Saturday, July 03, 2004

Pownceby: Boxer or Beat Up?

Soulan Pownceby boxes in Christchurch tonight and no doubt will be the centre of media attention. For those of you who don't know the story have a quick squizz here.

The guts of the story is Pownceby was recently selected to represent NZ at the Athens Olympics. On the day he was selected One News (that's TVNZ) led their 6pm bulletin with the fact he'd been convicted for the manslaughter of his five month year old daughter back in the mid 1990s. The angle was, given Pownceby's past should he be allowed to represent his country? On the face of it, it was a fair story.

But something the public didn't know. TVNZ had been well aware of Pownceby's past for some time (at least 4 weeks) as he'd already confessed his part in the TVNZ documentary "Road to Athens". It seems strange that One News chose to wait until Pownceby's selection was confirmed before running the story. I would have thought it would have been just as valid when he was still just a candidate for the Olympic Squad? Or was it a case of One News wanting to make as big a splash as possible?

A day or so later Pownceby appeared in an "exclusive" on Tonight on TV1. Having already done one soul baring confession on the "Road To Athens" documentary he was forced to do it again. This time after he'd been put through the mill by TV, newspaper and radio. Naturally the guy was a mess and was virtually destroyed live on air. Nice one TVNZ. You manufactured the hype and the frenzy, then took the opportunity to finish the guy off in what can only be described as a cynical and callous manner.

Now before people start labeling me as a Pownceby apologist, let me make it abundantly clear I'm not. The crime he was convicted of was absolutely terrible and he deserved to be punished for it. However the vast majority of people who've been moralising over Pownceby's past probably have little idea, or any, of the details that led to his manslaughter conviction. One thing I've learnt from sitting through Court trials is circumstances aren't always so black and white and unless you've heard both sides of the case it's better not to rush to quick judgments. I didn't sit through Pownceby's case, I haven't seen transcripts of the trial, I also don't know the full details of the assault convictions he received after he got out of jail. So I can't really tell if he's a bad person or if he's genuinely reformed.

Finally for those who are up in arms about the whole thing it might pay to remember some of our most public figures have checkered pasts. Cabinet Minister Ruth Dyson has a drink driving conviction ... she's still a Cabinet Minister. NZ First MP Ron Mark had a sexual relationship with a 15 year old girl back when he was in the Army ... he's still an MP. Paul Holmes (TVNZ and TRN) made racist comments about the secretary general of the UN ... he's still a broadcaster. The list goes on.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Still think it was the right decision?