In an email to the Spinoff, Barney McDonald says In Plain Sight investigation misrepresents the magazine, the men at its helm, and amounts to ‘sensationalist click-bait’.
Barney McDonald, the former editor of Auckland culture magazine Pavement, has written to the Spinoff renewing and expanding upon his earlier response to In plain sight: behind the pages of Pavement magazine, a story published on the site more than a month ago. The investigation centred on the experiences of three women who modelled in the magazine and their encounters with McDonald and two of his senior colleagues.
Their stories included allegations of sexual harassment, being given drugs and alcohol on set, and, in the case of Karl Pierard, a sexual relationship with a model who was 15 years old. One woman, Olivia, recalled McDonald asking her to sleep with him before a lingerie shoot in his bedroom, and again after she had declined. Another woman, Darcy, who had also modelled for the magazine, told The Spinoff that McDonald gave her drugs at an Auckland nightclub and “stuck his tongue down my throat”.
In McDonald’s email, addressed to Spinoff managing editor Duncan Greive and running to 1,100 words (you can read it in full here, and the earlier responses here), McDonald complains that the piece “lumps the three Pavement associates together, as though there was a conspiracy among us to use our so-called ‘power’ in order to be ‘predatory’ towards young women”.
McDonald goes on to question the balance in the story, to accuse its authors of a pre-determined “damning narrative” and questions the decision to grant anonymity to the women quoted: “Why weren’t the girls willing to use their real names?”
The story, McDonald argues, is “sensationalist” and “click bait”. He adds: “The feedback I’ve received about the story – from industry folk, colleagues, former staff, models and contributors alike – has been overwhelmingly negative towards your site’s eagerness to engage in sensationalist, highly unbalanced reporting at the expense of fairness and integral truth. This is not good, credible journalism, and it doesn’t help anyone, least of all those with legitimate grievances.”
McDonald’s email concludes: “None of us ‘used Pavement to be predatory towards young girls’ – as alleged by one of the women.
“We used Pavement to promote exciting culture, discover and develop new talent, add excitement and energy to the times we were publishing in, and generally inspire everyone who worked on the magazine or read it. By doing so, we presented advertisers with an exemplary environment and culture in which to market their brand or product. And we did bloody well at it. Nothing you’ve run on your site will take that away from any of the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who helped make Pavement this country’s ‘coolest’ magazine.”
The Spinoff stands by its story.