Machinery failure affects NZ Herald publication

The last time the New Zealand Herald’s
pun machine broke down

There were delays in the publication and distribution of this morning’s edition of the New Zealand Herald, after one of the newspaper’s machines broke down overnight.

Today’s edition of the paper did not hit the news stands until late this morning, after the machinery problem caused a delay in printing.

Chief editor Tim Murphy confirmed that the machinery problem had caused chaos, and had pushed back the newspaper’s printing schedule by almost four hours.

“Our pun machine broke down,” said Murphy. “It left our sub-editors unable to generate any headlines for our news stories.

“They were left sitting at their desks in bewilderment, not knowing what to do with themselves.”

Murphy said the machine was reaching the end of its lifespan and would need to be replaced soon.

“We had hoped to get another year or so out of it. But the strain of a week and a bit of Peter Dunne pun headlines must have been too much for it.

“We’ve rigged up a temporary fix, but God help us if the Prime Minister decides to retire to become a locksmith, or if the Hutt South MP gets injured while duck-shooting.”

The country’s ageing pun machine infrastructure has been blamed for a number of other recent media failures. The puns produced on a daily basis by the nation’s elderly machines are usually worn and stale; but the more modern, actually clever models are expensive and difficult to get hold of.

Mediaworks’ pun machine, which was shared by TV3 and a number of radio stations, had to be replaced earlier this year, after it stopped working altogether.

The breakdown caused chaos to the network’s newsrooms, and made it impossible for sports journalists to report on any defeats suffered by the Auckland Blues rugby team.

Replacing the machine cost Mediaworks tens of thousands of dollars, and the financial burden proved too much for the company, which went into receivership this week.

The demise of the weekly newspaper The Truth has also been blamed on an elderly pun machine.

The Truth’s owners this week announced that the paper would cease publishing.

“The pun machine they used was stuffed,” said the paper’s editor, Cameron Slater.

”In the end I just couldn’t make it work.

“I spent hours every day inputting data into the machine, in the hope that it would return a clever pun headline to describe whichever Labour Party trougher I was targeting at the time,” said Slater.

“Instead the machine would spit back random words and phrases, like ‘Chinese ladies’, ‘giant melons’, ‘naughty vicar’, or ‘a nice pair’.

“It’s all the fault of that confounded machine!”

Meanwhile, the New Zealand Herald has put in place contingency plans, in case its pun machine fails again.

“We’ve got Jim Hopkins on stand-by,” said editor Tim Murphy.

“Obviously, we’re praying for the sake of our readers that he’s not required.”