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Paul Casserly: The top news of 2012

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David Bain on 60 Minutes. Photo/60 Minutes
David Bain on 60 Minutes. Photo/60 Minutes

The best of News and Current Affairs of 2012

Cleary I'm not qualified to pass judgement on such an important category of television; still that has never stopped our TV journalists or talking heads from passing judgement on everything and anything.

The proper awards have already name-checked the big guns: Melanie Reid with her ACC takedown and that Close Up paedo sting were both rightly gonged for being 'great journalism', although it has to be said, they were both 'feel-bad' stories.

Feel-good is harder to pull off. John Campbell had a good go, as did Close Up and of course that Sunday night fix of 'hugs not shrugs' known as One News's Good Sorts segment, presented by the second best Southlander on TV, Hayden Jones.

David Farrier is still number one with the rolling R. A highlight was his interview with Paul Henry at the set of that Snickers ad, which made me snicker.

You'd be hard pressed not to have been impressed by Tova O'Brien - who wound up John Tamihere like a top - or Duncan Garner's understudy, Patrick Gower.

There was also great stuff coming from jumping Jack Tame in America while his predecessor, Tim Wilson, had a great outing as a director of talking traffic, when he hosted a series of specials called The Big Idea, for the late lamented TVNZ7.

Probably the biggest loss of the year is the sober and understated news bulletins that TVNZ7 used to feature.

I can't believe that they make poor old Pete Williams stand-up and point at a plasma screen like an MTV monkey all in some misguided belief that it will attract younger viewers - although what I call 'misguided' is probably backed up by expensive research showing that it actually works, which is another cause for depression all in itself.

Internationally? The Russian news channel RT was hilarious as ever. BBC World drip-fed us the excellent Newsnight, and Dateline London is always reliable. CNN had a good year. They nailed the election coverage and Fareed Zakaria's weekly show continues to be a class act.

So rather than being a 'best of' list this is really a collection of five things that have stood out, that somehow remained in a part of my brain that was previously filled with stuff from last year. It's probably the same part where Mr Blobby once lived.

1. Campbell Live

The show still polarises people. Ok so JC still sounds like he's about fellate some of his guests and from time to time it does make me think about the Alliance Party, but no other show has made me feel as much as this does.

The mix of tabloid and social responsibility is working a treat: One minute Kim Dotcom is holding court, the next it's some poor kids from a decile one school getting a free lunch.

It acts as though it's a current affairs show that can make a difference, that's pretty inspiring stuff for 7pm, and no one came closer to inspiring us than this show in 2012.

The standout for me was the bittersweet story of the woman who tried to give up the booze, but ultimately failed. "Charlene's Story", told by Natasha Utting, filled an entire episode of the show, and though it wasn't the most enjoyable, it was the best of the year.

2. Olympics

Sport is news, right? And nothing generates news more than the Olympics. There was drama of course when our Valerie was first left off the list and then ripped off by a drug-addled Belarusian. The gold medals were great moments - walking into a pub to see a band and finding everyone glued to the TV as a canoeist gave them a taste of kiwi, that's priceless. But the highlight was the opening ceremony; from the crazy orgasmic, pantomime of the industrial revolution, right through to James Bond and the Queen jumping from a helicopter, followed by David "batshit' Beckham jet-boating up the Thames, and finally Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web. What a ride.

3. David Bain on 60 Minutes

Long awaited, much anticipated. The public's chance to size up the man that everyone has an opinion about.

It was gripping stuff, although it was always going to be the 'authorised' version.

It almost felt as if it had been vetted before broadcast.

The most memorable moment came early when Melanie Reid asked how he deals with the fact that many still think he killed his family. David replied, "I wasn't there, I couldn't have be there."

To the many, the easy smile, the scenes of horse riding and the hanging out with work mates were further proof of David's innocence.

For others, no doubt, the 'proof' was in the words he kept coming back to, the "I wasn't there", which seemed like a comforting mantra repeated by a guilty man. Given the events of this week, it seems that the case will still be perplexing us in 2013.

4. US Election

From the coverage of the Republican nomination (Herman Cain for f***s sake!), to Dirty Harry and that empty chair, through Obama pulling up lame in the first debate, right to the final moments in Hitler's bunker, I mean the Fox News studio, it was political soap opera magic.

5. Simon Dallow calling it like it is

Half way through the year and just after a story about Justin Bieber's new haircut (which was about 6th story in the bulletin) Simon said, "and coming up some real news." It was the saddest moment of the year in the way, because like the rest of us he was 'mad as hell' but he was going to take it after all.

What are your picks for News and Current Affairs moments of 2012? Was Campbell Live really the best current affairs show on TV? Comment below.

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