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Foreign media in New Zealand attack beauty queen 

Val and I decided we had to issue an extra release on to foreign . This has not had wide distribution, nor does it need to. We just needed to explain the local and the , and show that The Press’s foreign masters have no reason to be patriotic.
   Laural has told me that the radio talkback people are mostly on her side, telling the to ‘leave me alone’. It shows how out of touch The Press is, but with its HQ in Sydney, I am not surprised.

Foreign media in New Zealand attack beauty queen
No story here, says Miss Universe New Zealand pageant

Wellington, April 5 (JY&A Media) Today’s domestic over a 2005 incident involving , the newly crowned Miss Universe New Zealand 2007, is a ‘non-event’, according to judge and Lucire publisher Jack Yan, speaking on behalf of the pageant.
   He says that it was no surprise to find a story today trying to discredit Miss Barrett in The Press, a Christchurch-based newspaper owned by media group Fairfax.
   Mr Yan believes that Miss Barrett was targeted by parties who feel that beauty pageants are politically incorrect.
   ‘I’ve spoken to Laural Barrett today, and she has handled this like a seasoned media professional. The anti-pageant crowd has failed again.’
   Mr Yan says the negative press has proved that Laural Barrett is not only the right Miss New Zealand, she is potentially the right Miss Universe.
   He explains that New Zealand and Australia have a cultural quirk called the ‘tall poppy syndrome’. The story needs to be considered in its light to avoid being libellous, according to both Mr Yan and pageant director Val Lott, currently on leave.
   Mr Yan says that any New Zealander familiar with the syndrome will recognize the story for what it is, but is worried that those outside the country will read in impropriety where there is none.
   ‘[The syndrome] is where someone who stands out is criticized and compelled to merge into mediocrity,’ he explains. ‘It exists less and less, but tends to get propagated, almost exclusively, by foreign-owned media in New Zealand.
   Mr Yan equates the syndrome to in Scandinavian countries, especially Denmark and Sweden.
   The Press had revealed an incident in 2005 where it was alleged that Miss Barrett had mistakenly given away a pair of shoes while working at a retailer, but had worded it to sensationalize the matter.
   ‘If you were 18 and under duress, then it is not hard for a corporation to make you look bad.
   ‘No charges were laid because she was innocent, and whether The Press likes it or not, in New Zealand, it’s not about guilty till proved innocent.
   ‘Any normal New Zealander will appreciate that fact.’
   Mr Yan says that international media and the need to take care in reporting the story.
   ‘The Miss Universe Organization should think of this as a moment,’ he says, referring to a recent incident where TV talk show host Rosie O’Donnell attacked Miss Universe pageant owner .
   ‘At the end of the day, this was a minor story by a foreign-owned newspaper,’ says Mr Yan. ‘The Press would probably be far happier doing a story fêting Jennifer Hawkins,’ he says, referring to a former Miss Australia and Miss Universe 2004.
   ‘Circulation of newspapers is generally falling, and just as Fairfax chose to republish the Mohammed cartoons last year, it has chosen to publish a non-story this year.’
   He says the incident must be embarrassing for The Press, as he and Ms Lott have heard from New Zealand businesses that have immediately taken Miss Barrett’s side.
   ‘I think the Fairfax Press has alienated potential advertisers today and that seems to have been the first consequence.
   ‘The second consequence is that they have proven that Laural Barrett is a discerning young woman, and have provided her with even more grounding to be the next Miss Universe.
   ‘I won’t go so far as to thank them, but it’s certainly helped Laural,’ says Mr Yan.

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