April 23, 2012 - In the previous entry, I expressed my love of editorial comment, and how I’d like to see more of it on TV.
One of the best things about NTV News First Edition is the Friday “Let’s Talk Politics” segment, in which host Glen Carter talks to political reporter, Michael Connors, about the week’s events in the House and elsewhere.
It’s not quite an editorial, in the strict sense of the word. However, Connors looks into the camera and makes objective conclusions, based on established facts, tieing the various loose ends of a story into a tidy like package. He always calls it as he sees it, with an entertaining blend of information, analysis and dry wit.
For example, on April 13, Connors noted some intriguing parallels in what would seem to be separate stories. First, he mentioned former premier Danny Williams’s earlier appointment to the board of directors of Alderon Iron Ore Corp., which plans to develop a large mine in Labrador. Then this:
“The timing of this is sort of interesting, given some statements that Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy has made recently about the Muskrat Falls project. Over the last few weeks… Kennedy has been increasingly talking about potentially using Muskrat Falls to power the mining industry in Labrador. This is what he said in the House of Assembly last week:
‘Mr. Speaker, and then what we’re looking for – and I pointed this out the other day – do we want the Labrador mining projects to proceed or not? They cannot proceed without power. Without Muskrat Falls, they will not proceed.’
No, Connors is not expressing an opinion there. Rather, he is drawing our attention to seemingly disparate stories, which may or may not be connected. It’s not quite an editorial, but it’s more than a straight-up news piece.
Here’s another example. On March 9, Connors had this to say, after a particularly nutty week of news coverage that was prompted by Jim Bennett’s intemperate voice mail:
“Leaving a voice mail like that at the office of one of his political opponents was definitely not the smartest thing anyone could do. On the flipside, when it comes to the issue of vilifying people on Open Line, I’m not sure the government has really been innocent of that either over the last eight or nine years…”
In that same segment, Connors talks about Twitter, and the expanding role of social media in provincial politics
“This session of the House is in some respects going to become the first Twitter session of the House,” Connors said. “There were some evenings this week where the debate and back and forth has actually continued some evenings between the MHAs, even after the House was closed, and even then it’s gotten quite intense. I don’t know, the way things have been going this session, people better be careful because someone could hang themselves before this is all over.”
Yes, I have a lot of time for Michael Connors, and this segment. I think NTV should consider making it a daily feature.
There are other forms of editorial comment on NTV News, though not a lot. Fred Hutton will summarize a story, when presenting his Newsmaker of the Week feature, though he generally avoids contentious statements, allowing the story to speak for itself.
And then there’s Snook, who weaves a great deal of his own (and Pete Soucy’s) commentary into the weekly Stuff About Stuff segment. Because of its satiric content, Snook can get away with more pointed commentary than a news reporter could.
But my point here is the same as for CBC: a weekly editorial would be a wonderful thing. It’s not the norm for broadcast journalism, but that's all the more reason to do it. Break the mold. Do something new and different.
I know that viewers will like it.