The recession seems to be biting at TV3. They appear to have laid off the Ukrainian janitor whose duties, in between scrubbing the dunnies, included writing the captions for the six o’clock news.
The captions used to be habitually misspelled, a clear pointer to the fact that whoever was writing them had English as a second language; but at least captions appeared. Now 3 News seems to have dispensed with them altogether.
Night after night, talking heads flash on screen without being identified. Last night it was the turn of David Shand, a member of the royal commission that recommended Maori seats in the Auckland super-city.
Only those who remember Shand from the 1970s as a once high-profile Victoria University academic, Wellington city councillor and unsuccessful Labour Party candidate would have known who he was. The rest of the TV3 audience would have been left guessing, as they so often are.
Mind you, the soundbites on the TV news – and on commercial radio too, come to that – are now so brief and perfunctory that there’s barely time to register what’s being said, let alone who’s saying it. The fragmentary soundbite, like the fixation for pointless “live to camera” pieces, has nothing to do with informing the viewer. It’s merely a fashionable contrivance; a production device to keep the bulletin moving at a brisk pace so that feeble-minded viewers, who are known to have the concentration span of budgerigars, don’t lose interest.