Sean Plunket’s opinions not worth much

October 21, 2009

The employment row between Sean Plunket and Radio NZ over Metro magazine’s offer of a monthly column for the Morning Report presenter is a storm in a coffee mug moment really. [Stuff.co.nz: Plunket furore surprises editor]

After all, Paul Henry writes about cars in Metro.

The argument from RNZ seems to be that Plunket is essential to the credibility of the network’s news and current affairs brand and that to have him writing an opinion column in Metro would somehow blur the line and make people think that either:

a) Plunket’s opinions, on whatever topic his columns range over, might be read as being those of RNZ news and current affairs; or

b) Plunket’s opinions are likely to be so outrageous and damaging to his credibility as a news and current affairs presenter/interviewer that his second job offerings couldĀ  also damage the RNZ news brand.

I’m flabberghasted by this. Really I am. I think RNZ is being very precious in holding to such a hardline. In the modern world of news and current affairs there is no hard and fast line between news and opinion. In fact, Plunket is very opinionated on Morning Report anyway.

That’s why he generates so much emotion, heat and attention. Sometimes I find myself shouting at him because of the skewed line of questioning, or the ludicrous and conservative assumptions that underlie his interviewing technique. Sometimes I get annoyed at his pompous and inquisitorial style – particularly when he’s beating up on easy targets with that “holier-than-thou” tone and almost shouting loudness.

I can’t see how a column from him in Metro would be any different. I wouldn’t read it necessarily every month – though I have started buying the Auckland-centric monthly now that the deliciously wicked Felicity Ferret has been re-instated.

I also don’t see why Metro editor Bevan Rapson is so keen to have Plunket write a column. To be honest I don’t think it’s a very inspired or inspiring choice. And he doesn’t even live in Auckland!

In what way is Plunket going to add value?

Would his column be along the lines of Bill Ralston in The Listener: predictable, not-so-funny middle-of-the-road stereotype-bashing and not very enlightening. I can only hope that Plunket might use the column centimetres to reveal himself a secret National Party supporter, that would satisfy my own secret curiosity about him at least.

There’s always a dearth of good opinion-writing in the media and usually a very shallow and narrow pool of views that is constantly fished. I think Bevan could do a lot worse than quietly let the Plunket idea die down and seek some new talent from a wider gene pool.

So that would mean that Paul Holmes and his ilk should immediately be ruled out, but if Bevan’s interested, he can talk to my peeps, they’ll sort a deal and I can guarantee to be controversial – you can write that into my contract.

You can go here and here for more on this issue.