The Dim-Post

November 22, 2012

Do you support Paddy Gower?

Filed under: media — danylmc @ 9:51 am

The Herald has a Q & A with Paddy Gower – TV3′s new political editor – here. Excerpt:

8. How have you coped with the commentary and in some cases the vilification about your stories this week?

I guess by vilification you are talking about the blogosphere. It comes with the territory. The left-wing blogosphere are coming at me right now over my coverage of Labour’s leadership “issues”. I can totally understand that – people are passionate about their politics, and when it’s their side in the spotlight they don’t like it. It’s just the same when we do stories like the teapot tapes or the GCSB spying issue, but it’s the right wing blogosphere that gets fired up and comes at you. The blogs and Twitter add a new dimension to the public sphere. The passion and debate is great – keep it coming guys, I can take it. I cope by going out and mowing the lawns. They’re always pretty short.

I haven’t discussed this issue with Paddy, but my impression from other political reporters is that political stories are generally very ‘managed.’ Political parties invest huge amounts of money and energy into controlling their presentation in the media, which can frustrate some journalists. If they’re reporting on, say, a leader’s speech, and the policies have been dreamed up by pollsters and strategists, and the speech has been written by the communications team, and the leader’s delivery of the speech has been coached and choreographed by a media trainer, how genuine is it?

I suspect that’s why journalists like Paddy get (very) excited when things don’t go as scheduled, ie the tea-pot tapes, the Labour conference. ‘Something’ actually happens – ie something that isn’t calculated and pre-planned by teams of highly paid experts. Suddenly reporters are finding out something real instead of being led around by the nose. Of course the political parties hate that – they’ve invested all this effort into building a facade, and now everyone can see around it! That’s often when we hear that something is ‘a beat-up’, or ‘a beltway issue,’ or that journalists should ‘concentrate more on policy issues’, ect. But it can also seem a bit bewildering to the rest of us.

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23 Comments »

  1. My understanding was that reporters like Gower aren’t equipped to examine policy issues, so they tend to focus on their strengths: gratuitous self-promotion and passing on beltway gossip from their “sources within the party”.

    Comment by pete — November 22, 2012 @ 10:14 am

  2. Oh well, at least he isn’t dating Trevor Mallard whilst pretending to be a journalist.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 22, 2012 @ 10:28 am

  3. The problem with “journalists” like Gower is that they confuse _reporting_ the story with _being_ the story.

    Comment by Trouble Man — November 22, 2012 @ 10:33 am

  4. I am sure Patrick Gower is intelligent enough to consider policy issues but both he and his employers would regard them as tedious ratings killers unless they can be shoehorned into the little psychodrama of good and evil he has to produce for the evening bulletin. Given the audience they are seeking, they are almost certainly correct. Publicly funded media on the other hand can consider matters slightly differently and, in some cases, they do. but they are also addicted to the black hat white hat view of the world. By doing his baboon butt waggling act Gower is following his job description precisely and, as he says, would be waggling his butt at National if they were considerate enough to provide the spectacle Labour gifted the media over the weekend. One of the reasons political parties do a great deal of behind the scenes organisation is to lreduce the excuses journalists have to indulge in this kind of behaviour.

    Comment by Roger — November 22, 2012 @ 10:41 am

  5. Paddy Gower reminds me of those 11 year-old girls who are always trying to provoke and spread gossip about who likes who and who hates who

    Comment by kahikatea — November 22, 2012 @ 11:08 am

  6. Can someone explain the difference between ‘pre-planned’ and plain old ‘planned’? One of my pet peeves.

    Comment by andrew — November 22, 2012 @ 11:42 am

  7. Someone somewhere once referred to him as a scab picker, seems about right.

    Comment by gn35 — November 22, 2012 @ 12:03 pm

  8. I’m willing to be a reporter if i could just stick a microphone in someones face for hours on end
    and ask the same questions over and over and take no notice of what is going on around me,
    What a great job it would be, where do is sign up?

    Comment by anne — November 22, 2012 @ 12:23 pm

  9. i think what makes lots of members of political parties sad is that the media tends to often be focused on issues around conflict, personality and “the game” of who is winning in politics. They’re not so focused on issues like new party policies, legislation the government is introducing into Parliament (and it’s likely effects on NZers) and the operational side of government – how well Ministries are working, what kind of job the government is doing at funding and leading them etc. I think media coverage has always been a bit like this but it is becoming more and more so as journalists receive less funding to produce the same amount of news. It’s harder to get coverage because there are fewer journalists in the press gallery and they have less bandwidth for understanding complex stories or doing their own research. So political parties feel the need to design and present media events that a) betray no hint of conflict and b) highlight the personality of their leaders and top MPs without going into details about policies, legislation etc. So it’s a bit of a vicious downward spiral really.

    Comment by Amy — November 22, 2012 @ 12:50 pm

  10. Andrew, preplanning in my part of the woods includes selecting the caterer who will supply the sarnies for the planning meeting and booking the conference room.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — November 22, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

  11. Pet peeve of mine as well Andrew. Do you also have a peeve around ‘pre-heating’ the oven or my other bug bear ‘meeting with’. Once upon a time you could say that you met so and so and discussed xyz – now everyone has to say i met WITH so and so and we discussed xyz.

    Comment by Arkhad — November 22, 2012 @ 3:05 pm

  12. Blog comments degrading the Queen’s English : clearly another critical issue for Paddy to investigate

    Comment by ropata — November 22, 2012 @ 5:04 pm

  13. #11 I noticed the verb ‘disconnect’ rearing its deformed head a year or two back in NZ. I hope it is one americanisation that kiwis regard as too grotesque to fully adopt here.

    Then theres ‘a whole bunch of’. During the 2011 tsunami some late 40s grey-haired NZ teenager described seeing ” A whole bunch of water” coming into the Bay of Islands. A whole bunch of water.

    Paddy Gower mauled Banksie over the tea-tapes. He was the one who elicited the famous ‘cabbage-leaf boat’ clanger from the barely-containing-himself Banksie. It was fantastic to see a journo getting that sort of reaction from a pollie – cutting through the veneer to reveal the reptile within.

    Comment by Aztec — November 22, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

  14. Their aunt alot of comments hear.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — November 22, 2012 @ 7:07 pm

  15. I haven’t discussed this issue with Paddy

    So you have the same issues that ‘Paddy’ has with Politicians. Can’t be to critical or the access or gossip will stop.

    Bring back the snark!

    Comment by andy (the other one) — November 22, 2012 @ 8:32 pm

  16. Quite right. He has a minute or so on air and there’s no way any kind of policy can be explained in that short time. Viewers aren’t interested in policy anyway and besides, think of the research he’d have to do.

    Better to get an immediate reaction, be seen to be cutting through ‘spin’ and focus on what everyone can understand in a second, even 12 year olds. This is political analysis Kiwi style – no policy, just leadership wrangling. It’s like those terrible election debates which cut away every ten minutes to experts giving their opinion on how successfully the pollies are delivering their piece etc. It nullifies whatever policy discussion there was turning it all into ammunition used to win some popularity contest.

    This is commercial TV folks. If you want anything else go to the non commercial media of which there is only RNZ and a few blogs.

    Comment by nigelsagentinthefield — November 22, 2012 @ 10:20 pm

  17. According to the OED, disconnect has been a verb since 1770, an adjective since 1845, and a noun since 1951. It has been a noun meaning lack of understanding since 1983. The noun form seems to have come with the rise of mass telecommunication.

    Comment by Peer reviewer — November 22, 2012 @ 10:43 pm

  18. If there is a lack of policy or direction to report about, is it any wonder the less-gifted journalists will have continuous wet-dreams about a teapot. But on the other hand, it seems that the opposition plan here seems to be to blame everyone else in the country for the fact that the Labour Party appear incapable of organising any shred of a viable opposition, stay at home on polling day, then spend the following three years gloating ‘At least I didn’t vote National’ every time they read or hear about something they don’t agree with.

    So physician – heal thyself, perhaps?

    Comment by Lee C — November 23, 2012 @ 6:54 am

  19. More importantly, I would like to know Paddy’s take on the democratic changes the Labour Party made at conference and the ramifications of these changes. Assuming he had time left over from constantly putting a microphone in David Cunliffe’s face, that is…

    Comment by Kevin Welsh — November 23, 2012 @ 8:35 am

  20. As you state you have no spoken to Paddy, so why make a comment about him, and not give him the right of reply? I admire him personally as do others because he asks the questions I would like answers to also with regard to the National Govt. Being a jurno is a cut throat business, and 2 or 3 mins he is on telly does show the credit he deserves for following a story, sitting around waiting, hours of time researching and making contacts. True that is his job, but it is not a job I would like to engage in.

    Comment by Alison Deaker — November 23, 2012 @ 8:51 am

  21. Where is Paddy not being given the right-of-reply? I am sure he is more than welcome to comment here like anyone else. As for asking the questions you would like answers to, that comes with limitations as John Campbell can attest to. Ask too many of the tough questions and suddenly ministers are too ‘busy’ for interviews.

    Comment by Kevin Welsh — November 23, 2012 @ 9:40 am

  22. Or he could do proper journalism like Matt Taibbi.

    Comment by ropata — November 23, 2012 @ 10:21 am

  23. Why doesn’t TV3 have any female journalists who look like Patrick Gower? Or Jim Kaye? Why has no journalist ever asked this question?
    If Patrick Gower was Patricia Gower he wouldn’t be on TV. Sexism is rife in Godzone.

    Comment by Daisy — November 23, 2012 @ 10:22 pm


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