Rushing in to Freed?

Written By: - Date published: 8:50 am, December 13th, 2014 - 28 comments
Categories: blogs, journalism, newspapers - Tags: , , ,

John Drinnan’s piece on Freed puzzles me:

When will website be Freed

The much-vaunted Freed website is still under lock and key. It has been nine weeks since it started advertising for numerous staff – including “drone operators”. Freed has been tempting writers with generous financial packages to work on what has been given the rather antique label “Whaleoil 2.0”.

Yes, Slater has found a rich backer for an ambitious media site. Martyn Bradbury describes it as “a new weaponised news media … he will bend and push the boundaries of attack blogs into a whole new realm of horror”. Mind you, Bradbury said much the same when Slater became editor of The Truth, and we all know how that turned out.

I’m surprised that anyone is prepared to put significant funding into Slater’s track record. But what surprises me even more is Drinnan’s apparent enthusiasm for the prospect:

Despite Slater’s cruel streak, Freed is said to be “neither left nor right”. The overriding ideology will be a love of click-bait items, such as Slater’s attack yesterday on the “bludgers” lining up for food at the Auckland City Mission.

In my opinion the most viable funding source will be for Lentino to pick up the role of PR blog, allowing firms to buy opinions. That will depend on traditional media being drawn to Freed in search of strongly worded views.

Yeah OK – that’s the dirty politics model that you’re celebrating John. Why exactly? You really want journalism to head further into the gutter? You really want to become pawns to paid attack politics? WTF?

Increasingly there is a crossover between paid content and editorial.

Yes there is, and that’s a Bad Thing. Here’s a thought – instead of slobbering over the prospect of Freed, why not recommend that journalists ignore it? Why not strengthen your profession, not to mention the health of the Kiwi body politic, instead of rushing to undermine both?

28 comments on “Rushing in to Freed?”

  1. karol 1

    Ah, thanks. I saw the Freed site a couple of weeks back and was puzzled as to who was behind it.

    Interesting that it was set in motion before the launch of Hager’s Dirty Politics.

    Claiming to be neither left nor right must surely be another piece of PR BS. And the example Drinnan gives of the typical kind of clickbait it’ll use surely confirms that: ie.e from Drinnan’s article:

    Despite Slater’s cruel streak, Freed is said to be “neither left nor right”. The overriding ideology will be a love of click-bait items, such as Slater’s attack yesterday on the “bludgers” lining up for food at the Auckland City Mission.

    If that’s non left-right clickbait, I’m Judith Collins.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      Claiming to be neither left nor right must surely be another piece of PR BS.

      Yep. Every time I’ve seen someone declare that they’re neither left nor right they’re usually hard right-wing.

      • Pat O'Dea 1.1.1

        When ACT first set them selves up they often repeated the claim that they were neither Left nor Right. In my experience when someone in public life makes the claim that they are neither Left nor Right they are usually of the extreme Right political persuasion but are seeking to disguise that fact.

        • hoom 1.1.1.1

          Likewise if they call themselves ‘center right’ or for the most part ‘center left’ for the most part…

  2. batweka 2

    “Yeah OK – that’s the dirty politics model that you’re celebrating John. Why exactly? You really want journalism to head further into the gutter? You really want to become pawns to paid attack politics? WTF?”

    In Drinnan’s world, the point of journalism is to be a creative part of the neoliberal world. Which means making money will always take precedent over ethics or integrity. Neojournalism loves clickbait, lies dressed up as sensation and providing climate change deniers a space in the interests of balance.

    I haven’t read the whole article but if Drinnan agrees that Freed will be neither left nor right he’s being extremely disingenuous.

    Good write up r0b (!). This morning I am feeling that NZ is getting the NZ it deserves (wake up sleep hobbits, it’s getting very late).

    • karol 2.1

      I agree, weka – but the post was written by Anthony, not micky.

      I like your term “neojournalism’ and it’s definition. (To be clear, though, I don’t like neojournalism – it’s a blight upon democracy.)

  3. Colonial Rawshark 3

    I love how the Right Wing can put hundreds of thousands of dollars behind a site like this so quickly and easily. You have to admire a well resourced machine with motivated backers.

  4. tc 4

    Drinnan is a hack who rehashes press releases and pushes the lines given.

    He gets all tetchy when factual errors are pointed out and demands to know real names of those pointing it out.

    Another cog in the herald DP machine sitting on his soapbox.

  5. How can any who claims to be a journalist blithely state “Increasingly there is a crossover between paid content and editorial”?

    I had a fall out with a person on Twitter over his assertion that Patrick Gower cannot be called a journalist because he expresses opinion, not fact. I inadvertently breached Twittiquette which resulted in said person having an impressive hissy fit but that’s incidental to the crux of the issue – which is that all journalism necessarily contains opinion to some degree.

    If a journalist simply presents ‘facts’ they’re reduced to little more than stenographers – and there is of course the vexed question of what ARE the facts.

    In determining what is a fact, which facts are to be included, how those facts are ordered and presented, what language is used to communicate those facts, where the story containing those facts appears in the publication, which fact is used in the headline etc – all are matters of judgement. And it’s not just the judgement of the reporter that’s in play.

    So even in quality journalism there’s a big subjective – and political – element. The important thing is the journalist is aware of that, controls for it, and most critically, that there’s a range and diversity of opinion within and between publications so readers are able to form their own views.

    The field of vision of the mainstream media in NZ – which was already very narrow – is being more and more restricted which, in the absence of a left wing publication, is why progressive news websites and blogs are so important.

    As we movie further into the realms of commercial advertising and political spin pretending to be reportage – journalism, as a profession whose raison d’être is the pursuit and presentation of truth through accurate, impartial and balanced reportage – will die.

    What we will be left with is purveyors of BIAS – Bullshit, Inaccuracy, Adulteration and Spin.

    • Colonial Rawshark 5.1

      The answer is that these “journalists” are actually wannabe corporate PR hacks.

      Real journalists have respect for communicating the unvarnished truth and holding a critical magnifying glass up to power and money.

      Wannabe corporate PR hacks simply want to cosy up to and have close access to those with power and money.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.2

      In determining what is a fact, which facts are to be included, how those facts are ordered and presented, what language is used to communicate those facts, where the story containing those facts appears in the publication, which fact is used in the headline etc – all are matters of judgement.

      Not precisely. A fact is, by it very nature, incontrovertible. Water is wet and no amount of judgement or opinion is going to change that. The same applies to our rivers – they’re absolutely filthy and getting worse due to dairying and other poor farming practices.

      How those are presented seems to be the problem. Those same facts get presented in such a way as to seem different from what they are. This is how climate change denialists work and, apparently, so do a lot of journalists in NZ as the editorial in the NZHerald shows.

  6. If there’s one truth that the establishment of sites like Freed show, it is that current journalism doesn’t so much need to be reformed as replaced, and that includes the people doing it.

  7. vto 7

    “Slater’s attack yesterday on the “bludgers” lining up for food at the Auckland City Mission”

    The true bludgers are the rich, as so aptly pointed out by r0b here in his Christmas at the Extremes post … “Inland Revenue monitors 200 New Zealanders worth more than $50 million each. Yet 46.5% of those multi-millionaires earn less than $70,000 a year, meaning they avoid paying the top income tax rate. “The system is so stupid that it allows people to do this,” Mr (Gareth) Morgan says.”

    the rich are the bludgers

    the rich are the bludgers

    the rich are the bludgers

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      Yep. The rich are the biggest bludgers on Earth and we cannot afford them.

    • Jimmy 7.2

      Slater is right and you are right,
      The bludgers are at both ends of the scale.

      • Draco T Bastard 7.2.1

        True but the ones that we can’t afford are at the top end. The ones at the bottom cost ~$26m while the ones at the top cost billions every year and that’s just in the taxes that they dodge.

  8. Sabine 8

    well they are already getting paid to give opinion, now they will get paid more to give their opinion.

    Koch Bothers Inc. might want to check these guys out in the states, as they have literally bought the entire Republican Party. You will see that there are many similarities as to what is happening here in NZ.

    Follow the money, always just follow the money.

  9. Sanctuary 9

    Dirty Politics was as much a media scandal as a political one, but the media (with a few exceptions) has steadfastly failed to confront it’s own dirty media scandal. The cosy relationships, the back-scratching leaks, the orchestrated campaigns – none of these have been examined by a media quite incapable of reforming itself.

    Freed will start with a hiss and a roar, make a big deal about it’s breaking of court orders and questionable journalism, end up in front of judges all the time, accuse anyone who says it is on the take as crazy conspiracy theorists, and eventually be exposed by a whistleblower for taking cash for content and lying about it, and collapse.

    As for Drinnan – he has allowed his hysteria at the relief of the idea that someone might be HIRING journalists instead of firing them to cloud his ethical judgement, and as such he represents both the siege mentality of the current MSM commentariat and it’s complete ethical failure in the Murdoch era.

    • tc 9.1

      Drinans ethical judgement is whatever the management and owners say it is, how often that matches his who knows.

      They just slap their name against the message mostly and in John’s case given he covers media that mostly DP spin and the odd spark press release written up as if it’s fact.

      All in a days work for a granny jonolist.

  10. Stickler 10

    Coalition of the Shilling.

  11. Drones? Gonna have to get me a gun!

  12. Tracey 12

    an opportunity to condemn becomes a barely hidden delight… Have the right wingers attacked it yet? Hooton with gasping faux tut tutting for example?

    “..allowing firms to buy opinions.. …” that is whaleoil 1

    • Sable 12.1

      The MSM are a joke Tracey. People are better off talking to each other as they do on this site…

  13. Sable 13

    When I think of The Herald I’m always reminded of Rowan Atkinson’s comment in Black Adder about “soft, thick and absorbent”.

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