Saturday, September 15, 2012

Armstrong on bloggers

Actually, the title should read "Armstrong on a couple of bloggers in particular", but that's too long for a working title, so we've paraphrased it. But John Arnstrong has taken a swipe at a couple of bloggers this morning; he opines:

Cheap shots at press corps based largely on ignorance and show no regard for journalistic accuracy or taste.
Here is a blunt message for a couple of old-school Aro Valley-style socialists:
Get off our backs. Stop behaving like a pair of tut-tutting old dowagers gossiping in the salons. In short, stop making blinkered, cheap-shot accusations of the kind you made this week - that the media who went with John Key to Vladivostok and Tokyo concentrated on trivia, interviewed their laptops and parroted Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet press releases.
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.
Polemic and argument over ideas is one thing; ignorance is something else, however.
Do the likes of former Listener columnist and Greens propagandist Gordon Campbell and former Alliance staffer and now Otago University politics lecturer Bryce Edwards have the faintest idea of the difficulties, obstacles and logistics of reporting an overseas trip by a prime minister, especially one which incorporates a major international forum like Apec?
Does it occur to them to actually pick up the phone and try to talk to those journalists about what is happening and why things are being reported in a certain way?
Of course not. That would risk the facts getting in the way of, well ... interviewing their laptops and having yet another ritual poke at the parliamentary press gallery.
To read their drivel while stuck in a Tokyo traffic jam with your deadline approaching faster than a Japanese bullet-train makes your heart sink.
For starters - and to be pedantic about it - the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet does not issue press statements with a political hue.
That is the job of the Prime Minister's office - a quite separate institution.
But never mind. The rules that apply to journalists in terms of accuracy do not apply to Campbell and his echo chamber Dr Edwards - who is not be confused with Dr Brian Edwards, another blogger, but a far more original one when it comes to ideas and analysis.

Now we didn't read either of the pieces that Armstrong refers to. But the trip to Vladivostok and Tokyo with the PM has obviously left Armstrong feeling a little beaten-up, and he has lashed out in style!

But he's right in one sense; because bloggers generally aren't doing this as a business venture (although Campbell and Edwards both earn money for their opinions), a different standard applies. On the other hand, it could also be argued that if journalists were doing their jobs correctly, the impact of blogging and the stories that break in the blogosphere would not be as pronounced as it is.

Doubtless those to whom John Armstrong has addressed his j'accuse will respond at some point, and we'll keep an eye out for it. But Armstrong also needs to take a good, long and honest look at the media environment that has allowed bloggers to thrive; his comments have a stones-and-glasshouses element to them.


Pete George said...

This is what Edwards said:

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.

One common theme seemed to be how trade deals are being used by both the US and China to gain dominance over each other.

Gordon Campbell, who has described most of the New Zealand media reporting of APEC as ‘indistinguishable from a DPMC press handout’, had probably the best analysis of the summit’s real significance and how the Trans Pacific Partnership is where the real deals are being done – see: On APEC, and its significance for the TPP talks.

Keeping Stock said...

Cheers for that Pete