Brian Edwards Media

If The Aussies Can Do It, Why Can’t We? [From Sunny Sydney]

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The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has a weekly 10-minute media commentary programme called Media Watch. On this week’s programme host Jonathan Holmes had fun with a Channel 10 reporter who referred to the ‘crucification’ of Jesus Christ, which Holmes called ‘an excellent example of the gradual crucifixion of the English language’, and a female ABC newsreader who, referring to ‘Maoist rebels in central India’, pronounced the word ‘Maoist’ as ‘may-o-ist’. Holmes gleefully pointed out that Chairman Mao had been around for quite a long time and was pretty well known and this wasn’t how his name was pronounced.

In the next story the ABC was castigated for failing to properly conceal the addresses of petitioners on behalf of a transsexual man who was fighting for the right to have the gender on his birth certificate changed. To make matters worse,  the channel had also failed to properly conceal his address, leaving him terrified of sightseers or other undesirables coming to his home.

In the third story, the victims of a drive-by shooting who asked a camera crew to leave their property, then got aggressive when the camera crew refused to leave, were secretly filmed  telling the reporter they would ‘fix him up’. They were subsequently vilified for their behaviour on the programme. Holmes quite properly pointed out that the family were the victims of the drive-by shooting who were naturally nervous about being attacked again and certainly did not want their home shown on television. But the programme had treated them as though they were the villains. He dismissed the reporter’s response that her crew was ‘just there to help’ as the nonsense that it was.

But it was the final item on the programme that was most telling.  A young Muslim man, accused of rioting, had been released from court on bail. As he was leaving the court with his father, a Channel 7 cameraman pushed a camera into the young man’s face and started filming. The father very politely asked the cameraman to ‘please stop’. The camera was then turned on the father, while the son walked off down the road. The father continued to ask the cameraman to ‘Please stop. Please leave us alone.’ The son called out, ‘You’ve got me already. You’ve got may face. Now please go away.’ Father and son then crossed to the other side of the road. The camera crew followed and shoved the camera in the father’s face again. He made several more pleas for them to stop and leave him and his son alone. They start to walk away. The cameraman is then heard saying, ‘Fuck off then.’ The father returns and asks, ‘What did you say?  Did you tell me to fuck off? You can’t do that.’ He starts to walk away again. The cameraman is heard to say, ‘Fucking terrorist.’ The son hears this and comes back and starts to yell at the cameraman. His language his understandably fairly ripe, but the thrust of what he has to say is utterly reasonable. His father has been an Australian citizen for more than 20 years. In that time he has never seen the inside of a courtroom. How dare you call him a terrorist. And he repeats several times, ‘Is this what it’s come to?  Is this what it’s come to?’ All in all, the father asked the cameraman 25 times to ‘Please stop.’

What is really dreadful about his episode, more dreadful than what the cameraman said, is that Channel 7 did not show the events leading up to the father’s anger or the son’s outburst. A Channel 7 viewer would have been left with the impression that these were typical, bloody aggressive Muslims.

The Channel was exposed because the whole scene had been filmed by Channel 9 which did not broadcast the item at all, but supplied the footage to the ABC.

The cameraman, whose name is Simon Fuller, has been stood down following an investigation by Channel 7. I have no doubt that he should be sacked, as should the programme’s editor or producer.

All this in 10 minutes. Wonderful television.

I recall at the hearings into a third television channel many years ago asking Hugh Rennie, then Chair of the BCNZ, this question: ‘TVNZ has a programme called I Like That One Two. Does it have a programme called, I Don’t Like That One At All?’ The answer, as I knew, was No.

Television New Zealand – the state broadcaster – has been remiss in not having a programme like the ABC’s Media Watch since it abandoned Fourth Estate a lifetime ago. Television, generally considered to be the most powerful of the media, has a corresponding obligation to look critically at itself. Russell Brown’s excellent Media 7 programme is a welcome addition to the TVNZ schedules, but it takes the form of a debate rather than offering straight television or media criticism. So let’s bring back Fourth Estate or maybe something called View From The Couch. I’d be a contributor, and I can think of a dozen others who would too. How about it?

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21 Comments:

  1. Could you also dish out suitable punishment to the perpetrators of these irresponsible actions.I always enjoy listening to mediawatch on RNZ .I guess watching them squirm on tv may be punishment enough.The sooner the better!

    • Could you also dish out suitable punishment to the perpetrators of these irresponsible actions.

      Yes. Clearly the Australian programme has considerabe clout, at least in exposing this appalling form of journalistic intimidation and dishonesty. The media, there and here, like to talk about a public ‘right to know’. But other than in the case of elected public officials or examples of crime or dishonesty, I can find no real defence for the idea of such a ‘right to know’.

  2. Bring back the Brians Priestly & Edwards. They could have alternate items.
    “Over to you Brian.”
    “Thankyou Brian. On Closeup last week, there was nearly a moment when an important topic was nearly addressed but….”
    I believe that Media Watch on Sunday mornings National Radio, has a keen following. And they do take on important Media issues. A TV Media Watch could even go so far as to scrutanise some of the significant political untruths. Yeah right!

    • Bring back the Brians Priestly & Edwards. They could have alternate items.

      Mr Priestley is sady long gone. And note that his names is spelled with a second ‘e’. A delightful man, but I remember his getting quite irate when I spelled his name somewhere as ‘Priestly’. He was, he said, ‘not priestly’.

  3. Yes, please.

    I recently helped out shooting some material on a beach in Wellington. A TV3 cameraman was shooting footage of sunbathers and young families enjoying a rare day of sunshine. When i asked him why he was shooting the footage, he told me it was to accompany an announcement that evening about the government’s changes to its DPB policy.

    What message does sunbathing families send to the New Zealand public about recipients of the Domestic Purposes Benefit?

    * Your tax dollars are paying for this?
    * While you work, your tax dollars help families get tanned?
    * Look at these bludgers working on their tans with your tax dollars?
    * Our changes to the DPB will ensure this never happens in future?

    I used to teach Media and Film, i would love to have used this in class. Beneficiary bashing aside, i’m appalled at the way the media is seemingly constantly loading televisual images pejoratively. Can we please have some intelligent dissection?

  4. Perhaps Media Watch could take Mr Edwards and/or ABC to task for mangling the infinitive. Yes, I know what Fowler has to say about it and it is a minor trangression, possibly on the same level as referring to Chairman Mayo. In context the word ‘properly’ is padding anyway. It serves no purpose.

    Years ago I heard a announcer on a local radio station refer to that well known compose
    er, Amaydeus Mozzert. since he went on to refer to Mozzert several more times I assume he was not just trying to be facetious.

    Back on topic I also find RNZ’s Media Watch enjoyable, and since it has attracted the criticism of one or two journalists, it is probably doing a good job. You are whistling in the wind if you expect anything like this from TVNZ.

  5. “a public ‘right to know’. But other than in the case of elected public officials or examples of crime or dishonesty, I can find no real defence for the idea of such a ‘right to know’.”

    Exactly, there is a rather huge gulf between “Public interest” and prurient nosiness, but sadly all too many journalists persist in hounding ordinary people and chanting smugly about “the right to know”.

  6. Brian: Then how about a “Priestly Brian?”
    By the way I reckon your interview technique could have opened up McVicar for closer scrutiny.

    • By the way I reckon your interview technique could have opened up McVicar for closer scrutiny.

      I did interview McVicar on Radio Live. A very difficult character to pin down, as wily as Winston any day.

  7. Brian – Fuller has since been sacked.
    Regards
    M

  8. 8

    Soft light is your friend

    Aussie websites are saying the shooter was from Nine, and it was Seven who broadcast the whole incident. Apparently he’s been suspended.

  9. Those Media Watch clips offered more than just fleeting vignettes, they provided a telling tableau for the need of a stand-alone programme, for objective self-critiquing. With the last clip, there wasn’t any fine line between dogged tenacity and cruel harassment, in the pursuit of a story. It was so clear-cut. Such was the ugliness, that the narrative became inverted. The actions of the cameraman became the story, itself. Fuller’s swearing: “Fucking terrorist”, clearly, reveals malice aforethought. Hound ‘n’ Ground — into dust.

    Ben: “mangling the infinitive” is being somewhat pedantic. Quite often, interposing an adverb between “to” and the infinitive it governs, improves rhythm.
    The opening — spoken — lines in the TV series Star Trek, is a good example: “to boldly go where no man has gone before”, sounds so much better than “to go boldly”. A good example where this minor violation improves cadence. And it’s easy on the ear.

    • The opening — spoken — lines in the TV series Star Trek, is a good example: “to boldly go where no man has gone before”, sounds so much better than “to go boldly”. A good example where this minor violation improves cadence. And it’s easy on the ear

      I haven’t really been following this debate, but I’m all in favour of the split infinitive. Often the effect is consideraby more elegant and good on the ear, than the alternative ‘grammatically correct’ version. Fowler’s Modern English (the grammarian’s bible) concludes: “It is neither major error nor a grammatical blunder, and it is acceptable and at times necessary when considerations of rhythm and clarity call for it.” The rest is pedantry.

  10. Great post – especially the item on the camera man calling the father a terrorist.
    The segment is now on You Tube
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehAXbQ6Rnvk
    I embedded it on my blog.
    best
    p.

    • Great post – especially the item on the camera man calling the father a terrorist. The segment is now on You Tube

      Thanks Paul. Lunch overdue.

  11. Merv, I know I am pedantic. I just like to give BE an excuse to quote Fowler, the most thumbed book in his library. I would say though “to properly conceal” is hardly necessary for rhythm and clarity. It is downright ugly.

  12. Ben: “I would say though “to properly conceal” is hardly necessary for rhythm and clarity. It is downright ugly.”

    I disagree. The use of “properly” is to a highlight a comparison. One TV network obscured the names; while, the other, failed to exercise care. He could’ve have used “pixelated out”, but that’s like using a twenty-dollar word when there’s a 10-center handy. (E.B. White)

    “I just like to give BE an excuse to quote Fowler, the most thumbed book in his library.”

    Again, I disagree. The manner of his blogs are conversational, allowing for a relaxed verbal rhythm. And it’s more engaging. I don’t think he’s referencing Fowler in the course of his writing. He is not expressing his thoughts by way of ornate prose — where applying strict grammatical rules would apply — making it stiff and lifeless. Remember, this is a blog, “where colloquialism is often better than formal phrasing”.

    Chill, Ben.

  13. Further to Gary’s experience of the media using footage to dramatise a story…back in February, when Lydia Ward fought off a shark at a Southland beach (and the experts described it as a broadnosed sevengill shark), several major on-line news agencies used an image of a GREAT WHITE SHARK! And was that a MAKO picture used by TV3 and NZ Herald on-line?

    Read more: http://yardyyardyyardy.blogspot.com/2010/02/shark-story-feeding-frenzy.html#ixzz0lPLjoCzC

    As I blogged at the time, it’s all because this sort of emotive coverage sells better! Never let the facts get in the way of a good story! *sigh* Yes, if it was technically possible, PLEASE bring back Mr.Priestley. If not, PLEASE bring back “Fourth Estate”: God knows it’s needed. BE, perhaps you could front a prop to TVNZ – it would be great to see YOU back where you belong!

    • Yes, if it was technically possible, PLEASE bring back Mr.Priestley. If not, PLEASE bring back “Fourth Estate”: God knows it’s needed. BE, perhaps you could front a prop to TVNZ – it would be great to see YOU back where you belong!

      Sadly not possible to bring people back from the dead, despite Colin Fry. TVNZ might be interested in something for TVNZ6 or 7, however.

  14. It was good that the appalling behaviour of the cameraman was captured on film and that the man has been dismissed.

    However the item it now seems is on You Tube where over time it wil lose context and insisted titillate and entertain especially those who support the views of the cameraman; “good on yer mate; you tell the fucking terrorist”!

    I imagine that if I were to search you Tube I could find many example of racism, sexual abuse, homophobia (real and imgained) but I doubt whether you would be to keen for me to provide links in your blog. So congratulations to you and Mr Martin for, in your own small way, ensuring that this cameraman’s foul views continue to gain wider currency with an audience that is probably more in sympathy with the cameraman than the victim.