Friday, December 17, 2021

Why I'm no longer compiling the Five-Minute Quiz

For the past sixteen and a half years I’ve contributed a daily quiz to Stuff. It’s called the Five-Minute Quiz and although it wasn’t originally my creation, I was asked to take it over in May 2005. Since then I’ve written roughly 50,000 questions.

I originally contributed the Five-Minute Quiz solely to the Dominion Post (I was given the gig by the then editor Tim Pankhurst, who has long since gone from the scene) but it was later picked up by other papers in the Stuff group, from Hamilton to Invercargill. (It shouldn’t be confused with Stuff’s online quiz, which has nothing to do with me. The Five-Minute Quiz appears only in print publications.)

It would be fair to say the quiz has acquired a very substantial following, though I’ve never quite understood why. It’s a daily ritual in thousands of homes and workplaces. Devotees include judges, professors, cops, farmers, public servants and trades people (who I’ve heard will often ring each other at smoko time to compare scores and brag when they’ve done well).

The quiz was sponsored for some time by Massey University, whose name appeared at the top each day. But Massey had nothing to do with the content; I guess they just saw it was popular and wanted to take some of the credit.

The authorship of the quiz, while hardly a state secret, has never been publicly disclosed. I preferred to remain anonymous because for much of the time that I compiled the quiz I also wrote opinion columns for papers in the Stuff group. Not all readers agreed with my opinions and I didn’t want the quiz to suffer because of any opprobrium I might have incurred as a result of my writing. I was always careful to ensure the quiz remained strictly non-political.

Anyway, the reason I’m outing myself now is that my last quizzes will appear next week. I’ve told Stuff that I no longer want to be associated with a company whose editorial values and policies are at odds with mine. Whether or not the quiz will continue is up to them.

For me, it’s the end of an association with the Dominion Post that dates back to 1962, when I became a Dominion delivery boy in Waipukurau. That association continued through several stints as a journalist and editorial executive for both the Evening Post (the “Post” in Dominion Post) and The Dominion, of which I was editor from 1989 till 1992.  

The better part of my career as a journalist was spent on those two papers. I look back fondly on much of that time, but I’m severing the connection with no regrets. The Dominion Post as it exists now bears little resemblance to the titles it evolved from, and which I was proud to work for.

I should finish by saying there’s a possibility that the quiz will reappear elsewhere – most likely online – under a new name.

24 comments:

LNF said...

I have bought publications - Dominion / Evening Post / Dompost since the 70's
Every day for at least the last 2 years I have basically flicked through, looked at most of the infantile columns and asked myself, "why do I pay for this rubbish" Pure habit. New Years resolution. Cancel my subscription

Brendan McNeill said...

Good Morning Karl

I was not a reader of the newspapers that hosted your quiz, but I just wanted to take a moment to congratulate you on your principled stand. It may seem like a small thing to many readers, but these are exactly the kind of actions that must be taken by New Zealanders in order to improve our cultural and political landscape.

No doubt you have incurred some financial loss following your decision. There is a price to be paid for taking a principled stand, as all those who have lost employment following the vaccine mandates can attest. There are three members of my immediate family who believed the New Zealand bill of rights bestowed upon them the freedom to refuse a medical procedure, and were prepared to suffer loss of employment, rather than submit to coercion.

Different circumstances, but a stand on principle that came at a significant personal cost.

I trust your example, and that of others will encourage fellow Kiwis to make similar stands when their values are being compromised.

All the very best.
Brendan

Max Ritchie said...

I subscribed to the Post and the Dom when I lived in Wellington, for many years. Excellent newspapers. I enjoyed the company of Mike Robson, Bill Kelso and many others from the admin and news staff. The Stuff content is rubbish. “The science is settled” for example. I moved to Auckland and after many frustrating years cancelled the Herald too. Owned by Wilson and Horton it was a good paper. Sadly it is now close to Stuff in quality. Good on you, Karl.

Anna Mouse said...

I have subscribed to The Press since 2002. I no longer do so for the same reason as you Karl.

Ian Baugh said...

This is a quandary. I’ve been reading the Herald since 1960 (in the reading room at Northland College!) and three weeks ago canceled my digital subscription, sick of click bait, and being told, not just the news but what to think about the news. And with big chunks missing as well. But now I’m a free loaders I can’t read most stories, since most of them are Premium, or the columns I actually value. I’ve looked around but can’t find anything better, so what can I do but hold my nose and pay?

Johno said...

Well done, I applaud your stance.

Max Ritchie said...

Get over it, Ian. You’ll find that many of the columns wend their way into the public domain eventually or are not worth it anyway. Try the The Times if you really must have a newspaper.

Hilary Taylor said...

Ive remarked before that I still subscribe to the Press...ChCh is a big village and there's local news I prefer to know. But yeah..like Ian I hold my nose & skip plenty. LIbraries hold the dailies of course...

Well done Karl...principle matters. I don't seem to be a person who goes in for the quizzes & puzzles...someone convinced me I MUST do codecracker...left me cold. I'll check yours out now while it lasts...

Trev1 said...

Like you Karl I was a delivery boy for the Evening Post and also the Dominion Sunday Times in the early 60s. I had been a lifelong subscriber until 2 years ago when something finally snapped. The level of journalism is appalling, the Far Left and Woke biases totally in your face. Good luck with the new platform and I applaud your decision.

K said...

I have got the 'premium' Herald sub down to to $1 a week. Worth it just to read Richard Prebble and Steven Joyce as they appear.

Hilary Taylor said...

Interesting K...perhaps I should let my Stuff sub go and see what comes out in the wash...

David said...

Talk about coincidence. I was about to ask you, Karl, if you still did the Quiz.

It's been a popular daily event at a number of places where I've worked. At one, it was very competitive. I am very smug about my general knowledge. One day, the office Quizmaster started: "In what year did Doctor...." and I interrupted: "November 23 1963, the same day Kennedy was assassinated." The Quizmaster looked startled as I had completed the not-even-half-asked question as well as answered it, not just with the year but the date. Ultra Smug was I. Insufferable.

Sorry to see you giving it up, Karl, but I can understand why. The reason I'd been about to ask if you still authored it was a thought that the current management of Stuff would not like your opinions on some subjects and might Cancel you. This way, you have Cancelled them! Kia kaha.



pdm said...

Pleased to learn you were not involved in the Stuff on line quick quiz. Morning and afternoon
I use it to keep my mind at least semi working - some may say otherwise.

Two clangers from them in recent months:
1. They moved Martinborough to Wellington - I suspect because it is within Wellington Regional Council boundaries.
2. They moved the Kaweka Ranges from Hawkes Bay to Bay Of Plenty. No logical or even illogical reason for that.

Chris Morris said...

Sorry you will no longer be doing the quiz. I have cut back my daily paper to just Saturday and have realised the main reason I get it is the quiz and puzzles. Could be Stuff loses another subscriber.

Gary Moller said...

Good on you, Karl!

Karl du Fresne said...

pdm,
I learned long ago never to trust reporters' arithmetic or knowledge of geography. The latter has become noticeably worse over the years despite the current generation of journalists being the most educated in history (on paper, at least).
One thing I've noticed more and more is that younger journalists - which means virtually all of them these days - seem incapable of distinguishing geographical places from local government entities. So you'll often see a story saying something happened (for example) in Masterton or Hastings when in fact it was nowhere near those towns, but happened to be within the area covered by the Masterton or Hastings district councils. I sometimes wonder whether the journalists writing these stories have ever ventured beyond their own city limits. I also wonder whether they realise the people living in these places scoff with contempt when they see such errors.

Zoroforever said...

How did you do that?

Chris said...

Well done for your stand Karl.

pdm said...

Karl

I have noticed that grass fires and mot vehicle accidents both occur regularly miles away from the location reported - if you know the area even a bit.

Andy Espersen said...

You write, "I have told STUFF that I no longer want to be associated with a company whose editorials, values and policies are at odds with mine".

STUFF will not publish your letter to them. I wish somebody else would!!

Karl du Fresne said...

Andy,
Just to be clear, my notification to Stuff that I was quitting was not intended for publication.

Colin said...

Go to your local library and ask then to register you for the Press Reader. This app will allow you to read the actual print edition of the paper. Doesn't work for the Press or DomPost, but gives you hundreds of papers and magazines around the world.

swordfish said...

As a lifelong Left voter (with the exception of moving into non-voting at the last Election) ... I have to say that Stuff has become unreadable ID politics garbage & Radio New Zealand (the only radio broadcaster I ever listened to) has swiftly descended into equally dire territory ... a relentless onslaught of repetitive dogma from a Woke cult drawn disproportionately from a highly privileged strata of Society. Dangerous fantasists.

The romanticisation (bordering on sacralization) & closely-associated paternalistic infantilisation of anyone who happens to have at least a modicum of Māori heritage is extraordinary ... all the more so given the outrageous situation that my parents have been forced to endure for 4 years ... https://sub-zero-politics.blogspot.com/2021/11/kianga-ora-scandal-my-parents-situation.html ... and the similar nightmare scenarios that other neighbours of Kainga Ora tenants have lived with throughout urban New Zealand. The perpetarators are clearly overwhelmingly Underclass Māori Men, often (but not always) associated with gangs. Apart from the Kainga Ora scandal, you only have to look at Justice Dept stats to see who is disproportionately inflicting violence & intimidation on innocent people. The Professional Middle Class Woke are little more than enablers & apologists for this violence, while bravely ensuring they live as far away as possible from the mayhem they're creating in previously peaceful, law-abiding streets & neighbourhoods.

Clearly a vicious scapegoating of low & low-middle income non-Māori by an affluent Pakeha Woke cadre that disproportionately financially benefited from colonisation. For all their ostentatious moral posturing, these are some of the most ruthlessly self-interested people you're likely to meet. Utterly bereft of basic morals & ethics. In many key respects, the antithesis of the Left I grew up with.

Unknown said...

Thankyou Karl an excellent summary of 12 months of constitutional terrorism, by one of the most articulate of a desperately small band of the sane and unafraid.

Ted Money