Brian Edwards Media

Archive for January, 2011

The revenge of the customer! Telecom, Vodafone, 2Degrees – you could be next!

Sick of lousy customer service from your telco?  Then sit back, watch this and enjoy!

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Does it matter how a political leader looks? I offer some free advice to Phil and John

slwakes.wordpress.com

Does it matter how a political leader looks? The simple answer is: probably not a lot. But given that the difference between winning and losing an election may be no more than one or two percentage points, an  advantage in the attractiveness stakes may be significant. Being plain or physically unattractive, on the other hand, is of itself unlikely to lose an aspiring leader votes.

It isn’t difficult to find examples of this phenomenon. Kennedy, Clinton, Trudeau and Blair were all leaders whose good looks, charisma and sex appeal undoubtedly enhanced their electoral chances. Less attractive men – one thinks of Kirk, Muldoon, Lange – suffered no apparent loss of electoral support because of their size or appearance.

My examples are all male, in part because historically men hugely outnumber women among world leaders, in part because the pattern may be different for female politicians.

Sexism undoubtedly plays a role here. A female leader’s looks and grooming are considerably more likely to be commented on and critiqued than her male equivalent. A male MP can look like Quasimodo and display  the dress sense of an unmade bed – many do – but the fact will rarely come up in conversation, let alone be commented on in the media.

There is perhaps no better example of this than Helen Clark whose unruly hair, less than perfect teeth and deep voice were fodder for her political enemies and elements in the media, while her supporters spoke warmly of her beautiful skin and stylish wardrobe. Of less consequence than which side you were on in this debate is the remarkable fact that the debate not merely took place but began when she first entered parliament in 1981 and was still going when she left in 2008.   Read the rest of this entry »

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On the Pleasures and Perils of Celebrity – Reflections on the Martin Devlin Affair

   

radioawards.co.nz

 

On the whole being famous is pretty good. I was on-and-off famous in New Zealand from 1967 (Town & Around, Gallery) to 1999 (Edwards on Saturday,  Fair Go, Top of the Morning). Mostly it was nice. Being recognised in the street, having people stop and tell you how much they enjoy your programme, getting special service in restaurants and shops, having your photo in all the newspapers and magazines, exercising a degree of influence on your own behalf and on behalf of others, being paid megabu…  

Well no, the money wasn’t great. In 1969-70 when I was the most famous broadcaster in the country, I was earning $7,000 a year for appearing on Gallery and producing and hosting Checkpoint. Things improved marginally on Fair Go, but I probably wasn’t earning a great deal more than the average household income. The ‘star system’ still hadn’t been invented in New Zealand.  

I have no complaints. I wasn’t in it for the money. Like most people in the entertainment industry, I was in it for the applause that comes with fame and serves to bolster the fragile egos of the most confident looking people. Fame is itself fragile and transitory, but at the time it’s really, really nice. (Providing you can handle it of course. But that’s another story.)  

So the pleasures of being famous are considerable and real, and the financial rewards in 2011, even in a small country like New Zealand, substantial.  

Sounds like a pretty good gig.   Read the rest of this entry »

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The tacky side of journalism.

A few minutes ago I was phoned by a young Fairfax journalist. She told me that an Auckland broadcaster had  been diagnosed with melanoma and had taken leave from her job. Would I like to comment as a close friend?

Comment?  On what, for god’s sake? The prevalence of melanoma, the latest research I’ve read on the subject – or the unfairness of one’s friends getting sick? Ah, has to be the third one, doesn’t it?

This type of lazy journalism gets right up my nose. Ring around for horrified/tear-stained/saccharine utterances from anyone close to the victim/sufferer and feed those morsels into an overblown story. The ‘close friend’, of course, is supposed to let slip all sorts of titbits of indiscreet information about the victim/sufferer and talk about his/her sterling qualities – it beats doing research any day.

I hate this tabloid trashiness. Whatever happened to the simple announcement that allowed a person to retain a little privacy and dignity?  If you’re sick, surely that’s the least you deserve.

I’m saddened and worried for the broadcaster. As it happens, I know her well and have worked with her, but I could hardly be described as a close friend.

So, could I give the young journo contact details for someone who is a close friend?

Yes, I could.  And no, I didn’t!

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A Definition of Stupidity: Repeatedly trying the same ineffective solution to a problem. And why that makes a majority of Kiwis stupid.

 

Someone recently defined stupidity as repeatedly trying the same ineffective solution to a problem. By that definition, we New Zealanders are a very stupid people indeed.

The problem in this case is crime. The ineffective solution which we’ve been trying since Pakeha arrived here and are still trying today is punishment, particularly the imprisonment of offenders for longer and longer periods. I’ve compared this to throwing water on a fat fire which of course has the effect of spreading the flames and, quite possibly, burning down the house. The solution to this problem is not to throw more water on the fire, but to find a more efficient way of depriving the fire of oxygen.

Anyone who reads the papers must now know that New Zealand has the second highest daily prison muster rate in the developed world, second only to the United States in the number of  people we incarcerate per head of population.

If this approach to crime were working, the numbers of people being imprisoned ought to be dropping, as the deterrent of imprisonment and longer sentences discourages people from committing crimes. Clearly it isn’t working.   Read the rest of this entry »

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I am offered but reject a six-figure-sum from several media outlets. The reasons why.

six-figure-sum broadcaster with (real) icon

 

Over the past week several media outlets have offered me a six-figure-sum. It’s not the first time they’ve done this. In fact it’s being going on for years. It won’t surprise you to know that they want me to keep quiet about this. But, as an iconic broadcaster and media commentator, I refuse to be muzzled. I intend to speak out. So here goes.

Ladies and gentlemen of the mass media, I reject your repeated offers of a six-figure-sum. They are tiresome and stupid. I will never accept them. And I invite you now to cease, desist and stop.   Read the rest of this entry »

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I receive and respond to an email from Amanda Hotchin

Stuff.co.nz

I have written four posts on Mark Hotchin. The first Reflections on not caring in Hawaii was highly critical of Hotchin’s and his wife Amanda’s seeming inability to comprehend why New Zealanders were offended by the contrast between the Hotchins’ current lifestyles and the current lifestyles of the thousands of Hanover investors who had lost not merely huge sums of money but their happiness and peace of mind as a result of Hotchin’s and Eric Watson’s greed and, by the most generous interpretation, mismanagement of the their investments.  

My comments had been largely triggered by a front-page report in the Sunday Star Times headlined Inside Hotchin’s Hawaiian Hideaway, in which Amanda was quoted as having said, “We don’t have to justify where we get our money from or what it is spent on to anyone. I don’t care what anyone says.”  

I concluded:  

It really is quite an extraordinary statement, exemplifying as it does all the characteristics of Level 1 moral development – absolute selfishness, lack of conscience and indifference to the welfare of others. I don’t doubt for a moment that these people love their children and are kind to animals. But the misery which their actions have brought to thousands of ‘mum and dad’ investors seems for them to fall into the category of ‘long-distance impersonal harm’, all the more distant from a lounger by the pool in Hawaii.    

I have nothing but contempt for most of the finance company shysters, whether on Wall Street or Queen Street, who have wreaked such havoc in the lives of those who put their trust in them. But really my contempt is wasted. They don’t care. And it is their not caring that is the unforgivable crime.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Just answer the question!

Sometimes even the great Jeremy Paxman can’t get a straight answer!

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How not to handle a media crisis!

After a major rail crash in the UK, the Chief Executive of Railtrack, agreed to appear on Newsnight – then backed out with a lame excuse.  The result was a far worse media crisis than he’d originally faced.  

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I Invent a New Law of Politics, called “Catch 23″

I’m delighted that Judy has posted the famous/infamous interview between Simon Walker and Rob Mulddon on the presence of Russian warships in the Indian Ocean. Simon is an old friend. We worked together both as television colleagues and, later, as advisors to David Lange and the Labour Party after Muldoon drunkenly  announced the snap election in 1984. I wrote Lange’s opening television address. Simon was a left-winger then, or so we thought, but his actual allegiance was with the laissez- faire Douglas faction. He would go on to work for a large PR company in Britain, a right-wing think-tank and Her Majesty the Queen inter alia.

Simon, possibly the smoothest and most urbane person I have ever known, was an excellent interviewer. But it was the Muldoon confrontation that really made his name. A remarkable achievement, made all the more remarkable because pretty well every propositon he puts to Mr Muldoon is wrong in fact or implication. And it is a bit rich to supply an interviewee with a list of questions you want answered and then not allow him to answer them. But it’s still great television.

A couple of years later, I wrote this piece for the Dominion Sunday Times. Almost 25 years later, the names may be different, but everything else remains true.

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Catch 23

I have invented a new law that will save the nation – from everything. I call it Catch 23.

Clause One of Catch 23 states: Only those of sound mind may hold office as Members of Parliament.

Clause Two states: Any person seeking election to Parliament shall, ipso facto, be deemed to be of unsound mind.   Read the rest of this entry »

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The notorious Simon Walker/Robert Muldoon interview.

 This is still one of New Zealand’s most famous – or should that be infamous? – interviews.  Simon Walker v. Robert Muldoon, broadcast in 1976.

It’s pertinent that Walker and Muldoon were in separate studios at the time.  It’s much harder to be tough when you’re face-to-face with your subject, particularly when that subject is intimidating. Intimidating would be a mild description of Muldoon – journalists were terrified of him.

Still makes for good viewing.

http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/tonight—robert-muldoon-interview-1976

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