Hard News by Russell Brown

We'll see

You can expect the respective judgements on the government's long-delayed proposal on the foreshore and seabed issue today to vary so widely as to create the impression that they are being ventured on completely different documents.

The different angles taken to the same briefing paper this morning by the Herald ("Maori appear to have won few major concessions …") and the Dominion Post ('New deal has more for Maori') have, one would think, effectively set the tone for the day.

The government's political problem is that whatever it does will inevitably leave lots of room for outrage at either end of the debate. Its task might be seen as one of expanding the middle and making the fringes as small as possible. We'll see.

Joe Atkinson plumbs a few more of the holes in Deborah Coddington's shambolic report alleging bias at National Radio. Among other things, he consults some actual research:

New Zealand Electoral Survey data on voter assessments of media bias during the last election show that, regardless of a respondent's party identity, National Radio coverage was consistently judged the least biased.

Between 85 and 74 per cent of partisans found no bias in public radio coverage, compared to the next least biased medium, TV3 (with 76 to 67 per cent).

But the killer figure for Coddington's analysis is that 75 per cent of Act supporters gave National Radio a clean bill of health on political bias, as compared to 68 per cent for TV3, 60 per cent for the "most-read newspaper" and 57 per cent for TV One. Indeed, 4 per cent of Act supporters thought National Radio was biased in their favour.

Still, the beleaguered Codders has at least two friends: Mediacow, which comes over all wounded on Coddington's behalf (feel free to go back and read my post from Monday and enjoy the strange spin applied to it by the Cow), and whoever is behind a new RadioNZbias blog, which, entertainingly, explains the research quoted by Atkinson thus: "He resorts to quoting public opinion of bias, which has been educated by a biased media."

This is very silly logic indeed - taken to its conclusion, it implies that we shouldn't even bother having elections. But even if we are all subject to creeping pro-interventionist mind control (where did I put my tinfoil hat?), that doesn't explain how Coddington has managed to devise conclusions which are perpendicularly opposite to those found in robust and professional research. It's not just that the public and Act voters generally didn't think National Radio was biased; it's that they thought it was more balanced than the Herald, TV3, and TV One.

On a mildly less daffy note, the vendor of a lollipop sucked by Orlando Bloom has been unable to achieve a satisfactory price for it on TradeMe and is now in negotiation with bidders. Thanks to Tom Semmens for the link.

The Guardian column looking at our experience with Ahmed Zaoui is here. Unfortunately, as can sometimes be the case with stories filed for the British papers by distant stringers, it's just a tad shallow.

Judith Tizard scored her own Slashdot thread, but it seems it was all a bit of a mistake.

PC World US gets on the e-voting beat.

Half the Net seems to have been churning with permutations of the more or less obvious since the welcome capture of Saddam. There seems little to add at the moment, bar two observations:

1. The White House has become quite good at lowering expectations. The US economy isn't quite as bad as it might have been (although Bush remains on target to be the first President since Herbert Hoover to have a net job loss over his four year term and the US deficit problem is truly ghastly); Iraq isn't quite as bad as it might have been (but still actually pretty bad), etc.

2. Iran's entirely justified proposal to bring its own war crimes charges against Saddam could get very embarrassing …