Show don’t tell


Show don’t tell.

That’s the advice given at creative writing classes and it also applies to journalism.

Why then does television, the medium best equipped to show, waste so much time telling us things?

An example that stuck in my mind was the reporter standing in the empty Wellington stadium telling us how full it had been for the football game the night before. When she’d finished talking we were shown the stadium from the night before and surprise, surprise, we could see that it was full.

One of the lessons drummed into me at journalism school was that we look before we listen and so whenever possible we should let the pictures tell the story.

That lesson must have by-passed whoever directs TV news these days. Not content with showing us the story, reporters have to start by telling us what we’re about to see and finish by telling us what we should think and how we should feel about it.

If the pictures and voice-over don’t convey everything that’s needed, the solution isn’t breathless to-camera reporting telling us the story from the journalist. It’s better pictures,  showing us the story with the voice-over explanations kept to a minimum and without gratuitous comments and opinions at the end.

What we get now isn’t reporting, it’s an unhappy cross between amateur dramatics and propaganda.

TV needs to do less telling, more showing and leave the thinking and feeling to the viewers.

How journalism used to be


Those were the days . . .

Hat Tip: Press Pack

Monday Quiz


1. Who wrote A Fence Around the Cuckoo?

2. Which are the five largest electorates, by area, in New Zealand?

3. Who said: ” Literature is the art of writing something that will be read twice; journalism what will be grasped at once”?

4. What was the name of the ship which carried the first shipment of frozen meat from New Zealand to Britian?

5. Who chairs Meat & Wool NZ?

What is a journalist?


Cyril Connolly said: Literature is the art of writing something that will be read twice; journalism what will be grapsed at once.

He died in 1974 so we can’t ask him to define blogging. But Vernon Small  is confused because he no longer has a robust definition for a journalist and he asks: 

Do bloggers do journalism? Or do we need a new definition of journalism that allows some sorts of blogging but not others …. since I seem to be blogging right now.

My answer is some journalists are bloggers, some are not; some blogging is journalism, some is not. Blogging is a new medium of communication different in many ways from but complimentary to older forms such as newspapers, magazines, radio and television.

All of these have people writing for them, some of whom are journalists, some of whom aren’t, some get paid for it, some don’t; some write well, some don’t; and some of what they write is journalism and some isn’t.

Small says he would find it hard to recommend a blogger be given accreditation to the press gallery. I have reservations about this because it appears to be restricting freedom of expression because of the of the medium used to communicate. However, you define journalism it ought to take account of what is done, and possibly how well, but not the medium used to do it.

Hat tip:  Inquiring Mind and Kiwiblog.

Update: The Hive has entered the debate.

UPdate 2: So has No Right Turn. and Update 3 Jafapete has too.

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