Banality of television news

television news

Watching local television news is not something I often do.

Last week I decided I’d give it a go.

Collective Noun

What is the collective noun for banality presenters? Is it a “glut of banalisers” or a “nonsense of news readers”?

Whatever the collective noun, NZ television news has cornered the banality market and raised banality to an art form where information is constructed to meet the maxim “let them eat cake”.

The lack of informed, intelligent debate is mind-numbing regarding important issues.

And, the absence of interviewers with the skills to understand an issue or question without running an ideological line of harassment is worrisome.

If NZ television and radio were my only sources, I could be forgiven for thinking that New Zealand is the centre of the universe and that sport and Gib supply are the most critical issues facing humankind.

Gib and Sport

Gib board and sports are more important than child poverty, the escalating cost of living, the higher use of foodbanks, and the lack of critical infrastructure and the people to run it.

Gib board and sports are more important than the actual cost of family violence—people in temporary housing and children, displaced from schools, not to mention hospital admissions.

Speaking of health care provision.

The crisis is not limited to the lack of nursing staff and hospital beds and the migration of NZ-trained nurses to Australia.

It includes cancer patients not having follow-up consultations and Emergency Departments becoming short-stay hospital wards.

In Emergency Departments, people lie on trolleys in the corridor, and family members interrupt emergency staff by asking for directions to the water fountain.

These are places where non-emergency patients don’t always get regular nursing care or water and food.

Perhaps, the media do us a service in focussing our minds on Gib and sport because healthcare delivery is so complex and political, and we don’t want to face it.

“The joys and the hopes,

the griefs and the anxieties

of the people of this age,

especially those who are poor

or in any way afflicted,

these are the joys and hopes,

the griefs and anxieties

of the followers of Christ.


nothing genuinely human

fails to raise an echo in their hearts.”

Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World

Back to the rugby

Didn’t Ireland inflict national shame? I was fine because either way, my national team won!

Wasn’t the shaming of the coaches and the team therapeutic?

Isn’t it good to have a group of individuals we can take out ire our on? Perhaps next time we could blame them for Covid, mortgage payment increases, global warming, and so much more?

The transference of shame feels good.

Transference is like a fissure in a mountain, just large enough to let off steam and quieten the deeper tectonic forces that could rip us apart were we to face them.

And now for the News

And then there’s the weather. You may have noticed it has been raining recently.

Here’s the NZ television news:

“Good evening, this is Smug Presenter with the news. Today it has been raining.

We cross to Wet Reporter to get an update. Kia ora Wet Reporter.”

“Tēnā koutou, Smug Presenter in your warm, dry studio and you lot at home.

I’m standing outside Main City studio in the rain with an update on the rain in Small Town, 500 kilometres away.”

“So, Wet Reporter, do you think it will continue raining? And if it does, what’s the long-term impact on car parking in Main City?”

“Thanks, Smug Presenter, for the insightful leading question.

I’m just a Wet Reporter, so I will make up the answer:

the impact on Main City parking will be huge and potentially catastrophic.

Local leaders will set up an enquiry that will allow all the vested interests to ask for more.

As for Small Town, they don’t have a studio, so I guess they will just continue to get wet.

Now back to you, Smug Presenter.”

“Hei konā mai Wet Reporter.

Having just had in-depth reporting from Wet Reporter, here’s Weather Person with another insightful commentary on rain before we repeat it all in 30 minutes.”

Some of the print media is no better; at least fact-checking might be good a place to start.

…And the moral of the story is?

Well, that’s for each of us to consider… or not.

Additional reading

News category: Analysis and Comment, Great reads.

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