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No story here, says Miss New Zealand pageant

Apr '07
The domestic media coverage over a 2005 incident involving Laural Barrett, 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 Australian 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.

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