It’s nice to see that, during my recent winter hibernation period, other people have stepped up to the plate, so to speak, to criticise the “tasteless drivel” in our media. The Herald today publishes an opinion piece by one Ian Bayly that particularly critiques TV One, our supposed ‘public interest’ broadcaster.
The one aspect of contemporary life in New Zealand that I found most disappointing was the degenerate state of TV programmes. […] With respect to some sort of balanced presentation of significant world events in the main evening presentation of news, New Zealand's TV One is significantly worse than the main commercial TV channels (7 and 9) in Australia. In my view, TV One has lost the plot, and if it is to be considered New Zealand's TV flag-bearer, it is a disgrace to the nation.Strong words indeed, and not a moment too soon. But what were the worst excesses of TV One during the time you were watching, Ian?
On the first evening, TV One managed to devote the whole of the first six minutes of news to the late Michael Jackson. The station management had apparently formed the judgment that the most significant thing that had happened in the world during the preceding 24 hours was the unseemly circus surrounding the death of an egocentric, drug-crazed weirdo who had contributed nothing significantly beneficial to humanity. [As opposed to Dr Bayly, a zoologist who has a bay in Antarctica named after him.]Personally, I got just as bored by people complaining about the Michael Jackson coverage as I did by the coverage itself. It’s not like someone of Jackson’s stature dies every day, or even every year, so moaning about a week or so of heavy coverage seems a bit precious. And anyway, what exactly did Michael Jackson push off the bulletin? Tap-dancing owls and Angelina Jolie adopting a chicken.
Thereafter, TV One revisited, like a dog returning to its vomit, the Michael Jackson circus every night, for significant periods, for the next 11 nights. On July 8, the whole of the first 14 minutes was devoted exclusively to the circus - yes, it was so important that it was uninterrupted by commercials. But that wasn't the finish of it - they returned to it again for another two minutes during the news.
But that can’t be my real point in this instance, seeing as watching the television news myself makes me want to jump headfirst off a news-cliff. Instead, my question is this: what kind of news organisation would devote such heavy coverage to the death of a single celebrity entertainer?