Political blogs

If political blogs were dogs

If New Zealand’s political blogs were dogs which dogs would they be?

Kiwi blog has always been a loyal National blog and David Farrar has always been a polite voice of reason so I think a British Bulldog would be a good fit. On the other hand, he is also a travel and fitness blogger so perhaps a greyhound would be more suitable?

Is Kiwi Blog (A) A British bulldog?

Is Kiwi Blog (B) A greyhound?

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Political blogs are all about ‘freedom of speech’, except when they are not

There seems to be some confusion about what is free speech and what is not free speech. It is a topic often debated. Today I am looking at why political blogs are examples of ‘freedom of speech’ in action but not necessarily in the way that some think they should be.

The argument gets complex once we start talking commenters and moderation. Some tiny blogs with limited readership take pride in what they consider freedom of speech. Due to the small number of comments on posts, Blog authors are reluctant to rein in their readership in any way, as they are in the start up phase and are desperately trying to grow their audience. In this phase they tolerate regular commenters who often dominate discussions and feel free to use offensive language and to make personal attacks on other commenters. On blogs like this, the ‘we promote free speech’ argument is really a smokescreen.

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Some advice for the opposition from Rodney Hide

Rodney Hide tells the opposition to find a better cause.

The Opposition is making heavy weather of trying to make Prime Minister John Key responsible for what Cameron Slater writes on his blog and in his personal communications.

I say in a kind and caring way that they should give it up. Because – and I say this even more caringly and kindly – Slater, aka the Whale, is not always responsible for what he writes.

By his own admission, Slater has had his battles with depression. By his own admission he is an embellisher.

Anyone who follows his blog knows him as a force of nature once he starts tapping his keyboard and pushing the upload button.

His blog is one man’s opinion, raw and unedited.

It is politics red and bloody and some of what you read you wonder if you really needed to know.

But back I go like a junkie. I enjoy the Whaleoil blog just like I enjoy the Left’s The Standard and The Daily Blog.

I’m not sure The Standard or the mouth breather at The Daily blog will appreciate that Rodney Hide enjoys their hate fuelled rants.

The blogs, as mad and as bad they are, add richness and diversity to political debate.

It’s true much of it is gossip. The blogs have lifted the lid on what was once confined to Bellamy’s. They have opened it up.

Political gossip always has an angle, juiciness trumps veracity and its effect can prove lethal.

But don’t blame blogs. Gossip has been used as a political weapon for as long as there’s been politics.    Read more »

“These are some of the most serious allegations I’ve seen”

Really?

That is what David Cunliffe has claimed.

Peter Cresswell at Not PC explains why this is a ridiculous statement from David Cunliffe.

“These are some of the most serious allegations I’ve seen,” said David Cunliffe this morning about allegations that bloggers Whale Oil and Cactus Kate wrote “attack blogs” at the behest of a paying client and a justice minister “gunning for” a minion.

This both overstates and understates the power of blogs – and downplays some of the most serious scandals of recent years. (Is he blind? Did Mr Cunliffe not see Helen Clark buying an election with her taxpayer-funded pledge card, then retrospectively legislating to make it all legal?  Or Don Brash dealing secretively with a small but well-funded religious cult?)

So a blogger wrote “attack blogs” about a bureaucrat.  How hurtful. How harmful. I’m amazed the poor fellow wasn’t hospitalised.  Just imagine, being attacked by a blogger!    Read more »

Radio Live interviews on blogging and bloggers

RadioLive’s Wallace Chapman was looking at bloggers,new media and the elections this year. He talked to a few bloggers.

This was my interview.

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Daniel Hannan nicely sums up MSM v Blogs

Daniel Hannan explores and explains the sometimes unhappy relationship between traditional media and blogs…from his own blog, that is ironically part of The Telegraph.

Back in the pioneering days, blogs were seen as a challenge to the established media. And, in one sense, they were. When Guido scalped his first minister, Peter Hain, in 2008, something changed, though the newspapers were slow to notice. When, the following year, he aimed his tomahawk at Derek Draper and Damien McBride, old-style pundits were still laboriously explaining to their readers what these blog thinggies were. By the time Tim Yeo became Guido’s latest victim, no one needed to ask any more.

When a dozen dead tree newspapers determined the agenda, the media’s chief power lay in not reporting a story – not through conspiracy, but from shared assumptions about what constituted news. Take the leak of the “hide the decline” emails from climatologists at the University of East Anglia in late 2009. At first, the astonishing trove was reported only by bloggers. It wasn’t that environment correspondents were meeting behind drawn blinds and vowing to repress the discovery; it was that, being uncomplicated believers in the AGW orthodoxy, they couldn’t see why the emails were a story. Only when repeatedly needled by online commentators were they were eventually forced to report perhaps the biggest event in its field of the century.

The key moment came when the story was picked up by James Delingpole, whose post attracted 1.6 million hits. Tellingly, that post appeared here, on Telegraph Blogs. Blogs were now part of the established media. In the early days, some had believed that the MSM would be displaced, others that the old brands would conscript the upstarts. In fact, something more interesting happened: the distinction broke down.   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 »

Drinnan on blogger remuneration

John Drinnan laboriously writes about bloggers and remuneration. Interesting that he didn’t bother to ring me for comment yet felt obliged to use my name to make some sort of point.

Canterbury University senior lecturer in journalism and new media Donald Matheson says bloggers risk being called hypocrites if they accuse professional media about lack of transparency while not declaring payments from other sources.

Really? …does Fran O’Sullivan declare all her other income at the bottom of every article she writes? Does Bernard Hickey? What about Russell Brown’s multiple sources of income. What a sanctimonious twat. Plenty of people in the media do multiple jobs and work on multiple contracts. They also take separate advertising revenue and perform consultancy work, not to mention the lucrative speaking circuit…why the focus on bloggers and what and how they earn money? Everyone else in the media gets paid somehow and no one digs into that.

The only people I need to declare my income to is IRD. Everyone else can get stuffed.   Read more »