Brian Edwards Media

Posts Tagged 'Bill Ralston'

Some free media advice for Dean Barker: Ditch the sad-sack look!

 Dean Barker

I read that my friends and esteemed colleagues in the media-training business, Bill Ralston and Janet Wilson, have been employed, in media guru John Drinnan’s words, “to handle the Barker overboard debacle”. Drinnan notes that Janet “recently completed two videos on the Team NZ Facebook page, and interviewed Grant Dalton about what blows his spinnaker.”

He goes on: “But methinks much more will be needed before he has a warm and cuddly image like Spot the Dog.”

I disagree. The last thing a Team New Zealand Manager needs is “a warm and cuddly image”. Quite the reverse. Ambition, strength, drive, determination and perhaps a degree of ruthlessness might be more appropriate, and my impression is that Dalton has those qualities in spades.

Nor do I find too much wrong with his image: amiable, firm, no-nonsense, a man willing to compromise but unwilling to yield on the core issue, in this case Barker’s fitness to lead New Zealand to victory in the next America’s Cup.

Dalton has spine.  Read the rest of this entry »

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On Shane Taurima and why we don’t want political eunuchs as interviewers.

Fearless Lantern-jawed TV Interviewer 1969

Fearless Lantern-jawed TV Interviewer 1969

 

In May 1970 I was interviewed by a Truth reporter called Martin Smith. The conversation revolved around my interviewing on the top-rating current affairs programme Gallery.

Smith’s story duly appeared on the front page of Truth and began as follows:

TV personality Brian Edwards admits he has a political bias.

There was ‘no interviewer around’ who did not have a political bias, he told Truth.

‘Like the viewers, we are only human beings,’ he said.

And he has allowed this bias to colour some of his interviews, he told Truth.

Next to the story was a photograph of me with the caption ‘Brian Edwards… political bias’

Rob Muldoon once said to me that he was often misquoted in the media and invariably complained. ‘There are some things I just know I could not possibly have said.’

I knew I could not possibly have said I was politically biased and had allowed this bias to colour my interviews. It was not merely entirely untrue but would have been professionally suicidal. What I had said was that I had political opinions, as every interviewer did.

Within 24 hours I had received a letter from the Deputy Director-General of the NZBC, Lionel Sceats,  making it abundantly clear that, if the story were true, my contract with the Corporation would be terminated. I had no alternative but to sue Truth for defamation.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Of knuckleheads, long-running stories, media beat-ups and Judith Collins parting the waters

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Referring to John Key’s current dissatisfaction with the ‘knuckleheads’ of the Fourth Estate, a prominent journalist, who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty, observed to me recently, ‘No Prime Minister who ever attacked the media got re-elected.’ He was evidently out of the country during both Rob Muldoon’s and Helen Clark’s three terms, but his remark was less than flattering to the members of his own profession. Journalists, it seems, will revenge themselves on politicians who criticise them, in the process abandoning their duty to report objectively and dispassionately.

Key’s response to media attacks on his credibility, and to the Press Gallery’s  dealings with him during ‘stand-ups’ in the corridors of Parliament, has been to suggest that he’ll either abandon the stand-ups altogether or at least greatly reduce the number of questions he will take.

I would suggest the former. It makes absolutely no sense to throw yourself into a pit of hungry bears who have been practising tag-team mauling while they waited for your arrival. It would be hard to think of a more uncontrolled, uncontrollable or  dangerous arena.    Read the rest of this entry »

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The Last Post – on the little known connection between Ritalin and ‘terrific’ TV interviewing

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[Update: Susan Wood was admirably restrained in her interviews on Q & A a week after this post appeared.]

In the check-out line at Victoria Park New World this morning I bumped into my regular co-panellist on the media review segment of TV3’s The Nation, Bill Ralston. After comparing notes about why men enjoy supermarket shopping and women generally don’t, Bill asked me if I’d watched Q & A which follows the Sunday edition of The Nation on TV1 and is, I suppose, our competitor. No, I hadn’t watched it, but I’d be looking at it later on MySky. Bill thought I shouldn’t miss it. Susan Wood was ‘terrific’, she’d demolished David Shearer and given much the same treatment to National’s Nikki Kaye.

By coincidence, Bill and I had earlier been talking on The Nation to freelance journalist Karl Du Fresne who’d penned an article entitled ‘RNZ must right its lean to the left.’ Karl’s position was that there was strong evidence of endemic left wing bias by Radio New Zealand interviewers and he cited Kim Hill, Kathryn Ryan and Mary Wilson as examples.

I don’t agree with Karl’s thesis any more than I agreed with those who claimed right-wing bias on the part of the media when Helen Clark was running the country. Journalists have, in my view, an obligation to call to account whichever political party or coalition holds the reins of power, to be, if you like, an informal opposition.

Anyway, when I got home, I watched Susan Wood interviewing David Shearer and Nikki Kaye.

So did I think Susan Wood was ‘terrific’?     Read the rest of this entry »

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I meet Cameron Slater and get to thinking about boring politicians.

 

On Sunday on The Nation Bill Ralston, Rachel Smalley and I had the pleasure of interviewing Cameron Slater of ‘Whale Oil’ fame. I hadn’t expected it to be a pleasure. Slater’s politics are at the opposite end of the spectrum from my own and his and his Whale Oil followers’ perpetual use of gratuitously offensive language had merely served to persuade me of their intellectual poverty.

Meeting Slater did not change my view of the morons who have made his blog the most widely read in the country.  (Nothing attracts a following like intemperance of thought and expression.) But it did change my view of him.

Cameron is highly intelligent, has a great sense of humour and is… well, I’m reluctant to use the word ‘charming’ so I’ll tone it down a bit and say ‘extremely engaging’.

And I didn’t get where I am today by not being able to penetrate all that ‘don’t give a fuck’ bluster to recognise a capacity for being wounded that, needless to say, will never be confessed.

But what I really wanted to say is that I found Slater hugely interesting and entertaining. He is a character and we are woefully short of characters in New Zealand politics at the moment. In fact, in terms of personality,  politics in this country has never been duller.    Read the rest of this entry »

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On David Shearer And Wisdom Before And After The Event

The Listener.co.nz

Yesterday Chris Trotter’s Bowalley Road blog, headed The Unfortunate Experiment, came to the conclusion that David Shearer had to go as leader of the Labour Party. Trotter’s caption, beneath a photograph of Shearer, read: David Shearer is an immensely likeable bloke, and his work at the UN was truly inspirational, but he ain’t anybody’s kind of leader.

Trotter then advanced his reasons for believing that Shearer had to go. And I think those reasons are sound. Other bloggers from both Right and Left appear to agree.

But this is all just wisdom after the event. Shearer won the leadership of the Labour Party over David Cunliffe on December 13 last year. Six days earlier I had written a post on this site, titled Shearer or Cunliffe? Why I’ve changed my mind.  

If you revisit that post you’ll find that it’s remarkably similar in content to Chris Trotter’s blog, dated 27 April 2012, four-and-a-half  months after Shearer assumed the leadership? And it’s precisely what other bloggers are also now saying?

And yes, I’m blowing my own trumpet. And I’m entitled. Wisdom before the event is a helluva lot more impressive and useful than wisdom after the event.

This morning my co-commentator on The Nation and fellow media trainer Bill Ralston joked about Shearer, ‘He should have had some media training.’ But it was a joke. Media training would have made not an iota of difference to Shearer’s fortunes. He would have proved untrainable.

That sounds harsh, but it is not intended to be. Shearer is simply miscast as the leader of a political party in opposition. To change his image, he would have to change his personality and that, in human terms, could only be a change for the worse. Shearer is genetically challenged as a Leader of the Opposition. The killer instinct and the showbiz gene are both missing. He can be reasonable but he can’t project.

Media training is a waste of time for such politicians. Worse, it’s transparent, an ineffective cover-up job that listeners and viewers can recognise and see through. And that is damaging.

Bill Rowling, whom I mentioned in the earlier blog, was a strong personality who looked weak on television. Attempts to make him more forceful made him look like a weak man trying to appear forceful.

A similar fate was met by the rather wooden Geoffrey Palmer, who was Prime Minister for a year and who, I’m told, received media advice from some Australian gurus in the art. The advice was apparently to be physically more animated and smile more. The effect, however, was to make him look remarkably like the American Eagle on The Muppets.

Media trainers need first and foremost to be skilled diagnosticians. A wrong  diagnosis, followed by inappropriate treatment can be fatal to the patient’s prospects of survival. Sometimes, as in the case of David Shearer, it is kindest to admit that there is no cure and wish them a happy life – perhaps doing something else.

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