Maybe the grip is too tight

Nick Grant at NBR writes about the luvvies outrage over a NEWSREADER leaving her job of 23 years.

I have three words in response to the hysterical pitch of many reports about broadcaster Hilary Barry’s resignation from MediaWorks.

Get. A. Grip.

Possibly the most risible headline relating to Ms Barry’s “shock” departure was splashed across the New Zealand Herald’s homepage.

“Can TV3 survive Hilary Barry’s departure?” it breathlessly asked.

Yes, of course, it will.

Precisely. And don’t Duncan Grieve, Matt Nippert and David Fisher all look stupid today as Mark Weldon continues in his job and the staff haven’t all had an insurrection. I mean think about it…where would they all go if they all jacked it in? There are only so many places at TVNZ, and Sky is bare bones, and that leaves the lifeboat at Radio NZ. It is a small market and they are essentially trapped. So they can whinge and moan to their luvvie mates all they like but nothing is going to happen.  

There’s no question Hilary Barry is an excellent auto-cue reader for TV3’s 6pm news bulletin – which is in no way a knock, by the way; that gig only looks easy when it’s performed by a consummate and talented communicator, which she most certainly is.

And, as many took the opportunity to point out on the recent first anniversary of the Paul Henry multi-platform breakfast show, she has proven an excellent foil for its eponymous host.

But Ms Barry has been the co-host of the six o’clock bulletin for the past 11 years, during which time it’s made no sustainable gains against the ratings juggernaut that is One News.

Again…spot on. Hilary Barry for all her wondrous walk-on-water skills that everyone is now professing hasn’t lifted the ratings of the 6pm news one little bit, neither has Mike McRoberts…so he will be next.

And while the Paul Henry show has improved its performance in some markets, they’re not results that are going to make or break the company.

Ms Barry’s resignation has been seized on as being emblematic of all that apparently ails MediaWorks, as both a business and an organisational culture.

It is hard not to see it as such.

But it’s also old news – NBR and others have been covering the sweeping changes at the company, led by a contentious chief executive, for over a year and a half now.

Ms Barry quitting has provided the opportunity to revisit what appears to be MediaWorks’ downward slide – but it’s hardly going to hasten it.

And the idea – promoted by the usually excellent Spinoff – that her resignation is going to ignite a staff uprising resulting in bloodshed around the boardroom table is, I’m afraid, arrant nonsense.

There may be myriad reasons for a change at the top of MediaWorks’ greasy pole but Ms Barry’s departure ain’t one of them.

Spinoff isn’t excellent; they are paid shills masquerading as journalists. Every article they write someone paid for. The fact that they now regularly get things wrong should ring alarm bells for the sponsors and advertisers who put their brands on the wrongness that is the Spinoff. Perhaps the Spinoff should hire John Drinnan to improve their keyboard interviewing skills.




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  • Wayne Hodge

    Interestingly Colin Peacock at, I cannot believe I am writing this, RNZ’s Mediawatch has an item suggesting the whole Barry furore is silly and overblown. He makes the points in a very genteel RNZ way, but the inferences are clear.

  • cows4me

    TV media’s new business model.

  • Mark

    Weldon has just resigned!