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it’s not censorship, it’s market forces

Written By: - Date published: 1:49 pm, December 8th, 2014 - 77 comments
Categories: boycott, capitalism, making shit up, newspapers - Tags:

there’s currently a debate raging on twitter regarding the sunday star times choosing to have judith collins as a columnistgiovanni tiso and others have been encouraging people to cancel their subscriptions to the paper, in protest.

the response has been the usual.  there are claims that this is censorship.  even though the choice to not purchase a product that no longer appeals to you is hardly censorship.  the SST is a commercial media that works on the capitalist model of free market consumerism.  their objective is to sell enough papers that they bring in significant revenue for their shareholders via subscriptions or advertising.  they use this framework to their advantage, and in fact promote this model in various ways through columns, articles and advertising.  but somehow, a legitimate part of this model, being the market (ie consumers) correcting for things it considers unworthy or unwanted, is seen as bad when it is applied to the paper & its editorial choices.

other opinions are that this is just a way to silence any opinions from right-wing commentators:

because having an MP columnist who has been involved in some very questionable activities that have yet to be fully investigated equals “right wing columnist”?  there have been plenty of take downs of mr gower’s misrepresentation, & that of other journalists who have been busy giving examples of previous sitting MPs who have had columns in various papers.

i personally don’t subscribe to the SST and never have.  i was given the opportunity to have a free 6 week delivery of the paper a few years ago, but i rang up and cancelled that.  my objection was that they continued to publish michael laws’ columns, even after press council rulings against him for some pretty nasty stuff, and i wasn’t going to let them boost their numbers to advertisers on the basis of free deliveries to me.  the fact is that they were pushing on to me a product that i didn’t want.  i was perfectly within my rights to refuse it, and to do so does not equal censorship.

the facts also are that there are plenty (and i do mean plenty) of right-wing columnists in many papers who do not calls for people to stop their subscriptions.  it’s not the right-wing views that are at issue here, it’s the person delivering them and her history.  can we at least be honest about that?

77 comments on “it’s not censorship, it’s market forces ”

  1. mickysavage 1

    Welcome to Stargazer who has agreed to write posts for TS. If you want to see some of her other work she writes periodically for the Daily Blog and also on the Hand Mirror (http://thehandmirror.blogspot.co.nz/).

    • stargazer 1.1

      thanx MS, really happy to be joining the team here. hope i can add value.

      • lprent 1.1.1

        You’ll be sorreeeeyyyy… But very welcome (and no linger at the vagaries of when I read email). 😈

        BTW: Changed your tweet in the post to use the tweet plugin. Just needs the url off the date.

        • stargazer

          lol, this is where my warning of being technologically challenged comes in. nothing in that second sentence made sense to me. lucky we have you to do these things 🙂

          • lprent

            On a tweet, just get the address (URL = universal resource location) and paste it into the post. The post will then pull through the actual display of the tweet complete with paddy’s photo and links to reply and the like.

            On tweets on twitter, the URL is usually copyable as a link in the address bar at the top of the page, or by doing a right click menu and “copy link” on the date/time of the tweet.

            But it does make for a nicer page.

            If you want to, you can see what I did to your post by looking at the revisions at the bottom of the post editing page and seeing the before and after.

      • TheContrarian 1.1.2

        New sentences start with a capital letter. Unless you’re Phil Ure

        • McFlock

          Ha! I actually hadn’t noticed the lack of capitalization when I read the article. Normally I’d have had a harder time reading it.

          I guess it’s because the paragraphs, to my mind, flowed with a nice style, whereas pu’s tend to be generally unintelligible to me – no discernible rhythm, and less sense.

          Reading the comments below, I guess some folks have the opposite take on each writer, some can read either with ease, and you (poor Contrarian) have difficulty with both…

          • TheContrarian

            It was the first thing I noticed.

            Having been a freelance journo and a Comms Advisor/Manager in previous incarnations it is something I immediately find distracting. But each to their own. Unless it is Phil, that shit is just plain irritating.

        • Rawsharkosaurus

          Or e e cummings.

        • Hanswurst

          New sentences start with a capital letter. Unless you’re Phil Ure

          Sentences end with a full stop, unless you’re Phil Ure, in which case they end with two – even if, like the second part of your quoted offering, they’re not actual sentences.

        • CATMAN

          “New sentences start with a capital letter. Unless you’re Phil Ure”

          They also shouldn’t start with conjunctions, according to some. But I don’t care.

  2. shorts 2

    Gower’s an idiot

    I’m concerned that Collins has the time as a full time employee to moonlight as a columnist – surely she has more important things to do to justify her very generous salary, I guess her boss is comfortable with it so I guess I should be too

    • Tom Gould 2.1

      We will likely find out eventually, as usually happens with the truth in the Key administration, that these ‘columns’ are being ghosted somewhere inside the Tory black-ops smear machine. She will probably start out with a few light topics, then get back into full hate-speech venom-mode in the New Year.

    • Jones 2.2

      John Key has already set the precendent as a part-time politician…

    • Kevin 2.3

      I cancelled my Herald subscription because they used Bryan Gould…

    • Tracey 2.4

      matthew hooton today drew a parallel between collins writing and hager and oram writing. funny i could have sworn neither of the last two were ever sitting MPs.

      No outrage from the taxpayers union yet. i guess they are still drafting the press release for Collins approval

  3. framu 3


    1) failure to understand the complaint


    2) failure to understand the response being sought

    gower (and i know your just the type to google yourself) – your being a turd. Either an unprofessional or unqualified one, but a turd nonetheless.

    Its the same level of “intellect” shown by those claiming people were trying to demand the PM stops texting slater when nothing of the sort ever happened.

    IE: it was made up bullshit that people like you happily spread on a daily basis while knowing its bullshit

    cut the crap

  4. batweka 4

    The whole thing got so ridiculous that some people were calling Tiso fascist (mostly Hooton, who put a bit of effort in to winding up the lefties and promoting what can now only be seen as a DP strategy designed to malign Tiso).

  5. music4menz 5

    It is great to have a new poster on TS but I wonder whether an effort might be made to ensure that the clarity of the writing is a little better than the above offering. I guess that the choice not to capitalise is a ‘personal’ idiosyncratic style thing, but it is actually difficult to fully comprehend some of STARGAZER’S train of thought when there are multiple grammatical errors as well.

    What is it, in any case, with the non use of capital letters?

    [lprent: Personal preference. We don’t have style guidelines. Just tools. Stargazer has always used lower case and who am I to deny an author (who wants to write).

    In any case read the policy about how we regard attacking authors or trying to define the rules here. Take a banned week to read it.

    Be advised that I start doubling rapidly for whining about authors. ]

    • framu 5.1

      haste? – not sure myself – but i do often do it myself without realising

      but we do use capital letters for reasons – ease on the eye being one

    • batweka 5.2

      how about you edit for grammar and email in a copy for them to put up?

      The lack of capitals is Stargazer’s personal style. I find it makes it harder to read/comprehend but at this point am just extremely grateful that none of the ts authors feel the need to express their ideas elliptically.

    • stargazer 5.3

      sorry, it is mostly speed, especially when i’m at work & don’t have much time. mostly people seem to manage ok, but if it becomes a big issue for many people , i’ll consider changing.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 5.3.1

        Perhaps consider sacrificing speed for legibility. You’re not under any particular deadline.

      • framu 5.3.2

        for me its only an issue when it gets over a certain length – but not something i would worry about too much

      • Weepus beard 5.3.3

        Don’t change for the sake of music4menz (the irony of his/her comment is rich considering the username), he/she is a right winger trying to undermine your credibility by picking holes in your writing style.

        muzic4menz may not have read Saramago (and more than likely not read at all), who doesn’t use full-stops.

        • batweka

          When you use atypical punctuation it makes the piece harder to read. For people like me with a disability, that can be a barrier. But even for the non-disabled it can make a piece less accessible. If people want to use atypical puncuation for a specific reason (eg literary effect) that’s fine, but acknowledge that in some contexts it limits good/clear communication (and consider what that means on a political blog).

          (not wanting to have a go at stargazer here, esp given her very gracious response to menz).

          • stargazer

            you were one of the people i’d thought of – i certainly don’t want to make things more difficult for people with disabilities. & even though i don’t have one that’s related to reading, i just can’t cope with phil u’s style so end up not reading his comments.

            anyway, let me know if the lack of capitals is a particular issue for you. i will now have to consider not robbing lprent of his small pleasures, something i would also hate to do!

            • batweka

              Thanks stargazer 🙂 I’m just glad to have you here writing, so happy to just let it be and for you to do what is comfortable and easiest to get the posts up. I’ll let you know if it becomes an issue, thanks.

          • phillip ure

            the style of writing i have problems with is those who cling to the strictures of times when paper was expensive and the only option..

            ..and who insist on writing in rectangular blocks..bricks…(as per

            ..each sentence deserves its’ own line..

            ..each idea deserves its’ own line..

            ..and capital letters..especially around names..are a manifestation of the class system..

            ..a pathetic excuse for a title..

            ..as is mr etc..w.t.f. is up with that..?

            ..and as for capitals @ the beginning of sentences..this is an unnecessary flourish..

            ..we used to also put swirls and whorls around letters..

            ..language is ever-evolving..

            ..deal with it..

            • The Al1en

              Yeah, f*ck that English language and all it’s rules, eh comrade. And that class system names with capitals, first up against the wall… After grammar, punctuation and speelling.
              Flourish that you unnecessary time wasting f. lol

              “.language is ever-evolving..”

              Or not in your case.

      • lprent 5.3.4

        Do what you want to do. But hey, I get get to ban if people whine….

        Don’t let the opinions of others deny me these small pleasures 😈

    • Draco T Bastard 5.4

      I didn’t even notice that the capitals were missing until I read your comment.

  6. westiechick 6

    I don’t mind newspapers having right wing or left wing columnists. Or ex-MPs writing columns. I do mind sitting MPs being given a platform to promote themselves. I won’t be buying the SST while she is in there. Not censorship, just consumer choice. I don’t want to buy what she is selling.

    • Clemgeopin 6.1

      +1. I agree.

      I would, however, be OK if each of the LEADERS (Only leaders) of political parties are given a chance to submit (paid) articles in turn to publicise and explain their policies and views on different matters.

      To give a special preference to a back bench MP (irrespective of whether she is of questionable ethical values or not) seems wrong and manipulative.

      Stupid SST!

  7. Weepus beard 7

    Does Paddy Gower know Twitter is not a real person?

  8. Dialey 8

    I think its part of the campaign to reestablish her as alternative leader to Key – whitewash really and of course name recognition

    • ghostwhowalksnz 8.1

      Exactly, she is on a mission to whitewash herself, out the crusher collins and in with cuddly collins.

      After all she been active player in the media as Whaleoils secret sauce for the past 4 years or so.

      Cruella De Ville, welcome to the big wide world

      Perhaps there will now be competition for the title of’ multi award wining scumbag’

    • les 8.2

      I think you are on to it.The ‘new improved’ Judith,likeable and just a good kiwi gal at heart.

      • Tracey 8.2.1

        Basically she is doing her own blog… not being in cabinet gives her less value as a tipster…

        If will be interesting to see all the things she now cares about that she didnt give a shit for when in cabinet with power to make changes.

  9. batweka 9

    Dimpost nails it.

    Here’s my question to them. The Dirty Politics saga was a media scandal as much as a political scandal. What are people who are offended by it supposed to do, exactly, when they’re confronted by an editor like the SST’s Jonathan Milne, who is cheerfully demonstrating that not only has he learned nothing, but that he’s determined to keep pushing the barrow out, get dirtier, make his little corner of the media more sleazy, more compromised, more biased? Canceling your subscription is pretty much the only power we have.


    It’s been interesting being on twitter in the past 6 months and interacting with journos. I think one of our strategies needs to be differentiating between the good, the bad and the ugly. Someone pointed out the other day that a big part of the problem is the editors rather than the journalists. We need to be telling the journalists who are getting it right that they’re getting it right. And pointing to the power issues that affect what they can say (who owns the organisation they work for, who controls what gets published etc).

    • stargazer 9.1

      “We need to be telling the journalists who are getting it right that they’re getting it right.”

      and therein lies the problem. there needs to be a way to reward the good journalists – after all, nicky hager also wrote for SST at the time i refused the free subscription & there are others who write there or for the herald whom i would like to reward without endorsing the things i really disagree with. that’s where the websites are more likely to be useful, but giving links & coverage to journalists who are doing a good job. but that doesn’t really help to pay their wages.

      • Draco T Bastard 9.1.1

        and therein lies the problem. there needs to be a way to reward the good journalists

        A UBI and a state news distributor. Works like this:

        The UBI ensures that no one, not even people attempting to be journalists, live in poverty. The state news distributor ensures that all resources to be a journalist are available to anyone attempting to be a journalist and provides an outlet for their writings.

        The state news distributor also collects money from customers (There’s no advertising). The amount the customer can give is limited to $1 per day and this $1 is given out to the authors of the articles that the customer likes. The name of the author is hidden until after the customer has liked it helping ensure that likes are because people like the article and not because they like the author.

      • shorts 9.1.2

        best way to reward them is via the likes of twitter telling them directly you enjoyed/agreed etc with their story/column/piece… no need to give them money, imo, if they are already gainfully employed and donating when asked if not

        if rewarding writers for things you agree with leads to expectation of financial rewards then the ability to skew their output is a concern, is it not?

      • batweka 9.1.3

        I think giving them (individual journalists) the feedback and links would be very beneficial. Re the wages, I guess we could email the particular media and say thanks for publishing x’s work, this is why I read your paper. But tbh I think that’s less effective than boycotting because boycotting scares them.

        • shorts

          boycotting threatens their business model – I imagine the higher up you go in many of these companies the less those in charge give a shit about the content they produce, their primary concern is the advertisers and selling them the reader/viewer anything that threatens that threatens their ability to buy italian marble for the bathroom

  10. Annie 10

    i really like using lower case instead of caps. there is a full stop. not sure what the capitalisation adds to the full stop. have never been sure. caps should be used where they clarify meaning such as a cat called Cat, but not sure what they add to a full stop.

    • In Vino 10.1

      true. you have to be careful with the old chestnut: “tom helped his uncle jack off the horse.”

    • batweka 10.2

      “but not sure what they add to a full stop”

      For some people they make the paragraph easier to read.

  11. Collins can delete electronic messages to avoid them being revealed in an official enquiry and that’s a cunning stunt. We cancel our SST subscription and that’s censorship. ????

  12. McFlock 12

    I agree – this issue seems to crop up with every other boycott. Free speech is fine, but people with SST subscriptions are paying Collins to speak (well, write).

    Frankly, I’d rather pay her to retire from politics and public life altogether.

  13. Collins is both a rightwinger and dirty player.
    I would not buy her on either count.
    Rightwingers don’t add to our sum of knowledge.
    The noise they make detracts from it.
    The internet already offers an alternative to the corporate media.
    Or, rather, corporate providers don’t yet exercise editorial control which they pass onto NASA and Homeland Security.
    TS is a good model because it avoids corporate control short of owning the utilities.
    But how do we keep the internet alive when they close it down?
    How do we get control of the power supply, the cables and the satellites?

  14. feijoa 14

    My kids said Judith Collins reminded them of Professor Dolores Umbridge (the nasty one in Harry Potter) Sugary sweet on the outside, nasty on the inside……..
    I think they are right, and now I can’t get it out of my head…………….

  15. jingyang 15

    I resolved to stop buying the SST some months ago, after the paper’s absolutely revolting, demeaning. sexist and misogynistic editorial on the Malaysian diplomat case after the victim Tania Billingsley spoke about about the government’s handling of it. There were so many things wrong with the editorial I could scarely believe that it had actually been published in a wide-circulation “mainstream” newspaper in a democracy in the 21st century – it so was so bad.

  16. McFlock 16

    Does Collins write her own columns, or does she just put her name to things written by other people? Like Slater does?

  17. RedBaronCV 17

    So Paddy Gower is now advocating compulsory consumption of the SST, particularly Judith’s column? Doesn’t the man know the difference between freedom of speech & freedom of choice? I’d cancel my subscription if I hadn’t done so long ago.

    Should we also out the advertisers on the same page as her article?

  18. ankerawshark 18

    REd Baron CV @17 Good idea about the advertisers. Seems to (unsurprisingly) carry a lot of weight.

  19. Blue 19

    Yet more evidence that the fourth estate is dead in NZ. Fairfax sees no problem with a sitting MP writing a column for their newspaper and dear Paddy can’t understand why anyone would complain about this.

    The media is beginning to lose all sense of what journalism is.

    • lprent 19.1

      Of course it could be that she is preparing to be an ex-MP… That is the most common time that you see them in print with columns.


  20. Red delusion 20

    great free publicity for sst, left felll straight into the trap, why do you think they have Collins on board, to attract depressed lefties or tabloid herald readers

    • tricledrown 20.1

      Like Banks.
      Auckland Mayoralty for Collins

    • tricledrown 20.2

      Red devolution.
      Reinhart Redneck.
      The SST has gone downhill fast in recent years pandering to Crushed Collins will speed up that Decline!

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