TVNZ news – can do much better!

Great to see TVNZ (of which I am a former director) has achieved revenue increases two years in a row, after a long trend of falling revenues.   Clearly management has done a good job convincing CEOs and marketing people that Facebook and Google don’t provide all the answers for their businesses.

TVNZ CEO Kevin Kenrick, is quoted as telling MPs this enables the company to consider investment options, particularly those that facilitate some media rationalisation.   Stuff was mentioned by one journalist as an option for TVNZ.

I was really pleased to see Kevin’s emphasis on news being central to their thinking about the future.  News is its “jewel in the crown” – but a jewel that needs a lot of work and polishing.

I have worked in Australia, the UK and the USA, some of that time as a journalist myself, and have seen and read a lot of media.  At present I can only give TVNZ’s news a six out of ten.   Its political coverage is quite good as is the pacific, weather with Dan is excellent, but most of the rest is pretty ordinary.   Hard to keep up with reporters because of constant changes.

There are major gaps which need to be resolved urgently if the news is to achieve real credibility.  What I look for with media is named quality journalists.  Specialisation is critical.

It is truly amazing that TVNZ does not have even one journalist dedicated to covering the economy, sharemarket and agriculture.   There should be two for this massive area.  The short Prime News is one step better in that it has a summary of the Stock Exchange and currency changes.  Kiwisavers and employees etc are actually interested in the economy.

Education requires a specialist  journalist and there are several other areas, including public policy which political journalist struggle to get the time to handle properly.

The downside of specialists is that they will often be working on relationships and leads instead of doing stories for the day.  However any media operation that wants to be taken seriously invests in specialists.

What many don’t appreciate is the absence of specialist journalists, means that many people simply don’t want to talk to the media, because the risks are far too high, if all they are offered is a generalist used to “chasing fire engines”.   This is why corporate people often hide behind their PR departments.

The question that arises is how to pay for the cost of say six senior specialist journalists? First, TVNZ should abandon the absurd follow the offshore fashion for two presenters.   We don’t need it and I simply don’t believe that the public wants two.   Peter Williams did an excellent job on the weekends as a sole presenter.  Next TVNZ could just invest a bit more in news and current affairs to bring their programmes up to a level that commands the respect and attention of all.  This will pay dividends in the long run.

One thought on “TVNZ news – can do much better!

  1. Agree re how to improve TVNZ news Barrie and now understand better why a corporate won’t be interviewed by a fire engine chaser (in the papers these days, the web lead is unfortunately almost always another car crash).


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