Complaining about the news media at times of peak news is less a habit than an ingrained reflex for many of us. And sure, there have been things to complain about in coverage of this campaign. But in general the election media have been more attentive, more lively and more diverse in this campaign than any I can recall.
That's the case I made in the set-up video for this week's Media Take, which you can semi-exclusively preview here:
Part of the difference is undoubtedly the Jacinda effect. Two months ago, I was literally sitting around with the Orcon IRL crew wondering how on earth we were going to make this thing interesting. The surge behind the recently-minted Labour leader has not only provided the close race that seemed so unlikely, but generated scenes on the campaign trail that it's hard to think of a precedent for.
On tonight's show, Te Karere reporter Ripeka Timutimu, who followed Ardern along a string of campaign stops, frankly admits that it's very difficult not to get caught up in Jacindamania when it's happening around you.
New voices have also been a factor. Three years ago, The Spinoff was TV-themed millennial irony shop. This year, it's producing valuable work on a range of fronts. The old dogs in charge at Newsroom have provided quality commentary and broken stories on Bill English and his texts and Winston Peters and his superannuation that have played into the campaign narrative in influential ways.
You can feel the buzz in traditional media too. Who'd have thought that we'd be sharing video of Hilary Barry on Breakfast hammering Steven Joyce on fiscal matters? And the intensity with which mainstream journalists have followed the campaign – scooping their own bulletins with their mobile phones – is something new. Look at what the once-somnolent Fairfax community papers are doing with internet video too.
Along with Ripeka, we're joined by Māori Television's Election Aotearoa co-host Heta Gardiner, Breakfast and Newstalk ZB's Jack Tame, Spinoff Business Editor (and until recently editor of the Western Leader) Rebecca Stevenson, Radio Waatea news editor Adam Gifford – and Laura O'Connell Rapira, who's back (and better-funded) with the youth voter initiative Rock Enrol.
It's a good show and our guests are quite forthcoming. Have a look. And maybe consider buying a journalist a drink. We love that.
Thos week's Media Take can be viewed here on-demand. See also, the extended "open floor" korero with all the panelists together.