Reinvention Starts at The Top
Fast forward to the new century. 2004 and TVNZ is sludgy moribund mess, the antithesis of what it was in the sixties. There are two basic reasons for this changed condition. One is that TVNZ is now the establishment it once challenged, and two is that the people running TVNZ don't know or realise they're now the establishment.
Media has to challenge the status quo. The most basic element of journalism to my mind has always been the newspaper editor of the those old American movies wearing the green eyeshade and working at his presses deep into the night to take on city hall and tell the public what is really happening. Stripping away the self serving veneer of politician’s speeches and government press releases and showing people the truth.
TVNZ today has never been further from this scenario. Its paid money by the government to present this thing called the "Charter", a device to promote the government’s policies. The people running TVNZ are by and large people who think like the government, and if they don't support every little thing the government does, they basically agree on political philosophies. This political philosophy is shared by the establishment, the same nebulous body that TVNZ challenged so vigorously and so successfully in the sixties. Where is the challenge today? Where is the freshness, the vibrancy of the sixties?
It’s not with TVNZ, but it is with FOX News, in the US the fastest growing cable television service. Why is that? Politics aside, it’s because FOX is doing today what TVNZ did in the sixties. It’s challenging the establishment. The wheel has turned the full circle. TVNZ journalists who once challenged the politicians of the day, now runs the organisation and reports to parliament when ordered to. Helen Clark, who in her youth challenged the political orthodoxy of the day, is now the Prime Minister. Here's the question that TVNZ needs to answer. Where is the challenge to today's social and political hierarchy?
If reinvention is really the idea, then the first thing TVNZ has to do is reject the Charter. It must tell the government to drop dead with its $30 million. Second thing it has to do is rid itself of staff that are happy with the Miloslevecian status quo. Third thing it has to do is stop producing programs that echo and support the status quo, and START PRODUCING PROGRAMS THAT CHALLENGE IT.
For one thing, let’s get rid of the surfeit of political commentators soaked in the attitudes of the sixties and seventies. TVNZ’s leading political commentator for example doesn't challenge any political hierarchy. She's part of the political hierarchy. Like so many other TVNZ personnel, she thinks and speaks and holds the same political views as Helen Clark, the government and the social hierarchy. These people are not the green eye shade wearing challengers. They're the panderers and the promoters of the government’s charter. Where are the Sean Hannitys, the E.D. Hills, and the Bill O'Reilly's of TVNZ? They don’t exist.
Now the management at TVNZ may not like Bill or Sean or ED, but that of course just proves my point concerning their confusion over who the TVNZ management really is. They're the establishment, and they're running a TV network that supports the establishment. NZers don't want this kind of Miloslevecian broadcasting, this sickening obeisance to the status quo. They want the vibrancy of the sixties. They won't get it from the tired old lefties running TVNZ today, who have unwittingly become the very establishment they railed against in the sixties. Reinvention must start at the top.