If New Zealand network news was dumbed-down any further, the Medical Council could name a retardation after it. The 5 minutes out of the nightly news hour that isn’t padded out by the weather, V8 motor racing, or commercials, is spun with such ‘down home’ colloquialism, euphemism and mispronunciation, that it reads like cross between Woman’s Day, and an episode of ‘The Wiggles’.
So much so, you could be forgiven for assuming that nothing actually happens in the world. As far as concerns local news, you would be mostly correct.
But is the lack of anything to talk about the real reason Kiwis seem to ‘prefer it dumb’? Surely a story about a sheep who has evaded shearing for two years doesn’t need to be re-digested into even more simple, lay terminology?
Think again. Whether reporting major international breaking news, or local feel-good items, the treatment is the same. Lines are frequently fluffed. Opinions are offered. Stories are peppered with phrases such as ‘a bit of a problem’ and ‘awesome’. And due to an aggressive equal-opportunity hiring policy, at least 30% of all field reporters must have a stutter, a distracting eyelid twitch, or be fluent in modern Kay-Wuy. Preferably all three.
Kiwi news is ‘news in board shorts’. Ever ready to bunk off for the afternoon. “And as the death toll following the Hezbollah bombing of a primary school in Tel Aviv reaches 30 children, this journalist can’t help but wonder…are those really 12 foot swells I see breaking over on Tel Aviv beach?”
Dumb News may just be a harmless by-product of the laid-back, Kiwi lifestyle. After all, don’t people move all the way here to escape just that sort of shit?
However, it is also possible that it is a subtle extension of Tall Poppy Syndrome. Speaking with a voice of authority, using big adjectives, pronouncing the ‘R’ on the end of words, and understanding the subject about which you are reporting… generally leads to only one question in the minds of most Kiwis. “What are you? A bloody show off or something?”
TV3 ‘s marketing campaign, for example, thinks it’s helpful to remind us that their anchors ‘Dont’ just present the news, they get it‘.
Shouldn’t that really go without saying?