Willie Jackson
An 'alternative' news show to 7 Sharp and Story will be launched later this month. But just how 'alternative' will it be and will anyone be watching?

IT CAME AS SOMEWHAT OF A SURPRISE WHEN Martyn Bradbury. editor of The Daily Blog, announced that an alternative to 7 Sharp and Story was soon to launch.

With both 7 Sharp and Story eschewing hard current affairs for lightweight magazine-type stories and with both shows hosted by presenters with political loyalties not a million light years from the National Party, there is certainly a space for a news show for people who want more than just another sermon from Mike Hosking abut how wonderful John Key is and Duncan Garner reckoning the TPPA is a good thing.

On Tuesday The Daily Blog published details of the new venture, Waatea 5th Estate.

It appears to be only a Daily Blog project because its editor, Martyn Bradbury, is involved in it. It's actually going to be streamed on the Waatea News website - which Bradbury contributes an opinion piece to.

It's also not a news show. It's 'a discussion panel dedicated to giving as wide a range of perspectives as possible on issues affecting New Zealand.'

While Bradbury unwisely claims it will be competing for audience from 7 Sharp and Story, I doubt that the executives at TVNZ and TV3 will be having any sleepless nights about losing audience to the new competition. The fact that Waatea 5th Estate won't be on our television screens limits its potential audience immediately, not to mention that some potential viewers simply won't be able to access it.

 I also have my doubts about just how 'alternative' Waatea 5th Estate will be. Frankly the two figures behind the project, Martyn Bradbury and Willie Jackson, don't fill me with confidence. Bradbury's Labour Party sympathies are well known, as are the often conservative views of Willie Jackson. I doubt that there'll be any room for panelists who have political opinions to the left of the mainstream. So I imagine good old Chris Trotter is already booked for regular appearances. Zzz...

Perhaps Jackson will use the show to continue his misguided attacks on New Zealand's last outpost of public broadcasting, RNZ National, or defend charter schools.

Simply adopting an oppositional role to the present National Government does not make you 'an alternative to the mainstream' especially when the alternative being promoted is a right wing Labour Party.

Of course I could be completely wrong. There might be a vibrant discussion about building an alternative to the Labour Party. There might be a debate about the meaning of socialism in a New Zealand context. But its more likely to be a bunch of familiar talking heads grazing over the issues of the day. Despite all the declarations about the failure of the fourth estate, it could well be that many of the participants on this new show will be people who make a comfortable living out of the corporate fourth estate, thanks very much. Wealthy Willie Jackson hasn't done too badly for himself, for starters.

Waatea 5th Estate starts on 22 February although I note that the press release describes it as a 'series'- so it may only have a limited run. They should be clear about this.


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