Longtime head of the journalism course at Canterbury University, Clive Brian Priestley was also a noted media critic. The former paratrooper spent time as a reporter for British newspaper The Times, before starting over in New Zealand in 1974. Two years later he began hosting weekly TV show News Stand, which saw him astutely analysing Kiwi media. Rechristened Fourth Estate, it ran for 12 years. Priestley also contributed a weekly column to The Christchurch Star for over a decade, and wrote books. In 1988 he was awarded an MBE for services to journalism. Priestley passed away on 10 November 2018. He was 92.
In the end, you know, it all depends on you. If the programme’s no good, switch off. If television and radio give you rotten local news, read your local paper. If the article or writer is second-rate, complain. Brian Priestley in 1988, on the final episode of Fourth Estate
In this episode of Fourth Estate, journalism lecturer Brian Priestley ruefully brings down the curtain on state TV's media commentary show. After 12 years of scrutinising newspapers, radio, magazines and TV, Priestley offers parting awards for "the most memorable people, programmes or papers since 1976". He also gently snipes at the decision to can his show (which he points out still rates as well as Miami Vice). While full of praise for the achievements of some outlets and journalists, Priestley sees a difficult future ahead for a media under threat from trivialisation and superficiality.
In the episode of TVNZ's media commentary show, Brian Priestley examines coverage of the 1987 general election. He finds much to like in the "terrific" efforts of radio, television and newspapers. TVNZ's "sloping thing" graphic comes in for particular praise, but Priestley is less enthusiastic about the televising of Jim Bolger’s painfully uncomfortable concession phone call to victor David Lange. The newly re-elected Prime Minister doesn't escape Priestley's vigilance, as Lange is chided for his post-election cancellation of press conferences.
Tonight with Cathy Saunders saw host Saunders taking the reins solo, following short-lived talk show Saunders and Sinclair, which she co-presented with radio personality Geoff Sinclair. Both shows debuted in 1985. Among Saunders' guests were Māori activist Donna Awatere Huata, Australian actor Vince Martin, and female impersonator Marcus Craig (aka Diamond Lil). Saunders combined PR and marketing jobs with her television gigs— including time as a panelist on Selwyn Toogood's advice show Beauty and the Beast.
Column Comment in the 60s and News Stand in the 70s established a tradition of print media scrutiny by TV. Fourth Estate succeeded them with a brief expanded to include radio, TV and magazines. For 12 minutes on Friday nights, no media outlet (and especially not broadcaster TVNZ) was safe from the ruminations of journalism lecturer Brian Priestley, along with John Kennedy, editor of the Catholic weekly The Tablet, and guest presenters. Only brief programme excerpts and graphics of the newspaper articles under discussion provide visual relief.
In 1975 TV One launched with a flagship 6.30 news bulletin which went largely unchanged with the move to TVNZ in 1980. In a 1987 revamp, it became the Network News with dual newsreaders Judy Bailey and Neil Billington (replaced by Richard Long). In 1988, the half hour programme moved to 6pm. With the advent of TV3 in late 1989, it was rebranded One Network News; and, from 1995, extended to an hour. The ill-fated replacing of Long with John Hawkesby in 1999 saw it make headlines rather than report them. In 1999, there was another name change to One News.