NZ media ownership report: Blogs

The New Zealand Media Ownership 2017 report details trends in print (down) and online (up) trends.

They have a section on blogs:

In 2017, some of the most well-known blogs and blogging platforms included PublicAddress (which features Russell Brown’s Hard News amongst others); Lizzy Marvelly’s Villainesse; Martyn Bradbury’s The Daily Blog; David Farrar’s Kiwiblog; Cameron Slater’s Whale Oil; The Standard, The Dim-Post, Chris Trotter’s Bowalley Road and Bill Bennett.

Villainesse won the best blog award at the Canon Media Awards, other nominations included PublicAddress and The Spinoff Parents. Judges Toby Manhire and Bill Ralston commented that “Villainesse stands out for its strong feminist voice, excellent graphic presentation and a good sense of what is in the news” (Canon Media Awards, 2017).

In 2017, bloggers – not so much the blogs themselves – were in the spotlight for various reasons. In August, The Daily Blog’s Martyn Bradbury revealed that the police had unlawfully accessed his private banking information as they searched for the hacker behind Nicky Hager’s’ Dirty Politics book. In an article written by the investigative journalist David Fisher, Bradbury detailed how the police actions lead his bank to deny him credit (Fisher, 2017).

In 2017, Conservative Party leader Colin Craig sued Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater for defamation. Slater then countersued Craig. In June, a High Court judge reserved his decision in the defamation case.

In October, Slater, public relations professional Carrick Graham and former MP Katherine Rich failed in a court bid to knock out a defamation claim by three health experts (“Whale Oil blogger, former MP, and PR specialist could face jury”, 2017). Slater was accused by Dr Doug Sellman and two other health academics Boyd Swinburn and Shane Bradbrook of defaming them in a series of posts on his site.

Their action was prompted by revelations in Nicky Hager’s 2011 book Dirty Politics. The High Court did not strike out the case, and said the defamation action could yet proceed to a jury trial (“Whale Oil blogger, former MP, and PR specialist could face jury”, 2017).

In August 2017, Nicky Hager observed that the Whale Oil blog, which “not long ago [was] so influential, is now “diminished” (Hager, 2017). He noted that “there is hardly a single journalist left who would take stories off the dirty politics bloggers. Cameron Slater and the Whale Oil blog still exist, but they have shrunk back to
the margins of politics” (Hager, 2017).

Slater has quoted just that last paragraph and has responded:

The report authors talk about blogs, and this one in particular, quoting extensively from Nicky Hager.

This report is could not possibly be described as fair and balanced because they never bothered to contact me to ask about Hager’s comments. For the record, my traffic is higher now than before Dirty Politics, and I’m not sure how Nicky Hager can claim that “there is hardly a single journalist left who would take stories off the dirty politics bloggers.”. He certainly doesn’t have access to my phone records that would prove that to be a lie. As for shrinking back to the margins of politics, that claim is again farcical.

My site has higher traffic than all other blogs in the top 100 combined and it exceeds the much vaunted and well resourced Newsroom site by a considerable margin. It is simply another false claim by Nicky Hager, but the fact the reports authors didn’t even bother to contact me for comment tells you more about their and the report’s bias than it does about anything else.

My subscriber base, my readership would be the envy of many of the print publications listed above. Unlike print media my audience is growing.

For a blog Whale Oil is large by New Zealand standards, but I don’t think there’s any doubt that it’s political influence has diminished significantly in the last three years.

There was a time when Whale Oil prompted a number of large stories in media, but now it is largely a comments forum, a repeater of MSM news with a few comments tacked on (I do that a lot too) and a lot of filler posts and click bait to keep their numbers up.

Leave a comment


  1. artcroft

     /  7th December 2017

    Slater is a proven hypocrite so I can’t take his claims about his readership size seriously.

  2. robertguyton

     /  7th December 2017

    No more fomenting in the House for Farrar!

    “Muttonbird 10
    7 December 2017 at 11:01 am
    Farrar’s lost his keys to parliament.

    That on its own will go a long way to cleaning up the place.”

  3. Westie Bob

     /  7th December 2017

    Looking at yesterdays Whale Oil backchat and general debate 405 comments vs kiwiblog general debate 333 comments. I have my doubts about any of the numbers coming out of Whale Oil and question whether they are the orders of magnitude bigger than other blogs that they claim to be.

  4. Anyone notice how Pete Belt completely and mysteriously vanished overnight? I know PG posed about the monkey’s demise, but it has been sudden and swift, with deletion of his ‘tweetfromthehip’ twitter account, and an update of his Disqus profile to a dead ape.No facebook, no linkedin, no nothing. It is like he never existed.

    • And no word about it from Slater that I saw. It does seem curious.

      • Something is up there for sure. You’d like to think that after all those years of sycophancy, the very least Slater could do is publicly thank Belt.
        But on that note, Slater himself has gone all quiet, with SB doing most of the (schoolmarmy)’s all quite fascinating.

  5. Tipene

     /  7th December 2017

    Yes, vicarious liability can be a real bitch………..


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