I see that Michael Bassett has written about this site. However he doesn’t bother to check his facts or to keep up with current trends in online participation. It is a pity in a historian because he is obviously incapable of understanding how fast the world is changing. He seems to prefer to make either things up or gossip.
About The Standard he writes:-
Then there was the establishment of a blog called The Standard. The Labour Party ran a weekly newspaper from 1934 to 1959 that published political material. It was subject to the normal journalistic standards of the time. But the new blog version made no pretence at following even the reduced journalistic standards of modern times. Registered to an address in Helen Clark’s electorate, and operating out of the Beehive under ministerial supervision, it gave an airing to innuendo and false stories that ministers hoped might get picked up by the mainstream media.
Obviously Michael is referring to his own low journalistic standards. Fact checking is not one of his skills shown in this article.
You cannot register a domain to an address, you can only register it to a person, in this case me. All my details are on the DNS registration, including how to get hold of me – it is a requirement of InternetNZ. Michael obviously thought that making things up was preferable to fact-checking as he has never talked to me. For that matter nor have any of the other ‘investigators’ of this site who have been so confident of their ‘facts’.
At the time (September 2007) my address was actually in the Auckland Central electorate because of the boundary changes after the 2006 census. Very sloppy, you’d think that a political historian and would-be journalist would be aware of boundary changes.
Our About says how we formed and what the site is for. The site and the contributors do not make any claims to The Standard being a news site or its contributors to being journalists. Perhaps Michael should read up about what a genre blog site is, because it is clear that he has little understanding of the concept.
Most of our contributors don’t even support Labour in any formal sense. I’m a Labour activist because I pay the sub*. I’m not a office holder or employee. Quite simply I don’t take orders or even direction from people inside Labour. I’m well known as being a maverick who keeps trying to push them towards using more computer and net tech, and who you have to convince to gain my support for projects.
Helen had no idea about the site until months after it started. She is a bit of a technophobe (apart from that damn blackberry) just like Michael appears to be. I showed the site to her as an example of how to raise on-line activity. Over previous decades I’d donated her first personal computer, shown her how to use e-mail, how to use the web, and how an MBA in operations would run an electorate campaign. It is important to help politicians to keep up with modern culture and technique. It appears that the same thing is required for fossilised historians, as it is something that Michael is clearly failing to do.
The significance of all this is that New Zealand’s Labour dirty tricksters were all on the public payroll. They operated mostly from the Prime Minister’s Office where Helen Clark appeared to operate a kind of training school for younger versions of herself: people with degrees and absolutely no experience of life.
It is pretty obvious from this statement that Michael has been writing about something that he has not bothered to read. It’d be clear to any reader of the site that the posts are written by people who are upwards of 30 and who have considerable experience in many areas. Having degrees is not uncommon these days. There are a high proportion of the population who do.
Many people who did their 20’s during Michaels favourite times in the late 80’s and 90’s have considerable experience of life and are likely to have a degree or two. They had to suffer as Michael and his generation screwed up the economy worse than Muldoon had previously done because they were so inexperienced at the linkages between cause and effect (characterises the neo-liberals). Since Dr Michael was one of the prime movers and held a degree, perhaps he was describing himself.
It’d also be clear that many of the newer contributors (like myself) are even older. They’d have been writing comments and eventually get asked if they wish to write here – usually because they can write and clearly have life experience. Many of the people we ask decide not to write on the site for one reason or another, but go and form their own blogs.
Several are now on Labour’s backbenches, where they are still being supported by the taxpayer. The Standard still exists, but it has been hollowed out by the end of the Beehive’s funding. It would be interesting to know whether, in its current withered state, it is being funded from Phil Goff’s office.
We have steadily increased the number of contributors over the years from the few at the start to close to 20 now. None are backbenchers, and none are aspiring politicians. The literate politicians know that their words will be on the net forever and that everything eventually leaks. So they write for safer blogs. There are many contributors writing guest posts, but generally we won’t accept from politicians either.
None of our contributors have ever worked from parliament to my certain knowledge. Since I’m the only one who can read the web-logs that would prove this one way or another, then I’d have to conclude that Bassett is simply making this up. We have an informal internal policy that we do not allow politicians or would-be politicians to write. They waffle too much and don’t have sharp enough tongues.
It is clear that Bassett also has no idea of the economics of running a site like this. The minimal amounts required to keep the site running are paid by me, and I have done so since inception. Currently this is less than NZD 20 per month. The site requires people with basic skills in computers, network access, some spare time and above all an ability to write. It doesn’t require paying peoples salaries.
The number of posts is steadily increasing and getting to be of better quality now that the activists have stopped working on their various campaigns. The number of comments is also steadily increasing. The page views closing in on election week.
This is a site for sharp-tongued activists, not faded politicians. In his younger days Michael probably had the skills to write for something like The Standard. However he has now dropped to simply gossiping and dealing in bullshit. I haven’t looked through his other material, but if it is of the same low standard of fact checking as the commentary about this site, then it isn’t worth reading. He is merely an illiterate from another age.
hat-tip: thanking Whaleoil
[update *my labour card just arrived…]