Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Radio NZ: Sailing on in straitened times

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  • Lara,

    I find the second hour of Checkpoint more interesting. The news from overseas tends to end up in the half hour before seven and I wish there was more of it. It is nice to be reminded that we do not live in a bubble! I do listen to the whole two hours of Checkpoint, but that's partially because I always have the radio on while mucking about with the horses each evening.

    I am coming to the conclusion that I don't like Simon Mercep's style on Morning Report. I turn it on in the morning, but often end up turning it off. Previously I only used to do that if the interviewee was particularly infuriating; now it's the interviewer.

    I found Chris Laidlaw's (I think it was him) interview with Richard Griffin a few weeks back rather troubling. Radio NZ is invaluable. It is disturbing (but not surprising) that the current government sees it as a service that a) It needn't bother to show up on and b) one that should be whittled down into uselessness.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2009 • 82 posts Report Reply

  • John Morrison,

    At least with RNZ you get balance. Ok, Mercep and Robinson do not go for the jugular when interviewing, but Ferguson who is on Morning Report just now does have formidable interviewing skills. MR is the only news program worth listening to, the rest is full of pap.
    By financially strangling RNZ and not being available for interviews, I suppose the govt can keep the voters in the fog longer.

    Cromwell • Since Nov 2006 • 85 posts Report Reply

  • JLM,

    Simon Mercep has a similar style to Geoff Robinson, though he hasn't developed the same ambience. I had the feeling they picked him to groom for Geoff's inevitable departure, when a younger, sharper sidekick would join. Shame it happened in election year, though.

    I don't listen to MR as religiously as I used to, but I had the impresion that Key was on quite frequently since Sean went - or is it just that there have been a few Big Events happening lately?

    Judy Martin's southern sl… • Since Apr 2007 • 241 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    I've been disappointed by Simon Mercep as well. He seems wimpy and scared and afraid to ask tough questions. Or if he does try to ask a tough question he often seems to ask it in a meek way rather than simply going for the jugular.

    I'm loath to agree with Joanne Black but a few weeks ago in the Listener she too noted Mercep's gutlessness and quoted a few lines of his interview with Kyle Chapman (or some other guy distributing antiAsian leaflets around Auckland) and it really did show Mercep in a poor light.

    Like John, I too have been much more impressed by Susie Ferguson. She seems to have no problem asking tough questions and has a more direct, cut-to-the-chase style.

    I'm pretty happy with Mary Wilson, she has a real take-no-prisoners attitude.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 760 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    It's unbelievable that our only national radio broadcaster tries to do news on a $30k international travel budget. That's not far from the student radio model of reading the net and maybe phoning a mate in London.

    I've also noticed that when they do carry international news, they're buying someone else's agenda unchallenged - e.g. having a "London correspondent" who's a former Tory MP (and not making that clear).

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

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    I've heard from a few friends at RNZ that the two presenters that receive the largest amount of complaints and negative feedback are/were Plunkett and Wilson. RNZ's mostly superannuated audience considers them both 'rude'.

    Which makes the decision not to replace Sean Plunkett with another facsimile of same make a lot of choice - from the organisations perspective he was an unpopular and very high maintenance presenter.

    I don't think the government's lack of appearance on RNZ is because they're 'scared of being held to account' or whatever - its just a strategy focused on reaching persuadable voters, which means a focus on non-news outlets like Breakfast TV, womens magazines, sports radio and so on.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Thomas,

    I usually listen to Radio NZ in podcast/mp3 form, with a preference for the longer format shows like Nine to Noon, and Saturday and Sunday mornings. They're good for listening to while doing mundane number crunching tasks at work.

    I never really liked Sean Plunkett's combative style, it's the last thing I need in the morning.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 317 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to John Morrison,

    but Ferguson who is on Morning Report just now does have formidable interviewing skills

    Agreed. She seems like a real find.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Fooman,

    You must not forget the often sheer joy of listening to people providing unintended delight to informed listeners. From yesterday's checkpoint, on the management of school infrastructure:

    Mary Wilson: "If it is that good, why not extend it across the sector? Why not make every school do it?"

    Bill English: "Well we...well we, we simply don't have the capacity or the desire to roll out models that have yet to be tested across every school"

    This had me in stitches, wondering if he's managed to communicate this to Anne Tolley yet...

    FM

    Lower Hutt • Since Dec 2009 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Danyl Mclauchlan,

    I don’t think the government’s lack of appearance on RNZ is because they’re ‘scared of being held to account’ or whatever – its just a strategy focused on reaching persuadable voters, which means a focus on non-news outlets like Breakfast TV, womens magazines, sports radio and so on.

    But don't they amount to the same thing? Ministers are accountable, that's the point. It's not just an opportunity to campaign to "persuadable voters". That's an election campaign.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    I’m loath to agree with Joanne Black but a few weeks ago in the Listener she too noted Mercep’s gutlessness and quoted a few lines of his interview with Kyle Chapman (or some other guy distributing antiAsian leaflets around Auckland) and it really did show Mercep in a poor light.

    That was a really unfortunate interview. Mercep needed to take charge and put Chapman in his place and he didn't.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Ministers are accountable, that's the point. It's not just an opportunity to campaign to "persuadable voters". That's an election campaign.

    And this is a government that's in permanent campaign mode.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Danyl Mclauchlan,

    I don't think the government's lack of appearance on RNZ is because they're 'scared of being held to account' or whatever - its just a strategy focused on reaching persuadable voters, which means a focus on non-news outlets like Breakfast TV, womens magazines, sports radio and so on.

    In other words, Berlusconification. The Govt's attitude towards RNZ is not unlike Howard's stance towards the ABC, if not even more so.

    It's not about fiscal restraint, it's about anti-intellectualism masquerading as fiscal restraint.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    "Berlusconification"

    Word of the year?

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 578 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Raymond A Francis,

    Berlusconification:
    Word of the year?

    Mmmmm, Berluscones. Flavoursome at first, but not filling, and leaves a vile aftertaste.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Burlesque cojones.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Smith,

    Am I alone in drifting off Morning Report since he has been replaced by Simon Mercep?

    Maybe. While I will agree that Simon Mercep's style is a bit meek, I much prefer him to Sean Plunket at the end of his stay on MR. In my opinion, Plunket crossed well over the line of an assertive interviewer holding interviewees to account, and became openly partisan and took clear sides on political issues, usually backing the right wing side of any issue. On numnerous occasions someone who had a reasonable explanation for a situation would simply not be given the space to get it out around Plunket's constant interruptions.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2008 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    I am getting a bit slacked off with the introduction of the grab bites. Those wee bits that "we are going to talk about shortly". They started this morning at 6-30am with the announcement to the Phonic Reading piece. It plonked 1 minute of it at 6-40am, a bit more at 7-35am for 3-30 min and then on the way to work at 8-20am a further piece for another 3 minutes.

    I s'pose I now have to wait for Nights tonight to get the whole coherent(?) lot together.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to James Butler,

    Mmmmm, Berluscones

    Sure to rise, the perfect thing for those
    Bonco Bonco oven tray parties...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Aw Ian - despite my best attempt to remain sour &curmudgenly tonight, you've made me giggle-
    thanks mate!

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    Well, regardless of the relative quality of NR, their online / podcast service is fantastic. I listen most days by way of Google Listen on my Phone and it is so good, it almost is like I am still listening in NZ

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • S Schumacher, in reply to Mark Thomas,

    I never really liked Sean Plunkett's combative style, it's the last thing I need in the morning.

    Funny -- that's how I feel about Mary Wilson. Frankly that's the last thing I want to hear on my way home after a long day at work. I'm an avid RNZ listener when I can (weekday or weekend), but Checkpoint is the least likely time I'll tune in.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2011 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Jane Pearson, in reply to Ross Mason,

    That's exactly how I felt, Ross. I was interested in the research about the limitations of teaching reading with phonics but in the first interview it seemed that the reporter didn't actually realise that Professor Nicholson is a strong proponent of phonics and her questioning wasn't quite making the issues any clearer. Maybe I was still half asleep. And I only caught snippets of the followup material. I did wonder where the usual education reporter was as we need those specialists, like Karen Brown in Health, who have thought through some of the issues and have the background knowledge to fill in the gaps. Have they gone?
    I have been feeling disquiet with Morning Report lately although I have wanted to give Simon Mercep the benefit of the doubt as he settled into the role. I think and hope he has potential. I don't like the grab bites - sometimes they go straight into one of the pieces they have just mentioned and it all has a predictability about it. There seems to be so much being repeated through the morning and one could get the impression sometimes that there really isn't a lot happening.
    I too have noticed the lack of politicians and it feels like RNZ is being sidelined this election year. Thanks Russell for highlighting some of the issues.

    Since Feb 2010 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ben Austin,

    Well, regardless of the relative quality of NR, their online / podcast service is fantastic. I listen most days by way of Google Listen on my Phone and it is so good, it almost is like I am still listening in NZ

    You have Richard Hulse to thank for the quality and smartness of that service. Dude is a hero.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    Cutting the budget in election year, though it is extremely cynical, makes sense politically for them. I think this government are in permanent mode of lets look like “We've already won the election".

    I can't see them fronting up much because:
    1) They aren't up to the challenge
    2) They intend to leave the opposition howling at the moon, and
    3) Avoiding intense debate on issues and policy is how they will win the election.

    On Sean Plunket, he is a curmudgeonly crusader who can temper an issue, in the metallurgic sense, live on air and highlight an absurdity. I didn’t find him combative, over the years the people that took offence to his insights, which ever side of the house they sat, needed waking up.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

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