Hamilton Press Club life president Steve Braunias on the next guest speaker – embattled TV3 employee Patrick Gower.
Much-loved and vastly popular TV journalist Patrick Gower – who may or may not have a job by Christmas, if TV3 goes down the gurgler – is guest speaker at the next Hamilton Press Club lunch extravaganza.
I stage the Press Club’s legendary media events on the banks of the Waikato in downtown Hamilton, and asked Gower to speak as soon as I heard the abrupt and dismal news that Newshub’s masters have put TV3 up for sale without any indication anyone actually wants to buy the thing.
In fact, I’d already secured National leader Simon Bridges as guest speaker but came up with some excuse and cancelled him. The potential death of a TV channel, and the demise of its news organisation, was too significant for the Hamilton Press Club to ignore.
The event will be held – yeah, how apt – on Friday December 13. As ever, Hamilton architect firm Chow:Hill will splendidly and generously underwrite the expense, really as an act of philanthropy. Brian Squair from Chow:Hill said they simply want something interesting and lively held in the city that they love.
Gower will address an invite-only audience of 100 people – media types, also politicians, entertainers, students, business leaders, and complete nobodies – from around New Zealand, and possibly beyond. We once had someone come from Invercargill.
Past speakers have included Jacinda Ardern, Winston Peters, Moana Jackson, the late criminal lawyer Greg King, serious broadcaster Mihingarangi Forbes, and family entertainer Sean Plunket.
Gower has had a huge year in 2019. He created and fronted the documentary Weed, which was the most-watched New Zealand TV programme of the year. He worked on the Pike River re-entry story, investigated the threat and influence of white supremacists, and crossed live from the Rugby World Cup but that didn’t end well, did it?
I asked Gower for an indication of the kinds of things he’ll talk about, and whether he would directly address the woes of TV3 and the way it spells the end of the news media, and he said, “I can’t face more negative talk about the state of news media in 2019.
“I just can’t. I actually just can’t.
“I’ve been calling bullshit on the so-called ‘end of news media’ since people started calling ‘the end of news media’ and I am not going to stop now.
“I love Hamilton. Used to live and work there. So I am not going to Hamilton carrying some negative and boring baggage.
“Instead I want to talk about yarns, and positive stuff, and having fun and being real.
“Getting stoned on camera was fun. It really happened. It is possible to get stoned on camera and not lose your job. That’s a fun thing, and a fun thing to talk about.
“I am quite used to being around weed so I’m more than happy if people get stoned before they come along.
“Then there’s the real things. Getting back into Pike River was real, it is happening – despite the hell that went down there, getting back in is a good thing. It shows what is possible when you refuse to give up.
“March 15 was real. How do we get up from that again? I want to talk about how we can hopefully find some good from that.
“I’ll talk about professional failures, and a breakdown – and about coming back from those.
“I’ll talk rugby, because Kiwis do that quite a lot. But I’ll also talk about things like people with Down syndrome – because we don’t really talk about that kind of thing enough.
“I will be talking about being a Kiwi in 2019 and a being a journo in 2019.
“I might have to touch on some negative crap but ultimately I will be talking about always believing in the possible.”
A spirited Q + A session will immediately follow Gower’s speech, when the audience are welcome to ask him about the end of news media.