The Dim-Post

April 13, 2010

That went well/badly

Filed under: media — danylmc @ 8:47 pm

I’m never home from work in time to watch the six o’clock tv news shows, but I saw them both a couple of months back and they were so dreadful I hatched a plan: next time I was free in the early evening on a weeknight I’d review a news show. I’d time the ratio of news stories to ads to sports coverage and pie graph it, illustrating what a tiny sliver of the hour was devoted to real news, I’d time the live crosses and write horrible things about the quality of the writing and the shamelessness of the advertorials and the worthlessness of the news judgement (I might be revealing a little too much about my inner fantasy life here).

Anyway, today I took an annual leave day and made sure that by 6:00 PM I was back home, TV tuned to One News, stopwatch, pad and pen at the ready. Unfortunately their show tonight was really, really good. Sharp writing, sound news judgement, lots of stories (15 general news stories) which is nice for the viewers, I guess, but not much fun for me. Here’s their stupid pie graph:

There was only one 45 second advertorial (for some ‘choose your own adventure’ TVNZ show), and only one pointless live cross (to Mermaids: the baby in the car, Dad in the strip club story).

My hypothesis are (a) the show is mostly awful and I happened to catch it on a rare good night, or (b) I usually watch TVNZ news during the Christmas break or summer holidays when all their senior producers and journalists are on vacation and I form a poor impression of the show that doesn’t reflect it’s usual quality, (c) the network is terrified they’re going to be sold to Rupert Murdoch and they think producing a good quality news show will repulse him, so this is a new development. Opinions?


  1. Well, you missed the 5 minute long story about the vandalised goat on TV3.

    Comment by Shoopuf — April 13, 2010 @ 9:10 pm

  2. You already had a chart for the day!

    This excessive use of charts hurts my eyes, more-so than either 6pm news program does.

    Perhaps i am too sensitive to charts.

    Added to this glut of chart related chicanery, was tonight’s Shortland street episode, in which linar graphs, scatter plots and other ‘justifying my existence’ related admin crap was on show.

    All in all, i am disgusted by the level of graph output in New Zealand. Unless the National Government comes up with a policy to deal with this abuse of my time, i will have to throw my vote away elsewhere.

    I wonder if Winston is too stupid to know how to use PowerPoints, or graph paper. . .

    Comment by Jeff — April 13, 2010 @ 9:20 pm

  3. Part “b” and part “c”.

    Comment by Nospam — April 13, 2010 @ 9:22 pm

  4. a) The show is mostly awful. I should know: I never watch it.
    I never watch any TV. Never owned one. Never will. Huge waste of time.

    Have you ever noticed how people try and tell us how hectic our lives are compared to some mythical past?
    Yet many of us have time to sit on our bottoms watching stupid pseudo news shows, game shows and reality(sic) shows peppered with ads.
    It rots your brain and makes you fat. Not like sitting at a computer screen, no, quite different, really….

    Comment by Roger Parkinson — April 13, 2010 @ 9:23 pm

  5. You struck an exceptionally good night.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — April 13, 2010 @ 9:32 pm

  6. “I might be revealing a little too much about my inner fantasy life here”

    More than a little.

    Tell me, when you see Lorelei Mason do you get wood? Hypothetically speaking of course.

    Comment by xpat — April 13, 2010 @ 9:35 pm

  7. i did, was required really, to do something very similar for a post-grad pol sci course.

    i certainly wouldn’t waste my annual leave on it.

    Comment by Neil — April 13, 2010 @ 9:49 pm

  8. I don’t watch TV1 and TV3 news in the evening. but my god I HATE breakfast. Every morning I get up, and come downstairs, filled with ohpe and optimism for the new day.

    Then I find my flatmate sitting downstairs watching Breakfast, and I try and ignore but then Paul Henry says something really stupid, even more stupid or biased or fascist than usual and I go to work a bitter, cynical, angry basket-case. However, that isn’t really relevant to your experience.

    Comment by LucyJH — April 13, 2010 @ 10:21 pm

  9. Solution: Don’t watch NZ TV news. Watch NZ TV current affairs. Listen to NZ news.

    Works for me. Every month so so I watch TV1 or TV3 and despite of the experience manage not to smash the TV screen.

    Comment by xpat — April 13, 2010 @ 10:26 pm

  10. “1.a) The show is mostly awful. I should know: I never watch it.
    I never watch any TV. Never owned one. Never will. Huge waste of time.”

    Love that comment.. I assume it is satire. Reminds me of the TV/media critic who said (paraphrase) “TV news is so bad these days, I have refused to watch any of it for the last 10 years” and then went on to criticise something he had apparently not watched in years.. ah the happy couches of the sanctimonious

    Comment by Ian Llewellyn — April 13, 2010 @ 11:12 pm

  11. I watched TV 3 today. It was adequate. How many live crosses did TV One do today? Usually its at least five times where only one was necessary.

    Comment by gingercrush — April 13, 2010 @ 11:36 pm

  12. I accidently caught the TV3 news the other day when MPs getting legal expenses paid had made the headlines. TV3’s coverage indicated some sort of conspiracy and didn’t even mention what the cases were. It lacked any form of impartiality or balance at all. It was quite dreadful.

    Comment by R Singers — April 14, 2010 @ 12:19 am

  13. The demise of the nightly news is much exaggerated. If you’d picked one of the many other shows claiming to be news, however, you’d have gotten different results. Campbell’s story about Sandra fucking Bullock last night, for instance.

    But really, the problem here is that a sample of one isn’t data, it’s an anecdote. A lot depends on the particular stories which are floating around in the primordial news miasma, waiting to be plucked out by our intrepid and discerning journalists and editors. For extra credit, you could have been a bit more granular than “general news” and gone with something like crime, disaster, politics, international affairs, the economy, social issues, and fluff — or something like. Then, instead of being disappointed at how good the news looks on paper, you could be disappointed about how much of it was fluff and splatter. Welcome to my world.


    Comment by Lew — April 14, 2010 @ 7:38 am

  14. I don’t watch TV1 News because I don’t like Judy Bailey, but I’d put the result down to some sort of observer effect.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — April 14, 2010 @ 8:11 am

  15. For extra credit, you could have been a bit more granular than “general news” and gone with something like crime, disaster, politics, international affairs, the economy, social issues, and fluff — or something like. Then, instead of being disappointed at how good the news looks on paper, you could be disappointed about how much of it was fluff and splatter.

    I did do that, the problem was most of the news stories they showed were good stories. They led with Lombard, followed with the South African match-fixing story, covered Key in Washington, Apples to Australia, a murder trial, protests in Thailand etc. The only real fluff story was the spraypainted goat – which only took up 50 seconds 34 minutes into the news hour. They had a 45 second celebrity story about Russell Crowe in the very last minunte of the show.

    So I could have made a second pie graph illustrating that but it would only have repeated my point that last nights TV One was a really decent news show.

    Comment by danylmc — April 14, 2010 @ 8:20 am

  16. Danyl likes Lorelei, Danyl likes Lorelei, Danyl likes Lorelei …

    Comment by xpat — April 14, 2010 @ 8:25 am

  17. Can you make a pie graph of Duncan Garner’s semi-covert bias?

    Comment by Dav — April 14, 2010 @ 8:36 am

  18. And what have all of you got against caprine-interest stories? Or even Sandra f-g Bullock stories (for a second I accidentally misread that phrase) Stick to Morning Report and the equivalent 6-7 PM. Far more informative and you can make breakfast and tea while listening..

    Comment by Leopold — April 14, 2010 @ 9:02 am

  19. Danyl, it’s extra credit for you, then — and TVNZ.


    Comment by Lew — April 14, 2010 @ 9:22 am

  20. Roger Parkinson wrote: “The show is mostly awful. I should know: I never watch it. I never watch any TV. Never owned one. Never will. Huge waste of time”

    that reminds me of a time I saw Graham Capill and his daughter on Holmes, talking about a lesbian romance novel that had been released, which they both felt was ‘a very sick book’. Of course, they assured viewers that they hadn’t read it, and wouldn’t want to, because it was ‘a very sick book’. I thought it was quite good publicity, actually.

    That day I decided that, if I ever wrote a lesbian romance novel, I would send an advance copy to Graham Capill for him to review. Perhaps this tactic wouldn’t work as well now, or perhaps it would work even better, but I haven’t had to decide as I haven’t written a lesbian romance novel recently.

    Comment by kahikatea — April 14, 2010 @ 9:43 am

  21. In Capill’s defence (!), he probably considered himself an authority on sick sexual topics.


    Comment by Lew — April 14, 2010 @ 9:52 am

  22. Of the general news, what was the balance between local and international stories?

    Comment by Sally — April 14, 2010 @ 9:56 am

  23. Nobody watches TV news anymore – it’s too popular.

    (with apologies to Yogi Berra)

    Comment by vibenna — April 14, 2010 @ 10:34 am

  24. Can we deduct marks from Danyl for the shoddy graph?

    A 3-d pie chart might look pretty on your 5th form homework, but it doesn’t cut the mustard in the real world.

    Comment by Phil — April 14, 2010 @ 10:37 am

  25. In Capill’s defence (!), he probably considered himself an authority on sick sexual topics.


    I’m a news whore and tend to flick between stories on TV1 and TV3 to try to get a good overall news hour – although I’ve read about most of the stories online during the day, so TV news is more about seeing the events than getting additional info (which is rare on local stories).

    Comment by Ataahua — April 14, 2010 @ 10:42 am

  26. “Sandra fucking Bullock”

    Now *that* would bring me back to the TV News.


    Comment by JC — April 14, 2010 @ 10:45 am

  27. The Apples to Australia story was turned into an apple tasting competition. NZ apples rule ok! Lots of Australians coming off the plane confronted with NZ apples to taste. Taste our apples bitch! I was embarrassed for NZ.

    And the years old madeleine mccann sighting in dunedin that police did not investigate. Police receive 100’s of madeleine mccann sightings per year but really, they should have investigated this one since the Dunedin woman was absolutely sure it was her. (turns out it wasn’t her)

    Comment by ali — April 14, 2010 @ 10:45 am

  28. There was only one 45 second advertorial (for some ‘choose your own adventure’ TVNZ show)

    I think you’re being a little harsh here. The show is over, not coming-up, and was in the news because it won an International Emmy. Your position seems to imply that we shouldn’t cover Peter Jackson winning a Oscar, which isn’t a completely daft position, but is a little harsh to expect of New Zealand television.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — April 14, 2010 @ 11:16 am

  29. a guy at auckland did a study of this back in the 90s. his hypothesis was that the movement from 1/2 hour to 1 hour of “news” lead to less information and more bullshit.

    guess what…

    Comment by che tibby — April 14, 2010 @ 11:17 am

  30. what is this ‘tv’ you all speak of?
    ah, just googled it, …really? you do what? and then they do what? deeply weird.
    how longs this been going on?
    and whats this about someone spraypainting Sandra Palins bullock?

    Comment by thesameold/news — April 14, 2010 @ 1:05 pm

  31. A plague on both their houses (TVNZ/TV3) I say. What you may not have struck on your survey night was that a lot of the ‘general news’ is actually repackaged sport. I love sport, but you can have too much information on some obscure league player’s ruptured ligaments. But look, the answer is simple, if expensive. Get MySky. I have the 6pm news on series link, watch it at my leisure (if I can be bothered) and by fast forwarding through the ads, excess sport, live crosses and overpackaged weather bulletins I can zip through the news hour in about 20 minutes. Thereby freeing up more time to write how rubbish the news is these days.

    Comment by Phil — April 14, 2010 @ 1:26 pm

  32. re 10 and possibly 20

    I meant the comment fairly literally. I really don’t watch TV and I really don’t own one, and never have.
    I get my news mostly from RadioNZ (yes, I do have a radio).

    Comment by Roger Parkinson — April 14, 2010 @ 2:02 pm

  33. Roger – so if you don’t watch TV how can you make any comment on its quality?

    Also, I would like to stick up for the vandalised goat story. I know it isn’t real news in any sense of the term, but for some reason I find it hilarious.

    Comment by Helen — April 14, 2010 @ 2:45 pm

  34. I haven’t written a lesbian romance novel recently

    You could collaborate with Danyl on a sequel to Lesbian Pohutukawa?

    Comment by Phil — April 14, 2010 @ 3:07 pm

  35. I liked the vandalised goat story too. I think it’s a good story! And I didn’t object to TVNZ doing a story about one of their shows – it’s a big step up from the free ads you see for companies like TradeMe or Hell Pizza repeatedly popping up in the news.

    Comment by danylmc — April 14, 2010 @ 5:28 pm

  36. re 33: I listen to RadioNZ’s Media Watch which reviews news programs.
    Also I did say ‘fairly literally’. Every so often (about once a year) I stumble across a television set somewhere. Usually I turn it off.
    I happily watch DVDs, though (not a complete luddite). No ads, got a pause button, and only stuff I want to see is on. I use an LCD screen, not a TV.

    Comment by Roger Parkinson — April 14, 2010 @ 5:50 pm

  37. You could try transcribing the news and seeing how long it takes to read.

    About 5 minutes is the usual answer.

    Which is one of the main reasons I don’t have a telly. Why spend an hour obtaining 5 minutes worth of information?

    Comment by Rich — April 14, 2010 @ 10:02 pm

  38. Rich, you make the mistake of thinking the bulk of the information is in the words. Maybe you could read a few screenplays and tell us about the films, see how you go.


    Comment by Lew — April 14, 2010 @ 10:18 pm

  39. I’ve had access to Freeview for a total of 4 days now. I’ve never bothered with awful Breakfast TV before (or most TV for that matter), but in the past few days I’m becoming cautiously optimistic about TVNZ-7’s early morning news.

    The nicest differences I’ve noticed are that it’s actually honest about there only being 10 minutes of actual news and gets straight to the point (before repeating), and the newsreader guy isn’t spending 90% of his time explicitly making an effort to not tell me things. eg. Standard 6pm introductions like “A major supermarket chain has had its supply chain contaminated with Strychnine. Find out which one later in the bulletin!” (After which I may as well just hop back to the internet.)

    It’s almost as if they don’t think it’s an entertainment slot. Does TVNZ-7 not actually have any livestock to sell to advertisers?

    Comment by Mike — April 15, 2010 @ 8:34 am

  40. @Mike

    It’s good, isn’t it? I was pleasantly surprised. Reminded me of BBC News 24’s morning slot. I think there’s more actual news though, it’s just that headline and repeat is what people want for breakfast. Of course, it could be the television equivalent of Today, but then that’d mean that John Key would have to get all chummy with someone other than that categorical dickhead astute political commentator Paul Henry.

    Comment by dontsurf — April 16, 2010 @ 6:07 pm

  41. […] That went well/badly – Dim Post’s plot to prove TV news is useless went awry. […]

    Pingback by Did you see the one about . . . « Homepaddock — April 17, 2010 @ 5:25 pm

  42. @Mike: I noticed something about TVNZ News at 8 the other day, that they don’t seem to do the cross promotional crap like One News usually does. I thought News at 8 was pretty much all the stories on One News, with live crosses replaced with people actually knowing what they are talking about and more international stories. The other day, Tuesday I think it was, there was ANOTHER story on One News that was glorified promotion for The Pacific that was on later that night. I watched TVNZ News at 8 cause I missed the first 20 or so minutes of the 6pm news, and found no mention of The Pacific, the story played on One News didn’t even get a mention, and the only advert for The Pacific was in the short self-promo break.

    I’d watch News at 8 more if my flatmates didn’t take over the TV every night.

    Comment by Daniel — April 18, 2010 @ 3:52 pm

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