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After more than 30 years, Three's evening bulletin bows out

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04 July 2024, 11:16 PM

After more than 30 years, Three's evening bulletin bows outSamantha Hayes and Mike McRoberts during one of the final Newshub 6pm bulletins. Photo: Supplied via RNZ

The last-ever Newshub 6pm bulletin airs on Three tonight.

After 34 years of bringing the news to the nation, owners Warner Brothers Discovery have axed the programme at the cost of almost 300 jobs.

The world was emerging from the gloss-driven excesses of the 1980s when a bold newcomer to New Zealand's media landscape first went to air.

In 1989, President George Bush (senior) was inaugurated, the Berlin Wall came down and the New Kids on the Block released "Hangin' Tough".

Three News anchor Joanna Paul was one of the first wahine Māori in mainstream media. Photo: Supplied via RNZ

Inaugural anchor Philip Sherry would only last six months before Joanna Paul-Robie - then Joanna Paul - took over.

The new show's "only way to go is up" attitude allowed it to experiment with the lighter side of news, especially on the late-night Nightline show, Paul-Robie told RNZ.

But the newsroom and their audience leapt to attention when disaster struck. Hilary Barry struggled to contain her emotions while covering the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

Sometimes the channel's reporters found themselves unwitting participants in the headlines of the day.

Pam Corkery, at the time press secretary for the Internet MANA coalition party, famously called a reporter a "puffed-up little shit" in 2014.

In the mornings, Mark Richardson on AM showed he was not above pushing the buttons of the most powerful woman in the country - asking newly elected Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern if women should tell their boss if they planned to get pregnant before starting a job.

"It is totally unacceptable in 2017 to say that women should have to answer that question in the workplace," Ardern said at the time.

There was a constant tension between providing entertainment and serious commentary, which could sometimes lead to viewers feeling they might witness a sudden car crash - or a not-so-sudden one.

Paddy Gower's 2020 election night coverage was something rarely seen on New Zealand television.

"I see red, I see red, the sea of red destroys National," he said.

The loss of nearly 300 roles would have a big impact on the country's already shrunken media landscape, media researcher Gavin Ellis said.

Newshub's work had been of a consistently high standard, with bravery and commitment common markers of its coverage.

"There's more to it than the bulletin that goes to air - it's all the stuff behind it. It's the editors, it's the sound people, the camera people and so on.

"So many people have gone to make up a worthwhile component of our media that it is so damn sad to see it go."

The loss of the platform might best be summed up in Mike McRoberts' words to Hilary Barry, as she stepped down from presenting in 2016.

"I know I speak for everyone when I say I can't imagine what life is going to be like here without you being around. But we'll deal with that later. Right now I want to say on behalf of everyone. Thank you."

Last week, McRoberts spoke to RNZ about that commitment to the job, which had seen him and his workmates facing danger in war zones across the globe.

"There was a sense of putting your life on the line for this company, for the coverage, for the story, for my colleagues. And to know that's coming to an end is actually really hard to accept."