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 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.