Don’t let the shiny new desk distract you – there is something very bleak going on in the background of NewsHub Live at 6. Hayden Donnell investigates.
As the Herald reported last month, 3News is dead.
A completely new programme called NewsHub Live at 6 replaced it on air last night, shamelessly dancing on the still-smouldering remains of the beloved former broadcast. It had the audacity to mimic many of 3News’ defining features: Hilary Barry’s trademark smize shepherding us through an opening salvo of bad news about drugs. Mike McRoberts looking like a man trying to stay dignified despite smelling something weird. An amiable Hamish McKay possibly playing beer pong in the ad breaks.
There were so many questions: What would the ratings be? How much ‘real’ news would it retain? Would it be better than watching Simon Dallow going into rigor mortis over on One News?
The answers turned out to be ‘good’, ‘lots’, and ‘yes’. It was almost an unmitigated success. But there was something weird going on at NewsHub Live at 6. On the wall behind Hilary and Mike, a disturbing alternate drama was playing out: a depressing play about a newsroom in a dystopian future.
The bizarro background studio is undoubtedly the weirdest thing about NewsHub Live at 6. An array of screens are hoisted on panels across the room. But the newsroom itself is almost empty.
Only three people seem to inhabit it. Two are behind Hilary and Mike.
And one is behind Hamish.
All three are men. They remain through the whole broadcast, staring unblinking at their computers, ignoring the cacophony of TV screens switching between channels on every side. They are calm, but not unmoving. Every so often, one will move their head almost imperceptibly.
The whole scene is discomfiting and odd, like something taken from a newsroom version of The Truman Show.
What could it be?
One thing’s for sure, it’s not the real NewsHub office.
The true Hub also has white desks and at least one wall of screens flicking on and off. It has NewsHub written on the walls in black and red lettering. But, unlike this bizarro ghostly newsroom, it pulses and bustles around the clock. People yell news things. The digital team hunch over their computers, tapping on keyboards. Jandal-clad radio presenters opine from their plush studio.
Besides, it’s on ground level, whereas the studio NewsHub Live at 6 broadcasts out of is two floors underground. The only thing you’d see if you put a window in the wall behind Hilary and Mike is a rich seam of coal, or a chasm going straight to hell.
There are only two possible conclusions.
- The backdrop to NewsHub Live at 6 is taken from live footage of Mark Weldon playing Sims: Newsroom Expansion Set.
- It’s a projection of a dystopian future TV newsroom where the Internet has finally taken over, and the last remaining on-screen personalities remain obstinately slumped over their desks, refusing to debase themselves with tweets, waiting for a re-run of the glory days.
The latter is the only one that makes sense.
Multiple requests for comment from MediaWorks personalities were ignored
Hayden Donnell recently abandoned TV3 for The Spinoff
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