New Zealand’s mental health system. Doping in sport. Porn addiction. Men suffering from bulimia. Men with histories of sexual abuse. TVNZ’s Jehan Casinader is drawn to stories which highlight the complexity of the human experience. The media loves heroes and villains, he says. But in cases like these, “there are a million shades of grey”.
“People don’t want to see perfect lives. They want to see people who are a little bit broken. That’s what allows them to relate,” Casinader says. “It’s like the Leonard Cohen lyric – there’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in. That sums up my whole approach to this job: looking for the cracks – not to focus on them, but to allow us to get a sense of who that person really is, and what’s shaped them.”
The Sunday correspondent, named Reporter of the Year at the recent New Zealand Television Awards, says his parents recall him informing them at age 4 he wanted to be a TV journalist.
Now based in Auckland, the 28-year-old remains passionate about the medium. “The thing about TV is, you have to be there,” he says.
“If you’re not there, then you don’t get to capture it. That forces us to get in cars and get on planes and sit in people’s lounges, and be with them while they feel the weight of what they’re doing.”
His recent investigation into the impact of internet pornography on young Kiwis prompted an unexpected response: a letter from an 82-year-old woman living in small-town New Zealand, who said his report helped her understand unresolved issues in her marriage.
“Praise is nice and awards are nice, and ratings are nice, but ultimately, it’s those personal stories that make the job worthwhile.”
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