Friday, September 29, 2023

Mike Hosking: It's time to mix up the election debate format

Based on the premise that you learn from your mistakes and the general idea that you want to improve, the conclusion I have reached this week as another seven days in the campaign ends is we need to have a good long think about the debates.

I am not alone. Several pieces I have now read say essentially the same thing.

Debate one was widely panned as being boring, unproductive, and certainly lacking any illumination. Debate two was criticised for being a yell fest, where one candidate was determined to out-shout the other. And for his efforts he got awarded the prize from the so-called experts as the winner.

Then you had the other debates; the minor leader's debate was another yell fest in a pub. In the youth debate there was more yelling.

Then, for my sins, to give some perspective I watched yesterday's second debate in the states with the Republicans. I watched the first debate with the Republicans as well.

What you conclude from the American scenario is they don’t do a lot better than we do. The mistake in the first one was there were too many people on stage and too many moderators, they had two of them.

Yesterday there were seven candidates and three moderators.

The advantage the Americans might have is talent and budget. In a country of 300+ million, surely the best broadcasters are better than ours? The truth is, not really.

The three yesterday had one talent and two second-raters. They got around the yelling of candidates by holding it in a massive space, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, where if you turned the mic off you couldn’t hear them. But it did nothing for the debate itself.

It was an unfulfilling, disjointed two hours I won't get back. And that seems, to me, to be the trouble with these things.

If you follow politics you have heard it all before. If you don’t, you'd be forgiven for not voting because what you're watching is bollocks.

So, here and in the great democracy of America debates seem dead.

The format doesn’t seem to work anymore. As one writer said yesterday about Newshub's effort, it was more game show than game changer.

They don’t add to the overall sum of things. We make much of them in the buildup and feel deflated with the experience.

So let's learn from it. Come 2026, let's come up with something a lot different and a lot better than what this cluster has turned out to be.

Mike Hosking is a New Zealand television and radio broadcaster. He currently hosts The Mike Hosking Breakfast show on NewstalkZB on weekday mornings - where this article was sourced.


Rick Ellis said...

Apparently Trump agrees with you by not bothering to even go to the US one.

Robert Arthur said...

In the good old days when the msm covered matters in a full and reasonably objective manner, the public was moderately informed and candidates did not need to desperately shout. To do so degraded their status. But now without objectively informed audiences they have to appeal to the emotions of the listeners. Shouting out and shouting down, widely practised by maori/pro maori has in recent times permeated all meetings, starting at school level, and is therefore seen as tikanga appropriate to be adopted by all for near all occasions. ,

Anonymous said...

But as Winston said to his meeting disruptor, "You wouldn't do that on the marae, would you?"
Hypocrisy writ large. Also people in general have no manners these days.