Hard News by Russell Brown

Read Post

Hard News: The Advocate

131 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 Newer→ Last

  • WH,

    Great column Russell. When I was in New Zealand, I tended to watch Close Up if I was lucky enough to be home by seven. I always liked Mark Sainsbury's style - he's somehow the Grant Nisbett of current affairs - but increasingly my memories of John Campbell are of a very decent bloke fighting the good fight. After the details of the night's stories fade maybe that is what really reaches people. Maaarvelous.

    And yet giving people a voice, allowing their opinions and feelings to be heard, is absolutely and unequivocally a key role of the fourth estate and an important part of strong journalism.

    Good stuff John. I wouldn't have suggested that we subsidise coal either.

    Since Nov 2006 • 792 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to John Sellwood,

    a multistoried event...

    I suppose when the Titanic was sinking some might think good reportage was a technical analysis of the ship’s buoyancy....

    Will no-one think of the iceberg?
    Calved off, lost and lonely,
    miles from home in the dark...
    { ;- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7939 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to David Chittenden,

    If my memory serves me correctly, John Campbell publicly said that he regretted his uncompromising approach in that interview. It was a long time after the interview but for me it did say something about the man.

    JC had a minor car accident on the way home from doing that interview; he said it was because he was so upset about how it had gone. I think he’s a genuinely nice and fair-minded man. A pity Clark couldn't forgive him.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Lilith __,

    I have some significant regrets about how I covered the Corngate story at the time too. It was a fraught scene.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22807 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Will no-one think of the iceberg?
    Calved off, lost and lonely,
    miles from home in the dark...

    poetry

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Lilith __,

    when done badly, personal stories can be selected and/or shaped to fit a convenient narrative.

    Nature of news/current affairs production is they're always selected and shaped. The integrity of the selectors/shapers becomes even more important, and over time viewers judge for ourselves where they are coming from. Any pretence of 'objectivity' is just industry-sanctioned journalistic cowardice.

    I value that Campbell Live has a strong, cohesive tone no matter who is reporting - a tribute to their producer and one another. That tone is bound to put off some potential viewers, but at least it's honest.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    I first noticed John Campbell when he was one of the first to expose that scam on the west coast of logging native tress and that dodgy PR firm, in the late 1990s. He was working for 60 minutes or one of those so-called current affairs programmes. I think he must have been a fan of Nicky Hagar's work back then, and then that led to the Corngate thing a few years later.

    I wonder whether he and Helen Clark ever made up after that? Their paths certainly crossed a lot in the years following.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3213 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    I remember Hager and Campbell sneaking into the Waihopai spy-satellite base. So old comrades in arms, maybe?

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood, in reply to John Sellwood,

    I suppose when the Titanic was sinking some might think good reportage was a technical analysis of the ship’s buoyancy, the number of water-tight doors.

    In the sort of news I read, the buoyancy of the Titanics doors has been featuring recently.
    Mythbusters and the Titanic's door

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    Wasn't that Jeremy Wells and Mikey Havoc? One of them pee'd on the fence. Or was that another time?

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2557 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    There are others in the media who have been quietly standing up for the little people for decades eg Simon Collins now of the Herald, and previously of Wellington's life saving City Voice. Here he gently points out the gaps in the Government's latest policy announcement about child abuse http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10839705

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3213 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    Wikipedia reckons Campbell and Hager broke in in 1996; Hager, Havoc and Newsboy in 1999. I never argue with wikipedia. Except sometimes :)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to John Sellwood,

    asking about the lack of life-boats

    As a complete aside, while it is true there were too few life boats overall on the titanic that is not why so many died.

    Many lifeboats were only half-filled due to time delays to guide the women and children first into boats, or no open doors to release passengers on lower decks.

    The real problem was lack of training and some pretty awful proceedures.

    Stories, they are complicated by facts.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Mrs Ackroyd Band had a song about the polar bear family that lived there...

    Have you got any news of the iceberg?
    My family were on it you see.
    Have you got any news of the iceberg?
    They mean the whole world to me.

    I heard heard it performed in bathetic full on NatRad but no link for it there...

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • G in J, in reply to WH,

    the Grant Nisbett of current affairs

    Bwahahahahahaha!

    Osaka • Since Dec 2011 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Doyle,

    Isn't some of the difference between hard and soft news similar to the study of history as dead politics (hard news) and social history?

    Stillwater • Since Nov 2011 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • John Armstrong, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Stories, they are complicated by facts.

    Yep, but also vice versa. Without wanting to start any firestorms, facts in and of themselves are of limited use without being contextualised, and often, narrativised. I don't think that this denigrates the status of factual information, but instead highlights the care that needs to be exercised when using or critiquing it. Your example perhaps illustrates this; the only 'facts' of the matter were the number of people on board the Titanic, the number of lifeboats etc. I'm not sure that the conclusion that you offered can really be considered a fact - it seems to be more of a judgement about the relative importance of those facts.

    Hamilton • Since Nov 2007 • 136 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    I agree Campbell Live has been doing some great stuff lately. Unfortunately, for a primetime current affairs show, that great stuff doesn't seem to be helping the ratings any. I tend to keep a lazy eye across how the various shows do, and there was one day last week CLive got a 3.2 in its demographic (25-54) - that's what you'd hope for with a good breakfast show, not something at 7pm. I've never seen it that low before but I don't check every day. Last night it got a 3.8 (the only blessing is that The Ridges got a 3.7, after a 10.9 in its first week), There might be nicer/better ways to slice the stats, but that's got to be a worry for what is a commercial show. And despite what I've written before about CL, I genuinely want it to survive and keep doing good stuff.

    On the other hand, I spoke to someone yesterday who complained about all the stuff Clive had been doing of late, saying it was trying to blame the rest of us for the problems of the poor, and hyping the problems out of proportion - I don't agree, but it's possible that for every one of me who likes the lunchbox stuff, there are a couple of people out there who don't...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to John Armstrong,

    Yep, but also vice versa.

    I agree entirely.
    The relationship between the fact of too few lifeboats (the company finagled shipping regulations to avoid having too many lifeboats spoil the look of the decks) the fact of poor crew training and policies that led to lifeboats being launched half empty.
    And
    The people and lives involved, the owers, the designers, the crew, the passengers, their motivations, the effects on families.

    Without both parts you can't understand what happened properly.

    Note I do think Campbell has being doing a great job with the stories it's been telling. I just don't see any need to denigrate facts to justify telling the story of the people and their responses to the facts.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • graeme muir,

    "Close Up’s ratings, while still generally ahead of Campbell’s have been dwindling nearly as much as its sense of purpose.
    On the other hand, Campbell Live has been positively bristling with purpose this year."

    It's entirely your prerogative to prefer one programme over another, but I wonder if you've taken the time lately to properly watch, because the above statement just reads to me like a cute line (recycled tweet to John Campbell n' all).

    You say “in a slot that can easily default to lazy, consumer-PR-driven stories, Campbell Live is flourishing through advocacy journalism.” It’s certainly getting a deserved reputation for it (I’ll come to the ‘flourishing’ bit in a minute) but this advocacy still sits alongside coverage of Chocoade biscuits, new pies at KFC, high jinks at home shows, and a bristling half hour special on Justin Bieber (!). I’m not judging too much (ok, a little) because I know how hard it is to fill half an hour of current affairs 5 days a week however many weeks a year we both do it, in a country our size.

    We don’t always get it right – we’re being axed for a start! – but there are excellent journalists and producers here who’ve worked bloody hard to cover stories and issues that we believe are relevant to our audience. To name a few: minimum pricing on alcohol, the lack of a Meningococcal C vaccination programme, whooping cough, huffing, the proliferation of food waste, the school decile debate and a series on charter schools. And, despite what ratings-charlatans like Mark Jennings would have you believe, many more people choose to watch us and they’re not closing any gap. Despite a comprehensive winning margin over our competitors the programme is being axed because the 7pm slot has been in overall decline for some years. If it’s bad for us, though, things are positively munted over at Flower Street; the 3 audience that you credit Campbell Live with understanding exquisitely (“Campbell typically (and, I suspect, quite consciously) positions itself on the side of people who look like its audience”), are choosing to watch Shortland Street or do almost anything else. It’s a pox on both our houses (we’re just not quite as ravaged).

    On this subject of ratings and ‘flourishing’ (sorry Public Address audience: neither of us broadcast on a public service channel, so we live and die by them) have you ever checked them with anyone other than the TV3 publicity machine? Close Up has twice the audience of Campbell Live, and regularly wins, by some margin, the all-important advertising demographic of 25-54. (To give you an idea: since the last week in April – arbitrary date but it’s when I started here - Close Up has won the 25-54 demo eighty nine times; Campbell Live 16 times – I stopped counting when it was announced the programme would end. Just last night was a disappointing night for Close Up: 17.1 share in 25-54 and Campbell live an 11. Yes, just eleven per cent of the people watching TV at that time in their key advertising market of 25-54, were watching.) So nice line about dwindling numbers and purpose but not backed up by the facts.

    Yes, a show is about more than the ratings – success is measured in other ways, and so it should - but it says something when the 3 News audience just says ‘no thanks’ on a nightly basis.

    I wish them well (through gritted teeth) but if you think they’re not in a perilous position then you didn’t learn much from your half hour interview of John Campbell.

    Graeme, EP Close Up

    auckland • Since Apr 2007 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to graeme muir,

    Thank you for joining the conversation, Graeme.

    What I've personally been enjoying most about Campbell Live lately is them following stories over many days so we get a complex issue like child poverty or the Dotcom fiasco explored in more depth than a single segment or a news hour can ever do.

    Other than the charter schools series, has your team been doing similar ones that I may have just missed?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Grevers, in reply to John Sellwood,

    I suppose when the Titanic was sinking some might think good reportage was a technical analysis of the ship’s buoyancy, the number of water-tight doors.Personally I would be more interested in interviewing the people stranded onboard and asking about the lack of life-boats.

    An Ian Wishart would have been questioning the owners about the identity of the ship. Multiple forms of reportage are necessary and welcome.

    New Plymouth • Since Jul 2011 • 143 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to graeme muir,

    It’s entirely your prerogative to prefer one programme over another, but I wonder if you’ve taken the time lately to properly watch, because the above statement just reads to me like a cute line (recycled tweet to John Campbell n’ all).

    Thanks for coming here, Graeme. That line did sound harsher than I meant it to, so my apologies for that, but I don’t resile from my view about your rival’s recent performance and sense of purpose.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22807 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    ...how hard it is to fill half an hour of current affairs 5 days a week however many weeks a year we both do it, in a country our size

    Well said. Maybe it would be an idea to do an hour a week of relevant stuff, rather than 2.5 hours of Justin Bieber. Also, it's a big world out there, interesting things happen, and modern technology makes it cheaper than ever to go and cover them (no need to transport half a tonne of satellite dish, for a start).

    But we don't get much international coverage of anything beyond sport stories and John Key's <strike>holidays</strike> global diplomacy missions. I like the way RadioActive* now lead on international news and cover NZ after that.

    * Wellington's leading student-focused alternative commercial radio station

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Can I say that I dislike them both, passionately. I can't watch either without a deep feeling of sadness. Campbell Live may be the better of the two, but in tone, style, and substance, both lack acutely the measured and rational coverage I can take for granted when I'm watching Australian reality-based television.

    You notice it. In conversation, people are shaped by the information they've consumed, and when talking to people in either country who consider themselves well informed, they take their agenda and discussion points from the previous week's current affairs television. Those tend to be much more limited in New Zealand, and those conversations then feed into the national psyche and how we understand ourselves and the country and world we live in.

    Commercial television is worse in Australia, but the elites and public television watching public are informed. The problem exists where that gap becomes a gulf, and it plays out frequently in the contorted behaviour of their current government. I'll shut up now, before I become the annoying expat.

    On a much more positive note, MSF Australia have just launched a TV station. It's an incredibly interesting experiment, and so far the results are rewarding.
    http://www.msf.tv/

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.