A Holt to impartial Breakfast TV?

News tellers were again news stories yesterday. Hillary Barry is moving from one TV show to another. Whoop de do. The content of Breakfast and Seven Sharp is largely dictated by producers and their commercial interests. Presenters are more entertainment actors than anything.

A more controversial show shift was also broadcast, ensuring pre-publicity for TVNZ.

Megan Gattey at Stuff asks Is it OK for ex-Green Party candidate Hayley Holt to host TVNZ’s Breakfast

Is it ethical for a former political party candidate to host a national TV show when interviewing other politicians is part of the job description? How will former Green Party candidate Hayley Holt juggle her greenie convictions with her new job hosting TVNZ 1’s Breakfast?

Holt, who stood for the Green Party in the 2017 election, is replacing Hilary Barry on Breakfast. She will start in the role on the first show of the year, this coming Monday, presenting alongside Jack Tame.

Journalists must remain independent from political and commercial influences, but Holt has insisted her political past would not lead to biased interviewing.

“I’m quite happy to play the role of devil’s advocate for any political party – or any guest in studio,” she said.

“When I was representing the Green Party, I was 100 per cent true to their message. In this new role I have the opportunity to look at things from all perspectives.”

That doesn’t say much for her political credentials, but if she was able to act 100 percent true to the Green message then perhaps she is capable of switching to being 100 per cent true to a TV show message.

No longer a Green Party member, Holt said she was “excited for this new venture”.

“I’ve ceased my party council work and resigned my Green Party membership,” she said.

TVNZ head of news and current affairs John Gillespie said he was confident Holt would interview fairly and objectively.

“Hayley is well aware of her journalistic responsibilities and the need to conduct interviews fairly and impartially. There are a number of editorial producers and relevant systems in place to make sure this occurs,” he said.

I have no idea whether Holt will be fair and objective or not, I don’t think I’ve seen her doing anything on TV, despite her being promoted (when a Green candidate) as some sort of ‘celebrity’.

At least if she interviews James Shaw or Marama Davidson some viewers will be aware of her previous political obedience.

Massey University journalism programme leader James Hollings said it was not unethical for Holt to host Breakfastgiven that she’s resigned” from the Green Party.

“As long as she can claim to be impartial then I don’t think it’s too unreasonable,” he said.

But a more important point:

Hollings said it was disappointing that Holt was “the best New Zealand could come up with”.

“She’s not a trained journalist for a start,” he said.

Actual journalism seems to be not that important any more for TV shows, at least on the surface.

(AUT journalism programme leader Richard) Pamatatau said Holt seemed to fit the kind of look Kiwis were used to seeing on their TV screens: “a sporty, blonde, white woman – interesting, edgy but not too edge – very conventionally attractive”.

How superficial is that? Especially from a journalism programme leader – is that what they teach these days?

“There is plenty of lived experience. She is very relatable.”

She is “a New Zealand snowboarder and ballroom dancer notable for her appearances on several reality television series”. Has reality TV become the new breeding ground for politicians?

Pamatatau hoped Holt would be “smart enough to leave politics behind”.

“The next question is, will she use this to boost her profile even more, so when the next election comes around she’ll be even more of a household name?”

That’s a good question. In Hayley Holt: Why I’m starting again she stated:

“I’ve always been interested in politics. I thought I might get into it a bit later in life but it’s just happened that it’s now.”

I guess presenting Breakfast is another way of being involved in politics, amongst the dross of morning TV. Is it another step in her broadcasting career, or a stepping stone for her political ambitions?

She may make a good presenter even if it’s a sideshow in her career path. I may or may not find out, breakfast TV has too much trivial and trite stuff to attract me usually.