The Australian television station known as Channel 9 recently gained a new boss – a certain figure known as Eddie McGuire. Eddie, it should be noted, has no experience in such a field; the closest he’s had previously is being the host of a program called ‘The Footy Show‘. McGuire’s actions are, when it comes down to it, indicative of all that’s wrong with todays Australian television industry.
One of the first things he did was sack a large number of staff from Nine’s news and current affairs department while slashing $15 Million from the department. Fair enough, some of their programs in that department were rather ordinary and some even blatantly biased in their reports. However did shows such as these (A Current Affair, anyone?) receive the brunt of these cutbacks? Alas, no. Instead, one the stalwarts of reliable, hard hitting and trustworthy shows was ravaged completely – the show known as Sunday.
Sunday has been running for many years now, delivering stories that usually a lot of others were simply too scared to present. The usual news bulletins and movie reviews were there, of course, but every week they delivered one main cover story which was the meat and bones of that weeks edition. The cover story was always evenly presented, with no bias apparent – unbelievable amounts of research and work went into preparing each story. No topic seemed to be off limits, from guerilla fighting in South America, illegal diamond trading, political corruption, the state of the former Soviet Union … You get the general idea.
In short, it was (excuse the mix of tenses) a program for the thinking person. The person who understood and cared that there’s a greater world out there, a world beyond the shortsighted self imposed borders of the Oceans, a world beyond mere sport. The cutbacks that McGuire has made has basically made several programs unworkable – Business Sunday and Sunday are pretty much gone as we know and veteran reporter Jana Vendt was let go from hosting the program last week.
Understandably she has stated that she will not return to 60 Minutes which, like many other news programs, has suffered from a dramatic loss in journalistic standards over the years. After the treatment Vendt has suffered from Nine and McGuire over the past month or so, it is little surprise that Vendt is taking this stand.
Meanwhile, the station continues to fully fund offerings such as A Current Affair which completely lacks any sort of journalistic integrity while targeting squarely for the intelligence lacking, mouth breathing tabloid audience who love the latest story on shonky builders or the latest weight loss fad (which is nothing more than a thinly disguised advertisement anyhow).
It is, perhaps, a sad indication of today’s society when thought provoking in-depth news coverage is pushed aside not only as a means of saving money but also to appeal to a wider audience; appealing to the common denominator in any society can only lead to a fall in standards and stagnation.