Freed from what?

What is Freed? Where is Freed? Freed from what?

According to Cameron Slater Freed is going to be a great new alternative media enterprise that will blow current media like NZ Herald and Fairfax away.

Announced on Whale Oil last July: CAMERON SLATER’S NEXT MEDIA VENTURE

We’ve been signalling that there is something in the wind that would see Whaleoil expand and grow without being specific about it.  The NBR reports:

[Cameron Slater] will start a news website before this year’s general election.

NBR ONLINE understands Instra managing founder Tony Lentino is funding
the news website which Cameron Slater says will have 10 staff.

Mr Slater will not confirm Mr Lentino’s involvement but says one private
investor has contributed a six-figure sum for the site.

He says the investor was motivated to act after being frustrated at the quality
of news and journalism in New Zealand.

Mr Slater refuses to comment on the business model for the news website
but says funding is sufficient for a year and advertising will not be needed.

Mr Slater’s associate, Regan Cunliffe, has registered a domain name,, but Mr Slater said this was only one of many options for the site.

Mr Cunliffe is the founder of TV website Throng.

Mr Slater says the Whale Oil site will continue at the same time and the sites
may break stories together.

At this stage we are not going to expand on any of the detail, suffice to say that instead of replacing Whaleoil, this new venture will implement similar strategies and draw on the same talents that is driving the unprecedented growth behind this site.  It will complement and run alongside Whaleoil, but is a completely separate venture focussed purely on “the news”.

It is time for a “New media” news service and a bit of a shake-up of the old media club.

It is not going to be right or left, but it is going to be a properly resourced new media venture with all the news, all the time.

The election last year was in September. Freed is not yet running.

In October Slater quoted Martyn Bradbury…

With Slater about to launch next year a new weaponised news media ‘’ complete with a drone operator, he will bend and push the boundaries of attack blogs into a whole new realm of horror. How will the left blogosphere compete with a $600,000 right wing attack blog is yet to be seen.

…and responded:

$600,000? That isn’t even 7 figures…WRONG again.

That’s not the only time a million-plus budget has been bragged about.

And while the launch (above) suggested “a properly resourced new media venture with all the news, all the time” in a post late last month – NZ HERALD EDITORIAL STILL NOT OVER IT – Slater hinted at an obsession with influence, which is at odds with news reporting..

One of the reasons the media has turned so poisonous against Whaleoil and me personally, is that I do still have influence. Trusted popular blogs have more influence. Blog operators are trusted by their audience. Blog operators are expected to be biased, wear it on their sleeves, and readers don’t feel like they’re being manipulated into being told to follow the corporate media line.

That last line is very ironic given Whale Oil’s reputation for being prostituted for money.

And the media are still in denial.

Wait until they have to cope with Freed in the market.   There will be job losses.   And it’s marketing 101:  you can’t tell your customers what they want.  They tell you what they want.

Whale Oil had a lesson on this when they banned a large number of commenters, often for very trivial reasons,which quickly resulted in a significant downturn in activity and what now often appears to be a comments section  that’s little more than a Whale Oil/Freed PR exercise.

The only thing I can not get my head around is the institutional failure by the boards of these media organisations to start putting shareholders ahead of their employees needs to play political games.  Poor leftie anarchists don’t buy subscriptions, and they have the least amount of disposable income to use on their advertisers’ products.

Long may they remain in denial.   Freed is stepping into a huge hole in the media market where we are going to deliver what people actually want.   Hardly radical.

Whaleoil is popular because?   Because we tell people what they must think?   Or might it just be because what is written here actually makes sense to an increasing amount of people?

Slater keeps linking Freed closely with Whale Oil. That’s a big risk for a big financial venture.

So what of Freed beyong Slater and Whale Oil? Their website doesn’t seem to have changed since this:

11/11/2014 – Interview details for applicants will be announced shortly.

We’re hiring! Here are some of the vacancies we need to fill:

News Editor
Chief Reporter
Production Editor
Filing Editor
Political Editor (Wellington based)
Senior Reporters
Junior Reporters
Data Journalists
Sports Reporters
Drone Operators
Video Editors
Camera Operators
Office Administrators
Personal Assistants
Graphic Designers
IT Support

No vacancy for Dirt Merchant – maybe that one has already been filled.

I don’t know how big a job market there is for experienced journalists who are prepared to work with Slater. They risk being tainted similar to how Laila Harre was with her Dotcom/Internet party association.

Chris Keall at NBR reported on October 11 – Tony Lentino’s ‘Whaleoil 2.0’ site back on

After a Dirty Politics lull, it looks like the online news site bankrolled by Tony Lentino is back on, or at least back in the spotlight.

A quick trip to reveals that is indeed registered to Lentino’s Instra Corporation, with another of his companies, Springhall Estate, listed as the contact. And, which clones, is registered to Throng co-founder Regan Cunliffe, one of those in orbit around the new news site.

Earlier, a person associated with the project told NBR it would be “much more than Cam” and “not Whaleoil 2.0”.

It’s not immediately clear how “Drone operators” would fit into the picture.

They seem to have been practising in Whale Oil comments.

Seriously, it all looks pretty high-tech. But if Cam figures large on Freed, the new site’s challenge could be more low-tech: over-coming the Dirty Politics allegations that he’s taken money from lobbyists, without disclosing it, to push various corporate interests.

It seems to be dominated by Slater. If Freed does eventually launch it will start encumbered by skepticism of Slater’s motives and ‘corporate interests’, and his recently practiced Goebellian control of comments at Whale Oil.

I guess ‘Freed’ is more marketable than ‘Heavily Censored’.

There’s been a little activity on Freed’s Facebook.

29 October: The CV’s are coming in thick and fast so if you’d like to be part of the next chapter of journalism in NZ, it’s time to let us know…

5 November: After being inundated with CVs we’re nearly ready to begin conducting interviews. It’s not too late to apply though.

7 November: Rehearsing traffic reports in the Freed chopper

9 December: What an incredible day of interviews yesterday.

But no word of launch plans or a date. Slater posted last week (January 7): NEWS IS DEAD, LONG LIVE NEWS!

Netguide’s onto it

More Kiwis are reading newspapers online, according to a survey on the use of digital media.

The survey, conducted by local PR firm Impact PR, shows more than two-thirds of Kiwis have read a newspaper online, or on a smartphone or tablet app, during the past year.

While uptake of electronic newspapers was high across the board, over three-quarters of those surveyed aged from 35 to 44 years old had read one online, and 61% of those aged over 65 had also done so. One in five Kiwis expects to read newspapers online or via an app in the next 12 months, according to the survey.

“What is heartening to see from this survey, is that Kiwis still have an appetite for news and want to be informed on what is happening around them,” says Fleur Revell, Impact PR director.

Of course they do.  There is an innate need for gossip and story telling that is very much part of being a human being.

“Clearly the emergence of online newspapers is something that Kiwis have taken to quickly and I think this growth is likely to continue as the convenience of digital media becomes even more ubiquitous through smart devices.”

Despite the popularity of digital newspapers, and many people expecting to increase their use of digital media when it comes to reading both newspapers and books online, there are widespread concerns about how this will affect literacy.

“Over half of those surveyed believe the increasing digital media consumption in New Zealand will have a negative impact on literacy levels here,” says Revell. “Even the 18-24 year olds who have grown up in a digitally-savvy world are concerned, with 47% believing this will have a negative result.”

While newspapers have a strong digital uptake, consumers appear to prefer their magazines printed, with just 25% of people saying they have downloaded or read an electronic magazine in the last year. Most consumers also don’t intend to seek out magazines in a digital form either – with 41% of those surveyed not intending to download or view an e-magazine in the next 12 months.

The time is indeed right for a New Zealand internet-delivered news service that doesn’t have the infrastructural, administrative, financial and political problems to bog it down.

A fresh start.

The promises of a fresh start are starting to get stale.

It will be interesting to see Freed when it eventually launches, how it might operate and whether it succeeds. Slater’s shadow looks like looming large.

It’s worth asking – Freed from what?

Leave a comment


  1. Ian McKinnon

     /  15th January 2015

    Your preoccupation with Slater is a problem . . . you definitely need help. Maybe you realise he is a little more successful.

    • Should the biggest blog in New Zealand be immune from criticism?

      What exactly is the problem? You seem to be trying to defend Whale Oil but you’ve never explained why, you just resort to meaningless disses.

    • Mike C

       /  15th January 2015

      @McK. Get a grip on it, Ian. It’s absurd that you are still vehemently defending Blubber-Boy after him and his Monkey banned you from their blog. LOL.

  2. Ian McKinnon

     /  15th January 2015

    I do not defend Slater, I just take exception to losers abusing someone for holding realistic views.

  3. Mike C

     /  15th January 2015

    Excellent informative post, Pete. I love this great stuff that you write, dragging Slaters balls over hot coals. LOL.

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  15th January 2015

    Judged by Slater’s choice of moderator and frequent personal immoderation I expect major difficulty in selecting good staff and working with them. I can’t imagine him as either a team player or a team leader because of two-way lack of trust. Same goes for financial backing.

    • Mike C

       /  15th January 2015

      @Alan. Neither Slater nor Belt are capable of playing very well with others out in the public park sandpit, so I’d be surprised if the staff environment at Freed involves a lot of “Freedom of Speech”. LOL.

  5. So Slater has admitted in print that he borrowed at least a million dollars to invest in Freed. Did he borrow it from a Bank like a normal person, or did he do some sort of deal with Lentino?

  6. Goldie

     /  16th January 2015

    The recent Charlie Hedbo issue highlights for me the need for a decent web-based hard news platform. Many mainstream media refused to publish what the whole story is about, whereas it is noticeable that web-based news sites did show the cartoons. With declining circulation and revenues, MSM such as the NZ Herald have become risk averse to offending anyone – and as a result they are anodyne and irrelevant. The actual news value of MSM such as the NZ Herald or TV news is pretty marginal these days – I myself haven’t bothered with those sources for years now.

    For news to be really relevant, it has to be done with courage, and these days most MSM don’t have that. In contrast, bloggers do seem to be willing to run news. An example was when Cam Slater ran the story on Len Brown’s affairs in the mayoral office. The NZ Herald knew about the story – but they were too cowardly to investigate it, so they sat on it. Cam Slater was the one who did the investigating and who had the courage to run the story.

    So I believe that the time is ripe for an independent, fearless, hard news site. And being entirely web-based creates greater flexbility and lower overheads. I think a well funded, well organised web-based hard news site could do very well.

    But I don’t think that Cam Slater is the man to do it. Since ‘Dirty Politics’ his sources have dried up, and good news investigating depends on ‘behind the scenes’ sources.

    • I agree. Whale Oil has at times been a good model but has been too much of a bad model as well, and Slater is far too slanted in what he wants covered and said.

      I think there’s an opening for an independent news agregator that picks the best out of all media outlets. Most important things are covered by someone, but none cover across the whole range of news well.

      MSM is bad for putting most emphasis on exclusives or news they have created themselves via Q&A and The Nation and they often virtually ignore competitor’s exclusives.

      So someone prepared to cover all sides and media outlets would be worthwhile. I’d be interested in doing it but don’t have the time to constantly monitor and post.

  7. Mike C

     /  18th January 2015

    @KumaraRepublic. For goodness fucking sakes, even your profile avatar is negative.

    Are you one of Slaters or Belts Buddies?

    Lentino has been missing in action since before the September 2014 Election.

    Slater has something on Lentino !!!

    • “Are you one of Slaters or Belts Buddies?”

      Where’d you get that idea from? If anything, Murdoch’s NewsCorp is a bit like George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth, but with stock options.


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