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Thanks For Watching

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By 60 Minutes reporter Paula Penfold

Kia ora, good evening. Tonight on 60 Minutes.

And so the programme has begun, every week for the past 11 years. A programme which, sadly for many of us, comes to an end on TV3 this Sunday.

I’ve spent the past wee while going back through the stories we’ve made over those 11 years, trying to distil that body of work down to a five minute montage with which we will bid farewell.

It’s been an emotional time, to be honest. Seeing all those stories again has brought back so many memories of the places we’ve been, the people who have bared their souls to us and trusted us with their stories, the baddies we’ve chased down, the powerful we’ve held to account.

There are very fond memories of the amazing people we are honoured to work with. The camera people who will frame each shot so artfully, capture just the right light, somehow convey the mood as it is when you’re there in person. They’ll keep filming until they have caught that crucial moment, even if it takes all day or all night. It’s a joy to watch their gentle, humane way with people who are feeling vulnerable telling their stories, and their don’t-mess-with-me staunchness when they’re the ones under attack. Their work is world class and I’m proud to have worked with them all.

Then there are the editors whose job it is to transform many hours of footage into the product you see at home. They are perfectionists. Each frame is viewed, considered, weighed, included or discarded. Each piece of audio is blended so seamlessly you don’t even notice when it began and when it ended. They’ll gently (actually, not always gently) critique us journalists about whether the structure of the story is as good as it could be, whether this word is right here, that line there. They’ll take a disparate collection of pictures, sounds, words, and craft it into something better than the sum of its parts.

There are the producers – perhaps the most under-appreciated of all the disciplines in current affairs television. The quality of what we do is so often down to them. Their eye for the story itself, their concept for how it should look and feel, their guidance at every step. Their appreciation and respect for detail in every facet of the job. Every last word and shot is managed by them and they deserve far greater recognition than they get.

There’s the boss – who’s ok, for a boss. Most importantly he trusts us. Our instincts, our integrity. We are afforded a lot of freedom to do our jobs, and I think that helps us to do them well.

There is the production manager, the most productive of us all. We simply could not function without her. She is efficiency-plus. We must drive her insane, because most of us are disorganised and quite often annoying. But she very rarely says so. Although the favoured riposte of one long-standing production manager was simply; “tell someone who cares”. Which was fair enough.

There is the presenter, Mike McRoberts, who’s fronted 60 Minutes for all of those 11 years. He has this lovely and rare combination of gravitas and warmth, authority with humility. He’s also my husband, so forgive my bias.

And then there are those of us who you see; the shop window, the reporters. We consider ourselves extraordinarily lucky to do the jobs we do, jobs we love. We do work with the very best people in this business, who often make us appear much better than we actually are. We are forever humbled by the trust people place in us to tell their stories. We take very seriously our responsibilities to make the powerful accountable. We strive very hard to do justice to the stories we work on in what is a very powerful medium.

So it’s been an emotional time, combining 11 years worth of work into a tiny précis of what we have shown you over that time. But this is no obituary. It is the end of an era, yes, of 60 Minutes on TV3. And I want to pay tribute to each and every one of the people who’ve worked on the show over the past 11 years. Next year we will launch a new current affairs programme, 3rd Degree, which will take up from where 60 Minutes left off. We hope you’ll be there for that too.

Oh, and thanks for watching.