Today Tonight heads north as crisis breaks in the south

2013-03-07_2331When Seven rebooted Today Tonight it spoke about “meatier” stories and “a change of tone” with new host Helen Kapalos.

“There will be politics, absolutely,” she told 3AW last month.

So why, when the biggest political story in years breaks in Victoria, did it send her to Sydney?

Seven chose to extend its Melbourne bulletin to one hour to cover the news. This included 9 minutes of coverage from reporters Brendan Donahoe, Nick McCallum and Michael Scanlan at the top of the bulletin. Peter Mitchell interviewed new Premier Dennis Napthine live, but time only allowed 4 questions.

Just before 6:30pm Mitchell then introduced several stories from Today Tonight reporters including a drink driving story and a wedding scam. Meanwhile Helen Kapalos was in Sydney, presumably because the two shows in Melbourne use the same studio space and cannot broadcast simultaneously. There she introduced the same stories plus Jim Wilson covering an NRL drugs investigation story.

Extending the bulletin did allow Seven to feature more political content than the conventional 30 minute bulletin, although Nine News, which did not extend their bulletin, still managed 8 minutes on the crisis.

To be fair, Seven News provided on-going coverage on Wednesday night when the story was breaking with live updates from Peter Mitchell and reporter Brendan Donahoe on the Napthine swearing-in at Government House.

Sunrise also went to great lengths with Melissa Doyle, who had been cooking dinner in Sydney on Wednesday night dashing to the airport to front live coverage yesterday in Melbourne. It was a good response to breaking news with the Today hosts all stuck in Sydney.

So while Doyle flew to Melbourne where the action was, it’s bizarre that the new-look TT headed north when it would have been the perfect opportunity to land a punch on the competition.

It does beg the question: if a history-making crisis in Victoria isn’t the right time for TT to feature politics, when is?

For the record, A Current Affair also had nothing on the Victorian shake-up either.

But it did have the same wedding scam.


  1. @byeana- I find the Project interesting as it is the only commercial TV show covering politics in Prime Time. Not in the traditional way but in a serious/comedic way. Not sure how you see The Project as anti Gillard goverment. I vote Labor and see The show as more Labor. They put Steve Price on to balance it up a bit. Politics can become too heavy and serious and thats why i love the Project. Loving all your rants byeana,still trying to work them out though.

  2. @jonno

    Thoroughly confused and you were spot on right up the ABC, but to say you want good political coverage but then also say the The Project is interesting?

    Are we watching the same The Project?, because the Project I’ve seen is so biased against Ms Gillard and her government it is shameful, I could just cite regulars Dave Hughes and Steve Price to prove my point.

    But I must also raise the hours and hours of finite screening of daily and library footage, that sometimes only produces seconds of biased and disrespectful air time( its the replays that turns it into minutes of biased and disrespectful footage), that is used in the pretense of humour, by any one of the regular panel and guest hosts etc, but mainly by Hughes and Price, closely followed by Lemo or any one else who wants to take a disrespectful biased cheap shot.

    Given that it is often raised on the The Project just how busy Dave Hughes’s life is with other ventures etc., one can only assume that someone else is doing all the searching, with possibly Hughes having the final say, if so this seems to indicate that it is with the management’s blessing and premeditation, that these disrespectful biased cheap shots are continually put to air.

  3. Well i suppose when we look back at this now i think we can safely say that TT is not a show anyone is going to select for a hard nose look at politics. Love Helen though. ABC news24 had a great rolling coverage of the Victorian leadership issue. Since 9 Sunrised its news and Current affairs the ABC is now the only place to go although The Project can be intersting.

  4. Who cares what Mel did or what Today Tonight did or should have done! Every one knows that real news is on the public broadcaster. ABC 1 in Melbourne scooped their commercial rivals with the details of Ted Baillieu’s resignation reporting it towards the end of their 7pm news. Ch.7 were next.

  5. @David Knox

    Re Mel Doyle, sorry David I had meant to say with the exception your story, when none of the comments mentioned Mel. going to Melb. but as with those lining up to stab Tony in the back and trying to blame Julia, you only have yourself to blame for my omission, because I am now paranoid about being succinct.

    As you can see I still have a long way to go, as my first line and one half above, would have of course been suffice

  6. Strange that no one has mentioned that Sunrise sent Mel Doyle to Melbourne for 3 hours of nothing?, even worse when she stuffed up badly.

    When the new premier could not get into the Victorian state parliament house building, Mel prattled on about that this happening, citing this was not a good look as “He Had The Country To Run”.

    Does this mean Kerry S’s has picked him as the next PM, after every thing goes Ape sh-t between PM Tony Abbott and Joe, Malcolm, Julie B…and…and …and even Bronwyn,B as one by one they all try to stab him in the back, but then try to claim ‘Julia’ made them do it.

  7. Maev....Sydney

    I’m sorry…..I was interested in what was going on in Victoria….and was watching on ABC24…..when I last checked…both our states are still part of Australia….
    But I agree with J Bar’s comment…..
    “These evening shows are nothing more than tabloid magazines on telly”

  8. The Unreal Julia story was a new low for television. There wasn’t even an attempt at any irony or subtlety that could have made it funny. Just vitriolic tabloid garbage.

  9. That’s why NSW or Sydney needs to have its own host and edition of ‘Today Tonight’. Samantha Armytage seems like the popular choice. It’s silly that Helen Kapalos was sent up to Sydney. What an absolute waste of talent.

    @Bullswool They can’t really show the Queensland edition because that state is still an hour behind the rest of the east coast due to Daylight Saving. But, I agree they could have had a stand-in presenter.

  10. Agree with Darcey09. No one in NSW or any other state for that matter is interested in Victorian “politics” and it would have been a massive switch off factor for all the people in NSW had they aired a regular TT edition in both Victoria and NSW interviewing the Victorian premier and what not as people are suggesting here.

    I and many others preferred the regular TT stories as opposed to a premier we’ve never even heard of in other states and something that doesn’t concern me. Leave that sort of state reporting and intrerviewing to 7.30 and we all know how that rates.

    P.S I don’t know why people keep mentioning the wedding scam story as if to give themselves some credibility in their argument against TT when in fact the drink driver profiling was the top story which was actually a very interesting story. In NSW had they aired an interview with an unknown Victorian premier as their leading story as opposed to the drink driver profiling story, I guarantee the viewers would have switched off in droves.

  11. Carringbush

    @ Qubec – I happened to catch the ‘unreal’ Julia’s trip to western Sydney. I’n no Gillard fan but you know a PM is dead in the water when a skit like that takes place in prime time. I just hope all those people who thought they were getting photos and autographs of the real PM were told later.

  12. Can everyone just get off Today Tonight’s backs?! They do amazing political reporting! Just look at this fantastic piece of journalism they demonstrated with Julia Gillard’s recent trip to Western Sydney

  13. This TT relaunch has been a total balls up, they should have sacked Peter Mitchell in Melbourne and replaced him with Kapalos and had one hour news. it probably wouldnt have increased ratings straigtht away, but give it time to grow.
    Ditto for Sydney, the 1 hour news there over summer was doing just fine.

  14. @jonno – thats a good point. Why isnt Sam Armytage the Syd host of TT anyway? I remember she was extremely popular when she was on DTWS as, like Helen K she is seen as a beautiful older ‘real’ woman who has more credibility than the young plastic bimbos on other shows.

  15. Why waste an airfair when they could of just got Sam Armitage or someone to fill in. The viewer couln’t really give a toss who introduces a wedding scam story.

  16. Meant to add – Should have called WIN to work out how to do six different half-hour news programs, all airing at the same time, from one studio.

  17. As nothing was “new” why couldn’t she pre-record the links around 4pm for the “magazine stories” that Sydney had? Would have taken all of 15 mins. studio time. In a cost-cutting atmosphere this seems to be an odd waste.

  18. This is the problem with a shared edition. No-one in NSW is really interested in Victorian politics & vice versa. NSW should have its own edition.

  19. These evening shows are nothing more than tabloid magazines on telly. They don’t actually contain any current affairs and certainly don’t cover politics unless it involves a sleazy scandal.

  20. Why the hell did Seven send Helen Kapalos to Sydney, when for 1 night it could have shown the Queensland edition to Sydney, or had a presenter based in Sydney present the show that night???. I don’t even know why they don’t already have a local Sydney edition.

  21. jezza the first original one

    Clearly in tv land The Wedding Scam is a far more important and bigger story than ahistory making political crisis in Victoria. Clearly future historians will look back on this day as the day when the wedding scam was exposed on national tv

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