All New Zealand journalists, including several members of the Newspaper Proprietors' Association, are suspect of vague socialistic yearnings, though I honestly believe quite a number could bear up under the plain facts about the other side.
In a way, journalism and politics seem made for one another, like cooks and policemen. Where would the one be without the other, and why? Young journalists are invariably interested in politics, for one of two good reasons… either they want to “make” the Press Gallery at the House, which is a job of some importance and a good deal of fun, or else they are earnestly trying to find out just why the leader-writers of their respective organs—quite good fellows in themselves, many of them—should turn in such appalling “tripe.”
Erstwhile Reform or erstwhile Liberal papers (now confused, under the Coalition Government, to such an extent that the leader-writer is aware of very little beyond a desire to be as nasty to as many people as is possible) have by no means a monopoly of the cramped political style. I once met an editor of the Labour organ—nee The Maoriland Worker, and peppy enough in the old days. The editor's name was Jim Thorn. He appeared large, pleasant and worried. He explained a good deal of his worry, not without bitterness, by stating that practically all of the party's sea-green incorruptibles fancied that they could run the show, or else kept on and on sending in contributions. Furthermore, wanting to see them in print.page 51
In the outer darkness, beyond the twinkle of Parliament's three little lights, there is probably more fun for the roving journalist than in more orderly confines.
Election-time crowds… numbers being shot up again and again, on the huge billboards outside newspaper offices, as some hot favourite's majority slides to glory.
Speech by an earnest-minded little M.P., whose aitches had gone a-missing like Bo-Peep's sheep. Loud howl from the back of the multitude: “Hey— give 'im a haspirin or a h'aspirate.”
The 1913 strike, one of the most sensational episodes in the political history of the Dominion, had its brighter moments, apparently, though I was too young to imbibe that potent draught. But it is on record that C. W. Earle himself slid out of his editorial den in the old Dominion, grim look on face and baton in hand, to face an expected onslaught of strikers which happily failed to materialise. The same courage of conviction—call it relentless, but you can't call it less than courage—was shown throughout this editor's career.
An extract from an account given by Pat Lawlor in the New Zealand Artists' Annual, of what befell on the hottest night of the 1913 riots. He was then on the Dominion:
“I recovered my good favour through the heights of the big 1913 strike, when I was fortunate enough to be the only pressman present at the most sensational moment of the business. I found myself mixed up with a violent mob intent on doing harm to the ‘specials’, at their quarters in Buckle Street. I took cover behind a fence in the storm centre. Shortly, stones, bottles and palings were hurtling in the direction of the barracks. The specials stood the onslaught for a moment, and then they charged the mob. The sinister note of a revolver was heard, and through the darkness firearms flashed. It was page 52 an ugly business, and although there were casualties, the wonder was that nobody was killed. When it was over, I rushed to the office with my exclusive story. I was closely questioned by Mr. Earle as to whether the specials had used their revolvers. I was positive they had, and later in the presence of the Commissioner of Police was further questioned. I was then given a room to myself to write my story. I was heartbroken, next day, to find that the story was all in favour of the police. Later I was indignant, but now I can realise how important it was that the story should be handled, shall we say, discreetly.”
Well, shall we? Yes, little ones: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty—that is all ye know, and all ye need to know.”
The New Zealand Herald, up in Auckland, had one of its rare moments of song concerning the 1913 riots. I think its outburst too young, too beautiful, to die, so reprinted in part herewith it stands: