I’d heard about the Close Up interview with Fairfax’s recently departed Sunday Star Times About Town gossip columnist Bridget Saunders. It looked like it was a bit of a hit-job.
The last place I would have thought to see it was on Fairfax owned Stuff. I found the link to the video from the homepage – just beneath the banner.
The video itself has a one line article attached – leading me to infer that this is just one of many pulled over from TVNZ:
I understand that Bridget has made a few people uncomfortable over the years, and I guess TVNZ relished the chance to do a bit of an ambush on her. Close Up asked her bluntly about plastic surgery (yes botox), whether she had slept with a married politician (no married man ever) and whether she was fired or chose to leave (she called the meeting). To her credit she answered all the questions, though it was clearly a difficult interview for her, and the editing room did her no favours at all.
I think it was a bit over the top by TVNZ, but I guess I can understand that they wanted ratings. However the interview was amateurish – confronting Bridget with unsubstantiated gossip instead of substantiated facts, and thatapproach backfired for me as it looked like TVNZ was trying to smear Bridget, and she came across as very human and open.
It wasn’t journalism though – it was a fishing expedition, and they came home with an empty bucket. For Bridget, well I guess that’s part of the game of being a gossip columnist – you get to take some licks as well as give them. Shame on you TVNZ though – you could have done a lot better.
But I feel strongly that Fairfax, through Stuff, overstepped the mark tonight by placing this online, and by linking to it from the front page.
Bridget is not only a former Fairfax writer, but Stuff itself publishes Bridget’s work in her About Town blog. You can still read the blog – with the last post on 6 May – yet sadly there was no goodbye from Bridget.
I’m guessing (hoping) that the night editors at Stuff just grabbed the TVNZ videos and placed them on the site.The ‘article’ is just the video description. I’m hoping they didn’t realise that Bridget was in their shoes a week earlier.
The video even ends with a victory salutation to the new Queen of gossip – who works for rival APN’s NZHerald.
I have absolutely no idea about the circumstances surrounding Bridget’s departure and I’m not too clear on how you balance the news-worthiness of an item versus loyalty to your own contributors. I believe that publishing this was unintentional, but this is unacceptable to Bridget, and must raise questions amongst other Fairfax staff and contributors.
Whatever the cause, the effect of seeing this on Stuff must be pretty rough on Bridget, who could feel that Fairfax is disowning her with prejudice. That’s not a nice way to end a seven year relationship.
I feel for her. I did meet Bridget once or twice during my tenure at Fairfax and she was delightful. I wish her luck in her new venture – writing a book on bad sex.
Oh – and I think it would be wise for those with sharp knives to remember that being included in a gossip column is a minor inconvenience compared to a starring role in a book on bad sex.
Our decision to publish this video was entirely conscious. As a well-known public figure in her own right, Bridget has become the story in this case. I think the interview was well-handled by TVNZ and certainly made compelling viewing.
You seem to think it unacceptable that we publish a video that makes news of one of our own bloggers. I disagree. The opposite would be true – it would be unacceptable to give someone special treatment because they are aligned to us. Objectivity is a basic requirement for journalists. While the trials and tribulations of gossip queens may not be the most important news in the world, it is still a legitimate story and of interest to readers. We shouldn’t show favouritism to someone in these circumstances just because we know them.
Bridget’s blog hasn’t come to an end either. She’ll be posting shortly. And while I do not know how she feels about this clip, I am sure she understands that those in the news cannot always choose how they are portrayed.
Fairfax Digital Editor
Thanks for clarifying this Sinead. I am glad that this was a decision that you thought about, and as always I will take guidance on what is the right thing to do editorially.
It is tough on Bridget though.
Little wonder your organisation is losing money hand over fist Sinead.
On one hand Bridget seems to have quit the column yet she is somehow staying as a blogger? How? And why hasn’t she blogged since quitting?
She’s quit the column so wasn’t “aligned” to you at all. You ahve kept her blog up when she no longer works for you.
And how do you comment on Rachel Glucina’s allegation she was approached to write About Town BEFORE Saunders seems to have quit?
Either Rachel is a big fat liar and Fairfax should sue her, or Fairfax is. For all the tripe Glucina writes in this instance I gather she may very well be telling the truth.
Usually when people like Saunders get their comeuppance they have upset one too many people one too many times. I find her a plastic airhead and found the interview compelling train-crash TV viewing, it was so awful. But unlike you Lance I think it was awful because she is.
Well there is no way Fairfax are going to fess up to being in the wrong over posting the piece on Bridget, just not going to happen. I think Fairfax have definitely not treated Briget with respect in this situation.
I am also aware of how politcal her column would have been viewed by many of the editorial staff in the building, with many not thinking she was credible or a worthwhile contributr to the paper at all.
But lets be honest she did more for the Sunday Star-Times profile than any other contributer which was the reason they employed her, I think The Sunday Star-Times have made a big mistake not trying to keep her.
I know from working in that building in the past that when contributers and editorial staff have been in the public eye/facing court action in regards to their work or unwanted press themselves that they have definitely been supported by Fairfax and not written about. I have seen this first hand myself. I also know that when Bridget went through similar difficulties with all the stress of being a gossip coloumist and the grief you get from that Fairfax did not support her at all.
It seems very odd that Siobhan states Bridget is still writing the blog, yet there has not been any blog written since Bridget left. Is she sure Bridget is still working for them? I hope she is. I am sure out of all the bloggers she would get the most amount of hits. I remember seeing over 130 comments on some of her stories.
So Let’s hope “The Sunday Star-Times” do retain Bridget in some way blogging at least, and also try and do the right thing by her in the future. The least they can do is send her some flowers and give her a call to explain themselves to her.
But I doubt they will. Not good press for the paper to turn on one of their own.
This makes me so mad. You see it time and time again in New Zealand. Sad and insure, narrow-minded New Zealand media ripping the shit out of individuals and possibly – ignorantly? Unknowingly? Standing up for the bad guy. Metro do it with every sick and sad little issue.
I wish you well Bridget.
Bridget’s amazingly bad enhancements look freakish in real life yet she’s been denying cosmetic surgery for years. I have seen it for myself and it looks like she’s had everything done and more since then.
bridget saunders is a sweetest person I have known in my life,regarding plastic work,she was born beautiful and whith time only tried to mantain her looks,if that includes botox,fat,and colagen injections so what is the big deal.UGLY people do it all the time so why the beautiful can not?I have payed the price for beeing beautiful and has ruined my life and I am speaking as a closest ex-best friend. BAMBINA
as you may know Bridget ,s orrigin is from the uk Laindon in Essex UK it appears i am related
through my wife maiden name Pilgrem through to Saunders mothers name McComack my wife,s aunt so Bridgit is an “Essex” girl,We would like to know any up date of her life and possible contact
if you can help,Regards Ian Goodchild
Bridget is a very sweet person. I emailed her out of the blue about a problem and she was very compassionate even though there was nothing in it for her.
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