Russell Brown's Media Take finds new home on Maori TV

NEW HOME: Russell Brown's Media Take has found a new home on Maori TV with co-host Toi Iti.
NEW HOME: Russell Brown's Media Take has found a new home on Maori TV with co-host Toi Iti.

After stints on TVNZ and Mediaworks, Russell Brown's take on all things mediawise has found a new home on Maori TV. He talks to James Croot about what viewers can expect from Media Take.

What was it about Maori Television that made you think this would be  a good home for the show?

Our team always had a good relationship with Maori Television and I particularly admire the work of Native Affairs. There's also quite a lot of freedom at Maori Television, and I liked the idea of having to change something I'd been doing a long time. But mostly - they wanted us!

Describe your co-host Toi Iti and the skills he brings to the show.

Toi's experience is broader and deeper than a lot of people realise. He's made documentaries, satire, and web video, he's a working actor - and he was also part of setting up Waatea News. He can edit his own video. And I deeply admire the commitment Toi and his wife Tipare have made to te reo Maori in their lives.

What can viewers expect from this version of the show? Anything new or major differences?

Two hosts, rather than one, and a commitment to operating as a bi-cultural show. We've been discovering what the latter means as we prepare to make the first show and I suspect we'll continue to discover it as we work together. I'm very happy to be covering more Maori media stories, from a Maori perspective - there's so much there to talk about.

What are the biggest issues in New Zealand media at the moment?

How news organisations in particular cope with the challenges of the internet. Are paywalls a good idea? Where is the revenue coming from? Where should we hold the line on so-called ''native advertising''? And most of those are about money.

What are the biggest issues facing New Zealand in this election year?

The usual: covering policy in a way that's useful to the audience, rather than simply calling the race. There are also some novel features to this election year - interesting new small parties, the likely importance of the Maori electorates, which have sometimes been taken for granted in the past.

How has the media landscape changed since you first began on TVNZ7 and what has been the biggest change?

There have been two big changes. One is the turn away from public service broadcasting. TVNZ 6 and 7 are gone and regional TV is struggling. The other is disappearing revenue in the private sector. We see reports about the growth in digital advertising, but those reports almost never say where that growth is, ie: with big, international companies such as Google and Facebook and to a lesser extent the big newspaper chains. Being an independent publisher is harder.

What does the mainstream New Zealand media do well and what does it need to improve on?

There's still good journalism being done and there are good-news stories like Metro magazine turning around its long circulation decline. I'm heartened at the way ''data journalism'' is becoming more than just a slogan, but there's a long way to go there. It's still often the case that journalists can't count and don't really understand the internet well. We should value specialists more. We could always improve on our coverage of foreign news. And I sometimes just despair of the quality of opinion and analysis writing. There are newspaper columnists and editorialists who simply can't construct an argument.

What do you think the New Zealand media landscape will look like in five years?

We're going to be seeing a lot more IP-based television. I hope at least some of it explores new territory and serves niche audiences, rather than everyone doing the same thing in on-demand programming. It's really easy now to stream live event video, for example, and there are potentially huge benefits for public engagement there. There will probably still be physical newspapers, but perhaps not every day of the week.

Media Take screens every Tuesday after the festival documentary and will be repeated on Thursday at 10.30pm.