Rachel at Throng is gobsmacked by the use of the word “talent” to describe witnesses. To be frank I am too…it just goes to show that both channels see the news as entertainment akin to New Zealand’s Next Top Crim.

Did you know that people interviewed on ONE News and 3 News are now referred to as “talent” by reporters?  We were surprised and uncomfortable to hear it being used in this context.

When Kate Lynch and Amanda Gillies clarified their recent stories to Throng, both used the curious word:

[blackbirdpie id=”161169913476681729″]

[blackbirdpie id=”161173229677977600″]

Proof positive that the talking heads are actually living in lala land.


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  • Anonymous

    Abysmal. Very unprofessional but (unfortunately) not at all surprising. 

  • Pete George

    Not surprising and I suppose at least it’s honest, after all they call their advertising hour interupted by mini-dramas (based on true events) a “show”.

  • Michael

    This is not new. That’s a word that’s always been used. It’s a technical/industry word that refers to the production of a news piece. The ‘talent’ is the object (often a person) that you’re filming that is crucial to the ‘interestingness’ of the story for the viewer. A crude analogy might be the production of beer bottles. A brewer doesn’t refer to each ingredient in the production in the way it’s advertised on the side of the bottle. He works in big numbers and uses phrases that refer to different phases of the production. These too would seem odd to us.

    If Rachel at Throng is surpised by this then I’m surprised. Though, granted it is odd that they’re using it on Twitter when it’s open to public view.

    • Happy to admit I don’t know everything Michael :)

  • Michael

    Just to clarify. I agree it’s rather crass to refer to
    people as talent. Just as it would be crass for say an undertaker to refer to
    dead bodies as ‘units’ or ‘jobs’. That said, in his business planning he might
    refer it them as jobs, but he would say that publicly.

    And just to clarify, I too think most of NZ’s reporters are low-rent kiddies.
    Kack Tame may be a nice guy, but he has very little credibility as the ‘US correspondent’.

  • Pete George

    The ‘talent’ is the object (often a person) that you’re filming that is
    crucial to the ‘interestingness’ of the story for the viewer.

    Crucial to the ‘interestingness’? Good grief, the unpaid actors are supposed to be interesting? I think it’s interesting that Actors Equity doesn’t complain about the competition.

  • Vlad

    Interviewees and others appearing in programmes have always been called talent (I have worked in TV in 4 countries).  Although there is plenty to criticise TV News for, this term has no entertainment connotations.  It has nothing to do with the “interestingness” of a programme or story.  Just a shorthand term to indicate a participant in the process.

  • Michael

    @ Vlad, yes, the phrase ‘talent’ itself has nothing to do with interesting-ness of a story. My point was that the person you choose for a piece-to-camera or otherwise is, obviously, important for the article.

  • Michael is correct only if “not new” means it has been occurring for a while. The term originated in marketing and advertising; not in news – and I think it is instructive that it made that transition.
    It crept into the broad news area when it was used by production staff  to reference the tv frontperson; mainly the “newsreader” but then it morphed into a label for all on-air “performances” which now seems to include the interviewees as well as the interviewers. It’s part of the bullshit of TV that see interviewers coach the “talent” on what to say/do during the interview. Good “talent” doesn’t need coaching but the crop of journos we see now seem intent with scripting rather than interviewing for stories.

    • Vlad

      Bollocks. It has no more pejorative connotations than “customer” or “client”.  It is just a term to differentiate the “public” participant in a programme/report from staff.  And as for the alleged morphing, that must have happened a long time ago because it was in its current use 40 years ago.  There is indeed plenty of bullshit in the media, TV included, but you are wasting your time trying to make something out of this. 

      • Double bollocks to you.
        It is definitely pejorative when used in a news sense.
        Having worked in news, and marketing,  in 4 continents over 3 decades- including senior positions with Associated Press, Dow Jones and the Financial Times-  I am  confident in saying that the term talent has taken on different meanings over the years and began as a term for the “on air” personalities in broadcasting shows…. probably originating in radio. “The talent” was also the term for the personalities whose profile was sold by the marketing and advertising departments as the face/voice of news broadcasters….. its use in the sense you indicate is a more  modern bastardisation. Those of us with background as old-school neutral journalists know that the term “talent” for “interviewees ” or “the public” is insutling to those who would like to see stories reported, not fabricated.

  • Steve and Monique

    Clearly the reporters can’t be referred to as talent!

    • Pete George

       I saw a talented reporter recently during the Nelson floods. He was doing his captivating “here I am in the flood” spiel standing in a fast flowing creek, water about half way up his gumboots.

      I thought that was a bit risk, you never know when another surge could arrive – but then I saw he had weighed himself down securely by filling his gumboots right up with water.

  • Anonomous

    I always thought that talent was the great looking birds in the bar, up for fun.
    We used to graduate them out of 10.

    • Pharmachick

      I know a bunch of women that used to do the same thing “rating the talent” … followed by the “walk by” where, sometimes, a good looking Guy (from afar) could might unfortunately be pronounced a “Monet”, to general disappointment. 

  • Gazzaw

    I don’t pretend to understand half of what’s being said here. What I would like to know from the media experts here is when can we expect to get some decent news programming again from TV One & TV3. The current presentations, Closeup & Campbell Live included are fucken
    insults to the intelligence.  

    • never

      • Vlad

        Ok, I withdraw the bollocks as there is little point being rude….but I do note that your undoubtedly distinguished background appears to be mostly in print media (and marketing??). Without turning this into a pissing contest I will comment that in my 40 years of television experience – a good part of it trying to be an old-style neutral journalist – I never heard the term “talent” being used in a dismissive or pejorative sense, even if it was interpreted that way from outside the industry.

      • Vlad, I am sure you know that APTN provides most of the raw footage used globally by television services… AP has more viewers than readers.

  • Peter Wilson

    I’d say this is work humour which has mistakenly been made public. For example, I’d be VERY surprised if undertakers didn’t refer to the deceased bodies as clients, or customers, or even fee paying units. BUT, just amongst colleagues. Humour; it’d be the only way to stay sane.

    A lot of businesses refer to their customers as “punters.” Why? Because they’re suckers for handing over their cash. Do they really believe that? Of course not.

    Perhaps not many on here have experience of workplaces after all.

    • Marksuzyreynolds

      Oh yes, all of us that “work” make fun of our customers. I’m handing out dickhead awards tonight, please accept your gracefully :-)

  • Vlad

    Hi Marksuzy, sorry to hear that APN has lost so many readers.  March of technology I guess, nek minnit, television.

    • Marksuzyreynolds

      Thank you for confirming that you are a dick.

  • jay cee

    sounds to me like it was just inter office memo / email speak that got into the public domain.nothing more- nothing less

    • Marksuzyreynolds

      Nothing more than unprofessional private attitudes aired in public, you mean. What a load of dishonest babble designed to protect amateur behaviour, IMHO, of course.

      • jay cee

        pardon my ignorance ,- IMHO?