Media has a responsibility to be balanced

This shouldn’t need to be said, and if it is seen it is likely to be ignored, but the media have a responsibility to be balanced in their coverage of politics, especially in an election campaign.

A month or so ago we had media overkill of Todd Barclay’s political career. It was a story that deserved some coverage, but it became more of a hounding than reporting, and still pops up occasionally.

Last week has been extraordinary. The media obsession with promoting Jacinda Ardern was possibly without precedent. It’s hard to imagine a greater concentration of coverage if they had discovered that Princess Diana’s death had been faked and she had been living anonymously in Morrinsville.

The change of Labour leadership was a very big story. The rise of Jacinda Ardern was a phenomenon, but the glittering saturation coverage was excessive, and democratically unbalanced and unfair

The media plays an important role in a democracy, an essential role. A problem with modern media is that it has become a means of exerting and influencing power.

Politicians and parties have recruited a lot of journalists, and they obviously know how to play the game. They also have good contacts in media.

Switching from journalism to political PR seems to have significant financial benefits for the best of them, with probably only the TV and radio ‘personality’ journalists on more lucrative salaries.

Politicians cultivate their own relationships with journalists. It is something Ardern has been adept at, she has milked a lot of coverage in the past, but has been careful not to upstage her leader.

And that paid off last week with journalists flocking to Ardern. She was smattered all through newspapers. She appeared on just about every TV program that wasn’t ‘reality TV’ or Coronation Street – she would probably have been on Shortland Street if there wasn’t a lead time to their content.

The coverage of all other politicians and parties combined would have been less than the attention Ardern got. We have had an outpouring of overkill.

But we have had what we have had, and now Ardern is an obvious media favourite to at least feature prominently in the election campaign.

I think it’s too much to ask but the media have a responsibility to be objective and to provide balanced coverage.

They have already shown their bias against Bill English, with it being common to report on his lack of ‘charisma’ – he is too boring for their headlines and click baiting.

He is so old hat that journalists have almost lusted over a younger fresher alternative.

Winston Peters has long been given favourable coverage and inadequate scrutiny from media, but even he was virtually ignored. Who knows what a shunned Winston will do now to try to attract attention.

The media have switched from their obsession with ‘king maker’ to building a throne for their anointed queen.

It hasn’t been all adulation, there has been some reasonable coverage, but the overwhelming impression has been that media has had a clear favourite, and balance went out the window with Andrew Little.

The media euphoria over the rise of Ardern will subside a bit, but there is a real risk of ongoing lack of balance.

The future of the country is at stake and voters should be given fair and balanced coverage. I’m not confident we will get that.

Trump praises himself, attacks media and Court

President Donald Trump continues to attack the media and US courts via Twitter, and conducts a session of praise of himself with hos Cabinet.

Washington Times:  Trump’s tweets slam the media, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

“The Fake News Media has never been so wrong or so dirty. Purposely incorrect stories and phony sources to meet their agenda of hate. Sad!”

Sad for the President to resort to this type of attack on the media. As flawed as they are the media still has a duty to hold the President and his administration to account.

“Well, as predicted, the 9th Circuit did it again – Ruled against the TRAVEL BAN at such a dangerous time in the history of our country. S.C.”

And it’s dangerous for a President to become publicly involved in matters before the courts.

But Trump managed to get some praise published in media – praise from himself and his Cabinet.

NBC News:  At First Full Meeting, Trump Claims Historic Success — and Cabinet Rushes to Pay Him Tribute

President Donald Trump blamed “obstructionist” Democrats for slowing his agenda Monday, even as he lauded his success as historic — an assessment many of his Cabinet members lined up, one by one, to endorse.

Meeting at the White House with his entire Cabinet for the first time, Trump used his opening remarks to blame Democrats for delaying the meeting, saying they’d held up key appointments in the Senate to score political points.

(Senate rules require only 51 votes to confirm presidential appointees, so the Republican majority has enough votes to approve Trump’s picks on its own. Democrats can do little more than delay the process.)

Trump went on to boast that he had already accomplished more than most other presidents in U.S. history.

“Never has there been a president — with few exceptions, in the case of FDR, he had a major Depression to handle — who’s passed more legislation, who’s done more things than what we’ve done,” Trump said. “I think we’ve been about as active as you can possibly be at a just about record-setting pace.”

Trump added that he was following through on his campaign promises “at a much faster pace than anyone thought,” citing executive orders, the rollback of government regulations and 34 bills passed by Congress.

So Trump is claiming unprecedented success, but also a lack of success due to obstruction.

Meanwhile, almost all of the legislation signed by Trump has been relatively small-bore; many of those measures include naming people to positions and designating buildings.

Congressional Republicans have increasingly voiced concern about the slow pace of legislative accomplishments on health care, tax reform and other issues.

As for nominations, the real bottleneck in the process, Democrats and others say, is at the White House, which has yet to appointment nominees to fill many vacant positions in the government.

Regardless of reality, Trump was joined by his Cabinet in a praisefest.

As Trump went around the large table, one by one, most praised the president, while others gave brief updates on their departments’ work.

It was all too much for Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York, who tweeted a “staff meeting” parodying the White House flattery festival.

I’m not sure that parody is necessary, Trump is an ongoing self parody.

Clash of conspiracy theories

One conspiracy versus another:

If it matters Dan Bongino describes himself as a ‘renegade Republican’. Wikipedia describes him as ‘a former United States Secret Service agent who was a primary candidate for Florida’s 19th congressional district in 2016’. He lost.

 

“When you have a president who is so good at communicating with the media”

Trump warns Comey and attacks media

The Donald Trump sacking of FBI Director James Comey is escalating after the reasons for the termination have kept changing, and Trump appears to be unhappy with the bad press.

The sacking is said to be because he was getting increasingly irate with Comey and with media coverage of investigations into Russian collusion with Trumps presidential campaign.

Now Trump seems to be getting even more irate with the media for covering the debacle.

  • Then the President came for the media.
  • Then the President came for the FBI.
  • Then the President came for the media again.

CBS News: Sean Spicer faces first White House briefing since Comey’s firing

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Friday is giving his first briefing since President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, as questions about the timing and reasoning behind Mr. Trump’s shocking decision mount.

Mr. Trump suggested Friday morning over Twitter that maybe “it would be best to cancel” the White House press briefings, after Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave an account of the decision to fire Comey that was in direct conflict with what Mr. Trump said later.

Spicer has been at the Pentagon fulfilling his Naval Reserve duty, and was supposed to continue work at the Pentagon Friday, but was called back to the White House. The president suggested, again over Twitter, that because he’s such “a very active President,” that his surrogates can’t speak for him “with perfect accuracy.”

The White House has claimed Mr. Trump fired Comey because he lost the confidence of rank-and-file FBI employees and because of a Tuesday recommendation from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire Comey over his handling of the Clinton email investigation.

But Mr. Trump himself has contradicted initial statements (as well as his own termination letter of Comey), claiming he was going to fire Comey regardless of any DOJ recommendation and that when he decided to fire Comey, he thought of the “made-up” story about his connections to Russia.

Earlier this year, the president also asked Comey to pledge his loyalty. Comey responded that he could promise that he’d be honest with him.

Mr. Trump’s account of the dinner differs from Comey’s, and earlier Friday, he tweeted that Comey had “better hope that there are no ‘tapes.‘”

Comey was leading the investigation into Russian election meddling.

Fox News: It was all Trump’s decision: POTUS changes White House narrative on Comey firing

When President Trump sat down with Lester Holt yesterday, he essentially altered the version of James Comey’s firing that his top aides have been pressing in public.

“I was going to fire regardless of recommendation,” he told the NBC anchor. The recommendation in question was a two-page memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who had been on the job for two weeks.

Rosenstein is “highly respected,” Trump said, “he made a recommendation, but regardless of recommendation I was going to fire Comey” (who he called a “showboat” and a “grandstander”).

At Wednesday’s press briefing, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked: “So it’s the White House’s assertion that Rod Rosenstein decided on his own, after being confirmed, to review Comey’s performance?”

“Absolutely,” she replied. “And I think most of America had decided on their own that Director Comey was not the person that should be leading the FBI.”

But if the president asked for a review to buttress a move he planned to take anyway, then Rosenstein’s letter isn’t the crucial document that was being advertised.

Sanders told ABC’s Jon Karl yesterday she hadn’t had the chance to ask the president that question about whether he had already made up his mind. “Nobody was in the dark…You’re trying to create this false narrative,” she said.

None of this affects the core question of whether the president acted properly in canning his FBI director. But it does underscore that the administration’s rollout of this controversial decision has been shaky.

The media narrative has moved on to whether the White House is engaging in some kind of coverup, with newspaper accounts challenging some of the administration’s key points.

And that is upsetting Trump, further raising suspicions that he is trying to hide something.

NY Times: Trump Warns Comey and Says He May Cancel Press Briefings

President Trump on Friday warned James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director he fired this week, against leaking anything negative about the president and put the news media on notice that he may cancel future White House briefings.

In a series of early-morning posts on Twitter, Mr. Trump even seemed to suggest that there may be secret tapes of his conversations with Mr. Comey that could be used to counter the former F.B.I. director if necessary. It was not immediately clear whether he meant that literally, or simply hoped to intimidate Mr. Comey into silence.

“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.

Mr. Trump appeared agitated over news reports on Friday that focused on contradictory accounts of his decision to fire Mr. Comey at the same time the F.B.I. is investigating ties between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.

A self inflicted train wreck by Trump. It was only a matter of time before his reactive behaviour and ego would escalate – at least this is happening on internal matters and not in the Far East or the Middle East.

The presidency could be in a state of failure, but Foreign Policy goes further and asks Is America a Failing State?

We have the tin-pot leader whose vanity knows no bounds. We have the rapacious family feathering their nests without regard for the law or common decency.

We have utter disregard for values at home and abroad, the disdain for democracy, the hunger for constraining a free press, the admiration for thugs and strongmen worldwide.

We have all the makings of a banana republic. But worse, we are showing the telltale signs of a failing state. Our government has ceased to function. Party politics and gross self-interest has rendered the majority party oblivious to its responsibilities to its constituents and the Constitution of the United States.

On a daily basis, Republicans watch their leader violate not only the traditions and standards of the high office he occupies, but through inaction they enable him to personally profit from the presidency, promote policies that benefit his cronies and his class to the detriment of the majority of the American people, and serially attack the principles on which the country was founded — from freedom of religion to the separation of powers.

Is it that bad? It is looking increasingly like that.

Trump has had staunch supporters but some of those must be starting to wonder whether he is unfit for purpose.

 

Spiralling into a crescendo of crap

News is important to many of us. Therefore media must be important to us, because they provide us with most of our news.

But there seems to be a growing amount of trivia and opinion and unjustified sensation – I don’t know if this is by proportion or just because we have access to many more news sources. Probably both.

Damian Grant writes about Using a playmate to separate the signal from the noise.

This refers to the headlines of a ‘playmate’ naked on Mt Taranaki on a day that the Commerce Commission turned down the proposed merger of two major media companies.

I’m not a fan of the Commerce Commission. I’d like to drag it to the top of a mountain and leave it shivering naked in the cold, but the impending collapse of our news media raises a serious question; does news matter?

I’m not sure that our new media will collapse, but it is certainly going through significant change.

Statisticians have a term; the Signal to Noise Ratio. This refers to the amount of useless data that obscures the signal they are trying to see.

Reading the paper is an exercise in filtering stories about naked girls on a mountain from actual news that will have an effect on your life.

I don’t think it’s quite that simple. There is a growing lack of differentiation between news and entertainment. They even call what would have been current affairs programmes shows now. The show must go on.

Currently the media is spilling billions of pixels and a small lake of ink on speculation about the upcoming election. Are you better informed as a result of reading this speculation, or would your time be better spent walking the dog and waiting for the final result?

I think most people have very good political filters. That’s why media tries to portray boring administration of the country as sensational scandals. Probably with little success most of the time.

Worse than the noise, much of what we read is actively misleading. A car crash story creates the impression that car crashes are a regular occurrence, stories about a housing crisis can easily mislead readers to thinking that there is a housing crisis.

Media and opposition MPs frequently cry wolf about crises.  A major problem with this is that the occasional genuine issues of real concern are easily ignored as same old crap.

The object of the news media isn’t to provide news, it is to entertain and, on occasion, create its own news and controversy by, as an example, deliberately using a mountain’s colonial name in order to generate outrage.

But they end up promoting their own generated ‘outrage’ as further news, or at least other media does to create their own stories.

It was unusual this week to see genuine outrage by some media over how Newshub presented their story on the leaked Pike River video footage. This was an exception.

There’s an old media saying “if it bleeds it leads”.

Obviously there is no news in reporting that thousands of people travelled by car without incident or accident. Crashes and crime are news.

But how news is presented, or over-presented, creates an unbalanced perception of how bad things are overall. And it seems to be snowballing as media tries to make more noise to attract attention.

And there seems to be growing problems of use of ‘fake news’.

Perhaps they should be trying to improve their signal, but the don’t seem to get that message.

Signs are they are spiralling into a crescendo of crap.

Comey ‘probably cost Clinton the election’

An analysis of polls and media coverage by Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight makes a strong case in support of the claim that The Comey Letter Probably Cost Clinton The Election

It may well have been the final nail in a poor campaign. Trumps campaign was also poor but it succeeded where it mattered, with the help of Comey.

But Silver also makes a strong case for the influence of the media and their denials of the impact they have.

And this applies to New Zealand as well, on a smaller scale.

Hillary Clinton would probably be president if FBI Director James Comey had not sent a letter to Congress on Oct. 28. The letter, which said the FBI had “learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation” into the private email server that Clinton used as secretary of state, upended the news cycle and soon halved Clinton’s lead in the polls, imperiling her position in the Electoral College.

The letter isn’t the only reason that Clinton lost. It does not excuse every decision the Clinton campaign made. Other factors may have played a larger role in her defeat…

But the effect of those factors — say, Clinton’s decision to give paid speeches to investment banks, or her messaging on pocket-book issues, or the role that her gender played in the campaign — is hard to measure.

The impact of Comey’s letter is comparatively easy to quantify, by contrast. At a maximum, it might have shifted the race by 3 or 4 percentage points toward Donald Trump, swinging Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida to him, perhaps along with North Carolina and Arizona. At a minimum, its impact might have been only a percentage point or so.

Still, because Clinton lost Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by less than 1 point, the letter was probably enough to change the outcome of the Electoral College.

And yet, from almost the moment that Trump won the White House, many mainstream journalists have been in denial about the impact of Comey’s letter.

It hasn’t just been journalists who have been in denial about the effect of Comey’s letter. Trump chooses to ignore it and promote his own greatness, but that is what he does.

Many Trump supporters seem to want to think he won simply on merit and don’t want to consider he wasn’t that great, he just ended up being slightly less ungreat than Clinton in a few key states.

Why would the media want to ‘forget’ about the Comey letter effect?

The motivation for this seems fairly clear: If Comey’s letter altered the outcome of the election, the media may have some responsibility for the result.

The media were as poor throughout the campaign as the Clinton and Trump campaigns, and as with other issues they over-emphasised the Comey letter, helping make it a game changer. The whole campaign debacle was an appalling advertisement for democracy.

One can believe that the Comey letter cost Clinton the election without thinking that the media cost her the election — it was an urgent story that any newsroom had to cover.

But if the Comey letter had a decisive effect and the story was mishandled by the press — given a disproportionate amount of attention relative to its substantive importance, often with coverage that jumped to conclusions before the facts of the case were clear — the media needs to grapple with how it approached the story.

Is the media likely to examine and grapple with how it handled the election? That’s probably as likely as Clinton examining and accepting her own shortcomings, or as likely as Trump becoming modest about his win and his presidency.

If I were advising a future candidate on what to learn from 2016, I’d tell him or her to mostly forget about the Comey letter and focus on the factors that were within the control of Clinton and Trump. That’s not my purpose here. Instead, it’s to get at the truth — to figure out the real story of the election.

The real story is that the Comey letter had a fairly large and measurable impact, probably enough to cost Clinton the election. It wasn’t the only thing that mattered, and it might not have been the most important. But the media is still largely in denial about how much of an effect it had.

That applies to the whole campaign.

Modern media plays an integral part in elections. They are a major influence on what voters learn about candidates.

And media has moved far to far from being reporters, investigators and informers, and they have become far too much political activists and promoters.

This is not just true of the US.

In New Zealand the media have become tools of political campaigns because it generates headlines and stories, and some in media have become virtual political activists, their egos driving their coverage more than balance and perspective.

This is likely to continue because the media are excused by the majority, those who win, those who get favourable outcomes, those in power, in part due to the campaign influence of media.

The media probably cost Clinton the election as much as the Comey letter did, but the media had also contributed significantly to Clinton – and Trump – being the eventual candidates. Two very flawed candidates in a very flawed political system dominated by a very flawed media.

Social media has a growing influence, but in large part that is due to the deficiencies of the ‘mainstream’ media.

Paying for news?

The massive move of media online, and the creaming of profits by international giants like Google and Facebook, have had a huge impact on traditional news gathering and distribution.

Good journalism costs money. It used to be subsidised by general advertising. That model has been demolished.

There is a resistance to pay for news online, in part because there are so many free alternatives – there is no compulsion to pay.

If the Herald or Dominion Post disappeared would most people on Facebook even notice?

Possibly not, but it would be to the detriment of the country, unless alternatives filled the news gap.

Should we pay for our news?

I don’t subscribe to any news service. I gave up my ODT subscription a couple of years ago. I gave up my Sky subscription last year.

I found that I was hardly reading the newspaper (ODT) so it wasn’t worth spending around $26 a month for. I got most of my news from a wide variety of sources online.

And I resented Sky forcing me to pay about $1000 per year when I only wanted a tenth of what they provided.

I haven’t subscribed anywhere else because it is too expensive. A single subscription might be good value if that’s where I sourced most news from, but I regularly read 20 news sources and forums, actually probably more than that. Full subscriptions for them all would be ridiculously expensive.

I would be prepared to pay for news if my money could be spread over multiple suppliers, and it wasn’t too expensive.

I think the biggest problem with traditional media is that they think they can apply their old model of one subscription to a vastly different, very fragmented media world. That’s where they are failing.

I don’t have an easy answer, but if news is to be paid for then a different way of doing things is required.

I never used to read the Herald or Dominion. Now Stuff and NZH online might provide me with about 10% of my news and information, so I’m not going to pay full traditional level subscriptions to both of them, and to a bunch of other providers.

They don’t seem to understand this.

Traditional news companies are too focussed on trying not to lose current subscribers paying full price, but they are gradually losing them and advertisers anyway. And they are not attracting business from part time readers and viewers.

It would be difficult, but a country as small as New Zealand could get radical and set up a universal system of micro payments for pay per view.

I don’t know if that could work.

But I know full subscriptions for fractional use, more obtrusive advertising (I usually just close pages that are too annoying and go somewhere else) and too much trash are failing and will always fail.

If news is too expensive or too hard to view I won’t go there.

If Fairfax and NZME had merged and set up a news pay wall demanding a full subscription I simply wouldn’t have used them.

I don’t actually need news. I can go on holiday and miss a week or two of news and survive quite easily. I can dump Sky and survive quite easily.

It’s actually good to not have to choose between a barrage of crap just to get a small amount of content I actually want.

If media companies want to survive and thrive that need to stop thinking through their traditional subscription lens and understand how us the readers and viewers see things.

The NZME/Fairfax merger didn’t appear to address this at all. They seemed to think if they were big enough they could demand full sized subscriptions, but they would still only be a fraction of what is available.

Available media has become very fragmented. Fragmented payments are probably the only way of getting people to pay what it is worth to them.

NZME and Fairfax merged would have been large, but would still have provided just a fraction of New Zealand’s news.

I would be happy to pay for good news and for good journalism, but not on traditional terms. I would want to spread it across multiple providers.

 

Ridiculous demands for urgent inquiry

Some media and some politicians are demanding an urgent, immediate inquiry into the Afghan attack the SAS were involved in. This is ridiculous.

Sound governance should not operate on the demands of the every shortening news cycle, nor on the demands of increasingly activist ‘journalists’ trying to create headlines.

The merits of the claims by Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson on their book Hit & Run should be carefully assessed, and alternate views also have to be considered.

This will take time.More time than a journalist or pundit getting a book at 5:30 pm, making a pronouncement on the 6 o’clock news, reading the book overnight and leading the morning headlines with demands for instant action from Government.

The Minister of Defence and the head of the NZ Defence Force are out of the country until Saturday. They have to be consulted.

People taking more time and care than journalists jumping to conclusions based on a one sided book need to check through the claims – and ask questions, seek other views, and assess the merits of the claims.

Even Nicky Hager says that time is needed.

Mar 22, 2017 12:57 PM
Nicky Hager
I hope that politicians will have the sense to avoid dismissing any of the allegations we’ve put forward until they have really seriously looked at them and asked questions. I believe that this issue is not going to go away quickly, that we are going to end up with it being investigated over months or years, and it would be wise for all politicians to keep an open mind when they haven’t even had a chance to read the book.

The raid occurred in Afghanistan in 2010.

Hager and Stephenson have been working on the book since 2014.

Demanding action to fit with a ridiculously short news cycle is not only nuts, it’s irresponsible.

Bill English has been criticised for not taking decisive action. That can be expected from bloggers but journalists should know better – if they weren’t so encased in there instant news bubbles.

If in a couple of weeks or a couple of months the Government decides that an inquiry is justified – and that may well turn out to be the prudent option – the same journalists who didn’t  have their instant demands met, and a few politicians and bloggers, are likely to label it a flip flop or u-turn.

I want a Prime Minister who will consider serious issues – as the Afghan incident is – and will seek good advice before making decisions.

Bill English needs to sharpen up on how he deals with media howling for instant action.

But he is correct in taking his time considering how the Government should deal with the claims in the Hager/Stephenson book.

Sometimes Prime Ministers and Governments have to react quickly and decisively to events that happen.

An incident that happened 7 years ago, and claims in a book that has taken 3 years to write, don’t justify instant political action. To the contrary.

Very serious legal issues have been raised, including suggestions of possible war crimes.

A Government not only should but has to take time seeking sound legal advice. They should also allow other evidence to be presented.

Demands for an atom bomb instant reaction are more than ridiculous, they are also stupid.

Media failure over donation reporting?

Posted yesterday (Sunday) at 9:30 am on Whale Oil: Another big donation for National, none for Labour yet

National has scored another big donation, again from Stone Shi.

A New Zealand Herald article National gets $50k donation from Oravida founder is quoted (without being linked), dated Friday.

So, Act and National are receiving big donations. Why isn’t Labour?

Then an our later at Whale Oil: So, a rich man gave money to Labour and the Greens, yet no one reported it

Earlier today I posted about the media announcing that Stone Shi gave $50,000 to the National party and that Jenny Gibbs has given a hundy to Act.

But, what is curious is the lack of reporting over another large donation, given just a few weeks before Stone Shi’s donation.

So, just three weeks before Stone Shi donated to National, Phillip Mills donated the same amount to the Labour party. Why was there no news of this in the mainstream media?

It isn’t like it is hidden, it is just two entries down the list from the Shi and Gibbs donations.

This can only be a deliberate deception by the NZ Herald to ignore large donations to Labour and highlight large donations to National and Act. It should be noted that on 9 November 2016 Phillip Mills also gave $65,000 to the Green party. Strangely that wasn’t reported either.

The register of donations is published in the interests of transparency to the government, yet the very people who are supposed to guard that transparency have failed the public because they have only reported donations to National and Act and not also to Labour and the Greens.

This is tantamount to a corruption of our news media, willingly, by them. The Media party has an agenda, and here is a perfect example of how they mislead, this time by omitting pertinent facts.

The bias is obvious, you just need to know where to look to reveal it.

National gets a donation, it becomes news. Labour gets a donation, not a mutter, not a murmur, not a mention. That is media dishonesty.

This is gobsmacking on a number of levels.

So Slater cut and pasted a Herald article and used it to diss Labour. Then he slams the ‘dishonest journalism’ that he repeated. I wonder if someone tipped him off to have a look at the donation list himself after his initial post, or perhaps he was just fed the details.

Whale Oil still claims to be media. From About:

Whaleoil is the fastest-growing media organisation in New Zealand. Its brand of news, opinion, analysis and entertainment is finding fertile ground with an audience that is feeling abandoned by traditional news media.

They often criticise other media  – while frequently using other media’s content. They claim they are a new way of doing journalism, much better than those they ridicule.

In this case Slater used Herald content to try and score a political hit against Labour, then turned on the Herald for ‘Dishonest journalism’. That in itself is highly ironic.

But why didn’t Whale Oil report on the donation to Labour three weeks ago? It’s as easy for them to monitor Electoral Commission donation lists as it is for the Herald.

They are slamming the Herald for not reporting on something that they didn’t report themselves, until they reacted to a Herald article that they used for their own purposes.

Whale Oil shows few signs of being a media site that does journalism these days.

The Daily Blog does a lot more original content than them now.

Whale Oil has reverted to being a blog that relies on repeating other media content, with trashing of the media that feeds them being some of their only original content.

The failure of Whale Oil to report the donation to Labour earlier is a symptom of it’s failure to become a credible alternative media outlet.