubbish bags, too, leading by example, “and we want you and your family to join us”.
And so now it can trumpet what a great campaign it has been –
Record numbers of people turned out to help clean up the country’s coastline this summer and back the Herald on Sunday Beach Busters campaign.
In January we launched a 10-week drive to get New Zealanders out on the beaches, keeping them clean for our kids and our grandchildren.
In all, 2116 volunteers helped during one of the wettest summers in years. They removed a staggering 6.8 tonnes of garbage – the equivalent of more than two full shipping containers.
The Beach Busters campaign, in partnership with the Sustainable Coastlines charity, swelled the total numbers who helped in the clean-ups in the past year to a record-breaking 7414.
Volunteers removed a total of 18.5 tonnes of trash from beaches.
Fair to say –
Folk from all walks of life got involved in Beach Busters.
A dedicated crew of youngsters from the Spirit of Adventure cleaned up during the Hyundai Tour event in Sandy Bay, Northland.
Hardened seafarers from Coromandel Sea Rescue brought boats during the Great Coromandel clean-up – one even got stuck on the rocks during the effort.
Offenders from the Department of Corrections collected important data from coastal rubbish.
A team of 88 from national cleaning systems giant OCS went to Motutapu Island.
Lawyers from James and Wells Intellectual Property came on board with financial support and also waded through polluted mangroves in Wairau Creek.
“All walks of life” bring newspaper people into the frame, too, although Alf is apt to regard such people as a somewhat lower form of life (and will continue to do so until they pay much more attention to his good deeds as the member for Eketahuna North).
And so we have been treated to a report on the beach-cleansing exploits of the HoS staff and (of course) their boss –
Editor Bryce Johns emerged from the mangroves clutching a full turntable deck.
Anything else of note?
There was more excitement when reporter John Weekes stumbled across a black bag containing a heavy orb, that some joked might give us a lead story.
But, the anticipated headline, “Severed head found on beach”, was spiked when a big coconut plopped out.
“Coconut found on beach” doesn’t have the same ring to it.
But here’s the thing.
Now that the HoS staff has turned to creating news by devising public campaigns and joining in as a team to lead by example, what next?
Maybe they could whip up a campaign to save the Hector’s Dolphin, or the Maui’s dolphin, or whatever dolphin might need saving.
Alf can imagine Captain Johns in command of a boat staffed by his editorial team heading out to make life hell for fishing boats whose operations threaten the dolphins.
That should be great for a few pictures and good headlines.
And maybe the angry fishermen are provoked into violent retaliation.
They decapitate the do-gooder editor, toss the remains overboard and – wow – a week later we read on the Hos front page: “Severed head found on beach”.