I saw last night’s episode, and it wasn’t too bad. Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t like it and I’ll never watch it again but in terms of news value it didn’t seem worse than your average episode of Close-Up. The first story was about youth binge drinking – as was every other episode of Close-Up – with the usual stock-footage of kids stumbling around plastered, slurring amusing things to the camera. The context was that the government’s alcohol reforms weren’t going to fix this, but they didn’t explain what the reforms were, or weren’t.
The interview was with a PR shill from the alcohol industry. The presenters didn’t seem to know anything about the subject so the shill was unchallenged. Greg Boyd’s done well-prepped interviews on Q & A, so I blame the producer and the researcher.
As many others have pointed out, the tone is a bit weird; the opening segment contained a joke about Oscar Pistorius, and normally I’d find a gag about an athlete murdering his girlfriend hilarious, but this one didn’t quite work for me. And they haven’t solved the technical challenges of a three person hosted live-show; that’s still a bit of a mess. But these things take time. Remember Paddy Gower’s first few months of TV journalism? It was pretty bad, and now he’s the Mother of the Nation.
Much has been made of the fact that they lost 200,000 viewers in a week. If they’re losing those viewers from TV1’s older demographic I doubt they care. Those people don’t buy the products that Seven Sharp’s advertisers sell. If they lose 200,000 viewers over fifty and gain 50,000 viewers under 30 then that’s a ratings win for TVNZ.