January 12th, 2011 at 03:39am
This certainly is a country of extremes. Floods in parts, fires in others. It’s the country we love and the country we have come to expect, and yet somehow when dreadful natural disasters like these strike, we all not only feel the pain and the shock, but seem to band together for the greater good.
My role on this blog is not to keep you updated on the flood crisis, or the bushfires near Perth. There are many news agencies working around the clock to do that. If you are coming here for updates on the crisis, then I strongly urge you to instead turn to your local TV and radio services. If you are in an affected area, you have my thoughts and prayers.
My role outside this blog is with a commercial television network, working behind the scenes to keep the network going. I hope that this helps people who not only want, but need information about the unfolding crisis. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of other people who are also working in various parts of the media to ensure that information gets to the people who need it. To those people, I salute you.
And to the people who bravely work through the crisis in our emergency services, government agencies, volunteer organisations, and other groups too numerous to name, we all thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your service.
So, my role on this blog in this crisis. I feel compelled to offer some analysis of the coverage of, and reaction to, the floods by both the media, and the elected officials who are in charge of responding to this crisis.
Radio, across the board, as I understand it, has done what radio does best…provide immediate local information to their broadcast area.
Television has been a bit of a mixed bag. I thought Seven did a great job yesterday, especially with bumping the Tennis over to 7TWO so that they could continue with news on the main channel and on their only analogue channel. Larry Emdur once again proved that he is perfectly capable of anchoring coverage of a crisis and did an outstanding job on Sunrise. The rest of the team also did an outstanding job from what I saw.
Nine did a pretty good job too from what I saw. Apparently they were putting giant “first on nine” watermarks on footage (I didn’t see this, but have been reliably informed that this is what happened) which is a very low act during a crisis, but other than that I was impressed with their coverage. They seemed to have a higher number of phone crosses than Seven which probably allowed them to be a tad more immediate with news, at the expense of the pictures which really rammed home to those of us outside the flood zone just how bad it really is up there.
I’m told that WIN did a special bulletin of their own which is commendable…but I would kindly ask WIN to do something about the offputting “WIN News” square which just feels intrusive and wrong over the top of the current Nine graphics.
ABC TV was an interesting one. In terms of content, they did a stellar job. I need not say more about that as they did a great job. The trouble I had was with the graphics on ABC News 24 which just hurt my eyes to the point that I found it unwatchable…I’m not a fan of the look of that station to begin with as I think the whole design is downright ugly, but when the yellow “live” block is up as well, it’s nauseating. The ticker is the only thing I like about the design of that station…if they bring back the old look or rebuild based on the ticker and less oddly shaped supers, then I’ll be able to deal with it.
Outside of the distracting look of ABC News 24, I must commend them for staying on overnight (even if it’s a looped set of stories), and for dropping regular programming on ABC1 in Queensland for the ongoing news. I do wonder if, at least until analogue television is phased out completely, the main ABC channel should have taken the rolling coverage nationally…but seeing as the other networks were catering for the analogue audience, I’ll let it slide.
Ten however get a smack to the head. For a network which is trying to position itself as a powerhouse of news, yesterday’s lack of effort was embarrassing. I know they were busy with the launch of Eleven, but failing to enter rolling coverage until 5pm is simply unacceptable from any network which wants to be taken seriously when it comes to news.
On to our elected political leaders. The aim here is not to politicise the floods, but to check on the performance of the people in whom we have invested out trust.
I’m normally not a fan of Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, but she gets a very large tick in my books today. She has shown her genuine concern and empathy, while remaining somehow composed and in control, and remaining as a strong and calm voice for her people. She is doing very well.
The various Mayors of flood-affected areas are clearly distraught and doing whatever they can to help co-ordinate a response. Many of these people appear to me to be understandable overwhelmed, and I hope that they are receiving all the support they need from larger bodies such as the Queensland government.
Julia Gillard however, has disappointed me. This is the type of event in which I thought her usual calculating approach would serve her and us very well. Alas it hasn’t…at least not in public. I was shocked when I saw her interview on ABC TV last night in which she looked and sounded happy about the floods…she was trying to hold back her smile and came across as if she really did not care. It was embarrassing quite frankly, and I hope that the interview is not seen overseas as it will only serve to make other countries think that we’re a cold and uncompassionate bunch who don’t deserve their support.
Maybe she is doing some good behind the scenes…I truly hope that she is…but if she can’t show even a shred of empathy in public, then she should be sending a minister out to represent the federal government. It’s not whether she cares or not that I care about right now, it’s the message that her body language sent to the people of Queensland last night…if I was in a flood zone right now, I would feel like the federal government did not have my back and that I was reliant on the limited resources of the state government. The federal government needs to instil confidence in Queenslanders, and if Julia can’t do that, then a minister should be doing it instead.
Anyway, I must go and get ready for work. Once again my thoughts and prayers are with those who are ravaged by floods and fires at this time. May you all get through this safely.