Posted by BE on November 19th, 2014
In an ideal world good men and good women would be elected to government; the best would achieve high office and a few the highest office in the land. New Zealand, still one of the least politically corrupt nations in the world, may well have come closer to that ideal in the past than many other developed countries.
In the sixties the arrival of television in New Zealand complicated this simple equation. The largely impersonal relationship between voter and politician, limited mainly to town hall election meetings and radio broadcasts, was gradually displaced by the intimacy of the television close-up and the advent of the increasingly personal and probing political television interview.
In one sense this was for the public good. Television had the potential to reveal the cracks not only in the politicians’ policies and claims but in the facade of personal virtue which they hoped to project. The small screen was and remains a more effective lie-detector than radio or the town-hall meeting. It exemplifies the dictum that a picture is worth a thousand words.
But television in the 21st century is also first and foremost an entertainment medium. Those who appear on it are required to engage their audience, to hold their attention, to perform. As my colleague Ian Fraser once put it, “to act themselves”. If indeed it ever was, being a good person is no longer enough. You have to look good as well.
Whether being good and looking good, whether being yourself and acting yourself are entirely compatible is not something I want to canvass here. But I do know that if you don’t “come across” on television, your chances of political success are greatly and quite possibly fatally reduced. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on November 17th, 2014
My Cook Island friend Bill Carruthers sent me this. I’m not sure how widely publicised the clip has already been but I thought it was absolutely wonderful. Enjoy and be amazed:
Posted by BE on November 13th, 2014
Under the editorship of Shayne Currie the New Zealand Herald has been transformed from a quality newspaper into little better than a trash tabloid.
I need to be a little more precise here. Mr Currie has responsibility primarily for the Monday-to-Friday Herald and it is to those editions that my remarks apply.
The Weekend Herald, which appears on Saturday, is edited by David Hastings. (*See correction below.) The Sunday Herald is edited by Miriyana Alexander whose function appears to be to make even the Monday-to-Friday Herald look good. It is a wretched publication.
Now if Mr Currie or Ms Alexander had the slightest interest in Brian Edwards’ opinion of their papers – which they certainly haven’t – they would reply that their circulation figures and the Qantas and Canon media awards on their office shelves tell a different story. In those terms they are extremely successful publications. And they would be right.
My only comment would be that tabloid trash and high circulation go together in pretty well every Western democracy and that there are so many media awards and so few major newspapers in New Zealand that it is almost impossible not to have accumulated several shelves-full.
Shayne and Miriyana would therefore be entirely within their rights to dismiss me as a journalism snob. But we journalism snobs have hearts and we are entitled to mourn the loss of the quality publication that the Herald once was. We are consoled by the excellent Weekend Herald, but there are signs that the populist wolf is already sniffing at the door there too. Read the rest of this entry »