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The Dom Post’s op-ed pages

Written By: - Date published: 10:47 am, December 15th, 2009 - 32 comments
Categories: Media - Tags:

Reading the Dom Post’s editorial pages over my morning coffee today, I had one of those moments when you suddenly remember how insufferably, shamelessly right-wing our print media can be.

Top left is an editorial attacking the teacher unions and confirming the newspaper’s support for the National Party’s education policies.

The feature op-ed is the regular opinion column from Richard Long, chief of staff to former National Party leader Don Brash (no disclaimer).

Across the page from him is another regular opinion column from former National Party cabinet minister Simon Upton (again no disclaimer).

Below Upton is a syndicated article from climate sceptic Bjørn Lomborg, writing about how the Copenhagen summit is a waste of time and we should just rely on technology to save us.

Next to that is a piece lifted from The Times aimed at building public sympathy for an Israeli military strike on Iran.

Even the feature letter is an insane rant attacking Barack Obama and Al Gore.

The Herald cops a lot of flack for its right-wing partisanship, and rightly so, but I’d argue the Dom Post is even worse. The only time we regularly see a left-wing voice in that paper is old left dinosaur Chris Trotter’s (now fortnightly) column. What I’d give for a Tapu Misa or a Brian Rudman.

Perhaps the biggest giveaway is the fact the paper feels the need to label Trotter’s column “From the Left”. It would be simply unthinkable for the Dom Post to label Richard Long, or Simon Upton, or their own editorial as “From the Right”. For the Dom Post, ‘from the right’ is the default editorial position.

That’s why I’m not too worried about the death of newspapers. There’s a reason they’re so biased to the right, and it’s because the barrier to entry is owning a newsroom, a marketing department and a printing press. It can only be a good thing when these barriers finally collapse and we’re no longer reliant on the class interests of newspaper owners to filter our democratic debate.

32 comments on “The Dom Post’s op-ed pages”

  1. sk 1

    Eddie, your comments prompted me to read the Richard Long and Simon Upton op-ed’s. Both a good reads. Perhaps Richard Long’s cut a bit too close to the bone, given the reaction in ‘The Standard’ to Phil Goff’s poorly titled and crafted speech (but with an appropriate target, as Long acknowledges) was over-the-top, and contributed to an adverse news cycle .. . just thinking

    • Eddie 1.1

      It’s less about the content of Long and Upton’s pieces today as it is about the structural bias towards the right. Regardless of the line they’re taking on the day they’re coming from a right-wing world view and offering right-wing solutions to our problems. As is the editorial, as are the syndicated columns in today’s paper.

      As for Goff’s speech, “The Standard” doesn’t have a view on it. I do, and I don’t resile from my comments. If Goff wants to dogwhistle to racists then adverse media coverage might be the price he has to pay.

      • Boris Clarkov 1.1.1

        From the extremities of the far-Left that the anti-Kiwi Hate Party, Labour, occupies, “Balanced” is interpreted as “structural bias towards the right.”

    • Bright Red 1.2

      you think the one post (http://www.thestandard.org.nz/goffs-speech/) that the standard wrote on the speech, that was pretty moderate and went up over a day after the speech was given titled the news cycle, which had already taken place by the time the post was put up and which the post itself commented on?

  2. A Nonny Moose 2

    When I dispensed of some media outlets in my life recently, I got accused of “relying on getting my media from biased internet panderers with no filter on their politics”, and that I would do better to rely on traditional modes of delivery – like TV and newspapers – which have no bias what so ever.

    Uh huh.

  3. fizzleplug 3

    Terrible that the views of the majority should be printed in a widely distributed forum.

    • Sam 3.1

      No, these are the views of very few, very biased, right-wing political commentators. I don’t see how you could possibly measure that claim at all.

      • fizzleplug 3.1.1

        Look at the tendency of government in this country’s history. New Zealand has always had a right-leaning population. (and yes, I’m aware that sometimes National got in when they got less votes due to FPP. Doesn’t change anything though)

        • Daveo

          and yes, I’m aware that sometimes National got in when they got less votes due to FPP. Doesn’t change anything though)

          Um, yes it does. But even if we accepted your nonsense proposition, you’d still find it hard to argue that the Dom’s overwhelming bias towards the right in any way reflects the range of New Zealanders’ political opinions, much less the opinions of the heavily Labour-voting population of Wellington.

          • fizzleplug

            It doesn’t need to reflect the range though. Why should it? It reflects what people want to read, which is why it prints it.

            Less people than you think like Labour in Wellington. It was a cult of personality thing – love Helen, don’t like Labour. Keep voting for them cause still better than English/Brash.

            • Sam

              Well clearly reason and facts simply cannot overcome hearsay and anecdotal evidence! You win!

            • Sam

              Well, clearly hearsay and anecdotal speculation caries far more weight than evidence and facts! You win this one!

              • fizzleplug

                I’m dying to hear the facts backing up your claim that the majority of New Zealand has a left-leaning stance.

                Go on.

                I can wait.

              • Eddie

                I’m dying to hear the facts backing up your claim that the majority of New Zealand has a left-leaning stance.

                That’s not the argument in the post. Did you even understand the point I was trying to make?

            • Daveo

              The Dom Post is a monopoly, people have no other choice if they want to purchase a newspaper.

              Also can’t say I share your self-serving analysis of why people in Wellington vote Labour.

              • fizzleplug

                It’s the only local newspaper, but by no means the only paper available in town.

              • Daveo

                It’s the only daily newspaper that covers local issues.

                That’s a feature of our news media landscape and it’s to do with our size, it’s also why our newspapers pretend to be objective rather than openly nailing their preferred party’s colour to the mast.

                It’s… oh fuck it, nevermind. You’re too thick for me to be bothered debating with you.

              • fizzleplug

                Bye now.

                Yes Eddie, I understood. But I digressed very quickly (my attention wanders).

              • ben

                The Dom Post is a monopoly, people have no other choice if they want to purchase a newspaper.

                Of course it’s not a monopoly, unless you think the relevant market is traditional newspaper. People can get their news online or tv or radio. And if people want made up sh*t they can always read a post on global warming by Marty.

          • Pascal's bookie

            He’s a rightie I think,
            which means that while he may not want to change the world,
            he is looking for a new English.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.2

      RWNJs, such as yourself, aren’t the majority.

  4. ben 4

    Eddie, remember, you are the outlier here as a left wing activist. Nearly all politics in NZ is to your right. With that in mind isn’t your complaint about right wing bias simply a matter of perspective?

    I haven’t seen a NZ-specific study but academic studies generally show relatively left wing bias in media.

    • Eddie 4.1

      I’m not asking for left-wing bias here, I’m just asking for some balance. Surely even you can see the Dom is tilted heavily in favour of the right.

      Studies I’ve seen tend to show that journalists lean toward the liberal left, but editors are deeply right-wing and conservative. Guess who makes the editorial decisions and chooses the op-ed writers (here’s a hint, it’s not the liberal-left trainee journalist on $24k).

  5. Sam 5

    I agree. I often find myself thinking I’d be more inclined to actually pay for a newspaper if it wasn’t so horrifically biased and full of useless drivel, both in terms of worthless so-called professional political opinion and the fluffy feel-good pieces. Or indeed simply pieces that aren’t a wholesale reproduction from a news agency.

    If only the left have the buying power of the right! 😛

  6. While Richard Long is an inerrant source of drivel, Simon Upton is occasionally worth reading. I was hoping that he might respond to Bob Brockie’s visceral attack (yesterday) on his ministerial legacy in science, but it doesn’t seem to have happened. I don’t think that the Dom’s opinion pages are all that unbalanced as a rule – they just happen to have these commentators on Tuesdays. Which is good – because the rest of the week slightly more reasonable people turn up (aside from Chris Trotter).

  7. Below Upton is a syndicated article from climate sceptic Bjørn Lomborg, writing about how the Copenhagen summit is a waste of time and we should just rely on technology to save us.

    No, there’s an article from Lomborg pointing out that govts will not keep whatever promises they make about cutting carbon emissions, just as they haven’t kept their Kyoto promises, so perhaps we should adopt a more realistic approach with some chance of actual improvements arising from it. If you’re saying this view is right-wing, we’re left to assume that “right-wing” is synonymous with “sensible,” which I doubt was your intention.

    No dispute with the rest of your assessment though.

  8. gomango 8

    I wouldn’t describe Lomberg as a climate change skeptic. In fact he believes global warming is a significant issue and is on the record as saying so. What he is skeptical about is the ridiculous governmental response, believing there are far more effective ways to address the issue than the ineffective, vested interest heavy debacle that is underway in Copenhagen.

  9. Rex Widerstrom 9

    What I’d give for a Tapu Misa or a Brian Rudman.

    For the love of God, no.

    First, that’s like saying the Socialist Worker is too left wing and pining for a column by Micael Lhaws to fix it.

    Okay, no I take that back. They’re not that bad. But what I mean is, we need less of people from whom we’ve already heard, ad infinitum, on virtually every topic on which it’s possible to form an opinion.

    Go on, play this little game. Name a topic, then try to work out what Rudman or Misa would say about it. Bet you’ll get it right a good 85% of the time (and of the remaining 15%, 10% of it will be because there’s some topics neither will ever bother with). As you would with Lhaws, Garth George, etc etc.

    Second, you’re asking for one bunch of people who interview their word processors to be replaced by another, who interview them from a different angle.

    I want to read opinion… of any colouration… that challenges me to think and at least goes to the trouble to throw in a new fact or two, or presents known facts and draws a conclusion I might not have though of.

    Rudman and Misa? No thanks. For intelligent NZ left wing opinion backed by research I’d rather read Marty G, lprent and yes, even Eddie.

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