Brian Edwards Media

Archive for July, 2012

On David Shearer, Ian Fraser and the Bespoke Art of Media Training


 The news that David Shearer is to ‘get media training’ from Ian Fraser in order to make him more visible to the electorate has tended to reinforce the notion that ‘getting media training’ is rather like getting a new suit from Hallenstein’s.  All you have to do is put the new suit on and you’ll immediately not merely look better but be a whole new person. Unfortunately media training doesn’t fit this prêt-à-porter model. It’s a bespoke art. Everyone’s  needs are different,  no two people’s measurements are exactly the same, and there are some people who will never look good in anything.  

I’ll abandon this analogy before I invite derision,  but it serves to make the point that you can’t just ‘get media training’ in the same way that you might  ‘get trained’ to drive a car, a skill in which most people are capable of being competent at least and which even indifferent drivers can teach you. Here, by the way, the Maggie Barry Principle applies – if you’ve never been a professional interviewer and haven’t had wide experience of all branches of the media, you’ve not really qualified to talk about media-training, let alone engage in it.

It’s rare for the diagnosis of what is ailing an interviewee to be obvious. With the exception of ‘umming and erring’, saying ‘you know’, ‘like’ , ‘I guess’, ‘absolutely’, ‘going forward’, ‘OK, so’ at least once in every paragraph, what prevents someone from coming across well on radio or television is often extremely subtle and quite difficult to pin down.  Read the rest of this entry »


On the joker, meeting Charlton Heston and gun laws in America



Discussing long-term unemployment in Pennsylvania and the Midwest four years ago, Barack Obama commented: “It’s not surprising that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy, to people who aren’t like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment, or anti-trade sentiment, as a way to explain their frustrations.”

I remember thinking that it was an excellent analysis of the American psyche, not merely in Pennsylvania and the Midwest, but across the United States as a whole. Needless to say, it brought the Democratic frontrunner for the Presidency a heap of trouble. Obama had crossed the line on two of the pillars of Conservative America – God and guns.

There really isn’t much point in debating either of these issues with American Conservatives since the love of God and the love of guns defy rational analysis. Both are sacrosanct, and to question either is regarded as willfulness or heresy. No declared atheist could become President of the United States and even Obama, faced with yet another gun outrage in his country, steers carefully away from the blindingly obvious need for gun control and instead recommends prayer as a salve for those grieving over the deaths of their fellow citizens. Since hundreds of Americans are gunned down every day in the USA, prayer doesn’t seem to be working. Read the rest of this entry »


Bouquets and Brickbats (an occasional series)









To Shane Taurima whose interviewing performance on Q & A I have savagely attacked on Afternoons and elsewhere. Shane’s interviewing has markedly improved over the last few weeks. He no longer has his nose in his notes and has developed a much more relaxed and conversational style when talking to guests. Yesterday, in the continued absence of Paul Holmes, he hosted Q & A and made a considerably better job of it than any of the previous stand-ins.

To Campbell Live which continues to put Close Up to shame. Campbell himself is unafraid to engage in advocacy journalism, to campaign against injustice  on behalf of the neglected and dispossessed. The conundrum as to why Close Up continues to out-rate Campbell Live can perhaps only be explained  by the conservatism of New Zealand viewers who continue to regard TVOne as the official news and information channel.

To Kate King, a newcomer to me on Campbell Live. She fronted an excellent series of reports on Kiwis living and working in the mining areas of Western Australia and followed it up with a superb piece of investigative journalism on why New Zealand mothers can’t find the New Zealand baby formula Nutricia on their supermarket shelves.  This is a young woman going places.  Read the rest of this entry »


Ewen Macdonald, the UMR Research poll on his guilt and a ‘triple jeopardy’ scenario.







Five days ago UMR Research published the results of a poll of 750 New Zealanders 18 years and older. Their  news release was headed ‘WHAT NEW ZEALANDERS THINK OF THE SCOTT GUY MURDER TRIAL’  and began:

 ‘Just 20% of New Zealanders believe Ewen Macdonald did not murder Scott Guy, according to a UMR Research poll released today.

‘UMR’s fortnightly Omnibus Survey shows 48% of people believe Ewen Macdonald is guilty, 20% say he is not guilty, and 28% said they were unsure. 4% of respondents refused to answer the question.’

UMR came in for some fairly sustained flak from letter-writers to the papers and bloggers for conducting the poll at all. At first I tended to share their disapproval. Macdonald had only recently been tried by a jury of his peers for the murder of Scott Guy and that jury had unanimously declared him not guilty. The UMR poll effectively constituted a re-trial of Macdonald for the same crime with the same evidence, but with a much larger, though considerably less well-informed, jury. That jury, it seemed, had found him guilty. Double jeopardy!

I was about to get stuck into UMR for this gratuitous breach of natural justice, when I suddenly remembered that, in a discussion of the trial and its outcome on TV3’s The Nation some days earlier, I had confidently declared that although Macdonald had been found not guilty by a jury of his peers, he had been found guilty ‘in the court of public opinion’.  The UMR poll had done nothing more than test that hypothesis by seeking the opinion of 750 adult New Zealanders and found it to be correct.   Read the rest of this entry »


Kev can’t spell!


Seems my old friend and former journalism student Kevin Milne is losing his spelling ability along with his hair!


Auckland houses unaffordable – really?

Guest Blogger –  Stuart Christie

The NZ  Herald has once again relayed the harrowing story of families denied their opportunity to live in Auckland because houses have become unaffordable. It gave  examples of record prices paid. I’ve spent some years in real estate, and I wonder what is going on.

It’s all nonsense, of course, because the people who bought those houses could afford them and presumably  are very pleased with their purchases. I dare say that other bidders at those auctions could afford those houses as well, but were just beaten out by the last bid. That’s not new, that’s always been the case as long as auctions have been around.  Now, maybe if a property is  ‘passed in’ at auction it could be unaffordable.

Isn’t it true that most of these buyers are simply trying to buy houses they can’t afford? Unless your second name is Dotcom then it is likely there are thousands of houses you can’t afford in Auckland. That’s a fact of life. Sure, there have been a few  rapid price rises in some areas, but first or second home buyers have generally never been able to afford a first home in central Auckland or most of the inner suburbs. Read the rest of this entry »


If you missed Joshua Iosefa’s compelling oratory on Campbell Live – here it is. Don’t miss it again – he’s amazing!


Not Guilty. Why it will not be the verdict of us all.

There were two verdicts in the Scott Guy murder trial. In the first, a jury found the accused, Ewen Macdonald, Not Guilty; In the second, Scott’s widow, Kylee, declared Macdonald guilty, when she screamed, ‘He killed my husband!’ These were the last words spoken at the trial.

It is interesting to speculate which verdict will resound most with the general public. My guess is that it will be the second.

There’s precedent to support that opinion. A Not Guilty verdict in high profile murder trials, relying on circumstantial evidence,  is rarely accepted as the last word by the man and woman in the street.  Arthur Allan Thomas and David Bain, not to mention OJ Simpson,  provide excellent examples.

This morning I decided to recruit my own jury. During our morning walk, I approached 12 adults, some of whom I know well, some with whom I have only a passing acquaintance. I’d say they were a reasonable cross-section in terms of gender, age and socio-economic status. I asked each of them whether they believed Ewen Macdonald had killed Scott Guy. All 12 said they believed he had. When questioned further, all but one agreed that, given the available evidence, the Not Guilty verdict was the right verdict in law.

Several commentators have expressed the view that justice has been served in this case. It’s true that the requirements of the law with regard to the trial of an accused person have been met. Patently there was reasonable doubt . But I doubt whether anyone other than Ewen Macdonald knows for certain whether justice has been served.

That is the problem with ‘reasonable doubt’. The doubt remains at the end of the trial. Nothing has been resolved.  Read the rest of this entry »


I offer some friendly but unsolicited advice to Kim Dotcom

Dear Kim Dotcom

I’m a fan. Like most fans, my admiration for you isn’t entirely rational. I don’t actually know whether you’re guilty of the Internet crimes the American Government accuses you of. You could be as guilty as sin for all I know.  And your slate isn’t entirely clean. You’ve been convicted of computer fraud and embezzlement. But you’ve paid the price for those crimes and you’ve started a new life here in New Zealand.

When people ask me about the qualities that make up the average Kiwi, I tend to put ‘fair-minded’ at the top of the list. We abhor injustice. So we didn’t like it when, having filed indictments against you and six others on criminal copyright infringement charges,  the FBI started pushing us around and demanding your extradition to the States to face the (pirated?) music. As a small  nation, we’re particularly sensitive to bullying.

And we liked it even less when our very own Keystone Cops, energised by the successful outcome of their Rambo exercises in the Ureweras, decided on an armed-to-the-teeth assault on you and your family’s home in Coatsville.

We weren’t too impressed either by your arrest, denial of bail, imprisonment for a month or the seizure by the Crown of almost everything you own. We’re addicted to that pesky legal principle that people are innocent till proven guilty. We hadn’t seen any real evidence of your guilt or indeed been acquainted with the specifics of the charges against you.  And we still haven’t.   Read the rest of this entry »