“Jessica then Tova”: the curious habit of the 1 pm press conference of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

Who comes first by asking the first question to the PM? Video / Bob McCoscarry via YouTube

We all have a habit. Some good, some bad and some unique.

And so, it seems, the government when it comes to the COVID “Truth Platform” press conference at 1pm.

For the past 18 months – during times of lockdown and extended alert levels – the 1 p.m. press conference is a staple for many Kiwis. The Herald’s video audience peaked in day one, which helped propel the site to a record 2.2 million monthly viewers in August.

The 1 a.m. conventions also brought their share of lighter moments. A few weeks ago, we heard from COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins urging the Kiwis to “spread their legs” and “don’t virus”.

And while this bogus pass has captured the hearts and attention of the nation, there is a subtle habit playing out on our cell phone and TV screens at 1 p.m. that might have gone unnoticed.

All of this includes Jacinda Ardern and what she does as soon as she gives the latest Covid updates.

Why does she always turn to Jessica Much McKay from TVNZ or Tova O’Brien from Newshub for questions?

Everything is laid bare in a video directed by Bob McCoskrie on YouTube. The Prime Minister held the front 23 times between August 17 and September 23 – 14 of those occasions appear in the video and – as you can see for yourself – Tova and / or Jessica are given the first question outside of ‘a press conference. East.

This is usually a two-horse race, for which the first question will be asked during the Covid-19 press conference at 1 p.m.  photo / youtube
This is usually a two-horse race, for which the first question will be asked during the Covid-19 press conference at 1 p.m. photo / youtube

McCoskrie calls the video, which has more than 15,000 views, a “media-facing” guessing game designed to be “a little funny”.

The Prime Minister’s habit of social media has not gone unnoticed, which has sparked various reactions.

“And the winner is… Jessica then Tova,” one joked. Another said, “It’s gold.”

Others see a plot. “Jessica, so Tova is usually the way JA puts it… She’s very clear in her partisan spirit,” one said.

While another said, “Why are other magazines bothering to come?”

So why does it seem like Jessica and Tova are chosen for the first question – especially when the Herald, Stuff, and RNZ have larger digital audiences than the two TV networks.

Insiders say that with the live broadcast being a regular event, there was always a scuffle between reporters over the first question, which resulted in numerous clashes between the voices – and it angered some viewers.

So the PM is now ahead of him by creating an ordered line.

The TV cameras – as well as Jessica and Tova – are generally fair in their eyes, seemingly giving them an edge over the rest of the equally hard-working political press gallery.

So who will be there after 4 p.m. today? Jessica or Tova?

Or – because we’re totally fair at the Herald – here are a few other names we’d like to add to the mix: Claire, Derek, Michael and Thomas…



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