Review: The new Morning Report

Last updated 09:58 02/04/2014
Morning Report
MAARTEN HOLL/Fairfax NZ

Guyon Espiner, the new co-host of Morning Report with Susie Ferguson, promises to provide more grunt to pin down evasive politicians.

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OPINION: Everyone agreed Morning Report was tired and too polite, an elderly gent nodding by the fire. Radio New Zealand promised that would all change from today.

And yes, Morning Report has woken up. Guyon Espiner's interview with cabinet minister Maurice Williamson was sharper than anything the show's two previous hosts could have done.

Interviews with politicians are a largely doomed enterprise. The politician is a rubber-coated robot programmed to evade and obfuscate. 

In this case Williamson was trying to defend a leaky homes programme that has clearly failed, since only 87 householders had taken it up. 

The Government had said up to 17,000 would do so. Espiner was polite and firm and managed to cut through some of the bluster. 

Williamson replied that the figure of 17,000 "was the upper limit".

Espiner clearly won that one.

Radio New Zealand also wanted to make Morning Report more of a news-breaker, and this morning it did have a scoop: Peter Jackson has allowed his personal jet to help in the search for the Malaysian airlines plane. 

This wasn't a world-beater but it was a new wrinkle in the saga. 

Report has a new theme tune, a fanfare with "indigenous elements", according to the three composers who invented it. Certainly a new theme was needed.

Report also had an item about fare evaders on Auckland trains and a political story that the Government "might" bring in a compulsory code of conduct for supermarkets.

"Might" was right: the interview with cabinet minister Craig Foss revealed only that Foss was considering all options.

Not such a clear victory on that one, then.

This is the programme for the elite, the people who run the country, and so it is Very Serious. But Report also promised to show a sense of humour. Today that seemed to be a jokey item about the reported death of a celebrity rooster in Taumaranui. Well, it was something.

Altogether, it was a good start. Morning report seems fresher, livelier and less genteel. But that was day one. Can it keep the freshness for the next 10,000 mornings?

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- The Dominion Post

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