Brian Edwards Media

Good news from MediaWorks. Story!


Good news from MediaWorks – their new current affairs programme at 7pm, Monday to Thursday, is to be hosted by Duncan Garner and Heather du Plessis-Allan.

It’s good news because these are, in my estimation, two of the most professional and accomplished reporter/interviewers in the county. And, if we have to make the comparison, both could hold their own anywhere in the broadcasting world.

So what could possibly go wrong?

Well, there are some hints in MediaWorks’ news release about the new show:

First the title: Story. Well yes, journalists do refer to items as ‘news stories‘ and maybe I’m being picky. But when you take the word by itself, it does rather suggest that 7pm Monday to Thursday on TV3 will be story-telling time. Are we all sitting comfortably?   

Or maybe this is something worse than pickiness on my part. Maybe this is full-blown paranoia. If it is,  I blame the omens. What was that snappy term that MediaWorks CEO, Mark Weldon, used in reference to the arrival of the group’s new starlet Rachel Glucina? Oh yes: “snackable, shareable content”.

This is different of course. It’s a TV current affairs show for one thing. Trouble is “TV current affairs” is a broad church whose commercial creed begins, and can only begin: “I believe in the ratings…”  The people at Fox News would claim that the execrable fare they offer viewers is “TV current affairs”.

So when MediaWorks’ widely respected Group Head of News, Mark Jennings, tells us that Story will be “a smart, fun and thought-provoking show that will lead the way in daily current affairs”, the hard-core broadcasting puritan in me detects something nasty in the woodshed.

For one thing, isn’t that more or less a description of Seven Sharp? And I don’t want another Seven Sharp, thank you very much. I don’t want to hear the presenters’ inflated opinions on everything under the sun. I don’t want to listen to them chit-chatting inconsequentially about their lives, their children, their day. I don’t want Duncan Garner treating Heather du Plessis-Allan as a bimbette whom he honours with his encyclopaedic knowledge of, well, everything. And, while I’m at it, I don’t want any more of the mindless, pretend ad-lib sharing of pieces to camera that is currently a feature of 3D.

D: He’s led a terribly sad life, Samantha.

S: Yes he has, Duncan, and he deserves a break.

D: That’s right Samantha, but will he get it?

S: Good question, Duncan, and we’ll be looking at that very question next week.

D & S: Join us then.


Garner and Du Plessis-Allan are just too good for that.

And here’s an idea: Cut the 3News hour in half: less weather, less sport, fewer cootchie-coo stories. Give the remaining commercial half-hour (actually just 22 minutes) to Story. 

And, if you have to call it Story, maybe put a screamer after it. That would at least give it a Kiwi dimension.


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  1. Isn’t the S redundant?

  2. Well, I’m sure it will do fine, not that me or people like me will be watching, and that may have something to do with why it’s on.

    How many educated people actually watch NZ broadcast TV any more? We’re in a golden age of TV drama, but who with any sense would bother waiting to watch it on TV3? Students I talk to stream their favourite shows or stuff like Twitch rather than watch terrestrial broadcasts. What’s the point in waiting to watch the news when you’ve already seen it on Twitter?

    The best use for a TV is to plug a Chromecast into it.

    • “… educated people like me…” Oh dear, Lee, your superiority complex is showing. Over a million (uneducated?) Kiwis watch the evening news on television each night. We’re not all glued to our PCs, IPads or other devices. And for some of us watching the news on TV is an experience we share with our partners and family. Rather less solitary than some of the other options!

      • 2.1.1

        Steady on, Brian. I thought it was a violation of journalistic ethics to misquote people, which you’ve done here rather admirably in commenting on my observations about media consumption among a certain demographic.

        If you’re looking at those with tertiary education, and that’s going to be most of the people who read blogs like this, and you skew towards the younger end, you will find what I am saying to be increasingly true. Of course people still watch the news, but they tend to be older and habituated to doing so.

        Who do you think watches Seven Sharp? You appear to dislike it, and you’re from the same educational demographic as me as are most NZ media and politics blog commenters.

  3. I find Duncan Garner to be pretty right wing in his attitudes so I would never expect an objective presentation of stories based on facts, especially with TV3’s current management. This show and Seven Sharp are going for the same audience of generally speaking conservative older viewers. I will pick a percentage out of thin air and say they represent roughly half of people who seek some form of daily news television. The smaller, but still very large minority of those who actually want proper news served concisely are now moving away from television to the Internet and National Radio. Seven Sharp and Story will be battling for the same demographic and advertising revenue while a sizeable section of society, often with disposable income, will become increasingly hard to target by advertisers.

    • I’m wary of this sort of stigmatising. I suffered from it myself at various times in my career. Every intelligent broadcaster will have personal political opinions and even allegiances. But they leave those aside when they go into the studio. There is a vast difference between having an opinion and having a bias.

      • Hi Brian – Thanks for your reply! Your feedback is always appreciated. I’d just say Duncan’s opinions veer towards the conservative in the columns he writes for the DominionPost. In one he was saying his mate was having trouble with getting his house built thanks to a some lizards that he and his mate felt shouldn’t have to be worried about. In other words without being straight up, he was blaming the Resource Management Act for people not being able to get their houses built, in tune with the Government which is blaming the Green Party for the Auckland housing crisis (according to Bill English in Parliament). He did come out in support of saving the Kauri tree in Auckland recently but he didn’t appear to have any clue as to the reason why it was under threat in the first place which was because the government had changed the law to allow developers to cut down previously protected significant trees in Auckland. So, perhaps shallowly, I see him as someone who is populist in his sentiments but not to the point where he would actually support any other decision maker than a National one. So in essence, a liberal journalist (Campbell) is being replaced by a conservative one.

  4. I can’t see anything wrong with Story – the proposed name. It’s short, it’s different, and it’s the least pretentious of these programme names I’ve seen in a long time.

  5. Love the pair of them. But I’m still mourning the demise of Campbell Live. It held people and institutions to account, and embarrassed the hell out of the government at times. All good current affairs programmes should be brave enough to do that.

    • Yes, JC, to coin a phrase heard mainly in the UK parliament these days, ‘Hear, hear’ I couldn’t agree more. I don’t watch 7 Sharp, but get the distinct impression from various blogs and news sites that the programme doesn’t hold people and institutions to account.

  6. Probably the best selection available. Good luck to them.

  7. TV3 seem to be playing a poor game of Russian roulette. The Campbell execution was amateurish with no winners and they lost marks for trashing a minor {old crowd} favourite. The two for Story are smart and talented. But is that enough. TV at this time is actually the long game with the establishment of “faces’ that the public get to trust and follow. Behind the scenes would be interesting with the old hands versus the Weldon/Christie makeover because that is increasingly looking like a ballsup {no asterisk}. They better get it right because story is easily converted to history.

  8. Regardless of presenters / content the programme will ‘bomb’ because of the TV 1 inertia effect. There is a very large section of the population that has the TV permanently tuned to TVNZ and the younger demographic that TV3 would like to attract have long given up on TV.

    I give ‘Story’ a year at most and in that time the sounds of scraping at the bottom of the barrel will increase.

    • Ben, I tend to concur with your assertion that a large section of the population has the TV permanently tuned to TVNZ – I reckon their remotes are soldered to TV1. My late mum who used to think that Philip Sherry was just marvellous when he was the news reader for One News, or whatever it was called in those days, but when he become the foundation news reader for 3 News, he suddenly became the devil incarnate! That was in 1989 and it appears nothing very much has changed. Our household decided to watch 3 News at its inception basically as a response to Julian Mountier’s edict that he was going to crush TV3 into the ground or something similar, which didn’t impress me one bit. I’ve continued to watch 3 News and still watch it since the demise of Campbell Live, simply because Hilary Barry and Mike McRoberts were so moved at final CL half hour. I’ve given up watching Seven Days and . . . . .gosh, that was probably the only other show I viewed. I have no intention at this stage of watching One News and Seven Sharp, so maybe I’ll have a wee look at Story and try not to gag too much at Duncan Garner’s persona. A better option will probably be to get into the kitchen and cook tea at 7pm.

      • Yes, I think there’s a lot of truth in these comments. Television New Zealand is still seen by many people as the “official” New Zealand television channel. The name may have a lot to do with it. Or perhaps that it was here first. It’s no coincidence that Judy Bailey is known as “the mother of the nation” or that Dougal Stevenson and Philip Sherry are so revered. In a sense TVNZ is seen as the BBC of New Zealand, though one is a fully commercial, ratings-driven channel and the other a public service broadcaster. While TV3 is still regarded as the upstart newcomer. Go figure.

        • I remember being told yonks ago that back in the day before TV remotes and smart tellies, the default setting when TVs were turned on was TV1. Probably an urban myth

          • Maybe, maybe not. But it’s worth remembering that when television first arrived in New Zealand in 1960 there was only one channel, operated by the NZBC. Regional programmes arrived AKTV1, WNTV2, CHTV3 and DNTV2 during that decade. But they were all operated by the NZBC, later TVNZ, and all carried basically the same programmes with regional breakouts. There would be no privately operated television network in New Zealand until 1989 when TV3 went to air. So until then the state broadcaster had no competition and the channel setting on the TV wasn’t really so critical.

  9. I feel better than ever since my satellite dish got blown out of alignment and the idiot box went dead. Curling up in bed with a good book leaves the television for dead.

  10. Regardless of the capabilities of Heather du Plessis-Allan and Duncan Garner I wonder if the news boat has sailed for TV3 – or rather is in the doldroms where every wind, tide and current will bypass them?

    Not only has the channel lost momentum following John Campbell’s departure by choosing to screen tripe in the slot but it also seems from the data I have seen that Campbell Live was towing their news break, rather that being propelled forward by it.

    In the wider context – and this has been discussed broadly around the traps – it is part of the wider conversation about how people want to consume media and the relevance of old-school formatting and scheduling.

    What is interesting in our household (I know: N=1) is that the ritual of watching Campbell Live simply ended when the show stopped broadcasting. We haven’t changed channels. We have changed behaviours altogether. The grand irony is that we watch ancient episodes of M.A.S.H on Apple TV (which, curiously contains themes so universal they refer to to today’s news – but with the kind of bathos and pathos that dear old Mr Campbell shared). BTW – I’m not just talking about nostalgic adults – kids 8,12 and 19 all happy to watch. They love it. No jostling to see Seven Sharp – or anything broadcast. It’s not important and we don’t feel we’re missing anything.

    So the Story crew have an uphill battle to wage. Lack of momentum. Probably a me-too format (the trend is your friend – I’m skeptical that MediaWorks really have an appetite for innovation in this slot)…and starting without having transferred the goodwill, to borrow that old-fashioned term, from Campbell Live – in fact probably having to deal with the enmity within the former fanbase who will be active refuseniks.

    Garner and Du Plessis-Allen may have raised a poisoned chalice to their lips.

  11. 11

    At 6pm TV3 is taped to watch parts of the HB&MR news and then turned off in remembrance of the CL team. It was a dream team not a one man brand. Story hasn’t a show even if it sets up Denis Connor on debut.

  12. Apart for the first sentence,[ I do not feel excited by either of the presenters]
    my thoughts also J C.
    I am still smiling re Brian’s idealism and goal about opinions and bias.
    There are times when I am proud of my bias especially if it is well considered
    and represents the greater good.
    Call me biased but Duncan Garner does not match John Campbell for sensitivity
    or humility for a start.

  13. Seven Sharp took a while (and several presenters) to get going but eventually broke past Campbell Live. TV One clearly identified their desired audience and gave them what they wanted. Its not to everyone’s taste but its quite amusing to hear so many so mystified about JC demise. TV One isn’t the “official channel” of NZ. It just understands the audience better.

    If TV 3 do want to improve ratings then whatever Story turns out to be; it won’t be CL. Nor will they cut back the sport. I actually think more sport means better ratings. After all people actually pay to watch Sky.

  14. I confess that I have watched TV at 7 recently. Pippa is quite good and always seems keen to get on with the story. Pippa’s pesky offsider keeps up the annoying chatter and seems like a spoilt teen lad trying to suck up to Pippa. “Look at me! Look at me!” As for that irritating constant clothes checking that he does, I hope he has many nightmares fearing that he has appeared naked!

    I guess it will be a case of wait and see for Story. Could TV3s point of difference be that will be a NZ Fox “news” program?

  15. Why do we still long for the days of Philip, Dougal, Judy & Richard, and even Brian E indeed. And do you still remember Bill Toft and Joe Cote?

    We remember them because they were good? None tried to be personality ‘wallies’ and ‘all round entertainers’ but got on with the business of information for which they were paid.

  16. Other than Duncan Garner’s bias, which (I guess) is fine to ignore in your article…I am surprised that you’ve not mentioned anything about Heather’s terrible reporting style.

    While she’s brash, dominating and can hold people to account, I find her reporting to be pretentious, populist and baseless. So many stories I’ve seen her file attempt to pander to the general ignorant opinion but actually misses the mark entirely. Mike Hosking manages to do this style quite well because of the way he articulates general ignorance with some form of elitism.

    The Gareth Morgan parihaka story that Heather filed earlier this year was a testament to her inability. She kept relating his comments to his wrongly perceived cat control argument. Populist yes, but wrong and dumb.

  17. I wonder if Heather will become our new Mother of the Nation?

  18. Dont watch tv news .I get my news from Radio NZ National.IMHO
    leaves the Tv news for dead.Worried about Carol Hirschfeld’s upcoming changes.

  19. Fun! Fun?? So Mark Jennings puts fun in the same sentence as current affairs? So the Greek economy going down the gurgler is fun? So ISIS chopping heads off is fun? So the US Supreme Court finding it is within its charter to re-define age-old dictionary meanings is fun?

    Heaven (or someone) help us.

    • I’m afraid I carry similar misgivings Brian. However Heather & Duncan are excellent Journos who should at least have some say in the shaping of the programme. I also still miss CL massively & strangely since its demise am finding it very difficult to find anything that interests me on Television. I think Mediaworks isn’t going for the older Conservative Demographic but a younger less reflective one.

    • 19.2

      Okinawa St. Paul

      “Fun! Fun??”

      Compling with the Julie Christie Charter: “Dross, Dreck, and Drivel”

  20. I watched Story last night, and although the topics were fairly interesting, I became extremely annoyed at the constant interruption by Heather over her interviewees. She is an abrasive interviewer and doesn’t let us hear what the person is saying. It’s bad enough having Suzie Ferguson and Guyon Aspiner talking over the people they are interviewing on National Radio, so Heather was the last straw. I will watch the programme for the rest of the week, and if her awful interviewing behaviour continues, then that’s it! Back to another channel!