Posted by BE on August 24th, 2010
In this Radio New Zealand interview, broadcast on last night’s Checkpoint, New Zealand’s most consistently effective current-affairs interviewer, Mary Wilson, makes mincemeat of Justice Minister Simon Power’s unconvincing apologia for the government’s half-hearted, half-baked approach to solving New Zealand’s booze crisis. It’s great stuff. Look for Power’s warning that next Thursday might not happen.
She’s good, she’s damned good, but she’s incharge of her show as it is.
Why would Mary Wilson switch from her afternoon slot where she has the time really to get into interviews (that last one was 8.30 Mins), based on a day’s research into a developing story
In some respects Morning Report would be more restrictive for her than her current slot. And that isn’t to mention the early morning starts.
She’s good, she’s damned good, but she’s incharge of her show as it is.
And that might well be her view as well. However, Morning Report’s larger audience (I assume) provides an opportunity for her skills to be more widely appreciated.
To be fair its not that difficult to make Simon Power look like a pompous fool, he does quite a good job of that on his own, it takes no great skill to bring out that aspect of his personality.
My only gripe about Mary Wilson is that she appears to have only one tactic – going from zero to attack-mode in about three seconds.
As for Simon Power, I’ve referred to him as a lot of things in my time, SuperCalo, but I’ve never found him pompous and I’ve never seen that in his personality.
“My only gripe about Mary Wilson is that she appears to have only one tactic – going from zero to attack-mode in about three seconds”.
I agree with you Don. Another radio personality that wouldn’t be a good start to a day to have your ears and brain bashed with.
Don, those that are themselves filled to the brim with pompousity may fail to see it in others.
I think she’d be good too…but if she doesn’t want to move to the early hours of the morning someone I’ve been really impressed with is Simon Morton on Which Way Up…when he’s not in the back yard with chooks (where he does a good job too) he has a wonderful ability to ask the hard questions of unsuspecting interviewees AND remain sounding friendly, which means he can usually get away with another hard question or three before the his guest realises whats happening.
Brian I think she’d be good too…but if she doesn’t want to move to the early hours of the morning someone I’ve been really impressed with is Simon Morton on Which Way Up
I don’t know this gentleman. From your description he sounds rather agricultural. You need a pretty good knowledge of politics past and presesnt to do this job, and of current issues both at home and abroad. But I’ll take your word for it that he’s hot stuff.
Sorry I don’t get it. To my mind she is not effective. She is strident and rude and her hallmark is to talk over the top of her “guests”. More importantly if you listen carefully you will find that often what gives rise to a bout of hysterical questioning is an angle so inane it betrays a complete ignorance of commerce, politics, the economy or anything beyond the cloistered world of RNZ broadcasting.
what gives rise to a bout of hysterical questioning is an angle so inane it betrays a complete ignorance of commerce, politics, the economy or anything beyond the cloistered world of RNZ broadcasting.
Sounds like overstatement to me.
“inane, cloistered,ignorance, hysterical…”
Jeeze, that’s a bit harsh fake Tony.
I heard the interview and she often reminds me of Kim Hill on P(Perish the thought).There is no quarter given.The rottweiler only comes out when she senses being fobbed off or the proposition is fatally flawed. The zero to full blown attack leaves the interveiwee in no doubt that Mary Wilson suffers no fools. Simon Power took one for the team.
Its simple fake real Tony, I was trying to parallel MW’ over the top interviewing style with my own hyperbole. Seriously though, I challenge everyone to listen carefully. More often than not it is not the guests proposition which is fatally flawed (to paraphrase PJR), it is her own position. She doesn’t actually know a lot about how the world works.
@ Tap and Hum: “50 comments, now 51. Well done Paul Henry and TVNZ.”
A wry irony, with that. But I, much prefer, Henry as medium-rare. Unless, of course, your message is congratulatory; in which case, there’s “something”, missing.
Pride yourself, next time, you’re at the supermarket, and you see the ubiquitous hanging-sign:
12 ITEMS OR LESS
Take pride, in knowing, the sign is malapropic.
You’ll be the only one, for miles around, who will notice this common grammatical howler.
Simon Morton is an excellent broadcaster with an interesting programme about the things we use and consume. Simon is an affable bloke, but I can hardly imagine him as an inquisitor of obfuscating politicians or dare I be presumtuous and say even have the specialised knowledge Brian mentioned as being necessary for the job.
Fake Tony…what you do with your “own hyperbole” should be a private thing.
Edward…he’s done some wonderful inquisitions of obfuscating marketing PR and marketing twits…like I said his demeanour means the hard questions slip thru…his general knowledge is pretty special…which is something that lets down many of our journalists. Political journos could all do with getting out into the real world a bit.
Merv, there is nothing missing. Now please refrain from dealing with Tony 1 and Tony 2.
You seem easily impressed, Brian.
This wasn’t Woodward and Bernstein breaking ‘Watergate’. The Minister is introducing legislation, with the clear understanding plenty of folk are going to get a chance to kick the tyres at the select committee stage. And for that he gets a rude harridan cutting off his answers?!
I’m all for good interviewers cutting through claptrap, spin, and obfuscation (segue: hey! Isn’t that what this shill of a website is aiming to teach folk, Brian?). However, in my opinion Power didn’t seem to do any of that.
I’m all for good interviewers cutting through claptrap, spin, and obfuscation (segue: hey! Isn’t that what this shill of a website is aiming to teach folk, Brian?).
That’s certainly what we teach interviewers, Kimbo. Our mantra to the interviewees is: Be straight-forward, admit your mistakes, and tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
shill of a website ?
Curious. Can’t quite see how that question fits this website.
Yeah, I think Don’s got it about right. Wilson’s usually “damned good” (as Sean puts it), but just occassionally butts in at precisely the wrong moment – and leaves me thinking ……
Yeah, I think Don’s got it about right
I’ve deleted what you were left ‘thinking’, Markus, since it didn’t involve any thought.
I’m afraid I still can’t get over Wilson’s habit of phrasing questions as affirmative statements. Sometimes it’s confusing to the interviewee if they don’t pick up the interrogative tone of voice, and it often forces people into inappropriate yes/no answers.
She (Mary) may be “good”, but unfortunately as soon as I hear her come on, off goes the radio. I just cannot stand her manner and style, but hey if we were all the same the world would be dull.
Yep, Mary Wilson had my vote as soon as Sean Plunket announced his departure – she is the best interviewer in the country at the mo’, by a clear margin.
The only criticism of Wilson in comments above so far is the usual ‘we want niiiiice people who let MPs ramble for the whole interview time with spin, rather than interrupt’. Wilson rarely goes too far; mostly she cuts in only when a guest is dodging the question, which is EXACTLY what she is paid to do. Cudos to Mary.
I take Sean’s point though – Wilson may be happy where she is, with a slightly longer format interview. Plus, if she shifts time, who replaces her?
Simon Morton would be an intriguing possibility – he covers a huge range of topics with clarity and good humour. He may not want to damage his brand tho’
Left field (liberal) candidate: Martyn Bradbury. Currently under-employed on bit-piece TV. Hard questioner, but uncritical of liberal positions, which would lead to accusations of bias.
The real danger is RNZ needs to lock down some of these key positions before the ‘mongol hordes’ of TVNZ get merged into prize positions, and destroy all broadcasting as we know it. Imagine how Morning Report would be if Paul Henry were co-host….
GEOFF ROBINSON: Our first guest is Minister of Sport, Murray McCully, who…
HENRY: …is a pimply, four-eyed, overweight drunk with a temper that would make a pit-bull look sociable!
ROBINSON: Errr, quite, but…
HENRY: No buts about it Geoff, if Muzza were a cartoon figure, he’d be Barney Gumble on the Simpsons.
ROBINSON: I’m not sure I know who Barney…
HENRY: He’s the town drunk Robby, the town drunk! . No wait, that’s Tim Groser, isn’t it? Guess I’m not getting invited to National Party conference this year. Who cares, I’m joining Act….
TVNZ SPIN DOCTOR: TVNZ apologise to those of you sensitive petals who are offended by Paul Henry – clearly you need to harden up. We expect ratings to climb meteorically. And Paul is getting a pay rise.
And how could I forget – Efeso Collins recently got sacked by Radio PI(?) for asking the hard questions about the dodgy PEDA $4.8m budget grant. He can be a little deferential at times, but has proven he has grit to push issues when needed.
The interviewing technique usually employed by Mary Wilson reminds me of the table manners usually displayed by a starving hyena.
…and “all” the truth, Judy? A genuine, rather than leading or rhetorical question.
Just seems to me, Brian, that Power did a good and capable job, rather than Wilson making “mincemeat” of him. Therefore, to suggest otherwise, on a website that ultimately exists to trawl for business, is a case of creating a problem where none exists, for economic gain.
Trust that qualifies as a justifiable use of shill.
Then again, if I was ever knee-deep in media poop, I’d definitely come-a-running in your direction!
a website that ultimately exists to trawl for business
Really? Wouldn’t it be simpler then, and much easier, not to bother trying to stimulate discussion on matters of public interest, or monitor the performance of the New Zealand media or occasionally make a plea for tolerance in the face of the mindless abuse so common on most blogsites? Why would Judy and I go to all this trouble if all we were interested in was making a buck. You really are a gratuitously offensive fellow. Give me Merv any day.
Quite right Brian! I’ve always thought that this blog site was a mixture of pain and pleasure for you. Better still when you are doing it with no monetary reward or the belief that you are destined to everlasting life for suffering such self flagellation.
Keep up the good work and let’s hope some of your students learn a thing or two. Informed opinion with a good argument, tempered with a generous dose of humanity is much better that abuse and snide remarks.
Personally I don’t like Mary Wilson’s style at all and would stop listening to Morning Report if she came on. I find her confrontational, but not challenging, and she just badgers her interviewees.
She was interviewing the CEO of KiwiRail a few weeks ago. This guy has a stutter and she clearly wasn’t adapting her style very well to cope with this. At the end when they’d run out of time and he was still trying to get his answer out she finished the sentence for him. Very bad form.
Fair enough BE.
I should add that Mary Wilson is excellent 90 percent of the time, so I’m more than willing to forgive the occassional lapses and irritations.
…in which case you are not only easily impressed, you are also easily offended, especially to the extent that you use a superlative such as ‘gratuitous’.
“Why would Judy and I go to all this trouble if all we were interested in was making a buck”. Curious that you see a dichotomy between earning a living, and doing something you enjoy, let alone genuinely believe in. I never suggested that all of those were not the case.
However, you saw fit to question the government’s, and therefore Power’s lack judgement, and possibly even integrity, by describing Power’s performance as an, “unconvincing apologia for the government’s half-hearted, half-baked approach to solving New Zealand’s booze crisis.”
In contrast, I thought Power’s performance was good, in need of no improvement that you, or any other potential advisor could supply, and therefore your analysis was suspect. As a result, I was taking the time to simply raise the question to clarify your potential motives. Seems you are a gratuitously defensive fellow.
However, thank you for the website, and yes, I gladly admit that, in the main, you and Judy do indeed “stimulate discussion on matters of public interest”, “monitor the performance of the New Zealand media”, and “occasionally make a plea for tolerance in the face of the mindless abuse so common on most blogsites”.
OK, that seems reasonable. But whatever ‘gratuitous’ is, it ain’t a superlative. I’d say it was an adjective.
Well called on gratuitous – although superlatives are also forms of adjectives. However, that is merely a face-saving attempt to cover my threadbare lack of grammatical skill, which you have so skillfully exposed – free of charge I might add. Thank you:-)
@ kimbo: “Well called on gratuitous – although superlatives are also forms of adjectives”.
The superlative is an adj.
Free English lesson on progressive adjs — the Adjective, the Comparative and the Superlative”. As in:
There! Youse, educated.
That’s no English lesson. You must have learnt your BAD grammer from American text books. Nothing could be WORSE than Merv at his WORST.
You omitted the elative superlative – which means not only am I “very gratuitous”, but I also win the prize for pedantry, if not, for the moment, the most coveted laurel of all – the last word!
I’m in Don and superCalos team on this one. Too abrasive from the get go, doesn’t allow the conversation to evolve, instead seems to be trying to dig some hidden truth out. I’ve heard occasions when there is no hidden truth and her tone becomes sort of ‘whiney’.
I like her. Her enunciation is precise. And she researches her subject, well. She’s not the type of person to suffer fools, gladly.
Although both Sean Plunkett and Mary Wilson are clever people, both need to realise that overfast, ‘gladiator’ interviewing defeats exposure of the truth. By impatiently cutting people off, you often just get what the ‘heroic’ journalist personally wants the audience to believe (please, note that many listeners, do have their own brains and don’t want to be ‘told’ what to feel and think.) Worse, the culture of abrupt, bully media forces guest speakers (many in high offices) to fearfully obey journalists regardless of good, informed judgment based on the million relevant other factors things the journalists don’t know about and haven’t addressed. That is a sinister defeat of democracy. Also, cynical public rudeness and derision (Mr. Plunkett) to our elected officials and business leaders etc. actually degrades us all – even those who meanly delight in contempt for others. When pointing out evident mistakes and wrongdoing, we still need to maintain a spirit of respect for every individual, and a humility regarding the enormous greater unseen, unknown in all things.
Although both Sean Plunkett and Mary Wilson are clever people, both need to realise that overfast, ‘gladiator’ interviewing defeats exposure of the truth.
Couldn’t agree more. Have written several times along almost the identical lines.