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The TV3 evening show features a pretty weathergirl and a slow-witted, unfunny comedian as part of their front-line ensemble, with a rotating cast of B-list celebrities, politicians and attention-seekers engaging in yuk yuk fests interspersed with episodic discussion of real news.Its competitor on TV One has been re-jigged but in recent years has been the domain of–you guessed it–that NZME male radio personality and an amicable NZME female counterpart, something that continues with its new lineup where a male rock radio jock/media prankster has joined a well-known TV mother figure to discuss whatever was in the headlines the previous morning.Non-affiliated people who submit op ed pieces to newspapers are regularly told that there is no pay for their publication (or are made to jump through hoops to secure payment).That means that the opinion pages are dominated by salaried media personalities or people who will share their opinions for free.That squeezes out op-ed room for serious people discussing subjects within their fields of expertise.What results is that what should be the most august pages in a newspaper are given over to gossipy nonsense and superficial “analyses” of current events.This is accelerated by the presence elf social media and 24 hours global news networks, which makes the push for original content that attracts audiences and therefore advertising revenues increasingly focused on sensational headline grabbing rather than in-depth consideration of complex themes.

Most of the international news stories on NZ newspapers, TV and radio are obtained from overseas sources, particularly media outlets owned by the Australian based investment funds that control Fairfax, NZME and Mediaworks.

Consider what we get these days: two NZME “properties,” a married couple who do back-to-back morning shows on Newstalk ZB (and previously worked at TV One), are now filling daily column inches (at least in the digital version) at the Herald with their thoughts on things such as high housing prices and deporting families (he thinks the former is good because it means that everyone is doing well and the latter is good because to do otherwise is to “send the wrong message”) or relations between school students and displaying breasts in public (she thinks the former are good but the latter bring consequences).

Given their ubiquity this “power” couple apparently are renaissance-like in their command of subjects and thus worth the daily attention of the masses, although it is also clear that their views only cover already established news stories and are presented along strictly gender lines–he addresses “serious” issues while she covers topics usually found in women’s rags.

The evening TV news and weekend public affairs shows are still run as journalistic enterprises, but the morning and evening public affairs programs are no longer close to being so.

“Human interest” (read: tabloid trash) stories predominate over serious subjects.

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