Otago Daily Times
Real news gives way to TV1 pap and puffery
THANK goodness for RNZ Concert.
Civis sat down in front of the TV about 5.45pm on Saturday, October 17, election day (a misnomer, given that voting had been in progress for some time). The last part of The
Chase was encouraging (except for the chaser) as the full house of contestants outran the chaser and took home their money, and Civis looked forward to the 6pm 1 News being mercifully free of campaign reruns.
What a letdown! The first 10 minutes of the socalled news programme was a prolonged inhouse advertisement for TV1’s coverage of election results, due to start at 7pm: where each party would be officially celebrating or consoling themselves, and which effusive presenter (even John Campbell looked like a mindless marionette) would be commenting on their reactions (as if that mattered). Then a twominute preview of what was coming on the news, and two minutes of other advertisements, before the news proper began, 14 minutes late. At 6.25pm there was another three minutes of pseudonews, consisting of a summary of the first 10 minutes of selfadvertising, before the sport news began, about 10 minutes earlier than usual.
As usual, Civis turned off the TV at that point, having no interest in mindless interrogation of failing or upcoming rugby ‘‘personalities’’ and prolonged postmortems of past games. But turning it on again at 6.54pm, expecting to see the weather report, brought more irritation: the next six minutes consisted of even more navelgazing regarding the staff about to front the channel’s electionresult coverage. Clearly, the sport section, and, presumably, the weather report, had been moved forward to allow time for that pap.
Why? Does TV1 really think that its presenters are objects of such mindless devotion that viewers are happy to sit and watch pointless selfpromotion in the guise of reminding them of what they already know?
When a pandemic, affecting millions round the world, is resurgent in many countries and causing major economic problems; when, as the United States approaches its own election, its ‘‘ManiacinChief’’ endorses bizarre QAnon conspiracy theories, seeking support from its adherents, and from racist militias; when Britain (it’s impossible to use the word ‘‘Great’’ of it now) brazenly legislates to break an international agreement it signed up to year ago (who’ll want to make agreements with it now?), and its buffoon of a prime minister blandly welcomes a nodeal Brexit; when climate change is bringing ever more dramatic warnings of existential disaster, with fires, cyclones and melting ice, does TVNZ really think a lineup of smirking presenters is more important than real news?
Civis is old enough to remember local station DNTV2, with its blackandwhite images of Dougal Stevenson soberly reading the news from his desk — a talking head with few illustrations. That was infinitely more interesting and informative than the socalled ‘‘news’’ on TV1 last Saturday evening. TVNZ’s puffery had, for at least one couple, an opposite effect to that intended.
Selfimportant commentators and pumpedup hysteria were avoided by switching to Channel 51 (RNZ National had cancelled its request session), and election results left till morning.
Should politicians model violence? Trumplite National Party leader Judith Collins was filmed demonstrating, with enthusiastic comments, an uppercut. Will someone who kills an unsuspecting stranger with a ‘‘king hit’’ claim her example as a mitigating factor?
The Labour Party has made history, with New Zealand’s first oneparty majority of seats in the House achieved under MMP. Will it think for the future and work with the Green and Maori Parties to build longterm social democratic interparty cooperation, in order to reduce inequity, poverty, and institutional racism, to support communitarianism (rather than Act’s selfcentred individualism and National’s paler version) and, above all, to slash carbon emissions dramatically (remember Ms Ardern’s 2017 ‘‘nuclear moment’’?) in the interests of human survival?