Friday, 22 August 2008

N2N - When a baby journalist speaks to a baby consultant

I was talking with Baby Consultant last week (it may help that I live with her), and she's taken to listening to the radio while working on her projects.

I take full responsibility - she tends to disregard our best news media outlet (Radio NZ), dismissing it as "the talk talk" because all they do is talk - as I weaned her on to it with late night talkback, and while she usually listens to the cream of New Zealand (daytime talkback radio), I left it on RNZ as I walked out the door and she couldn't get the station to change.

Left with Kathryn Ryan on Nine to Noon, she listened intently to the programme for its duration and came away unimpressed.

Her major criticism was Ms Ryan's tendency to let people say what they want and avoid asking probing questions, and hadn't done enough research - something I would have thought to be the prime requisite for an interviewer on a broadcaster's flagship programme.

The piece which swayed her opinion of Ms Ryan was her interview with Sheriff Arpaio. There's a moment (18 minutes into the interview) where Ms Ryan asks about several legal challenges our favourite hardliner is facing, and he dismisses her concerns, stating the class action began 35 years ago, before he was sheriff. When she raised this issue, she mentioned this was one of several challenges, but her response to his answer was "Okay." Changing tack and trying to corner him into slipping up on prisoners' human rights didn't help matters - it was weak. I've been informed by Baby Consultant, that it also ignored the class action against the sheriff by the American Civil Liberties Union - the major action against Sheriff Joe and something Ms Ryan could have followed up on quite easily.

I've been an advocate for Ms Ryan in the past, I fondly remember her as the political editor of RNZ - I had a lot of time for her analysis in the lead-up to the last election (it was actually there) - and I wasn't overly impressed with number of snide comments made when she took over the chair of N2N regarding her thick NZ accent (although I did make a few).

But when someone who has traveled the world and watched, read, and listened to all types of media speaks, I pay attention, and when Baby Consultant opened her mouth (she is a baby consultant after all), I had to agree.

I was going to let this post slide a couple of days ago, but I saw John Drinnan's media column in the Herald (an excellent weekly read), and I couldn't let it slide:
Radio New Zealand is standing by its survey assessing the cumulative audience for National Radio, despite the fact that they are comparing different methodologies. RNZ is claiming the results in its latest survey - comparing 2006 figures - show an increase in all shows. But it is understood that other figures dating back to June, while solid among most shows, was disappointing for the Nine To Noon show with Kathryn Ryan. My sources say that RNZ - which recently appointed producer Allen Walley to work on the show, has become concerned with the tone and ratings for Nine To Noon. It is a subjective matter of course. But under Ryan, Nine To Noon had become rooted in "Ailment of the Day" with bleak schoolmarmish discourse and mini-lectures. Walley carries high hopes for change, but RNZ insiders say Ryan is not known for taking advice and continues to dominate on air and off.

Interesting to see the insiders aren't happy with N2N either. We can only hope that it'll improve soon.

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