Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Funny Thing

Yesterday Christchurch hosted an international conference on potatoes.

Ok that's strange enough. It's kind of weird that something so humble as a potato can be the the subject of international focus.

But what made the event so delightful was one of its attendees.

Yes it was former NZ Prime Minister Jim Bolger - aka "Spud" Bolger.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dark Days

It's a pretty fraught time to be a journalist in New Zealand at the moment. Retrenchment, lay-offs, cut-backs, and redundancy are words with which we are all becoming too familiar. A wide range of broadcasters; TRN and Radioworks in radio, and Prime and TVNZ in television, are all in the process of shedding staff.

Or, as out bosses like to tell us, adjusting to the current economic climate.

90 staff are being axed at TVNZ of which around 20 are from news and current affairs. This follows on from cuts TVNZ made but a year or so ago when around 160 people were sent down the road. It's hard to see what fat, if any, there can possibly left to trim within TVNZ's news unit. How on earth they're going to cover morning news, the midday bulletin, the 4.30 pm bulletin, news at 6 and the late news, beggars belief. Add into that its commitments to TVNZ7 and its news service and one has to surmise it's an impossible task for those that are left.

But as bad as things are at TVNZ the situation at Prime News is far far worse. Its 5.30 news show already operated on a shoestring and, with no disrespect to those who work there, its quality always was well short of what it should have been. This is now going to go downhill double quick. From what I've been told the production, camera, and editing staff have pretty much been massacred. The show will now be piped out of Sydney based on the efforts of 4 video-journalists (three in Auckland and one in Wellington) and very limited production support.

Basically Prime News is now terminally fucked. There's absolutely no way they will be able to produce a credible news programme on those numbers. My suspicion is that their bulletin will either be cut in length, or canned altogether, within six months.

To all my colleagues out there who are now facing a fraught future. My sympathies are with you.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Thieving Bastards.

I'm a smoker.

It's a dirty disgusting habit and becoming less fashionable every year. But before you moralise at me, let me remind you the additional tax revenue the Government gets from my addiction is helping pay for your healthcare, retirement, and the like.

You're welcome.

So it's fair to say I am somewhat pissed off at the practices of Bellamy's - the firm that holds the monopoly on catering and cafe services at Parliament. A few weeks ago they decided to up the price on cigarettes. If you walked into any dairy, supermarket, or convenience store around the country you'd expect to pay $11.50 for a pack of 20.

Not at Bellamy's.

There they'll sting you $17 a pack for your nicotine pleasure.