Campbell Live can help Politicians

Posted April 14, 2015

If Campbell Live is dropped by TV3, it will be the end of an important media stage for politicians to get their messages through to potential voters.

Since the news of the show’s possible demise broke, there has been talk about its possible editorial bias, and even conspiracy theories about why it may end.

But what has not be mentioned is that Campbell Live gives politicians from all sides of Parliament the opportunity to talk to their audience unedited. There are very few places to do this in the New Zealand media.

As anyone who deals with the media knows, you can talk to a journalist for 30 minutes, and find that only one small snippet of the interview gets used in the story. This is why so many people complain about being taken out of context. It’s also why many public figures don’t like talking to the media.

While there are ways to mitigate against this, my point is that they don’t need to worry about this with live interviews, like those broadcast by Campbell Live. Because they are live, editors cannot take little snippets of what was said to make the politician look stupid. Everyone sees the entire interview.

Even if the presenter is hostile in a live situation, it’s still a great opportunity to get a point across. Remember, the audience is the person watching at home, not the interviewer. You only need to look at examples where John Campbell had viewers complain that he was too tough on guests. Just because the interviewer is tough doesn’t mean you can’t get your message across.

The opportunity to talk to a live audience should be welcomed by politicians, regardless of the show’s agenda. John Key took advantage of this last year when explaining the new powers of the GCSB. The only criticism is that he could have done it sooner. By declining such offers, you only give more airtime to your opponents and lose an opportunity (unedited) to put your case.

The real threat, particularly if there is a political agenda, is when the only avenue available is talking to reporters from news programmes where there will only be room for a 10 second sound bite from you. That’s when they have all the power.

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