Helen Kapalos was let down by her team
Reporting news is a team effort, but when it goes wrong everybody is quick to blame the anchor.
For 90 excruciating seconds she struggled to link from one story to the next, as something clearly went wrong in studio. It’s the kind of disaster that makes for YouTube, Media Watch and Christmas drinks reels.
But reportage of the moment has been extreme with everything from unfair headlines about an “on-screen death” (seriously?) to claims her live skills were less than exemplary.
It should be said that under the conditions she was working, most presenters would struggle.
News reporting is a team effort. While Kapalos may be the face of Today Tonight, the simple fact is she was let down by her team.
While she was on air talking to viewers, there were conflicting directives in her ear, the autocue stopped, and with Seven’s automated news production she had no floor manager to give her direction.
All networks faced live breaking news from multiple locations in Canberra, but Seven had a breakdown which impacted on its anchor at the worst possible time. There was a breakdown in communications between remote locations, control room and desk.
Should she have used ad-lib skills to peddle with a recap until the autocue was back on track? Yes. Breakfast TV and the SKY News teams are proficient at this, but often have a second talking head to bounce off. But she also doesn’t deserve some of the reportage that seemingly blames her for a team failure.
A Seven spokesperson told TV Tonight the show had breakdowns in the control room under a fill-in producer, but conceded the network got it wrong.
“Under very difficult circumstances, Helen has done a fine job. The story was breaking in several places at the one time and the co-ordination of those sites made the job in the control room very tough,” they said.
The reality is there will be consequences when networks cut back on staff and automation has become prevalent in our industry.
Seven could also not confirm rumours that a production resignation was offered following the incident.
Trying to see the lighter side, Kapalos later tweeted there had been “MASSIVE” gremlins.
“I think Julia Gillard had a worse night than me last night. #alive #kicking #NewDay”
Kapalos was not on air last night while the network broadcast an extended News from Canberra, but returns tonight.