News Blues

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Television is the bread and butter of the screen industry.

More; What we see on our screens reflects who we are as a nation and its peoples.

News and current affairs play a vital role in this, telling us what’s going on in our little corner of the world, as well as elsewhere. It informs, educates and sometimes entertains us.

I have to admit to being a news junkie.

At one point, I worked for a short time at the global video news agency Visnews before getting a job at the global news and financial information provider Reuters. I have over the years counted a number of journalists as my friends, and have worked with many former journalists in television, corporate communications and PR. Journalists are driven by what they do and fervently believe in providing balanced coverage as well as in-depth analysis to help us all learn about and or understand issues. I believe they and their work are vital to any society.

The devastating loss of Warner Bros. Discovery’s Newshub has been compounded by the proposals at TVNZ to reduce news programmes and eliminate both SUNDAY and FAIR GO.

I was confounded when I heard that the TVNZ board had rejected Warner Bros. Discovery’s proposal to establish a NZPA-like shared news-gathering service before either of them announced their cuts. It seemed somewhat like cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.

While Radio New Zealand provides an excellent source for news, current affairs and other factual and entertainment programming, it’s not really screen content even though they throw cameras in the studios and on location—it’s still radio, and as such still has a very important place. We need New Zealand news and current affairs beaming into our living rooms, otherwise we face the cultural domination that has for decades taken over our entertainment programming.

While I personally had issues with the proposed merger between TVNZ and Radio NZ—mainly with the outlined implementation and not the strategic intention—it could have helped ensure a strong and vigorous news and current affairs approach for screen, done properly.

Colin Peacock with his Mediawatch column of 10 March here, gives an excellent perspective on the situation, including a very salient interview with Tracey Martin, the chair of the board charged with getting the merged entity up and running.

Is there hope for news and current affairs in New Zealand? Tracey Martin thinks the bureaucrats need to go back to all the work that was done by her and that board as there are potentially a lot of answers there, which this government doesn’t seem to have at this point

What surprises me however in all the kerfuffle going on, is that scant attention is being given to Whakaata Māori, which has a strong news gathering service of its own and commitment to news and current affairs programming.

Maybe they have some of the answers everybody’s looking for.


Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

Last updated on 14 March 2024