Media Watch has been on a short break, but don't for a minute think we have not been paying attention. Should we spare you?
We think not. Where shall we begin? How about where we left off at the 7pm news on budget day?
First of all, none of the reporters who actually covered the budget bothered to do a stand up, but all wrote voice overs.
How difficult would it have been to grab a cameraman before 5pm and run off to do a stand up? Better yet on your way back to the office from the Red House, just stand outside the Parliament (although all the stations took the live feed from the Parliament Channel).
Kudos to CNC3 for snagging Junior Finance Minister Conrad Enill on the set, the man mainly responsible for the budget. It's interesting that Mr Enill was TV6's studio guest last year. What happened this time around? And later on the station also had the other Junior Finance minister Christine Sahadeo. Both of them appearing on a cable station which according to the recent media survey has 3% viewership. Well let's humour TV6 and say they did not want a government minister on the set, and you may say they already had post budget analysis. But any good producer would know that while it's the same station, they are separate shows and there needs to be continuity, plus you have to factor in that there's going to be a different audience. They decided to go with no studio guest at all.
CNMG's Golda Lee had a guest on set, but somehow the interview came across as stilted. Golda did not ask a single follow up question to her guest's answers, and she seemed to be tripping over herself to move on to the next question which was written down for her.
One of the stories which stood out was the piece by TV6's Sasha Mohammed (it was the second story in the newscast but should have come first) about the fiscal measures in the budget. It stood out because of the psychedelic graphic that looked like a child's pinwheel of dollar bills catching a very strong headwind! And pasted on top of that were the actual figures, which of course got lost. Too much action; the graphic probably could have been used to spice up Miss Lashley's unimaginative piece about budget expectations a few days earlier.
Sharmilla Persad's story on the national security package should have come much higher up in the newscast, considering that ministry got the second highest budget allocation. Instead it came way down to the end of the newscast, as if she forgot to write it. But Miss Persad you did not do the story justice. I did not get the sense that you fully grasped the prime minister's presentation on the issue. The lead in said the Prime Minister admitted that crime was down. That's the most important thing you pulled out of his presentation? Most of the main details were instead used in Sasha Mohammed's story high up in the newscast, so in the end, your story was not even deserving of a voice over. You could have written it to camera and just dropped in the sound bites from the Prime Minister. Also Miss Persad shouted at her audience throughout the story. Were you perhaps upset that the story came so low down?
And there was no mention at all about the allocation to education in the 7pm news! Media Watch found that very strange as the Education Ministry received the largest allocation. At least TV6 recovered and the story was used in the 10pm newscast.
Hema Ramkissoon of C News kept referring to the "PSIP". Those who know anything about finance would have a clear idea of what you're referring to. But for the uninitiated, it just sounded like you were showing off by using a big word without bothering to spell it out. There seemed to be some problem with the story about the allocation for health, since Natalie Briggs' story about a fallen tree went before it.
CNC had the best news programme. They began with a precis of the entire budget with a very simple graphic, then went to analysis with Mr Enill, and later Miss Sahadeo, plus the voice pieces. However Mr Enill seemed to be looking at the camera rather than at Shelly Dass, while Shelly was looking at him. In the end we saw her in profile and eventually the director went to a split screen with the two of them to make up for, no try to make up for the discrepancy. But in the end it looked like they were in two different studios, which we know they were not. Very distracting.
And Shelly your producer should have told you when to end the interview; it ended up dragging on for a long time. But the actual stories on the budget were not bad. But while CNC said the agriculture sector's allocation had been doubled based on last year's figure, TV6 said agriculture got the smallest allocation. Which is it?
Oh and TV6 what happened to the news conference that was hosted by COP Political Leader Winston Dookeran at the Red House following the presentation of the budget? Your competitors carried the story, where was yours?
And when it was time to move on to other stories, Cherise D'Abadie of TV6 gave the viewer no indication that there was a shift in thought ten minutes into the newscast.
And on the day after the passage of Hurricane Dean, none of the stations gave adequate coverage of clean up efforts in the region. Miss D'Abadie again introduced a story on Jamaica and Belize, but the packaged story did not say a word about Jamaica. While C News ran a BBC story which had been running since 6am, which still showed winds whipping trees. Near the end of the newscast though, C News recovered with some fresh video out of Jamaica, but CNC had nothing new.