No Business Sunday and the last Sunday Sunrise
and isn’t Seven lucky it had a couple of professionals there to handle
two big stories instead of the lightweights who’ll be in the chair from
next Sunday in Sunday Sunrise.

Chris Reason was there
yesterday and will be there next week when he will be joined by Lisa
Wilkinson. Reason was stolid today, overplaying the seriousness of the
situation (The Pope was an 84-year-old bachelor for heaven’s sake!).

The new approach from Seven for Sunday mornings with Weekend Sunrise
is planned to be all tizz and tiara stuff, light entertainment rather
than information driven, but sometimes big stories happen, as we have
just seen (and like Bali in October 2002) When that happens you need
people who not only know what they are doing, but look and sound the
part as well. Viewers with big stories look at the sureness of the
coverage, not the lightness of touch or approach.

So Mark Riley,
the political correspondent for Seven did a good quick interview with
Foreign Minister Downer, while finance person, Michael Pascoe did a
nice job reminding viewers that he spotted the skills and labour
shortages and wages problems (and interest rate pressures) back in late
November last year, well before they became popular. Those sorts of
issues will be quickly ignored on the new Weekend Sunrise lite.

Over at Business Sunday, no action, pre-empted by Pope Watch, or rather the dynamic duo of Karl Stefanovic and Leila McKinnon from Today that is Karl and his mentor, Mrs David Gyngell.

Why Nine didn’t use Ali Moore, the regular Business Sunday host is beyond me. She’s got much more experience in reporting than either Karl S or Leila the wife.

Moore
was a highly regarded ABC News and Current Affairs (radio)
correspondent. She would have handled the situation well. As it was the
Nine coverage was cold and hesitant compared with the effort Seven put
into the last Sunday Sunrise with good coverage of the Pope and the Kanimbla helicopter crash.

Leila McKinnon makes Chris Reason look lively.

Certainly
the coverage on Sunday saw a much warmer and professional effort from
Helen Kapalos and Jana Wendt, who though almost spat the phrase
“Superstar Pope” in an introduction to an early segment.

But did
anyone think the coverage of the Pope’s death a touch overdone? After
all he was 84 and had been in considerable ill-health. It was his time,
like it will eventually be the time for us all. The Catholic Church is
not the influence it once was. The Pope was more an anachronism, out of
touch with many, many modern ideas and the hushed reverence of the
commentators and almost simpering nature of some of the chit chat was
most odd.

And what is a more important in Australia, The Pope,
dying at last, or the deaths of Nine Australian service people in an
unexpected crash, serving their country? Who perhaps didn’t have to die
because if the Nias earthquake had not happened last Monday night, they
would be home or very much closer to Australia today.

Some of
the papers went overboard with the Pope on the weekend. This overkill
approach that news editors and TV Producers think we readers and
viewers want to read or watch. Ha, little do they know ! (An eight-page
liftout in The Weekend Australian. Like the Rugby World Cup or The Melbourne Cup!)

The ABC’s Insiders at 9am went a bit Pope happy, but covered the Kanimbla from the top which was important.

David Marr of the Sydney Morning Herald
(and former Media Watch host) delivered the harshest line at the end
when asked for his prediction about the coming week. Marr simply said
that after the death of the Pope, the world would be a much better
place. To many Catholics, this is wrong, but to many others in the
community, (women, gays for example) a harsh, but perhaps accurate
judgment.

At least in Sydney TheSunday Telegraph got the balance right with the deaths of the Australians and coverage of that at the front. The rival Sun Herald
put the story on page one, but then you had to wade through to Page
nine to get the story of what happened to the Kanimbla’s helicopter.
Both papers also had the Pope and pointers on Page one.

Late in
the day the TV News updates eventually got the order right, Kanimbla
first, Pope second (although Ten stayed with the Pope first up).

But
there were a plethora of Pope stories in the Sunday evening news. It
was easy to take overseas stories or the masses of pictures coming in
on the Pope and cobble together something on him rather try and do
something extra on the Kanimbla deaths. That can wait until tomorrow!

Finally perhaps the oddest sight in an interview for years on Sunday Sunrise.
There was Mark Riley doing an interview with Foreign Minister Downer
from somewhere in the gardens of Downer’s Adelaide home in the Adelaide
Hills. The interview starts in muted sunlight, which starts fading and
a strong breeze starts up. The limbs and leaves on the bushes and trees
behind Downer start bending as the breeze strengthens. Then light rain,
a few spats first and a Channel Seven umbrella is produced. An apology
is issued by Riley but the rain continues to fall more heavily until
there’s a veritable downpour and the leaves in the background are
obscured, but not a grim-faced foreign minister soldiering on.

Ah, the joys of live television on a Sunday morning.

Peter Fray

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