Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Tube Talk: Showbiz 'Aint News, TVNZ

TUBE TALK: a weekly television review

with John T. Forde

Let's speak plainly ­- TVNZ's news and current affairs are a joke. Last week's fawning coverage of Bill Clinton's Auckland visit demonstrated just how banal, poorly researched and trashily focused our TV reporting has become.

Since the deregulation of the television industry, news and current affairs have become a ratings game, where the personalities of the newsreaders have become as important as the stories they deliver. Paul Holmes was our first big Journalist-as-Celebrity, but "Sunday" host Mike Hoskings (once a reputable radio journalist) seems likely to surpass him in terms of sheer egomania.

The modern news story favours drama and immediacy over commentary or research. Who needs to know about the history or context of a story when you¹ve got a close-up of a crying victim, or a reporter standing outside Parliament to look up-to-the-minute?

Last week, ex-US president Bill Clinton came to town to speak at an $800 per ticket promotional dinner for BMWs. (Ironically enough, the Dalai Lama was speaking in Wellington that same night, with the considerably smaller entry fee of $15).

Hang on ­- a former President hawking cars? Not the same President who had sex with an intern in the White House, ordered a disastrous peacekeeping mission in Somalia, and was almost impeached by his own Senate? Yep, that's him.

The opportunities for informed commentary were rife, and TVNZ missed all of them. "One News" lead its evening news coverage that night with a fawning, celeb-obsessed report about the Clinton dinner straight out of "Hello" magazine.

With no press release on hand, the reporter couldn't even tell us what Bubba was talking about. Instead, we got the inside scoop on the all-black décor, the dinner menu, and news of the $20,000-a-ticket cocktail party beforehand. How fabulous.

By contrast, Britain's "Guardian" website commented on Bubba's habit of charging megabucks for rambling, poorly researched speeches-for-hire in China and Japan. "Mr Clinton's chutzpah in collecting his [US$250,000] fee without doing any homework has been widely noted," it reported.

Did our media attempt this kind of critical analysis? No. Because our cultural cringe is still apparently so strong that we'll prostrate themselves in front of a celebrity ­- any celebrity ­- and call it news.

I¹m sure the Clinton story was cold comfort for the 400 workers laid off at Tokoroa's pulp-and-paper mill last week. Why wasn't TVNZ doing follow-up stories on how the redundancies were affecting families, or whether the workers were being re-employed by the multi-national company who own the plant? Because tabloid stories about rich pricks at flash dinners makes better copy. Because unless it involves sex, crime, the Royals, or kidnapped babies, TVNZ doesn¹t follow stories past a 2-minute soundbite. Sorry, Tokoroa - you've passed your newsworthiness use-by date.

TV journalists should report the news, not be the news, and leave celeb trash to the tabloids and women's mags. Until we switch off - or demand better coverage ­- we'll become as shallow and brain-dead as the people we call our broadcasters.

tubetalk@nzoomail.com


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Binoy Kampmark: The Major Questions Doctrine: The US Supreme Court Blunts The EPA
The US Supreme Court has been frantically busy of late, striking down law and legislation with an almost crazed, ideological enthusiasm. Gun laws have been invalidated; Roe v Wade and constitutional abortion rights, confined to history. And now, the Environmental Protection Agency has been clipped of its powers in a 6-3 decision.
The June 30 decision of West Virginia v Environmental Protection Agency was something of a shadow boxing act... More>>


Ian Powell: Are we happy living in Handy's Age of Unreason?

On 19 June the Sunday Star Times published my column on the relationship between the Labour government’s stewardship of Aotearoa New Zealand’s health system and the outcome of the next general election expected to be around September-October 2023: Is the health system an electoral sword of Damocles for Labour... More>>


The First Attack On The Independents: Albanese Hobbles The Crossbench
It did not take long for the new Australian Labor government to flex its muscle foolishly in response to the large crossbench of independents and small party members of Parliament. Despite promising a new age of transparency and accountability after the election of May 21, one of the first notable acts of the Albanese government was to attack the very people who gave voice to that movement. Dangerously, old party rule, however slim, is again found boneheaded and wanting... More>>


Dunne Speaks: Roe V. Wade Blindsides National

Momentum is everything in politics, but it is very fragile. There are times when unexpected actions can produce big shifts and changes in the political landscape. In 2017, for example, the Labour Party appeared headed for another hefty defeat in that year’s election until the abrupt decision of its then leader to step aside just weeks before the election. That decision changed the political landscape and set in train the events which led to Labour being anointed by New Zealand First to form a coalition government just a few weeks later... More>>

Digitl: Infrastructure Commission wants digital strategy
Earlier this month Te Waihanga, New Zealand’s infrastructure commission, tabled its first Infrastructure Strategy: Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa. Te Waihanga describes its document as a road map for a thriving New Zealand... More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Leaking For Roe V Wade
The US Supreme Court Chief Justice was furious. For the first time in history, the raw judicial process of one of the most powerful, and opaque arms of government, had been exposed via media – at least in preliminary form. It resembled, in no negligible way, the publication by WikiLeaks of various drafts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership... More>>