OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Meet your new overlords + media conference

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  • Che Tibby,

    if you're sharing the love russell, i have some mates in a sporting blog that might be able to send you some content...

    some of it is even believeable.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2024 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    it seems that in russell's case what you have is a slippage away from the medium being the reputable item (i.e. "anything in the NYT is reliable", to the person speaking being the reputable thing.

    That's it. Readers can have a relationship with a blogger that they don't have any more with a masthead.

    The fact that something appears under the Herald masthead is almost meaningless now. It could be good/bad/left/right.

    Whereas if Keith or I write something about a particular topic, people will have a fair idea where we're coming from, and choose to disregard it, take it with a grain of salt or give it credence.

    I think authority and trust have become detatched. The NYT still has authority, in that what it says matters and is widely heard. But the sources in which people place trust don't need to be grand. Classic example: snopes.com, the ultimate arbiter of urban myth --- and a husband-and-wife operation.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18656 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Llewellyn,

    how we'd hate to sell our soul to become a PR hack

    Ah, yes, the scapegoat profession for unhappy journos. PR. Off topic, but having lived in PR land for a little while now, I'd argue most of the stereotypical observations about the 'dark side' are complete hogwash. Its no coincidence that so many ex-journos work in PR (disclaimer: I didn't arrive by that particular route myself), and (I'm guessing here) the feelings of moral superiority on one side and the perceived higher income on the other add up to the makings of a decent historical grievance.

    In the end, the differences between the two professions are not that huge (and in my mind getting smaller by the day). Like any industry, you've got hacks and doyens, saints and sinners, professionals and amateurs, etc. And if its paid work there is always a pretty good chance there will be a client/boss/editor with a vested interest/influence in the outcome who pays the bill/wage and therefore owns a little piece of your soul. Very few in any field get to work on what they want when they want.

    Blogging, on the other hand, means you can write about whatever gets your blood pumping, and you get complete control of the editorial policy (and as an exra bonus if you can find a way to get paid well for blogging, well you're on your way to the motherlode:)

    Mt Albert • Since Nov 2006 • 399 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    This site is begging to have a membership fee.
    $10 to peep & $20 to contribute doesn't seem too harsh & keep the ROAR policies in place.
    Alt. have a koha option.
    Pay-per-Blog.
    You must have thought about it?

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    Whereas if Keith or I write something about a particular topic, people will have a fair idea where we're coming from, and choose to disregard it, take it with a grain of salt or give it credence.

    In a way, the same thing applies to the comments made here in PA System. Most people post under their real name, have a link to their website and/or email address, and there's the added information of their location and number of posts made.

    Contrast that with the Herald's reader feedback - it's just chunks of text from readers. All we know is their name or pseudonym and maybe a location. It's impossible to engage in any sort of dialogue in that situation or to give much weight to most comments.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1849 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Richard, with respect, if you think

    In the end, the differences between the two professions are not that huge

    you should take a look at Adam Curtis' "Century of the Self"- or just read up on Edward Bernays. The undeniable convergence of the two professions is unnerving.
    I'm with Keith on the value of first-person eyewitness reporting. There's a lot wrong with the "it's all opinion anyway" line. Sometimes it's horribly self-serving, sometimes it's intellectually lazy, sometimes it's just too darn clever.
    I'd say more but I'm married to a (former) PR person. ;)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1457 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Whereas if Keith or I write something about a particular topic, people will have a fair idea where we're coming from, and choose to disregard it, take it with a grain of salt or give it credence.

    Good point - and to refer to your Hard News post, is it really such a terrible thing that in Auckland there are communities for whom the Herald and Radio New Zealand aren't the almighty 'gatekeepers' of media representation they used to be? I know more than a few people who listen to iwi radio stations, watch MTS and subscribe to Mana magazine because they're sick of being treated as a special interest group with "issues" by the MSM. While I don't want to be complacent about the pretty dire representation of minority journos and viewpoints in the MSM, I'm not really inclined to be down on alternatives because they just weren't willing to wait for the mainstream to get their act together.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11853 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    having lived in PR land for a little while now, I'd argue most of the stereotypical observations about the 'dark side' are complete hogwash.

    When contemplating war, beware of babies in incubators

    More than 10 years later, I can still recall my brother Sean's face. It was bright red. Furious. Not one given to fits of temper, Sean was in an uproar. He was a father, and he had just heard that Iraqi soldiers had taken scores of babies out of incubators in Kuwait City and left them to die. The Iraqis had shipped the incubators back to Baghdad. A pacifist by nature, my brother was not in a peaceful mood that day. "We've got to go and get Saddam Hussein. Now," he said passionately.

    I completely understood his feelings. Although I had no family of my own then, who could countenance such brutality? The news of the slaughter had come at a key moment in the deliberations about whether the US would invade Iraq. Those who watched the non-stop debates on TV saw that many of those who had previously wavered on the issue had been turned into warriors by this shocking incident.

    Similar unsubstantiated stories appeared at the UN a few weeks later, where a team of "witnesses," coached by Hill&Knowlton, gave "testimony" (although no oath was ever taken) about atrocities in Iraq. It was later learned that the seven witnesses used false names and even identities in one case. In an unprecedented move, the US was allowed to present a video created by Hill & Knowlton to the entire security council.

    World's largest PR firm (in 1990) is all sweeness and light, then? "most" is a nice weasel word, eh?

    tokyo • Since Nov 2006 • 628 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    Readers can have a relationship with a blogger that they don't have any more with a masthead. The fact that something appears under the Herald masthead is almost meaningless now.

    Curious. You really think so? Is it a result of them trying to be everything to everyone? Do you mean that the trust relationship is gone, too?

    In the end, the differences between the two professions are not that huge (and in my mind getting smaller by the day).

    Aye. That's why I've decided to go with the Carlos the Jackal business model: Working as a mercenary to finance my campaign of terror. Rather than doing stories I don't want to do for 40c/word, I do copywriting I don't want to do for a lot more money, which then enables me to do the stuff I want to do for free.

    Beats the "suffering for my art" business model, anyway.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 530 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Stephen:

    I wonder though whether a co-op, or a lean little owner-operated business (like PA, or TPM) has the same management cost structures as an old-school paper. I don't think they do. A journalist in the "screwed online newspaper" model is screwed because they can't support the admin and management staff and make a decent return on shareholders' funds. Josh Marshall just has to support himself...

    Scoop's Alastair Thompson had a lot to say about this - in particular about the cost of highly leverage buyouts and how this dangerously weighs down exsting media institutions. He thought that there was a potential future in community newspapers (print being better than the net for advertising in a tight geographic area), but that big newspapers were going to get seriously squeezed by the advertising crunch, to the extent that they might not survive.

    Its also interesting to look at Scoop as a model - its entirely online, yet supports 4 full time and 3 part time staff, as well as dispensing play money to bloggers through its advertising network. Which doesn't sound too bad. OTOH, they're not really a newspaper, more a collection of newsfeeds, and aren't really doing much in the way of investigative reporting (though they do cover Parliament and interview politicians).

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1627 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    Curious. You really think so?

    I'd agree, but not quite so broadly. The more you get your news from the internet, the more stories you see on the Herald (& Stuff) that are just lifted verbatim from the wires. If NZH was to only use locally generated material, it would be an awfully anorexic publication.
    OTOH the locally generated stuff, particularly those with the writers mugshot next to the piece, are much more likely to relate to the perceived 'Herald viewpoint'. Or the other way around, the perceived herald viewpoint is defined by the writers who have their names in big letters.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 838 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    That's it. Readers can have a relationship with a blogger that they don't have any more with a masthead.

    I like that model.

    Now all I have to do is find a way to make money out of it.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1627 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    The more you get your news from the internet, the more stories you see on the Herald (& Stuff) that are just lifted verbatim from the wires. If NZH was to only use locally generated material, it would be an awfully anorexic publication.

    And the more you look at Scoop, the more you realise that many of those stories are barely rewritten prss releases. So why pay for the intermediary?

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1627 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    You really think [readers can have a relationship with a blogger]? Is it a result of them trying to be everything to everyone? Do you mean that the trust relationship is gone, too?

    imho, absolutely. relationships are the basis of good blogging.

    you don't need to be everything to everyone, or else we'd see PA bloggers launching into anti-helengrad diatribes every now and then.

    people read you because they're familiar with your voice and metre, and have come to trust your content.

    one of the things i've come to terms with is people realising that i'm not as cool or onto it as the impression they somehow gained from club politique. (and, if you never gained that impression, my point still stands). who people thought i was seemed to be more important than who i actually was outside of the confines of the blog, i.e. brand.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2024 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Maybe with rates so low, now is the time to start a news magazine?

    20 articles of 2000 words at 10c a word is what? $4k. Maybe less if I got students and work experience kids to do some of the articles for bylines. Ditto photography.

    I guess the real costs are layout, printing and distribution. Plus ad-sales - if salesreps are any good they'll want a guarantee.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4411 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    I like that model.

    Now all I have to do is find a way to make money out of it.

    Step 1 would be to turn comments back on on NRT. Relationships are two way beasts.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1615 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Llewellyn,

    World's largest PR firm (in 1990) is all sweeness and light, then? "most" is a nice weasel word, eh?

    Oohh, thats a low blow don't you think Stephen?. I think you've missed my point and invoked some mutant form of Godwins Law (false baby-killing claims in Iraq no less!)

    My point was that all professions, (in this case PR and journalism), have extremes of good and bad, and generally speaking, stereotypical views shed little light on the true picture. Believe it or not, there are decent people who work in PR and journalism (and thanks Rob for the Adam Curtis references - I don't disagree at all, an opinion for hire can come from many different quarters) just as there are the shonks, mercenaries, witch-hunters, stirrers, conspiracy theorists and nutters etc.

    By your own argument, you seem to be suggesting that the journalism industry in toto is represented by the excesses of, say, Fox News. Cheerleading a stampede to war on false grounds no less eh?, bloody journalists :)

    Mt Albert • Since Nov 2006 • 399 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    Hello Richard,

    Believe it or not, there are decent people who work in PR and journalism

    Believe it or not, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I never wrote anything to suggest that I think all journalists and PR people are bad. Such a suggestion would be clearly silly.

    I think you've missed my point and invoked some mutant form of Godwins Law (false baby-killing claims in Iraq no less!)

    No, I haven't invoked Gowwin's Law at all. I have taken issue with your assertion that "most of the stereotypical observations about the 'dark side' are complete hogwash." So I invoked a famous case in which the world's largest PR firm was shown irrefutably to be completely evil scum. This case suggests that maybe there is something to these "dark side" conspiracies after all. Maybe, since that famous case was exposed, the PR firms have just become more sophisitcated about keeping such intentional disinformation campaigns less obvious.

    So I agree with the main point of your comment, but I am pointing out that there are plenty of reasons to be very suspicious of paid corporate and government propaganda. And huge globalized media oligopolies. And NZ's own print media duopoly.

    I also find it disturbing that journalism and PR are now so closely linked and

    the differences between the two professions are not that huge (and in my mind getting smaller by the day).

    tokyo • Since Nov 2006 • 628 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Llewellyn,

    So I invoked a famous case in which the world's largest PR firm was shown irrefutably to be completely evil scum. This case suggests that maybe there is something to these "dark side" conspiracies after all

    Yeah, well, I understand your point Stephen, and I know the particular case well, but I have to say that this is light years away from my experiences of the industry.

    The comparison between Fox News and more 'reputable' journalism sources holds true - I try not to generalise about journalism per se based on Fox News, and I think using Hill & Knowlton to bolster a stereotype about the PR industry is just as spurious.

    That said, I agree, its entirely appropriate to be somewhat suspicious of most of what you read, be it media, PR, advertising, government communications, food labels, contract fine print etc etc - this is perhaps a point more on the original topic, i.e. how to best distinguish fact from opinion.

    Mt Albert • Since Nov 2006 • 399 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Adam Curtis' "Century of the Self"

    I mentioned this once before, but it's available here.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    By one of those cosmic coincidences, I had a marketer call from the Herald while I was cooking dinner tonight. Apparently if I sign up now I can get it delivered at home half price for a year. I told her "no thanks, I read it online".
    I've done my bit to save a few trees today, how about you?

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 838 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Jason: yeah, an online-only newspaper is not going to earn the returns demanded by its shareholders.

    I think we're waiting for the next generation of newspapers to break open online news.

    Currently we have 'traditional' newspapers, that have gone online. The herald, the odt, the press, etc. Based in a city/region, gone online to complement what they're doing. It's taking an old model and pasting it on the internet.

    I think the next generation will be a national newspaper. Once you get away from the idea of printing the newspaper, then there's no physical reason to be restricted to one city. At least half the news in the paper is national or international news anyway, gotten off the wires. It's a waste of money to employ a local journalist and a local editor to tweak it and then a typesetter to re-fit it into your local paper, and then put more work into putting it online on your local web site.

    Once you move to an internet-only model, there's no reason to be restricted to a region/city. You can have a national newspaper, which produces all the national news, the same for everyone. You could have local reporters producing local region news, which people could either pick and choose from, or perhaps automatically get their local region's news based on their subscription/login.

    You change your potential readership from the number of people that live in your region (1 million, half a million, quarter of a million), to four million. You compete directly with the local papers, but use economies of scale and the complete lack of newsprint, to get ahead.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6157 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    Kyle, is it me, or did you just describe Stuff.co.nz?

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 838 posts Report Reply

  • Leopold Bloom,

    "Step 1 would be to turn comments back on on NRT. Relationships are two way beasts"

    Agree - find it annoying that there is no two-way relationship, and resent the lecturing tone - even over matters with which I agree with NRT - bad as a newspaper editorial.
    - and i hardly ever comment

    Upper Hutt • Since Nov 2006 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    I fully support NRT's decision to turn of comments. The usual suspects were starting to show up and attempt to render any discussion meaningless with their infantile carry-ons - a deliberate tactic I suspect. Blogging is indeed a two way street - and one side of the street is the responsibility of posters to behave like adults.

    And at least Idiot/Savant position has the virtue of honesty, unlike (to me) the insufferably sanctimonious David Farrar, who posts up carefully selected pieces of dog whistling then pious pretends to be above it all when his slavering pack of Manichean dogs show up to caper in front of their master.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1768 posts Report Reply

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