07 April 2009

Key didn't stop Baabarians crashing gates

Media implicated in stampede. Dispute over cause of injury.

3 News report from New Zealand that, at the controversial annual "Running of the Sheep" in Te Kuiti:

"a woman was bowled over by the marauding mob, her injuries no laughing matter. .."

The event co-organiser, John Fagan was reported in The Waikato Times as saying:

"We underestimated the crowd at the beginning of the sheep run and they (the crowd) kept coming in on the sheep and the opening kept getting smaller and smaller and just baulked them a bit."

However, in a developing controversy, he denied the 3 News suggestion that injuries were caused by the rampaging sheep:

A woman was also injured, but Mr Fagan denied reports it was the fault of the sheep. "A lady who was watching stood back, and caught her heel on something and fell backwards ... it wasn't as if she was caught in a stampede or anything."

It seems the catastrophe could have been precipitated by the media itself:

Mr Fagan said a photographer jumped out in front of the first lot of sheep, scaring them.

"Once you turn them, it's hard to get them going again ... we were in a fair bit of trouble out there."

And 3 News itself report that:

What started as a trickle rapidly became a flood, and with the barrier down Te Kuiti's Sheep Run began to look very much like its Spanish counterpart. ...A short distance away things were going from bad to worse.
Musterers and the odd 3 News reporter tried to stem the flow, but the sheep were not for the turning. All semblance of order completely broke down, the sheep crossing the main road and the train tracks heading into the hills.

Could the media's intervention have been the trigger for this out-of-control stampede causing injury to the crowd? Was the photographer from the press? Is this another case of not just reporting news, but making the news?

Meanwhile TVNZ reported:

With thousands of ewes and a party atmosphere, Te Kuiti was the place to be. Even the head shepherd, or own PM John Key, couldn't miss the world's largest sheep run, making time to attend the event

But the PM's presence and the party atmosphere were apparently insufficient to prevent the ensuing affray.

Lid dip Tim Blair

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