John Armstrong vs Bloggers | The Jackal

15 Sep 2012

John Armstrong vs Bloggers

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Press gallery journalists generally treat the bile and invective directed at them by portions of the blog-a-tariat as an unwelcome and unfortunate byproduct of an otherwise exciting and intellectually challenging job.

You just have to put up with it. To bother to reply is to invite another shower of criticism - plus the old chestnut that if you cannot stand the heat then get out of the kitchen.

Armstrong is right that much of the criticism directed at journalists by bloggers is off the mark. But then again some of it is highly appropriate. Instead of complaining that the good old days of unchallenged propaganda have ended, journalists should be embracing new media... Armstrong the technophobe seems a bit challenged by differing opinions within the blogosphere.

In particular, Armstrong is complaining about this sentence by Gordon Campbell:

BTW, the informed critical analysis of APEC and its bearing on the TPP process provided by the Canadian media was noticeably absent from the New Zealand coverage. By and large, the reports from our travelling media in Vladivostok were indistinguishable from a DPMC press handout. Where we significant players at Vladivostok? Hardly. Still, at least John Key did make this story in the Chicago Tribune.

...And this from Bryce Edwards:

There was a lot build-up and reporting from the APEC meeting in Vladivostok, but nothing much actually seemed to happen. There are only so many ways you can work ‘Pussy Riot’ into a story about trade negotiations. The alternatives seem to be writing about: your hotel, waiting three hours to glimpse Putin, the buffet, bridges or interviewing your laptop about why nothing is happening.

As a refutal, Armstrong claims that the few articles that were written for the NZ Herald amounts to proper coverage, ignoring the fact that it's the content of those articles that matters.

There were copious amounts written about the TPP beforehand, including a major feature in the Herald a few months ago.

With much of the coverage being done by right-wing cheerleaders like Fran O'Sullivan, and editorials like this one, who can really say that the criticism is unjustified? In my opinion, a lack of investigative journalism with a clear bias in favour of Nationals policy should illicit a strong response. Where have we seen any analysis of the problems inherent in free trade for instance?

Without such feedback, how can the MSM know if they're providing a blinkered viewpoint, and more importantly, how can politicians formulate policy that truly represents what the thinking public wants? It's free speech stupid and the blogosphere is here to stay.

There are clear exceptions to the rule, with bloggers like Cameron Slater often not subject to good taste... But to infer Gordon Campbell and Bryce Edwards and in fact all New Zealand bloggers adhere to such a low ethical and moral standard is grossly inaccurate.

Unlike the mainstream media, the blogs are not subject to accuracy or taste - and sometimes even the law. 
It is the ultimate parasitical relationship. And it will not change until the media start charging for use of their material.

Oh contraire Mr Armstrong, the MSM is invariably not held to account for being factually incorrect. Just this week for instance they have again been promoting a lie in order to protect John Banks from prosecution. The shoe is also often on the other foot, with the MSM gaining much of its content from the blogosphere, taking cues and references in a parasitic relationship for which they pay nothing for.

As for his solution... Charging more for mainstream literature that's often nothing more than government propaganda will simply reduce readership and mean more advertising space is required to pick up the financial shortfall. Personally I'm not particularly interested in paying for the "privilege" of being advertised at, which is where the majority of John Armstrong's income comes from.

It's a pity Armstrong has used gross generalizations to tar and feather all bloggers with the same inaccurate brush. Clearly there's integrity within the MSM as well as the blogosphere, and both should work together to keep each other on the straight and narrow.

Unfortunately the article 'Blogging parasites don't let the facts get in the way' doesn't do Armstrong any favours, and I would prefer to see him return to the type of in-depth and principled writing style he's previously been known for. Ah the good old days eh!