mainstream media

Part 2: The sinister deception of world media and Pallywood

One thing that has always stood out to me surrounding the past and current conflicts between Israel and the resident Gaza Strip Arabs is the obvious imbalance of firepower. And I’m not talking about military firepower, I am talking about the weapons grade propaganda and compliance from the world media as the Gaza Arabs feed as much misinformation as possible to anyone carrying a camera and microphone.

We’re talking about supposedly reputable sources such as The Telegraph who have boots on the ground in Gaza reporting live to the world. The trouble is they report everything they see without question nor query. And like an infectious disease, it spreads far and wide as news repeaters around the world enable it to reach every citizen without an ounce of scrutiny. Perhaps it is a heat of the moment thing and not intentional in the frantic moments of a live report in a war zone, but is a clear and deliberate act of deceptive propaganda by ‘innocent’ Palestinians, Hamas and any other militant factions in Gaza. Read more »

When old media loses its audience

Again, as it is so often now it surely can’t be a coincidence, news from the UK closely mirrors what is happening in New Zealand.

James Delingpole at Breitbart discusses the problems that are dragging down the Telegraph. Loss of focus on core customers and their wants and needs and following a left wing path to mediocrity…all reducing their readership and value as a result.

If you change out Telegraph for NZ Herald you will realise the same malaise is besetting our biggest paper in NZ.

Speaking as one who spent most of his journalistic career on the Telegraph – I joined in 1988 and worked variously there as an obituarist, diarist on the (defunct) Peterborough column, and arts correspondent – I can’t say this affords me any Schadenfreude. I loved the Telegraph: for at least two decades it was the only paper to which I subscribed because its generally pro-small-government, pro-tradition, pro-personal-responsibility, pro-freedom, pro-country politics aligned most closely with my own.

But I can’t pretend it isn’t good news for the operation here at Breitbart London. And to understand why all you have to do is look at some of the comments below our posts.

Many of them come from disgruntled ex-Telegraph readers, furious at the studiedly centrist direction their paper has taken, yearning for more of the red-meat conservatism and/or libertarianism which these days they can find almost nowhere in the UK mainstream media but which is Breitbart’s raison d’etre.

It wasn’t always this way. And it didn’t need to be this way. Not so long ago, the Telegraph had a secret weapon in the form of the superb, incisive, tell-it-like-it-is blogs section established by Damian Thompson. Thompson’s unspoken ambition – in sly defiance of the print paper’s increasingly centrist stance – was to create a kind of UK online answer to Fox News. To this end, he recruited a roster of some of the finest right-wing commentators in the business which, at various stages, included: Thatcherism’s living conscience Lord Tebbit; MEP Dan Hannan; Toby Young; Douglas Murray; Ed West.

I was on the list too and, for a period, Telegraph blogs was the only place to be. At least it was if you thought that the media desperately needed a counter to the almost overwhelmingly left-wing online narrative provided by HuffPo, Slate, Salon and the Guardian’s Komment Macht Frei. It was, indeed, like the Telegraph used to be in its glory days, only more colloquial, funny, snarky and up-to-the-minute topical. The traffic was huge; and growing. For example, when it helped break the Climategate scandal, its post garnered over 1.5 million hits.

Read more »

A reader emails about the ‘media’

media-bias-3

A reader emails:

Hi Cam,

I’ve never posted on your blog before, but the mainstream media has been getting me down so much lately I felt I had to speak out.

It seems to me that the MSM is duty bound to ensure any one party never has enough of a percentage of the popular vote to govern alone. To me it seems that if one party nears 50% the MSM suddenly pulls out articles they’ve been sitting on for months – beat us to death with them, until the party the articles are invariably about is eroded to below the threshold of being able to govern alone.

I believe in free speech, but I believe that if you are attempting to speak to the masses – we should at least know the colour of the soap box you’re standing on. It’s ridiculous to accept there is no media bias, when those writing the articles day after day seem to follow party specific lines.  Read more »

An email from a new reader about distractions

I’ve had a few like this in the past few days. It is from a new reader and we welcome new readers.

He does raise some valid points but what do the old hands think, beyond the obvious that this polite new reader has no idea about my politics.

Good day,

I have recently ‘found’ WOBH and find that it … as well as mainstream media … seems to be distracted with the unimportant.

Where is the ongoing and cutting analysis of TPPA, for instance. To have American BIG business dictate and TPPA countries lose their sovereignty, is surely more urgent than jumping on the ‘change the flag’ bandwagon, or publishing a photo of Mr Cunliffe’s screwed up face, or Scooping Scoop.  Read more »

Daniel Hannan on judging blogs by their comment threads

People, okay mainly left wing tossers with their heads jammed up their fundament, claim that this website is rubbish or a sewer not by what is written on it but by what is in the comments. their site is better, smarter or more erudite because we have nicer commenters is the answer.

Of course it is petty jealousy fuelled with an unhealthy dose of intellectual snobbery. The market speaks and the market decides if you’re good enough not some pompous leftwing snob’s idea of what people should say or think.

Daniel Hannan explores this in his blogpost (again the Telegraph is a mainstream “news medium” that has bloggers).

The FT’s former correspondent at the European Parliament used to ask me the same question at every press conference. “So does this mean you voted the same way as Jean-Marie Le Pen?”

It’s amazing how many people want to judge a proposal, not by its merits, but by its incidental supporters. We need only state their implication openly – that you should drop an otherwise sensible idea because someone you don’t like agrees with you – to see how absurd it is.

Yet people carry on doing it. It’s the phenomenon that lies behind Godwin’s Law, the observation that all Internet discussions, if allowed to run long enough, end with comparisons to the Nazis. Hitler didn’t like trade unions! Hitler banned foxhunting! Hitler was a vegetarian! Hitler was an atheist! Hitler was a Catholic! Hitler was a pagan!

Now there’s a new variant of the phenomenon: judging a blog by its comment thread. Again, the absurdity should be obvious. Bloggers are not responsible for what happens after they have posted. Those who comment most aggressively are more often than not hostile to the writer. The word “troll” didn’t originally mean, as is often thought these days, someone who is rude and unpleasant; it meant someone who used an assumed identity to discredit someone else.  Read more »

Gordon Campbell on media freedoms

Gordon Campbell adds a clear voice to the issue of Judge Blackie’s strange decision and the strange selfish interests of my detractors.

He is not from my side of the political fence but he is a good writer and journalist…though with Judge Blackie’s ruling could now be considered to be outside the description.

There are good reasons to dislike and despise Slater and his style of journalism – and Judge Blackie seemed thunderstruck that Slater writes and publishes stuff on his computer, all by himself – but the problems only begin to multiply when you start to decree who is or isn’t legitimately within the journalism club. The same Law Commission report had gone on to argue that regardless of any style and balance issues, bloggers do enhance free speech and a free press, and are entitled to media privileges. Slater is relying on the protection of sources’ conditions stated at Section 68 (1) of the Evidence Act. Touchingly, the Evidence Act goes on (at 68:5) to define “a journalist” but does so entirely in passive terms:

A journalist means a person who in the normal course of that person’s work may be given information by an informant in the expectation that the information may be published in a news medium.

Leaving aside the particulars of Slater’s case for a moment…is this really what we would want to call “journalism”? Namely, the printing of stuff that other people give to us? This peculiarly passive image of journalism omits the active, creative news-gathering role – and the conscious selection that every news outlet indulges in as to what items (among all the various bits of information “given by an informant”) that it chooses to print, what prominence it affords them etc. etc. Journalism never has been passive. Largely for “news as entertainment” reasons of commerce, the mainstream media is being remarkably un-passive in how it goes about this business. Increasingly, it is blurring the lines between passive reportage and overt commentary, and most noticeably in its coverage of political news and events. Slater may be no one’s ideal of a journalist – but to assume there is some clear, bright line between him and the rest of the blogging/journalism pack is self-delusory. Readers are adults. They can read around Slater’s agenda just as they can read around the Herald’s “bias.” Or mine. Fairness and balance are aspirational goals, not givens. Some try a bit harder to achieve them, that’s all.   Read more »

Am I a journalist? Steven Price examines

Steven Price is a media blogger and an expert on the law around media.

He was quoted in the HoS article but has expanded his quote somewhat on his blog.

[I]s Cameron Slater entitled to the same privilege to protect sources that other journalists have?

As the NZ Herald reports, the owner/operator/author of NZ’s most widely read blog is being sued for defamation. The plaintiff has formally asked him whether he knows the name of his source. (You might have thought that the answer to this might simply be “yes”. But I guess there’s an obvious follow-up). Slater has refused to answer on the grounds that he is a journalist, writing for a news medium, and therefore does not need to reveal his source. This rule is contained in s68 of the Evidence Act 2006.

Note a couple of things. First, in order to get this source protection, Slater has to show that his blog is a “medium for the dissemination to the public or a section of the public of news and observations on news.”

The law is aa clear as that…and simple, it is a wonder the judge made the ruling that he did.

[T]he judge ruled that he doesn’t even get that. This is because:

Whale Oil is a blog site. It is not a news medium within the definition of s68… of the Defamation Act. It is not a means for the dissemination to the public or a section of the public of news and observation on news.

The judge gives very little reason for this conclusion. It seems a very questionable one. Whatever you think of WhaleOil, it’s hard to deny that he breaks news stories, and that he writes commentary on news. When you factor in the requirement that the courts are supposed to have regard to rights of freedom of expression under the Bill of Rights Act when interpreting statutes – and there’s a respectable argument that protecting sources facilitates the flow of important information – then there seems a powerful argument that this section ought to be construed widely enough to encompass at least some bloggers.  Read more »

More influential and prominent

An AUT report into media suggests that blogs and online media are becoming more and more powerful and influential.

New Zealand blogs became more prominent and influential during 2013, finds the JMAD New Zealand Media Ownership Report 2013. There are 280 ranked blogs, and the top political blogs record high visitor numbers. To be ranked, blogs must have a publicly accessible site meter that tracks visitor numbers.

While the financial ownership of New Zealand media has increased, and mainstream media become even more commercial, interest in public interest journalism is increasing.

“It is not surprising that citizen journalists and bloggers have started to take a more active role. The blogosphere is thriving right now because it provides an alternative to commercially focused media,” says AUT communication studies lecturer Merja Myllylahti, author of the report.

Myllylahti says controversial stories in 2013, like the Len Brown scandal (broken on the Whale Oil Beef Hooked blog), the Andrea Vance phone records issue and the passage of legislation expanding the powers of the GCSB, have also contributed to active blogging culture.

“Some recent government actions, like the expansion of GCSB powers, can be seen to threaten media freedom. Therefore it is good to see that the New Zealand media is looking for new ways to raise issues, and bloggers are gaining in prominence.”

The top ranked New Zealand blog, Whale Oil Beef Hooked, has more than doubled its visitor numbers since September 2012 to 762,184 visitors per month, and the second ranked blog, Kiwiblog, has 397,034 visitors per month.   Read more »

Why People don’t trust the Media

Andrew Sullivan

Andrew surmises that almost no one trusts the media…That may be so in the US but I suspect we have a ways to go in NZ.

Jonathan Ladd blames partisanship:

Party polarization has raised the stakes in elections. And polarization combined with the growth of partisan media options has created an incentive for party leaders and activists to discredit the mainstream media among their supporters. Party leaders convince their partisans in the mass public to resist informative messages from the mainstream media and ideologically hostile outlets, and instead rely more on ideologically friendly new outlets.  In doing this, they can help to inoculate their supporters against voting for the other side.

I’m not sure that our political parties do this yet, but certainly this occurs within the commentariat, including blogs, where newspapers especially are described by an alleged political slant. Variously you will here the NZ Herald described as a pinko rag, or from the other side as a Tory rag. Of course the opinion is coloured by the world view of the commentator.

The trouble with this trend:

Political scientists have documented the tendency of people from different parties to have perceptions of reality that reflect their partisanship. Put simply, when a Democrat is president, Democrats tend to think that national conditions are better than Republicans do, and vice versa. I find that this trend is much larger among those who distrust the institutional media.

There are many from the left who think that the NZ Herald is a shill for National. I don’t believe this is a fair assumption. I do think it is fair though to say that the Herald has tabloided itself and is populated by journalists and columnists whose world-view is a little rose-tinted when it comes to political colours. But the paper itself isn’t bias one way or the other.

With blogs at least you know what side they are on and so you look at what they are saying through that prism.With newspapers and television there is a thin veneer of impartiality, but long term watchers and readers soon discover the political persuasion of the players.

Let’s have facts not union fictions

As usual the mainstream media are publishing union press releases without doing any fact checking. The meat workers union has Eddie at the Standard promoting their lines, and as everyone knows Eddie is the kind of coward who refuses to disclose who he or she is.

Knowing what a bunch of liars the MUNZ were I wondered if the Meatworkers were as big a bunch of liars and decided to find out. Unlike mainstream media journalists who repeat press releases that fit their ideology I actually investigate, so I made some calls and found out the following details. This matched nicely with some of the useful information that has been coming through the tipline from disaffected union insiders.

Reading between the lines the Meat Workers Union of Aotearoa are as big a bunch of thugs as the Maritime Union of New Zealand. hey are certainly helping each other in their campaigns.They want to preserve conditions from a 1993 collective agreement, which has its foundations in the 1960s. The union wants to preserve the 1960s rights, while the modern world has free trade and a floating dollar.

In typical union fashion they have taken exactly the same stance as the port workers. They won’t make any compromises on conditions that would allow processing plants to run more efficiently, costing companies and New Zealand in a tough export environment. Give the union the opportunity to receive increased pay to work on more efficient killing chains they will want the pay but still keep the same old killing efficiency.

Some of the more stupid things the Meatworkers Union have done is complain bitterly about drug testing of workers in an extremely dangerous industry, yet complain equally bitterly about stoned workers getting hurt while at work.

Thanks to some useful information from the tipline I have some very interesting Union promotional material. This union is an extremely militant, reactionary and politically active group, who fight National about as hard as they fight employers.

It seems too that they have recruited Simon Oosterman to run their campaign, and you are seeing the fruits of that with almost identical protest signs flourishing on their pickets. The fonts and style are the same, just the words differ. So too is their website, almost identical to the Save Our Port crowd. Same fonts, same design, same focus on massive families who are allegedly hard done by.

Expect too to see Labour’s own version of Michelle Boag, Helen Kelly, turn up for some union bullying. As more information flows in I will counter the media spin that is starting to flow the way of the mainstream media via professional militants like Simon Oosterman and Helen Kelly.