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'Truth gig is over' - Slater

UPDATE / June 17, 2013:  Editor Cameron Slater has confirmed speculation Truth will not publish this week. 

In October last year, the Whaleoil blogger was drafted to rescue the struggling tabloid.

Tonight he told NBR ONLINE, "The paper was just too far gone ... I'm proud of the editorial and production staff and the changes we made, but ultimately the hole it found itself in was just too deep."

Mr Slater blames previous management and owners for the paper's plight.

"My belief is the old formula of adult content was well past its use by date," he says.

The incoming editor made good on his promise to add more politics, and remove pictures of half-naked women from the paper's front page, and its website.

But it seems there were withdrawal symptoms as Mr Slater tried to wean Truth off its quick girlie fix, and the easy high of the red-light classified ad revenue that came with it.

"The paper was essentially addicted to crack," Mr Slater tells NBR. "That ultimately destroyed the paper and its long legacy."

Media commentator Bill Ralston says Truth "tried to get rid of the nudie photos and strange adult ads too quickly." Serious news needs a larger staff, Mr Ralston says.

Truth has been published since 1887.

The paper's general manager, Russell Beaumont, told Fairfax Media it was not in receivership. Rather, "the owners and shareholders have said we should pause for a cup of tea".

NBR understands that of the two current shareholders, Matthew Horton (who also owns a printing business, which numbers Truth among its clients) is willing to put more money into the paper, but Dermot Malley is not - a situation one insider described as terminal.

It's demise caps a day that has seen TV3 broadcaster MediaWorks placed in receivership, and Fairfax axe computer titles Computerworld, PC World and Reseller News.

ckeall@nbr.co.nz


UPDATE / Nov 1 2012: Martyn "Bomber" Bradbury has resigned his Truth column, From the Left, labelling new editor Cameron Slater a "far-right hate merchant" who espouses pro-marriage equality views merely to blunt opponents' attacks (among a raft of other allegations on his Tumeke blog).

"He quit before I could cut him," Mr Slater told NBR ONLINE last night.

The editor confirmed a second columnist, former Red Squad leader and one-time National MP Ross Meurant, had also walked. 

Mr Slater's Whale Oil blog (which he is keeping on, separate from his Truth role) has previously highlighted Mr Meurant's role as an adviser and lobbyist for Simunovich Fisheries amid controversy over scampi quotas. However, he was unaware of the immediate reason Mr Meurant quit upon his appointment. "Just petulance I suspect," Mr Slater said.

Mr Meurant has been replaced by David Garrett. 

The new editor will also keep the From the Left column (opposed by Lindsay Mitchell's Right On), but with a new author.

He has replaced Mr Bradbury with Josie Pagani.

Ironically, Ms Pagani has consolidated her position as the resident voice of the left on RNZ's Afternoons with Jim Mora since Mr Bradbury was banned from the show in October last year.


Cameron Slater named Truth editor, promises overhaul   

Oct 31: Infamous blogger Cameron Slater has taken a "proper" old media job.

Mr Slater, aka Whale Oil, has been named the new editor of Truth, replacing Joe Lose, who will remain as a contributor.

He started in his new role today.

Mr Slater told NBR ONLINE the role developed after Truth management approached him with a special project, asking him what he would do with the title if he were given a blank canvas.

Truth has always had a mix of news, tabloid sensation and adult content.

Mr Slater says the girlie pics will remain, but over time he wants to shift the emphasis to more hard news and opinion pitched at the "working bloke" and written in a "blunt and forthright manner".

Beefing up the paper's sports section is another priority.

Mr Slater also wants to transform Truth's website into a 24-hour news operation.

He told NBR that his Whale Oil blog had 730,066 page impressions (95% of them domestic) during September and 354,890 visits - putting it substantially ahead of Truth.co.nz.

He plans to maintain his blog on its separate site, he told NBR, but over time there could be potential to tie it more closely to Truth.

Mr Slater says the paper is "making money, but not enough".

Truth PR manager Amanda Maclaren told NBR the current print run was 16,000 and that it is "safe to say" sales ran to 10,000 copies.

The print run is not audited, but Ms Maclaren says the new owners plan to join the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Fairfax sold the 107-year-old Truth to Hawke's Bay businessman Dermott Malley in January 2007. 

In May this year the weekly was bought by Horton Media and Pravda Ltd (owned by Truth chief executive David Crow), which each have a 50% holding.

Mr Slater – son of former National Party president John Slater – has enjoyed a controversial career as a blogger.

His greatest hits include a $6130 fine in September 2010 for breaching name suppression orders in a series of cases involving high profile defendants, and a June 2011 stand-off with the Labour Party after he was able to access the names of donors gathered from an unprotected website.

ckeall@nbr.co.nz

More by Chris Keall

Comments and questions
48

OUtstanding decision.

Be afraid? Be very afraid!

of what if i may ask
the truth maybe

He better not muck around with the Page-3 girl.

Congrats on getting "Hard news" and "page 3 girl" into the same sentence.

That's difficult? Surely four of those five words are commonly found together in the same sentence? Is it really that difficult to add the fifth?

This could be quite interesting. Media is changing no question. I'll bet there are a few old PR folk bemoaning that even NBR has become more able and willing to confront so many issues and embrace opinions that in the past the system of politics just expected the business supposed right wing stalwarts wouldn't allow to get published. Further NBR has recognised that those in business of all sizes and types are the backbone of an economy struggling and opinions count. Whaleoil's style, if used by Truth, means that a decent weight of media is evolving to make the bureacrats and politicians squirm. Just locally the spinners at Auckland City, Auckland Transport, Watercare will find the shabby games they try aired openly and I hope the trend to actually naming the miscreants continues.

There's going to be a lot of car door slamming at the homes of judges and barristers tonight.

Good like to Him. Hope he hits the unions big time.

Anonymous. How should he hit the unions big time, do you suppose? Over the last 30 years, unions have been all but destroyed. Worker protection and conditions have been whittled away until now, increasing numbers of people are little more than day labourers.
And you, anonymous, are little more than a savage, short-sighted fool.

Slater gets the editorship of Truth and moments later Julie Christie resigns as head of lightweight TV production company Eyeworks.
Could there, per chance, be a connection?

Good luck WO, bring back real, hard hitting investigative journalism please.

Excellent news. The MSM control of the news and commentary is broken.

Well if he puts the boot into Labour and the Greens' shenanigans - unlike the current news media whose lack of any expose of the Left in this country would suggest that they think the Left is made up of virgins and the pure, schooled in the finest traditions of Mother Theresa - then good!

I hope he also holds the govt to account - this is what media should be doing and yet they are failing utterly

Let's be honest: only the wharfies and factory workers (literate ones at that) read the Truth.

I hope he lift's truth's game. For decades this paper was tabloidy and aimed largely at the brain dead. less sleaze and more investigation

Truth and Cameron Slater. Those two three words never belong in the same sentence. MSM is bought and paid for, what do they expect when Fairfax publishes the drivel it expects people to think of as news.

If the paper was thought of as a joke, and the idea is that NZ media is broke, well they've certainly confirmed that by appointing Slater.

Nice to see all the supporters being truthful and honest by using their real names. Too scared to let people know you're backing intellectually bereft individuals perhaps, no ability to front up honestly?

Yes, I see we are certainly in Slater terri-tory already!

Great move, applaud the bringing of more facts as opposed to spin - but less sports, we've got enough already. I want quality journalism of the sort that only Slater has provided so far.

Took the words right out of my mouth Jim S. There are some thinking individuals out there!

I'll be interested in the decline of the paper under this new appointment. After hearing Cameron earlier on RNZ this morning, I am confused about what he meant when he talked about being an "honest" critic, calling the politicans to account. His blog is anything but that as any reader of actual journalism knows, it's a slew of truly sad apologies for some of the most glaring failures this country has ever witnessed.

An acquaintence of mine who lives overseas and regularly reads that and other blogs to get a sense of where the pulse of the proverbial masses is likens it to Fox News, with the addendum that at least some Fox contributors have acknowledged that what they do is a have more than half the time.

Slater has not quite made the same connection here with what he writes and what he expects people to think of as actual critical analysis. There never has been critical analysis on his blog, so now we have Tracy Watkins and Cameron Slater - the National party must be rubbing their hands with glee at the propaganda machine they've got at their disposal now.

Keep the sports, especially racing & rugby league sections that have editors with a wealth of experience & knowledge.

Personally we felt the Truth had improved in it's content since Joseph Lose had taken over.

When the lunatics take over the asylum, isn't it usual for them to rise from the pre-existing pool of asylum residents? For management to impose a lunatic from outside strikes me as dangerously self-destructive, to put it mildly. Especially when the chosen loony has no experience in the field of asylum-running and apparently intends to rely on his accumulated prejudices and bigotries instead.

Is the paper going to keep the name 'TRUTH' with Cameron Slater as Editor?

My personal experience of Cameron Slater is that he purports to support 'freedom of expression' - but not on his 'Whaleoil' blog.

Cameron Slater has banned me from his blog - although I am never personally abusive, am able to sustantiate my considered opinion with FACTS and EVIDENCE and always put my name to my posts in an 'open, transparent and accountable' way.

I guess Cameron Slater doesn't like to hear the TRUTH' when it conflicts with his 'opinion'?

Penny Bright
'Anti-corruption campaigner'

Penny, you would have been banned for at least three reasons.

1: You clearly are not wired up right and your opinions are at best, distracting.
2: You constantly thread jack to push your own agenda, and have never offered any proof of your ludicrous allegations.
3: You are only interested in publicity, to support whatever bandwagon you are on at the time, i.e. the link you posed above to your "blog"

Given that you have appointed yourself as an "anti corruption campaigner", please explain where your funding is coming from.

I wish Cameron the very best, the MSM in NZ needs a swift kick, he may be the man to do it.

Regards, Greg Moore

Remember Bomber from Auckland uni days - typically arrogant left wing fellow - no loss here

jeez, Penny Bright..you'd go to the opening of an envelope if you thought it would give you media attention..and always banging the same old drum.
good on you, Slater...fighting back for young auckland and middle NZ..but no blubbering , Whale, if it doesn't work out :-0

You're hardly a good example of unbiased attitude in your pursuits of transparency Penny.

Is that right 'Anonymous'?

At least I put my name to my posts - unlike yourself - whoever YOU are?

Penny Bright
'Anti-corruption campaigner

He will do a good job if he gives a more balanced view of events,as a counter to the clearly left leaning MSM
liberte

"If" being the operative word... If anyone did this, it will be a good job, but the point I doubt is that Cameron Slater is the one. His previous behaviour causes doubt on that point.

Whale Oil - this should be a fun ride, good calls already
Bomber - does anyone actually care? surprised it was even reported, doubt the Truth would report the cleaner quitting at the NBR if it ever happens.

We need someone with right-wing views to balance the leftist dross served up by the MSM.
Let's hope Slater is the man!
WG

"Mr Slater blames previous management and owners for the paper's plight."

Truth is, "Mr Slater get real, you failed and should refund your salary".

Tall poppy syndrome with this one.

I bet you never missed a try or conversion from the couch, either...

Good grief!! You are surely not suggesting Mr Slater is a "tall poppy"?
Are you?
Give us just one example of anything he has done to increase the total sum of human knowledge?

Ummm, not Mr Slater - you. Re-read it again...

An example of what he's done to increase the total sum of human knowledge... AND political awareness can be found right here at www.whaleoil.co.nz

...where even the trolls are welcomed - up to a point - provided they're prepared to debate using facts and examples. Name calling and populist rhetoric without examples or facts are generally ridiculed by numerous commentators, and all without censorship, too, unlike some leftie circle-jerk blogs.

For goodness sake, Solidarity, you used the term "tall poppy syndrome".

There is nothing more annoying than when peeps use terms they don't know the meaning of or when to use them.

Love how I am getting the blame when I had zero control of any expense. I couldn't buy a postage stamp without approval.

I wasn't me who didn't pay IRD for PAYE or GST, it wasn't me who didn't pay bills. It wasn't me who sold advertising ... and it wasn't me who gutted the place one weekend, leaving a tip behind for staff to work out of...

It was me, however, who made sure the paper was filled each week - increased content, changed the focus.

Haters going to hate.

Come now, Mr Slater, this from a "tall poppy"!

"It was me, however, who made sure the paper was filled each week - increased content, changed the focus".

A paper first must attract readers to attract advertising to "pay IRD..."
If the paper fails to attract readers it will fail to attract advertising and then will fail to pay its bills.

Did you have a quiet beer, Jock, and remember some of the greats once associated with the paper? Alan Hitchens. Hedley Mortlock. Judy McGregor. Those were the days of the truly great journos...

I thought Judy was editor of Sunday News, which undercut Truth's monopoly on sex, drugs and rock n roll...

Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Slater is always slagging off real journalists and has clearly failed miserably in the real world and, of course, is now blaming someone else. Stick to the two-line blog posts.

Name some REAL journalists in the lame stream media. lol

Tyler Durden ~ Zero Hedge. Oh, wait a sec!

Martin, do you have blog-envy?

It's not very attractive this tall poppy / chip on your shoulder attitude.

The most popular and informed blog in all of NZ atleast helps keep the pinko MSM and union shrillers honest - eh Mr. Cecil Walker & MUNZ!

Mr Slater blames previous management?!

If a ship is sinking and you throw an unexperienced captain on board, how the hell is he meant to fix it?!

I'm pleased Fairfax released this one at the right time - what a shame to see such a downturn.

They backed the wrong Whale here.

Whale had too narrower thought process and following to make this a viable business. Not too mention no previous business management.

This is a very sad day for readers who enjoy in-depth intellectual reporting.