There’s been debate about the latest TV3 Reid Research poll. The poll, which was taken between February 12 and February 21, has National on 51.4%, Labour on 32.6% and the Greens on 11%. No other party reaches the 5% threshold.
In the ‘Preferred Prime Minister’ stakes John Key is on 41% with David Shearer on 10%.
Where the parties are concerned, the poll is out of step with recent TV1, Fairfax, Herald and Roy Morgan polls by between 2% and 7%. Commentators have also pointed out that in the last election all the major polls overstated National’s support by between 3% and 7%.
Given Labour’s and Phil Goff’s woeful results in that election, one might think it barely mattered.
But when you take into account the current level of unemployment, the Government’s abysmal handling of the Christchurch school amalgamations and closures, the Novopay debacle and the Prime Minister’s complicity in the shonkiest political deal I can remember since I’ve been in this country, National’s and its leader’s high ratings do seem somewhat strange.
But in one sense, the accuracy or lack of accuracy of the polls really is irrelevant. This is because the pollsters are objectively proved right or wrong only once every three years: after the election, when it’s too late for their influence on the outcome to be undone. Read the rest of this entry »
In 1983, with criminal defence lawyer Mike Bungay, I co-authored Bungay on Murder, a book about murder and murderers in New Zealand. I learnt a great deal about the topic from working with Mike, much of it surprising (he preferred women jurors to men in rape trials) and I’ve maintained my interest in murder cases ever since.
It was Mike’s view that in cases where an accused’s guilt could neither be proved not disproved, his (the vast majority of homicides are committed by men) attractiveness or lack of attractiveness in personality or appearance or both, could have a significant bearing on a jury’s decision.
I was reminded of this by the news that Mark Lundy has won the right to appeal to London’s Privy Council against his conviction for the murder of his wife and daughter. Lundy is an obese, highly unattractive man; his histrionic display of grief at his wife’s and daughter’s funeral was both pathetic and bizarre; he was a user of prostitutes. None of this would endear him to a jury.
On hearing the news that Lundy had won the right to appeal his conviction to the Privy Council, one Palmerston North citizen told the Manawatu Guardian, ‘I believe he did it. I drive down there (to Wellington) three times a month and if he did it at that speed, he must be a Formula One driver. But I still think he’s just a pig and needs to accept what he’s done.’
Imagine this guy on the Lundy jury. He says, ‘I believe he did it.’ That’s a guilty vote. Then he says his personal driving experience tells him that Lundy couldn’t possibly have made the critical Petone – Palmerston North – Petone trip in the time the Prosecution claimed. That’s a not guilty vote. Finally he opts for guilty because, ‘I still think he’s just a pig.’
Most of the time I try to be reasonable in my analysis of the the press, radio and television (which is my particular field of interest). I try to avoid dismissing other people’s work as rubbish or crap. I’ve had some bad reviews in my time and I know how it feels. Mostly people in this industry are doing their best.
So a day or so back on this site I wrote in praise of Seven Sharp. I said they were finally getting it right. It happened to be the same day that Campbell Live, for the first time since it came on air, won the 7pm slot.
And then there was last night, Thursday 14 February. I made my fourth attempt at spaghetti alla carbonara and finally got it right. So we had dinner and sat down late to watch Seven Sharp and later Campbell Live and, after that, maybe a movie. (Let us now give thanks for MySky.)
But I never got beyond Seven Sharp. Yes it was Valentine’s Day and you might be forgiven a little romantic frivolity, but, as JC has observed, this 22 minutes of air-time felt like an hour. And it was total and absolute, mindless, inane, gratuitous, viewer-insulting, indefensible crap. It was testament to the fact that, even with three talented presenters, the whole can be considerably less than the sum of its parts. With the best will in the world, it had no redeeming merit.
I’m not going to express a view for another month on whether Seven Sharp deserves to live or die. That’s partly to be fair to the programme and partly to avoid the embarrassment of saying one thing today and the exact opposite tomorrow. (Mainly the second part!)
If we are to believe the papers, the radio and television news, New Zealanders live in a perpetual state of outrage. The nation’s blood pressure is never less than 180 over 110, so outraged are we by the egregious sinning of our fellow man and woman, at home and abroad. Our outrage can be singular or plural. An individual may be outraged by a neighbour’s cat walking across his lawn and want to damn the breed. In response an entire community of cat-lovers, numbering millions, may declare themselves outraged at such a perfidious suggestion. Occasionally the entire nation is said to be outraged, most commonly by something said or done by an Australian. An under-arm ball comes to mind.
The connection between the seriousness of an action and the public outrage it occasions is tenuous at best. Where outrage is concerned, actions need no longer speak louder than words. Indeed, as sources of outrage, words seem to have surpassed actions altogether. Read the rest of this entry »
I am at this very moment preparing my invoice to send to Raewyn Rasch, the Executive Producer of Seven Sharp. You may recall that Raewyn wrote to me, unhappy with my early comments about her programme. Very early, come to think of it – a week before the programme even went to air. The omens, I’d said, weren’t looking good.
Well, they still weren’t looking good a week into the show and I wrote another fairly lengthy post saying what I thought was wrong and, by implication, needed fixing.
And then came last night, Tuesday. And Tuesday was different. Tuesday’s programme had a real edge to it, the very thing I’d said was missing from the earlier shows. The banter was sharper, more Paul Henry and less Play School. And the tag-team interviewing had been largely abandoned. There was Greg Boyed manfully attempting to do the impossible – get a straight answer from Winston Peters; and Ali Mau doing an interview with Investigate magazine publisher Ian Wishart, who had brought us NZ First MP Richard Prosser’s thoughtful views on ‘Wogistan’. The interview was a model of its type. And finally, a really interesting item on just how long you can survive in the open sea without a life-jacket.
All in all, a nice example of what you might call ‘palatable current affairs’. Which is ironic really when you consider that last night was also the first night that Campbell Live beat its opposition on One with 352,600 viewers against Seven Sharp’s 296,700.
My unsolicited advice to Raewyn Rash would be not to be discouraged by last night’s figures which are a reflection of viewers’ response to the previous eight days and not to last night’s show. Stick with it.
Though can I please make one suggestion to Greg Boyed. It isn’t necessary in a probing interview to look and sound so angry that you’d like to climb across the desk and throttle your interviewee. Winston can be annoying, but not that annoying. And he has the sweetest smile.
The best comment I’ve heard about Seven Sharp came from Canterbury University senior journalism lecturer Tara Ross who said: We were invited to tweet and we were invited to vote, but what were we invited to think about?”
My answer would be: little of any consequence. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that – the utterly brilliant QI deals almost exclusively in ‘quite interesting’ ephemera. I can watch, and have watched half a dozen episodes on the trot and could happily have watched half a dozen more. Informative, irreverent, rude, challenging, side-splittingly funny. All the things Seven Sharp isn’t.
Given the quality of talent available to the BBC, the comparison is of course unfair. And QI makes no claim to be anything other than an (admittedly somewhat intellectual) entertainment.
Television New Zealand’s Head of News and Current Affairs, Ross Dagan, on the other hand, does a disservice to the producers and presenters on Seven Sharp, not to mention its viewers, by continuing to insist that Close Up’s replacement is still a ‘prime-time current affairs’ programme. It isn’t, at least not in the common usage of the term. Collins English Dictionary defines ‘current affairs’ as ‘relating to events and developments taking place in the world now, or the way in which these are covered or presented by the media’. The only prime-time network programme that currently comes close to that definition is Campbell Live.
Had Seven Sharp been billed as a ‘magazine programme offering a light-hearted and occasionally serious look at the events of the day’, its producers and presenters would have been spared the tsunami of criticism and viewer disappointment that has all but swept the programme away. Read the rest of this entry »
The word ‘disgusting’ is used by two people in the clip to describe the behaviour of the men in the boat, but it barely does justice to the characters of the sub-humans who took pleasure in repeatedly driving a jetboat into black swans on Tauranga harbour, then returning to have a second go at the birds they had already injured as they struggled in the water; who laughed as they mowed the swans down; who were so proud of their brutality that they filmed the slaughter and themselves. To what purpose? To relive the experience? To show their friends? To demonstrate the skill and the manliness of driving a jetboat at creatures that had little or no chance of getting out of the way? To savour once again the heady taste of inflicting such terrible suffering?
I guess you could call me a liberal in the area of crime and punishment. You’ll find several posts on this site where I attempt to persuade readers that before condemning people for their misdeeds, it’s important to look at the formative experiences and influences in childhood and early life that predetermined their later offending. That’s still my position. But sometimes, in the face of such cruelty, it’s difficult to make the connection. My instinct watching the video was to shout obscenities at the screen, to verbally abuse these killers with as much force and energy as they had physically abused their hapless victims. You worthless, fucking, bastard scum! Read the rest of this entry »