Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Next Act

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  • Paul Campbell, in reply to Shaun Lott,

    Shaun - that's how I feel too - I live overseas for a couple of decades - on my return Holmes as a bit of a cipher, I was supposed to understand who or what he meant,and all I could mostly see was a rather grumpy old man who popped up on TV occasionally (I don't think I've ever heard him on the radio).

    It's probably one of those impenetrable shared cultural things like Dave Dobbyn's transformation from geeky afro to balding elder statesman

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report

  • Phil fryer,

    Everything on tv IS product, sometimes cool, sometimes poor,sometimes entertaining,
    sometimes a bore,he found a formula,that pulled the punters, & held them,perhaps his major achievement, folk "buy" from whom they like !
    Most enjoy folk, that they identify with,whether its Paul Henry,Micheal Laws,John Campbell,Paul Holmes, or Russel Brown !
    I prefer a smogasboard, to absorb, the way the nation see's itself !

    Laingholm • Since Mar 2011 • 34 posts Report

  • Kumara Republic,

    Holmes entered both radio and TV at their critical junctures of commercialisation and deregulation. We’d had strong, journalistic figures in both, but they were part of an era where the audience took what it was given. Holmes began the era of trying to give the audience what it wanted, which might not be particularly high-minded. He was comfortable as the centre of attention at the time when TVNZ, as a matter of strategy, set out to turn its presenters into celebrities.

    Indeed. Holmes himself was a reflection of NZ's changing, if not devolving, media landscape.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5446 posts Report

  • ChrisW, in reply to Russell Brown,

    We all have to reach our own accord with mortality, and if Holmes in his final days found that in the idea of God, that's his business and his right.

    That was an interesting performance, that interview, for sure. Holmes may well have found an accommodation or accord with his mortality, but I don’t think the idea of God was much involved in this, not really.

    I had the sense his invoking God was more an aspect of the performance than in full sincerity. His coin was always performance, and it seems to me he was laying it down on Pascal’s wager on a sort of trial basis, perhaps with a view to his chances for The Next Act.

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 851 posts Report

  • Scott Chris, in reply to Cecelia,

    I felt a real sense of sadness when I saw a frail and dying Paul Holmes but I was never a fan.


    Auckland • Since Feb 2012 • 167 posts Report

  • Russell C,

    Nice post, yes too many hagiographies elsewhere.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 37 posts Report

  • Cecelia,

    I'm afraid Seven Sharp lost me after 10 minutes or so. So far, so trivial.

    Hibiscus Coast • Since Apr 2008 • 559 posts Report

  • Hebe,

    I surprised myself by feeling rather sad for the old trout; 62 is way too young to die and he looked so very tired and ill. Holmes' friends in the media seemed like they and he had talked about how useless post-death obituaries are for the subject, and let him be entertained with all the pre-death obits. His media connections enabled him to do what many notables would love to do: had a crack at having the last word and shaping his "legacy".

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report

  • Jackie Clark,

    I thought his last interview was lovely - I have seen many people very near death, so I knew he wouldn't last too much longer, and if he invoked god or anything else, that's for him, and him alone. Janet McIntyre was obviously deeply affected by talking to him, and I felt sad for her. It's very hard seeing someone you have known so obviously on their last legs. I was never a huge admirer of the man, but I don't think you had to be to recognise that he was one of a kind - for all his flaws, and mistakes, and dreadful doings, he was a genuinely important person in the story of recent broadcasting in this country. I was sad for his family when he died - such large personalities are often thought of as immortal by family and friends. I recognise that.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report

  • Matthew Littlewood,

    I thought there were a lot of similarities between the Janet McIntyre interview with Paul Holmes and John Campbell's "sitdown" with David Lange back in 2005. Both were literally in their last days (I think Campbell's Lange piece was filmed less than a week before Lange passed away), both subjects were in an unusually reflective and sharpened mood, and both had a sense of being an obituary while the subject was still alive (Both interviewers regrettably, went for sentiment as a recourse, but perhaps that was understandable). Also, both were enlightening and even occasionally compelling television, in how they captured individuals whose "virtues were also their vices". For better or worse, both figures loomed large.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 449 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    I was never a huge admirer of the man, but I don't think you had to be to recognise that he was one of a kind - for all his flaws, and mistakes, and dreadful doings, he was a genuinely important person in the story of recent broadcasting in this country.

    For sure.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • EJTH,

    Well written, Russell. A Kiwi in London, I've been reading the eulogising from afar and found some of it nauseating to say the least. We should remember the man for all he was, not just the 'good' bits; no one is that perfect.

    London • Since Feb 2013 • 1 posts Report

  • Andre,

    He was amazing when he first began Holmes. A breath of fresh air with a fantastic intelligence that never wavered. Any slip-ups came from his personality rather than his ability.
    He was the first broadcaster to feature his Mum regularly that I'd seen. Paul Henry's devotion to screening his Mum may have been an unfortunate result however.
    I lived in Wellington when I was at the Qantas Media Awards and he was a couple of metres away and never crossed the space to introduce myself, fearing I would offend one of his coterie or the man himself. I thought he was incredibly brilliant and the rest of his career could only be a disappointment. I wish I'd said hi when I had the inclination. The adulation is deserved. Just a shame about his ignorance of political realities and that bloody CD.

    New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 371 posts Report

  • Ross Mason, in reply to Hebe,

    I surprised myself by feeling rather sad for the old trout; 62 is way too young to die and he looked so very tired and ill.

    Fags. And lots of them.

    So cool......


    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report

  • Hebe, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    Compassionate and elegant Jackie, and I agree with every word.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report

  • Hebe, in reply to Ross Mason,

    Fags. And lots of them

    Bugger. Poor man. Smoking is the hardest addiction to kick (I have done 12 years this May and I still want one sometimes, but I know it just doesn't work any more. Sigh.) In the days when PH started in broadcasting the air was so thick with smoke you had to join in to be able to work in the room. It was so ... cool.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report

  • Bruce Thorpe,

    Good one, Russell.
    A professional communicator being thoughtful on a subject he knows very well.

    Hokianga • Since May 2007 • 52 posts Report

  • andin, in reply to Russell Brown,

    We all have to reach our own accord with mortality, and if Holmes in his final days found that in the idea of God, that’s his business and his right.

    Well No. With his death approaching this was probably the first time he thought about such things. The rudimentary nature of his thoughts betrays him in his words.
    The only spirit that exists between us are the ones we create by our words and actions in this life. Behaving like an arsehole believing you have some kind of divine right to , or at that end of your days fall into the lazy trap of believing something outside of this existence will makes amends, somehow, is a luxury we cant keep affording ourselves. I will just raise the issue of gun rights in the US and leave it at that. Maybe if we have hurt someone or wronged them, seek them out and make amends. These appeals to a god is just lazy.
    Sorry to disagree with you Russell on this, but I do. I shared a J or 2 with him there was a split between the private and public persona and perception. I never went out of my way to watch or listen to him. Seemed to me he tried to aim for an "everyman" appeal, and Im suspicious of such things.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1891 posts Report

  • The Doctor, in reply to Ross Mason,

    I surprised myself by feeling rather sad for the old trout; 62 is way too young to die and he looked so very tired and ill.

    Fags. And lots of them.

    I think he was on and off the ciggies for years, but they're not strictly speaking what killed him. His heart problem was a congenital defect and it's obvious smoking wouldn't have helped that, but it was the return of his prostate cancer that ended his life.

    Add in a uniquely stressful working life and and periodic bouts with the bottle. He drove himself far harder than was healthy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12 posts Report

  • Russell Brown,

    Oops. That's me above. I'm moving around computers while mine is being fixed and I accidentally signed into an account with a different user name that I had completely forgotten existed. How odd.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Danielle,

    I can't say I was a fan of much about his work - presiding over the introduction of talk radio and tabloid TV news is great stuff, suddenly? - but I would like to give props to his 70s afro. That was a thing of beauty.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report

  • Lilith __, in reply to Russell Brown,

    a different user name that I had completely forgotten existed

    Busted!!! ;-)

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3895 posts Report

  • Tim Michie, in reply to Russell Brown,

    And yet so appropriate for the comments contents...

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 614 posts Report

  • Russell Brown,

    Righto ... everyone else is having a crack, so here's my Seven Sharp review ...

    It's fine that it's not current affairs as we know it. We tend to forget that 7pm only became a curent affairs battleground when Campbell Live turned up in 2005. Before that, The Simpsons rated very nicely indeed for TV3 in that slot. And, y'know, Close Up was the show that devoted a report (well, more an ad for Steve Crow's businesses) to the woman with the world's largest fake breasts. It could be very banal indeed.

    The format is fine and the chemistry between the presenters will develop -- but the content really needs work.

    I was surprised that they led with HDPA's puff-piece with the PM, but it turned out to be the most successful element of the opening night show.

    The poll question was a disaster -- it fell between the stools of being silly and serious and it just hurt every time they went back to it. And an Ostapchuk joke? Really?

    Quite a few people remarked that the responses on Twitter and Facebook were funnier than anything actually in the show. Well, duh. That will almost always be the case. There are a lot of monkeys on typewriters coming up with gags. The trick is to tap that rich vein.

    So rather than pleading people to "tell us what you think via social media", just say it once and run a crawl on the screen with Facebook and Twitter addresses and, where relevant, the day's hashtag. Raid Pebbles Hooper's Twitter account -- or better, pay her to appear, or write some jokes.

    Where's the viral video of the day, or the celebrity social media fail, or hashtag or meme? Surely a politician said something dumb on the internet? This stuff is low-hanging fruit and it's part of the experience of the target audience.

    I really hope they confront the critics head-on and air the funniest of the mean-tweets on tonight's show. Don't be defensive -- take it on the chin and smile. (This is, I will grant you, far out of the bounds of established TV news culture, but it's the right thing to do.)

    Jesse Mulligan seems to be the only one with real social media moxie, and he handled things pretty well after the broadcast last night. But why was the official Seven Sharp account not live-tweeting during the show?

    If the banter isn't scripted, it sounds like it. The hosts are all smart people and hopefully they'll loosen up now the first one's out of the way. It's much better to flub or say something daft and collapse with laughter than to read something that sounds like it was written to fill 30 seconds. There's a sense that they're taking quite an old-fashioned approach to doing something new.

    I think Jesse's graphically-illustrated backgrounders will come right. It's hard to find the voice for that sort of thing straight away. But there's no need to make it sound like a school project. Be more anarchic.

    One thing I didn't fit into the post above is a consideration of Holmes' first show and the infamous Dennis Conner interview. I happened to be back in NZ running dance parties when it launched and I was quite impressed. The friend I watched it with -- another journalist -- was horrified. All this time down the line, I think it looks like an extremely able piece of work on Holmes' part. He is persistent but keeps his composure and, frankly, it wasn't his job to be "polite" to someone who'd been as much of an ass as Conner had been.

    Perhaps they don't need to be mean like that at Seven Sharp, but they do need to do something unexpected.

    Anyway, they pulled twice the number of viewers as an excellent ep of Campbell Live did last night, which is something.

    Tonight's lead story seems to be a look at the way the gutrot liquor that occasionally maims and kills young backpackers in Thailand is made. That seems promising.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • DexterX, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The trick is to tap that rich vein.

    To trap the right sort of "story" one needs the right kind of banana and the monkeys who know how to peel "it".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report

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