Sunday, August 03, 2008

... the end of an era?

imagine my surprise to find when, in a fit of public-spiritedness and interest in current affairs, i decided to turn on channel 9 on the tv while i was eating breakfast this morning, only to find that it's the last broadcast of the sunday programme.

sunday has been screening since i was six years old, its first broadcast in 1981 featuring laurie oakes interviewing then-prime minister malcolm fraser. today, in the last broadcast, laurie oakes is interviewing kevin rudd.

it came as a complete surprise to me that sunday is winding up. all tv programmes come to an end sooner or later - i imagine even 60 minutes will end one day - but i had no idea, had seen or heard nothing about its end in other media outlets - until this morning as ellen fanning reiterated for newly-switched-over viewers that today's is the last broadcast for sunday.

what will come next week? what programmes on australian television will now pick up the baton for investigative, "who knows what we will find?" journalism? helen dalley (now on sky news) commented that the difference between sunday and 60 minutes schools of story production was that on the latter, journalists and producers had researched the stories to the point that when they went into production they would know exactly what they wanted to say and exactly what they were looking at; on the former, journos and producres might not know what they'd find - only that there was a story there worth pursuing. who will do that now? (by the way, how gorgeous is nell schofield??? i think she's even more beautiful now, 27 years after puberty blues, than she was back then...)

it's difficult to get myself excited about news and current affairs programmes on australian television. a current affair and today tonight are barely worth the name of "current affairs" and much more like... the magazines they sell on the shelves nearest the checkouts at supermarkets! for mine, shows like dateline, landline, and the 7.30 report are genuine current affairs programmes.

perhaps it's even scarier that the 6 o'clock news programmes are advertising stories they're going to run (so-called "special reports") when i would've thought there's plenty to report in the news on an ordinary day without using stocking stuffers that they could put into their 6.30 current affairs (sic) programmes...

peter thompson commented that the australian film industry at the moment is in "deep schtuck". i don't think it's just the film industry. when decisions to cancel programmes like sunday come down from the people who are supposed to be far-sighted about such things, i fear the continued dumbing-down of australian television. calling it "making tv relevant" is a cop-out. in a world that wants to talk (it seems) in a language of icons, top 40 soundtracks and emotion, television seems to be leading the way to letting people slip back into a common baby-talk, instead of encouraging critical thinking and thoughtful consideration of the world around us.

our forebears' fears that television would make people stupid seems to be coming true.

1 comment:

swellen said...

I had a friend who used to refer to A Current Affair et al as "those snake-oil-and-aliens shows".

Much as I like the 7.30 report, I have to say that the woman who takes over when the normal presenter is on holidays (I'm sick and both their names are eluding me at the moment)... anyway, I think SHE is a much better, more balanced interviewer than he is.

I had the same feelings you're having now when SBS changed their news format and brought in Stan Grant. I've barely watched it since.