NZ POLITICS DAILY: The Year of the blogsters?

Russell Brown
Bryce Edwards

Will this election year be the ‘Year of the blogger’? That’s the question raised in Jonathan Milne’s feature article In bed with the bloggers. It’s a useful survey of the current blogosphere, or at least its noisiest and most colourful elements, with a concentration on Cameron Slater and Martyn Bradbury. 

The blogosphere bites back

The blogosphere has bitten back, seeing Milne’s article as inaccurate and wrongly-focused. Cameron Slater takes issue with some of the reportage and portrayals – see: Nice try Jono, but you got some things dreadfully wrong. Giovanni Tiso has the harshest words, labeling the feature ‘appalling’ and regretting taking part – see: Worlds collide. David Farrar also took part in interviews for the article, but says his statements didn’t seem to fit with Milne’s focus on colourful personalities and increased viciousness – see: In bed with the bloggers

Rob Salmond also missed out on a mention, but explains why he blogs and how he’s more interested in using blogging for real elite influence rather than reaching a large audience – see: HoS on the blogsters. And Pete George evaluates the feature, and argues that the inclusion of Graeme Edgeler is a mismatch with the more extreme bloggers – see: Herald on bloggers – odd man out. George also reflects on the gender imbalance in the article and blogosphere, asking: Are there any female bloggers?

Blogs as powerful partisan proxies

The most interesting element of Milne’s article is the implicit role that bloggers play in acting almost as proxies for the political parties and politicians they are aligned to. The clear allusion is that blogs like Whaleoil are doing the bidding of the National Government, and Judith Collins and John Key in particular, while Martyn Bradbury’s Dailly Blog is closely connected to Labour and David Cunliffe. Milne talked to various politicians on this angle – for instance: ‘Politicians can "manage the message" by talking through politically affiliated bloggers, says [Grant] Robertson – whether that be Key talking to Slater, or Cunliffe talking to Bradbury’. And Bradbury himself is reported as saying that he talks to Cunliffe regularly.

Of course, this comes after the Prime Minister recently revealed that he talks to Slater on a weekly basis – see: Claire Trevett’s PM hints tip-off came from blogger, and Stuff’s Looks like Slater is Key's Peters source. And this all relates to ongoing questions about the opaque relationship between various blogs and politicians, as discussed in an earlier column of mine, Deception and integrity in politics and public life.

Sometimes, however, the politician-blogger relationship is less about ideological alignment, and more about teasing each other – see Claire Trevett’s Whaleoil's flowers 'miserable' – MP

And for more on how the blogosphere is evolving, see Russell Brown’s Let's do some commerce, and Matthew Beveridge’s Bloggers are the new Pamphleteers? and In depth discussion?

The Twittersphere

In Milne’s article another form of new media is mentioned as a rival to the blogosphere – Twitter. Steven Joyce declares that 2014 could instead be the year of Twitter: ‘My personal view is that a bigger influence this year will be the expansion of politicians talking directly to the people through the likes of Twitter and Instagram. That will be the story of 2014’. He also says that ‘The shorter methods of communication like Twitter have definitely got their place and are developing quickly’. 

For the best analysis of politicos on Twitter, it’s worth reading Matthew Beveridge’s evaluations on his blog. The latest MP to go under the microscope is Clare Curran. But his profile on Peter Dunne is also interesting, and he even evaluates two of the youth wings of the parties with Young Nats vs Young Labour on twitter. He also pays tribute to another blogger and tweeter in his post People you should follow on Twitter: Graeme Edgeler.

Beveridge’s most interesting evaluation is of NZ First MP Asenati LoleTaylor. Lole-Taylor is struggling with Twitter due to a parody account impersonating her, with some readers having trouble distinguishing between the two – see Felix Marwick’s Twitter proves tough for NZ First MP

To follow other interesting political parody accounts on Twitter, check out: @Dick_Prebble@BigGerryB@Not_JohnKeyPM@GCSBIntercepts@asenatitaylormp@CathDelahuntyMP@Slick_Winnie and @Coln_Craig

Recent changes in the mainstream media

Meanwhile, the most recent scrutiny of New Zealand’s mainstream media comes in the Reporters without Borders’ annual World Press Freedom Index 2014, in which New Zealand still compares well, but has dropped a place in the rankings. The explanation is: ‘In New Zealand, the interception of reporter Jon Stephenson’s metadata by the military, which thought his articles were overly critical, and the release of journalist Andrea Vance’s phone records to a leak investigation is indicative of growing government mistrust of the media and their watchdog role’ – see the Asia-Pacific report within the index. See also Beith Atkinson’s blog post, Press freedom in New Zealand still among World’s best

For a discussion of why New Zealand can’t have a more diverse and openly politically biased media, see Colin Espiner’s interesting column, Media can't afford to take sides

And for a lengthy argument about why New Zealand’s public service broadcasting has died, see Trisha Dunleavy’s Don’t go there: the ongoing undermining of PSB in New Zealand

Recent developments in new media

Gordon Campbell reports on the major changes occurring at Scoop Media, including his own ascension to the editor’s position, and the promise of much better content and style coming to the fledging website – see: On further changes at Scoop

There are also plenty of other online based election-related projects popping up at the moment. One potentially useful one is the Politicheck NZ

In a similar manner, I’m currently trying to set up an online-based election project involving a number of scholars, titled the Otago Elections Project. You can read my article in the latest Otago University magazine: Election engagement. The project will include a number of digital activities and projects, including the New Zealand Election Ads website, created by Ashley Murchison.

Finally, for the most amusing response to the Herald’s feature on bloggers, see Scott Yorke’s blog post Jonathan Milne, I will destroy you!

Today’s content

Labour Party

Vernon Small (Stuff): 

Martyn Bradbury: Matt McCarten to be appointed Cunliffe’s Chief-of-Staff – the revolution will be televised

David Farrar (Kiwiblog): McCarten for Labour?

Danyl Mclauchlan (Dim-Post): Wartime Consigliere

Will Matthews (Left estate): Dangerous Whispers

Third culture commentary: Is Labour targeting the wrong issue?

Keeping Stock: First Bradbury; now McCarten

Simon Wong (TV3): Labour could work with NZ First

Radio NZ: We could govern with Peters – Cunliffe

Barry Soper (Newstalk ZB): PM reckons Peters will go with Labour-Green coalition

David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Cunliffe says Labour will win – but maybe not until 2017

Greg Presland (The Standard): On polls and things

Deborah Russell: Why I’m standing


New media

Russell Brown (Public Address): Let's do some commerce

Giovanni Tiso (Bat, bean, beam): Worlds collide

Matthew Beveridge: MPs on Twitter: Clare Curran.


Living wage

Radio NZ: 'Timing right' for 50c rise

TVNZ: Labour promises more money in working Kiwis' pockets

No Right Turn: Miserly

David Farrar (Kiwiblog): The flipside of minimum wage increases

Josie Pagani (Pundit): Warning: Annual minimum wage debate could lead to hysteria and unscientific claims

Don Franks (Redline): A united front against low-paid workers

Peter Cresswell (Not PC): Key the Expedient


Inequality and poverty

Dominion Post: Editorial: Better ways to help poor

Brennan McDonald: The Living Wage Is A Joke

The Standard: Gini: A Measure of Inequality


Shane Taurima

Stephen Franks: Taurima’s employment law defence

David Farrar (Kiwiblog): The TVNZ inquiry


Winston Peters

Barry Soper (Newstalk ZB): Political Report: Winston's Chinese 'fact-finding' mission

Barry Soper (Newstalk ZB): Peters in China this week

Pete George (Your NZ): Reading Winston's Mind


Act Party

Herald: Editorial: Act needs to come up with fresher ideas than flat tax

Gordon Campbell (Scoop): On Richard Prebble’s return and our immigration policy


Colin Craig

Peter O’Neill (Timaru Herald): Editorial: Take it on the chin

Will Matthews (Left Estate): Out in the Cold


National Party

Frances Cook (Newstalk ZB): National not taking anything for granted

Frank Macskasy (Daily Blog): That was Then, This is Now #23 – Bolger breaks election promise AND predicts the future!

Frank Macskasy (Daily Blog): The Mendacities of Mr Key #3: tax cuts



Rachel Smalley (Newstalk ZB): Should Greens be included in leaders' debate?

Newswire: Greens: Give up the coal mine

Gareth Hughes (Frogblog): Power companies letting down the vulnerable



Radio NZ: Hager suspects US provides spy funds

Laura McQuillan (Newstalk ZB): GCSB admits it has intel about Snowden

The Standard: The surveillance state online

David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Hefty?


Cyber Bullying

Andrew Dickens (Newstalk ZB): Trolls 'crushed a butterfly on a wheel'

Deborah Hill Cone (Herald): It wasn't just depression that claimed Charlotte

Rebecca Quilliam (Herald): Friends launch 'Charlotte's Law' petition

Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): A brief word on Deborah Hill Cone & Charlotte Dawson

Will de Cleene (gonzo): Charlotte's Web

Mark Hubbard (Life Behind the Iron Drape): Why Are We Discussing Mental Illness As An Excuse to Curtail Free Speech?

Mathew Grocott (Manawatu Standard): Time to rein in cyber bullies

Damian Christie (Cracker): Bully

Mike Hosking (Newstalk ZB): Social media can't be controlled


Fiscal policy

TVNZ: Bill English to give economic address

Herald: Govt deficit bigger than expected as tax trickles in

James Weir (Stuff): Tax dive hits Govt accounts

Audrey Young (Herald): NZ buys into G20 deal to tax online profits

Lewis Holden: "The biggest debt since Muldoon"

Rob Salmond (Polity): Progress on online taxes



Andrea Vance and Simon Day (Stuff): Thirty-five year veteran in top police job

Claire Trevett (Herald): New Police Commissioner apologises for eulogy

No Right Turn: This is not the way to rebuild trust


Asset sales

Dominion Post: Editorial: Key caught by low sales

Jacob Brown, Barry Soper, and Laura McQuillan (Newstalk ZB): Genesis Energy may prove a tough sell

Dave Burgess (Stuff): MP says sale of company 'short term'



TVNZ: Patient care fears over Dunedin Hospital computer crash

Newswire: Ryall: A&E 'fastest ever'


Tonga deportation

Laura McQuillan (Newstalk ZB): Labour says deportation of sick Tongan "a death sentence"

No Right Turn: Vile


New flag

Liam Hehir (Stuff): Replacement flag will take time

TVNZ: Three quarters of Kiwis against changing flag - poll


Christchurch rebuild

Olivia Carville (Stuff): Quake-city strugglers left behind

James Dann (Rebuilding Christchurch): Anchor Me (In the middle of your National blue sea)



Daily Blog: The Daily Blog Watch – 24/25 February 2014

David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Clark moves to Kensington Swan

David Farrar (Kiwiblog): How can you sue to demand a higher donation?

James Dann (Rebuilding Christchurch): Erudite of Berhampore

Stuff: Today in politics: Wednesday 26 February

Josh Martin (Stuff): Councils urged to turn on charm

Ben Irwin (Herald): And you thought a life of politics can be rough, minister

Muriel Newman (NZCPR): The Abuse of Property Rights

Scott Hamilton (Reading the Maps): Pseudo-history at the zoo

Radio NZ: Flavell to meet expats in Australia

Newwire: NGOs scared to criticise govt – Labour

Pete George (Your NZ): Dave Cull lacks transparency in secret deal

Daily Blog: Warrant Of Fitness for homes is a Warrant Of Fitness for us

Tahu Potiki (Stuff): Sth Island alliance will benefit all

Jesse Peach (TV3): Georgina Beyer on 'surviving it all'

Susan Hornsby-Guluk (Stuff): It's only natural to know who your accuser is

Nelson Mail:Editorial: Sugary drinks ban a welcome stand

Newswire: TPP talks again fail to reach agreement

Lynn Prentice (The Standard): StopPress and comments

Pete George (Your NZ): Lynn Prentice sells The Standard

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