Wednesday, January 02, 2008

ABC holiday season TV journalists give stupid questions punishing workout

"What does the $250,000 loss mean to you and your family?'

-- Tracee Hutchison, 'The 7.30 Report', to a farming victim of the pre-Christmas storms in rural NSW

6 comments:

meggie said...

I saw that ABC interview.
There seems to be no end of stupid questions available to seemingly thoughtless journalists.
Even if it is all written for them, surely common sense would prevail, & they would just not repeat fatuous remarks like that!

Fortunate 2008 to you!

Pavlov's Cat said...

You too, Meggie.

The question was made sillier by the fact that Hutchison and the farmer were standing in a paddock surrounded by rotting dead lambs and ruined fences at the time. But it was worth asking for the woman's patiently offered answer: 'It's our life savings gone in half an hour.' That's so vivid a sentence that maybe the editor left in the stupid question for the sake of the devastating answer.

As a farmer's daughter I've spent most of my life trying to make townies understand that most (indeed almost all) farmers are not the evil rich. I do know of people to whom the loss of $250K would scarcely be noticed, but none of them are farmers.

kate said...

Tracee Hutchison doesn't generally, in her defence, ask stupid questions. She does clever discussion and interviewing (all her own work and unpaid) on 3RRR. Perhaps what she was trying to do was get the farmer to describe the enormity of it all for their individual case, as you say 'devastating', which is hard to convey to people at home cooking their tea and only half watching. I agree that it was badly worded.

Now maybe Trace would like to come to my place, and I can show her the computer that wont turn on, and how the car and the washing machine are making funny noises. What with not having anything like $250,000 available to loose, my version of 'devastating' is rather small fry to most.

Yesterday a man from the RACV described new small cars as 'very reasonably priced'. I must remember to send him a copy of my group certificate.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Kate, I do in retrospect feel a tad bad about having worded it so strongly, particularly as Hutchison is one of those journos the right-wing boys love to hate, and is therefore someone who must be doing something right (in the sense of 'correct') -- but it really was quite a bizarre bit of TV, akin to the kind of interview where some twelve-year-old "current affairs" "journalist" shoves a mic under the nose of some sobbing woman whose husband has just been killed by a falling roof tile or a charging rhino and asks 'How do you feel?'

Re having $250K to lose, I don't think they had the money just lying around, I think the money was in the dead sheep and the ruined fences. And as for computers -- given where they live, they probably can't even get a reliable phone line out of Telstra, much less any kind of halfway decent internet service. That said, I know exactly what you mean about the washing machine.

Fine said...

Hi all, my first post to your blog, but I've happily lurked for a while. I think you are being a bit harsh to Tracee Hutchison. I suspect what occured was that she'd already talked off-camera with the farmer and knew that she wanted to get the line about losing the $250,000 in half an hour, because it's so striking. Speaking as someone who makes docos, often the best way to get the line you want is just to ask the simplest question. I'm lucky enough to have all my dumb questions edited out.

kate said...

I understood that the money wasn't liquid, in much the same was that my parents are, on paper millionaires, but only because they bought a house many years ago (in what was then a very daggy suburb) that is now worth a lot of money. They don't actually have the money in a format they can spend unless they're prepared to move. This is a problem most people would be prepared to trade with them (and they're not feeling sorry for themselves).

My clumsily made point, because I was having a bad day too, is that I can't imagine having $250,000 worth of assents any more than I suppose those farmers can imagine owning a harbour-side mansion. To me, with essays and job applications needing to be written, no income, and a baby who makes all things grimy, a dead laptop and a dead washing machine is a miserable state. A new (second hand) washing machine and new laptop will wipe out my life savings. For 95% of the world's population, I look pretty well off. These are problems they'd quite happily trade with me because they don't have clean water. These things are always relative.