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Hero image for Bill Ralston: A lively life in TV news...

Bill Ralston: A lively life in TV news...

Interview – 2011

Bill Ralston has had a long, varied, sometimes controversial career in New Zealand's media. He joined South Pacific Television as a news reporter in 1979 and went on to become political correspondent for TVNZ in the era of Rob Muldoon and David Lange. Then he became political editor at new channel TV3,  joined Nightlinet and hosted discussion show The Ralston Group and arts series Backch@t. In 2003 he began a three year stint as TVNZ's Head of News and Current Affairs.

In this ScreenTalk, Ralston talks about:

  • Witnessing police batons in action near Parliament, during the Springbok Tour protests of 1981
  • Learning how to tackle former Prime Minister Rob Muldoon during "gruelling" press conferences
  • How press gallery journalists "almost took sides" during the split between Prime Minister David Lange and Finance Minister Roger Douglas
  • How The Ralston Group was successfully modelled on a similar show featuring American presenter John McLaughlin
  • Bringing politics to the arts in Backch@t
  • How a fight with TV executives brought about the demise of the show
  • Facing budget cuts after becoming TVNZ's Head of News and Current Affairs
  • Being flummoxed by the furore over newsreader Judy Bailey’s salary
  • His thoughts on whether there is true objectivity in the media
This video was first uploaded on 9 August 2011, and is available under this Creative Commons licence. This licence is limited to use of ScreenTalk interview footage only and does not apply to any video content and photographs from films, television, music videos, web series and commercials used in the interview.
Interview, Camera and Editing – Andrew Whiteside
I don't believe there's any true objectivity in journalism: everybody is biased to an extent by their background, by their education, by their own personal beliefs. The hardest thing to do as a journalist is to try and remain as objective as you can be.
– Bill Ralston on the role of bias in journalism, late in this interview