Posted by BE on August 17th, 2013
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 »
Posted by BE on August 15th, 2013
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 »
Posted by BE on May 27th, 2011
Tony Blair giving evidence at the Iraq War Inquiry
Made an appearance on Russell Brown’s Media 7 programme last night
with fellow commentators David Slack and Sean Plunket. We were there to discuss whether politicians are by nature incorrigible liars.
The public seem to think so. Polls asking people which occupations they trust, and which they don’t, have our elected representatives languishing near the bottom of the rankings with those other devious and dissembling rogues – journalists and used-car dealers.
But the media consultant, the speech writer and the interviewer last night tended to the view that, in New Zealand at least, Members of Parliament were not generally given to telling porkies.
That is certainly my experience. In almost half a century of living in this country I can count on two hands (and with a finger or two to spare) the number of MPs found guilty of lying to Parliament. And if we’re talking about premeditated, shamefaced lying to us, the voters, the number probably isn’t much higher. Read the rest of this entry »