Brian Edwards Media

Posts Tagged 'John Campbell'

This is Driving Me Nuts!

Here is the first sentence from an Associated Press report which I’ve just finished reading in the online edition of today’s Herald:

“WikiLeaks has offered to help the likes of Google and Apple identify the software holes used by purported CIA hacking tools – and that puts the tech industry in something of a bend.”

Now I don’t know who penned this story but it wouldn’t surprise me if the author was a Kiwi.

Why? Because “the likes of” has almost entirely replaced “like” , meaning “similar to”, in New Zealand journalism and, I fear, in everyday speech. Read the rest of this entry »

18 Comments , ,

Is Judith Collins fit to be Minister of Corrections? I think not.

judith-collins

 

Just listened to an appalling performance by Judith Collins with John Campbell on Checkpoint re Ngapari Nui, a gang member doing wonderful work for Maori prisoners. Unthinking, irrational, blindly bigoted, closed-minded, just plain stupid. With these attitudes Ms Collins is not fit to be Minister of any portfolio requiring forward thinking or social understanding. Least of all Minister of Corrections.

12 Comments , ,

Confessions of a victim of Hosking’s Disease

images (2)

 Mike Hosking is an opinionated chap. He’s paid an enormous sum of money to be opinionated, not only as a breakfast talk-back host on the ZB network, but as a Herald columnist and the co-host of TVNZ’s Seven Sharp. So you can’t really blame him for being opinionated. It’s his job after all.

It was only after the sacking of John Campbell as host of the programme named after him that I took a look at Seven Sharp, the shape-shifter of prime-time current-affairs programmes.

After watching the programme for a couple of weeks and reading his columns I’d had enough of Mike’s opinions and had reached that critical mass of the emotions where I was in danger of putting my foot through the screen and cancelling our subscription to the paper.

I was suffering from what I suspect may be a common complaint in this country: front-person-overload, the medical term for which is Hosking’s Disease. [Note: This can sometimes be confused with Pitt-Hopkins disease, a genetic disorder whose symptoms include developmental delay, a wide mouth, distinctive facial features and intermittent hyperventilation.]

It’s a real disease. Trust me, I’m a Doctor.

Mr Hosking’s role on Seven Sharp appears to be that of lecturer. His class currently comprises only one student, a bubbly and attractive young woman who hangs on his every word. The lectures are, however, telecast to a much larger group of students. The TVNZ calendar lists the lecture series as “Seven Sharp or Everything I Know About Everything – an enthralling series of 2,000 half-hour lectures by one of New Zealand’s most admired long-form interviewers and commentators.”

Having now watched Seven Sharp for two weeks and read several of Prof Hosking’s treatises in the Herald, I am now the trivia king at our local pub quiz. But Judy says I’ve changed – I’m arrogant, up-myself, a bad listener and a pretentious bore! And I speak warmly of John Key.

She’ll get over it!

Hey, by the way, did you know that the latest research on women’s menstrual cycles shows that the commonly held view that wome… CLICK!

62 Comments , ,

Shit Happens! An Open Letter to John Campbell

 

Shit happens, John. I’ve been “let go”, sacked from more broadcasting jobs in New Zealand than I care to remember. And, more than once, with absolutely no warning.  To add insult to injury, the sackings generally occurred at a time when the show was enjoying both public acclaim and ratings success.

Top of the Morning (1994-1999)

In December 1999 my producer, Catherine Saunders, and I were summoned to Wellington for a meeting with Radio New Zealand CEO Sharon Crosbie, an old friend of both of us.  “Summoned”  is perhaps the wrong word. Catherine and I had made a habit of going down to Wellington just before Christmas to persuade Sharon that the success of TOTM merited yet another increase in our pay. Sharon would sigh wearily but to date had come to the party.

We were pretty sure of a warm reception. The latest radio survey had just come out. TOTM, whose previous incarnation had a cumulative audience of around 80,000 when I took over the slot in 1995, now had an audience of 340,000. It was the highest rating Saturday morning radio programme in the country, not to mention outrating almost every other programme on National Radio. We had every reason to expect a warm reception from the boss.

We were called in separately to be told the news. I’d been sacked.

To this day I have absolutely no idea why I was sacked as host of TOTM. Poor ratings? Get real! Poor listener response? Ditto! My role as media advisor to Helen Clark, the newly elected Prime Minister? Hardly, TOTM was a politics-free zone with the exception of one personality-style interview – with Jenny Shipley! Which leaves two defamation writs in 5 years, neither of which, in my reasonably informed opinion, should every have been settled.

Certainly not the second, in which Paul Holmes claimed $5,000 for allegedly having been defamed by yours truly on the show

This is what happened. A close friend of Paul had told me Paul had been highly disappointed by the low-key nature of a TV election debate he’d chaired between Jenny Shipley and Helen Clark. Paul had, according to the close friend, “been hoping for a cat fight”. I mentioned this in passing on the show. Paul issued a writ against RNZ for defamation and RNZ caved. I’m not sure which is more unbelievable – for a broadcaster of Pauls’ reputation to be so thin-skinned, or Radio New Zealand so chicken-livered as to settle this preposterous suit.

You know the rest, John. When the news got out, you interviewed me on TV3 News about the sacking. You were very supportive.

Then there was a public outcry. Thousands of people wrote to Radio New Zealand to protest. A couple of “offers they know you can’t accept” were made to me by  RNZ during all of this.

Sound familiar?

Shit happens, John.

But wait, there’s more! Read the rest of this entry »

61 Comments , , , , , , , , , ,

From Omaha to Hotel California

View from the bach at Leigh

View from the bach at Leigh

About 6 months ago we bought ourselves a bach in Leigh. It’s not terribly posh. You could easily mistake it for a Lockwood, but it’s half way up a cliff and all you can see from the deck is the sea and the horizon and, jutting out, the distant peninsula that is home to the Tauwharanui Regional Park and, on a clear day, Great Barrier Island. And all you can hear are the waves breaking on the rocks at the bottom of the cliff.

To get from Auckland to Leigh, you head for the Warkworth turn-off to Matakana, then on to Leigh bypassing the turn-0ff to Omaha.

I remembered that John Key has a holiday home at Omaha where he barbecued chops and sausages for John Campbell.

I’m a nosy bugger and about a month ago could no longer resist the temptation to check out the resort which our Prime Minister had chosen as his Kiwi  – as distinct from Hawaiian – holiday destination.

I gather there’s a fashionable and unfashionable part of Omaha. Homes in the “unfashionable” part have apparently just hit the $3 million mark, so the price of a “bach” in “fashionable” Omaha must be astronomical.

To satisfy my curiosity about Omaha Judy and I made  a detour on our way from Matakana to Leigh.

There are a lot of posh and a lot of not-so-posh-looking houses. The land in front of the houses is flat, so the only elevation above sea level, and therefore the only view of the sea, is from any storey above ground level. The streets in front of the houses form a grid of roughly parallel lines.   We drove down Street One for as far as we could go, then did a U-turn round the median strip into Street Two which ran parallel and brought us back to our starting point.

It was a deeply depressing excursion.

I’m sitting on the couch in our “Lockwood” now, looking across the sea to the horizon, interrupted on one side by Great and Little Barrier and on the other by the Tauwharanui Peninsula. Occasionally you can see the Coromandel. But you can always hear the waves breaking on the rocks.

I’m listening to my all time favourite LP, The Eagles’ Hotel California – The Last Resort:

“Some rich men came and raped the land,
Nobody caught ‘em
Put up a bunch of ugly boxes, and Jesus,
people bought ‘em
And they called it paradise
The place to be
They watched the hazy sun, sinking in the sea

“And you can see them there,
On Sunday morning
They stand up and sing about
what it’s like up there
They call it paradise
I don’t know why
You call someplace paradise,
kiss it goodbye”

Love that song!

35 Comments ,

The Campbell Live Debate – A Considered View

Campbell Live

I’ve signed the on-line petition which effectively invites TV3 to abandon its intention to replace Campbell Live with what we now know will be a stripped soap-opera made by Julie Christie’s former company Eyeworks.

What has to be acknowledged straight away is that TV3 is a private company and under no obligation to continue producing a prime-time television programme that is losing ratings and therefore revenue. The channel cannot be asked to produce Campbell Live at a loss or to give it preference over a potentially higher rating programme in the same time-slot.

The dilemma here arises from the fact that Campbell is a public service broadcaster working for a private television network. The fault here lies not with TV3 but with the failure of successive governments to provide New Zealanders with a true public service television channel.  While Campbell continued to rate with TV3’s youngish target demographic, his position was relatively secure. The show, which the channel advertises as “New Zealand’s leading current affairs programme”, has been around for a decade. Not a bad run in anyone’s books. But, under the private broadcasting system, once viewers begin to turn off a programme, its host is likely to be shown the door.    Read the rest of this entry »

170 Comments , , , , ,

On the uncanny resemblance between John Key and Sergeant Schultz

images (1)

In the 30-odd years that Judy and I have been providing media advice and training to prime ministers, prostitutes and pretty well every profession in-between, our teaching mantra has remained the same: “Be straightforward, tell the truth, admit your mistakes”. It’s a practical rather than a necessarily moral slogan. Being straightforward with the media, telling the truth and admitting your mistakes is quite simply the only strategy that works. Everything else will get you into trouble or more trouble than you’re already in.

Our experience of our elected representatives – left, right and centre – has led us to the conclusion that most are reasonably honest and that the lying politician is a much rarer creature than the general population appears to think. Persuading MPs, Cabinet Ministers and the men and women who held the top job to be straightforward and tell the truth has not been a difficult or even a necessary task.

But will the buggers admit their mistakes? No way. To avoid the usual accusations of left-wing bias on my part, I’ll cite two examples from my side of the house. Helen Clark and the painting which she signed but didn’t paint; Helen Clark and the police car speeding her to Eden Park to watch the rugby.

Neither of these were hanging offences and reasonable explanations (or excuses if you prefer) could have been offered for both: PMs put their moniker on all sorts of things with charitable intent; the New Zealand Prime Minister arriving late for an international footie match isn’t a good look. And anyway, these cops are brilliant and safe drivers.

But Helen, who had been brought up in a family where lying was just about a capital offence, was unwilling to own responsibility for either of these relatively minor transgressions. She was reluctant to admit that she’d made a mistake or even that she’d failed to prevent others making mistakes on her behalf.

The outcome in terms of public and press reaction was extremely negative in both cases. Simple concessions, perhaps with a touch of humour, could have avoided all the fuss: “Well, I sign a lot of things for charity; but maybe I didn’t make it clear that I hadn’t actually painted the picture. I couldn’t paint like that to save my life; Yes, not a good look, I’ll admit, and not a good example to other drivers. Guilty as charged, I’m afraid.”

The problem with denial when you’ve done something wrong is that far from making the issue go away, it amplifies and protracts it. Admitting your mistakes tends to have the opposite effect. Your opponents may have a field day of self congratulation, but it will at least be brief.    Read the rest of this entry »

113 Comments , , , , , , , ,

Long run or short season for David Cunliffe?

Cunliffe and Key

When you’ve read this short post have a look at the interview below with David Cunliffe on last night’s Campbell Live .  But first,  if you haven’t done so already, please  read my previous post on the ex Labour leader, titled “Some acting experience an advantage but not required”.

To be absolutely fair to David  Cunliffe, I should perhaps add that, like all senior politicians, he has on his team people whose job it is to advise him on media issues, to analyse and comment on his radio and television appearances and to prepare him for upcoming interviews and debates, possibly by workshopping those exchanges. Their job is not to ra-ra their employer’s efforts but to be brutally frank in critically analysing his performance.

The blame for Cunliffe’s misguided and vote-losing approach to his exchanges with the Prime Minister during the last election and particularly his final televised debate with John Key on TV One, must be proportionally shared with those advisers.   Read the rest of this entry »

22 Comments , , ,

On Len Brown And The Problem With Haloes

images

It’s a fact of life that there are some people we just don’t like. There may be no persuasive reason for not liking them. It’s the gut rather than the brain talking. But the gut operates at a deeper level than the brain and may often be the better judge of character.

In my own case, the best example of “gut judgement” is my reaction to Owen Glenn. The man almost literally turns my stomach. I can guess at some of the reasons, but I really have no hard evidence to convict him of anything. Recent events may suggest I am not alone in my reaction.

I feel less strongly about Len Brown. But I don’t like him either. It’s the gut again.   Read the rest of this entry »

216 Comments , , , , , , , ,

Campbell versus Key – the wider issue.

index

The wider issue is television itself. Television does not deal well with complexity. This is particularly the case with commercial television which subscribes to the view that the average viewer has a short attention span, is easily bored and likely to reach for the remote within minutes or possibly seconds of the first hint of tedium appearing. Commercial television executives have assessed the attention span of the average viewer at a maximum of seven minutes, less if the viewer’s interest is not frequently stimulated.

In the areas of news and current affairs that stimulation generally comes in the form of conflict:  the reporting of conflict in the case of news; and actual conflict between antagonists in the case of television current affairs. Third Degree’s ‘The Vote’ provides a classic example. As did the Campbell/Key debate.

However unpalatable, this view of things is probably more or less correct. Commercial television viewers do bore easily and will desert a channel that does not offer them excitement. Such desertion leads to declining ratings and  loss of advertising revenue – the commercial television executive’s nightmare.

The discursive (big word for ‘long’) examination of significant social or political issues simply does not fit the commercial broadcaster’s agenda. So programmes like Campbell Live and Seven Sharp, which play in prime time, are normally made up of three segments with a combined duration of around 22 minutes. I’m told the average sound-bite in a commercial news bulletin is now around five seconds.

Programmes which do attempt to take a more in-depth look at social and political issues – such as The Nation and Q & A – are deliberately marginalised by commercial television executives to the audience wastelands of early Saturday and Sunday morning. Read the rest of this entry »

117 Comments , , , , ,

In the red corner John Campbell; In the blue corner John Key; Your Referee – the good doctor!

The last time I really got stuck into John Campbell was when he interviewed ‘moon man’ Ken Ring after the February earthquake. That was on 28 February 2011. You’ll gather I find very little to criticise in John’s approach to his work – and a great deal to praise. I’ve described what he does as ‘advocacy journalism’ and many thousands of New Zealanders, most particularly those teachers, parents and children adversely affected by the Novopay debacle, and the dispossessed and seemingly abandoned victims of the Christchurch earthquake, have benefited from that advocacy.  It would not, I think, be an exaggeration to claim that both groups and a great many other people regard John Campbell as something of a hero. I share that view.

I don’t want to revisit the Ring interview. My criticism of John for browbeating his subject was harsh and I later regretted its harshness. I followed the first post up with a second, A Gracious Apology from John Campbell. It included this sentence: ‘For my part, I believe that my critique of his performance on this occasion was justified, but the manner in which it was expressed may not have been. Like John himself, I was angry.’

My impression last night was that John was angry again, this time with the Prime Minister, John Key. Key had refused numerous invitations by Campbell Live to discuss the GCSB legislation. That is his right. Television programmes have no power of subpoena and nor should they have such a power. Read the rest of this entry »

105 Comments , , , , , , ,

The Lone Ranger comes to town – finally! A personal experience of bullying.

When I first saw the story about Casey Heynes, the 16-year-old Sydney schoolboy who’d been bullied for most of his school career and who finally snapped and turned on his tormentor, I was taken back to my own experience 60 years ago at Dunmurry Primary School, just outside Belfast. You’ll need to know that Anderson & McAuley was  the Belfast equivalent of Smith & Caughey or Kirkcaldie & Stains. ‘Cheeser’ was our nickname for the headmaster whose real name was Mr Chesney.  This is the story as I tell it in my memoir Daddy Was A German Spy – And Other Scandals:

 

  Like most schools, Dunmurry Primary had its resident bully. Nelson was an ugly fat boy. These days you would say that Nelson was an unhappy kid with body image issues who needed counselling. But in those days it was OK to say that Nelson was an ugly fat boy. Nelson threw his weight around – literally. He would jump on your back, then punch your lights out when you were on the ground. No one ever fought back and unless one of the teachers was around, no one ever came to the victim’s rescue. Nelson could have starred in a 50’s Western as the really bad dude who terrorises the town. Where was The Lone Ranger when you needed him?

 I was a favourite target for Nelson whose bully radar may have detected a nervous kid with pacifist tendencies. You never saw him coming. Nelson didn’t bother with foreplay. There were no threats or intimidation to warm things up. You suddenly found yourself spread-eagled beneath a mountain of pummelling lard.

 I put up with this for several months. Then, one day, something snapped. Nelson had just had his fill of beating the crap out of me and was wandering off in search of another victim when he got a sudden surprise. The wimp Edwards had appeared from nowhere and was riding on his back, his skinny arms round Nelson’s throat, kicking the living daylights out of the back of Nelson’s knees. A small crowd had gathered.

 ‘Fight! Fight! Fight!’     Read the rest of this entry »

31 Comments , , ,

A Gracious Apology from John Campbell

stuff.co.nz

At the top of his programme tonight, John Campbell made a gracious, fulsome and patently sincere apology for the tenor of his interview with Ken Ring last night. I am very aware that such apologies are not easy for broadcasters and I congratulate John for making it. He made a mistake that almost certainly reflected his experiences over the last week of the suffering of the people of Christchurch and his concern that they should not be subjected to further and possibly unnecessary anxiety.

For my part, I believe that my critique of his performance on this occasion was justified, but the manner in which it was expressed may not have been. Like John himself, I was angry.

This matter should now, I believe, be put to rest. Accordingly Judy and I have closed off comments on the original post. Lessons have been learned on both sides.

60 Comments ,

John Campbell, tonight you were a disgrace to the interviewer’s trade.

John, Your mindless, bullying, tirade against ‘moon man’ Ken Ring on tonight’s Campbell Live was perhaps the worst piece of egotistical, self-important, out of control, closed-minded, biased, unprofessional  non-interviewing I have seen in more than 40 years of New Zealand television.

I have no brief for Mr Ring or his theories, but after watching your treatment of him tonight, I have considerably more respect for him as the reasonable exponent of an admittedly controversial point of view than I have for you as an interviewer.

What mattered to you in this exchange was not what he had to say, but what you had to say. And since he thought the process was meant to involve his being critically questioned on statements he had made and being given reasonable opportunity to reply, he had every right to complain when you preferred to deny him that opportunity by shouting him down. It was, quite simply, appalling.

My advice to Mr Ring would be to immediately complain to Mark Jennings, the Head of News and Current Affairs at TV3 about your mistreatment on the programme tonight, and the breach of Broadcasting Standards of fairness and balance which it contained. And, when your complaint is almost certainly rejected, to take the matter to the Broadcasting Standards Authority for their deliberation and judgement.

The microphone is a potent tool in the bullying interviewer’s hand, especially when the interview is not face-to-face and the interviewee is isolated in a remote studio location. Fortunately most interviewers do not abuse that situation. Tonight we saw what has overall been excellent television coverage of the Christchurch earthquake on both TVNZ and TV3 marred by a descent to broadcasting at the level of Jerry Springer. I have seldom been so angry.

173 Comments , , , , , , ,

A brief assessment of the players in the Hotchin/Sainsbury/Close Up interview

stuff.co.nz

 

Close Up – Undoubtedly a major coup, though I suspect that Hotchin, or an agent on his behalf, approached the programme. However, the  production team blotted its copy book badly by totally abandoning editorial balance and showing clips damaging to Hotchin –  largely newspaper headlines – while Hotchin was speaking. An appalling lapse in editorial judgement.

Hotchin – Plausible and persuasive. I thought he was very good. His appearance has been and will be dismissed as a PR exercise and there may well be an element of truth in that. But the risks inherent in taking part in a live and predictably aggressive television interview were considerable. And, in the end, all the PR in the world will not assist the lying or dishonest television interviewee. The audience will see through him.     

Sainsbury – Handled the interview well. Asked the questions that viewers, and some at least of those who lost money in Hanover, would have wanted asked. Somewhat repetitive and it really would be good if Mark could put his questions in a less excitable way. But overall a good performance.

Campbell Live – Ended its show last night with an undignified piece of sour grapes in which John bewailed the fact that Hotchin was appearing on his competitor’s programme and re-ran old Campbell Live clips which served merely to explain why Hotchin had gone to Close Up.  John is the superior broadcaster of the two, but would he have done this particular interview better? I doubt it.

The Viewers – Will many have changed their view of Hotchin after watching the interview? Probably not.

52 Comments , , , , , ,

The Really Big News from Godzone

 

Photo: TV3

Photo: TV3

NZ Listener

NZ Listener

 

 

 

 

 

 

I really shouldn’t have brought my laptop to Vietnam. We intended  to do the occasional blog on our travels and leave it at that. But the temptation to check out what was happening in Godzone – there’s not much in the Hoi An Times - was too hard to resist, so I took a peep this morning at the Kiwi Sunday rags. Had the government changed? Had Herne Bay been declared a disaster zone in our absence? Had Phil Goff rocketed in the polls? Had Bainimarama invited Helen Clark to act as mediator in the NZ-Fiji standoff? Had Lockwood Smith introduced smacking for naughty MPs? You know – the really big stuff.

No, nothing much had changed since we left two weeks ago. According to the Herald on Sunday, the really big news was that John Campbell might be sacked.

I like and admire John. He’s a talented broadcaster and a really nice person. That’s the problem really, I can’t be in the same room with John because I’m a diabetic. My sugar levels go off the scale. Read the rest of this entry »

14 Comments , , ,