Bloggers wanting to be journalists. Journalists running blogs. The friction as to what constitutes “real news” has been debated for many years.
But what happens when a known journalist, an acknowledged one, is drifting into politics, but does not reveal this? Then what the journalist writes about politics or the party is unlikely to be impartial. To not allow readers to know you have an interest is very much like a politician, but less like a journalist.
Ian Wishart of Investigate Magazine fame was approached by the Conservative Party to run for the 2014 campaign, but he declined. We know he is a Christian conservative, so in general he would be aligned with the party’s ideas.
As covered this morning, we’ve seen him lend a hand by publicising “The Great Kiwi Poll” which was just the Conservative party itself really. Ian supporting a cause that he believes in doesn’t make his work any less valid.
Unless, of course, instead of being a reporter, you turn into someone to whom hard facts are suddenly just approximations to be bent at will.
There is no doubt in my mind that Wishart knew the Conservative party was behind the mysterious poll. And so, promoting it on a site that has been a site where he’s been selling investigative journalism and news is a little cheeky.
But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. The poll was meant to be some kind of mystery poll with an aim to stop respondents skewing their responses.
This article wouldn’t have been written if it wasn’t for Ian Wishart publishing the results of the poll and instead of being factual, as you would expect from his track record, he’s gone into spin mode.
The results as provided to respondents clearly showed the exact number of responses.
So I was rather confused to see Ian Wishart publish this on his web site:
The exact total was known. It was hardly a bad number to say 1,178. Under no standard convention of rounding numbers does 1,178 make “nearly 1200”.
And this concerns me. Because now I don’t know any longer if Ian will stand behind the information he publishes. If 1,178 is 1200, then how “flexible” are his future assessments?
1,178 is a hard fact. It didn’t need any spin.
Once again, I won’t attribute to malice that which is easily explained by incompetence. But geez Ian, smarten up.
Perhaps it’s time to reveal your role within or for the Conservative party so we know how to interpret your writings?
Otherwise there is a risk that when you say 1200, it doesn’t actually mean 1200. And for a journalist, I would have thought that wasn’t good business.