Hard News by Russell Brown


Changes and appointments

The idea of Radio New Zealand being somehow merged with TVNZ's digital channels has been around for a while – even before the current government took office.

When RNZ management unexpectedly yanked Sean Plunket from a gig hosting The New Zealand Internet Debate for TVNZ 7 in 2008, Sean's view was that they were keen not to be seen as too compatible with the public-service TV channels, lest someone get the idea of bringing them under the same roof.

Drinnan's media column today suggests that's a done deal, and that "Labour is understood to be broadly behind the merger."

Me too, both as a consumer of public broadcasting and, should my services be required, a contributor to it.

But I can understand why it would give Radio New Zealand management pause for thought. It's by no means certain that Peter Cavanagh would head the new entity, and even less clear whether it could be based in Wellington, given that no one seems to think that the city's only substantial production facility, at Avalon, has a long-term future.

So there's a sense in which some people at Radio New Zealand have a fair amount to lose through such a merger. But the rest of us may have more to gain.

Meanwhile, this year's New Zealand Internet, broadcast on Wednesday and hosted again by that Damian Christie chap, is available for viewing online, as is this week's Media7, which features a look at the fortunes of news photography and an interview about Pacific journalism with Michael Field.


It's been a busy week, and there's a busier one coming.

I chaired Dr Luke Goode's contribution to this year's Auckland University Winter Lecture series. It was titled 'Citizens as Gatekeepers' and largely sought to distinguish hype from reality in the social media sphere. You can read and hear it on the Winter Lectures web page.

The series organiser, Joe Atkinson, steps up next Tuesday with 'The Politics of Comedy', which examines the role and significance of "fake news" programmes – especially the Daily Show and the Colbert Report.

I won't be there, because I'll be here:

Amnesty International Aotearoa NZ, in conjunction with AUT University’s Club PR, is pitting public relations practitioners against journalists next Tuesday to debate whether human rights violations are being overlooked by the New Zealand news media.

Chaired by Russell Brown of Public Address, the charity debate will see Martyn ‘Bomber’ Bradbury of TUMEKE! and Kiwi FM’s and TVNZ 7’s Wallace Chapman up against PR directors, Jane Sweeney of Porter Novelli and Carrick Graham of Facilitate Communications. The teams will each be joined by one AUT student studying journalism and public relations.

The debating teams will be asked to respond to the moot: ‘Human rights in New Zealand; the news media create more heat than light'.

That runs from 12 to 1.30pm at AUT University Conference Centre, Building WA, Room 224. Entry by donation.

And the next night, Wednesday,we're recording an extended Media7 special for TVNZ's Spotlight on Science and Technology. Our theme is "communicating science", and to that end I'll be talking to Peter Griffin of the Science Media Centre, science journalist Alan Samson, Radio NZ science producer Phil Smith, Otago University's Rebecca McLeod (the McDiarmid Young Scientist of the Year in 2008) – and some chap called Haywood from Christchurch, who seems quite popular.

Jose Barbosa and Matthew Dentith will also offer a guide to reading science stories in the news media and Keith Ng is bringing the infographics. We'll be staging it in the TVNZ atrium, and It should be good fun.

I'll write up a post about the show's themes over the weekend (it will be quite a busy weekend), but you can let me know from now if you'd like to join us, by clicking "Reply" and telling me so.

And one more for your diary: Friday, September 10 is the Public Address Orcon Great Blend in Auckland. This one has a theme of creative collaboration, and I'm quite excited about what we're doing. Full details next week.



Robert Scott's 2001 debut solo album, The Creeping Unknown, was a lovely little mystery of a record, haunting and in some sense unfinished. His new one, Ends Run Together is a bit noisier but equally charming, to judge by 'Daylight', free download from the album being offered via the Flying Nun Records website.

Staying with the Nun, Simon Pound and I chatted to Andy and Michael from Die Die Die about their noisy, catchy new album, Form for Public Address Radio. You can hear that on Radio Live from 7pm on Sunday night, and it'll go up on the podcast next week.

Sola Rosa is marking the release of Get It Together: The Remixes by giving away one of those remixes – the DJ Vadim re-re-rub of 'Turn Around' feat. Iva Lankum. Just go here and follow the instructions.

Also, I've been doing a lot of kitchen-dancing to the music of DJ-producer Pretty Lights. Heavily-sampled collages sometimes leave me cold (I'm looking at you, Girl Talk), but Pretty Lights knows what a goddamn groove is. At his website you can download recent EPs for an optional PayPal donation, or listen first on Hype Machine.

Dear Big Day Out promoters: you should book Pretty Lights for whatever takes the place of the Boiler Room next year. Really.

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