Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: How a thing happens

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  • Martin Lindberg,

    I'm sure the two characters in the movie Dumb & Dumber would have been more sympathetic to Amy.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    I wish MediaWorks would divest itself of Radio Live. Granted, it's nowhere near as bad as the late unlamented Radio Pacific, and I'm just grateful that I can't get the apparently loathsome Leighton Smith down here in Wellington. As for the dumping of Tamihere and Jackson, they deserved this. Tamihere's loyalty to his brother David is commendable if one considers it as whanau solidarity, but he allowed it to warp and distort his perceptions of feminism and deal with women as social and moral equals. As for Jackson, the man is politically clueless. One Maori female friend to me described Jackson as "Maoridom's answer to your Chris Trotter fella."

    One hopes this dumping is permanent and not temporary. US style far right talkback demagoguery has no place in mainstream New Zealand politics or society. Especially not when it comes to concerns like those over sexual violation.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 569 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Young,

    I wish MediaWorks would divest itself of Radio Live. Granted, it’s nowhere near as bad as the late unlamented Radio Pacific

    It’s also home to Graeme Hill and Wallace Chapman, who do great work. I think it’s worth persisting with, but the last thing they need is more of the same on weekdays.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    From Bomber's post:

    I doubt however many of the advertisers contacted by blogger Giovanni Tiso had heard of his unranked blog

    An unranked blog! This sounds so cool, like Giovanni is living outside the law. I knew that this blog ranking site existed, but I had no inkling that being a "ranked blog" was a thing.

    I can't work out what significance being a ranked blog has. Even my blog would, er, outrank about half the others on the list. All it would indicate is that I've put some naff visitor tracking code on my site.

    As it happens, most of my fave blogs aren't even on the hallowed ranked list, so it's not much use to me.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Finlay Macdonald,

    Good point about W & JT's complete and fatal lack of journalistic instinct. But what is Plunkett's excuse? If you market a station on its news cred, surely he was in breach of his own contract?

    Since Apr 2013 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Robyn Gallagher,

    ranked blog

    Yeah, I think this goes right back to the rise of US pol blogs like Daily Kos and Firedoglake and Little Green Footballs, in the last years of the Bush presidency. NZ politics bloggers started seeing these blogs as role models. They began listing other pols bloggers in their sidebars, often grouped by perceived alignment. Then Tim Selwyn IIRC started a blog ranking system on Tumeke. Then there were widgets. And this strange friendly enemy collegiality attitude, where people would write vitriolic flames about other people one day and yet politely link and acknowledge and talk about the community the next.

    Anyway, it’s a silly idea whose time has passed, if it ever had one. But it would be nice to consider those early days at more length some time.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Here's Gio's letter to advertisers, sans his contact details:

    I am the Wellington blogger cited in this New Zealand Herald story
    (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11151911)
    about the appalling treatment by Willie Jackson and John Tamihere of a
    young woman they interviewed on their show last Tuesday and who was a
    friend of victims of the so-called ‘Roastbusters’. I believe their
    line of questions - which was bullying in tone - constitutes a form of
    rape apology that is very troublesome coming from media personalities
    with a large following.

    I write to you therefore in relation to your company’s sponsorship of
    the show in question, and would appreciate it if you would be so kind
    as to answer the three questions below.

    I am asking these same questions to all the business that advertised
    on the show on Wednesday, the day after the interview. I plan to
    publish the responses (or lack thereof), this coming Monday.

    1. What does your company think about the treatment of ‘Amy’ by Willie
    Jackson and John Tamihere on Tuesday’s show?

    2. What does your company think about the hosts’ “apology" on
    yesterday's show? Do you consider it adequate?

    3. Does your company plan to continue to support the show financially
    in the future?

    Best regards

    Giovanni Tiso, Wellington

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari,

    What Giovanni Tiso did re the advertisers and currently regarding them donating to Rape Prevention Education is both inspiring and empowering, bravo!

    The media and advertising world will learn a lot from this exercise... or they could do a Rudman

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 540 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Thank you Russell, a most generous post. If I can offer a small correction, donations are currently at $20,000 (Telecom and ANZ) and I haven't quite given up looking for more. Also, I think RadioLive needs to donate to RPE and bring them in to do some training for them as well. There is something wrong with the culture of that station (and I include Wallace Chapman's excuses for the "naive and insolent" Willie and JT, whom he's replacing as of today, and his ridiculous appeal to free speech).

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    (As for the virtues of businesses, it's amazing how many emails from PR people - and otherwise very thorough and objective journalists, for that matter - ended with the words "And on a personal note, allow me to say...")

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    In defence of Open Parachute’s blog table, it is what it is. Ken Perrott compiles two basic stats – number of visits and number of pages – from people who have their sitemeters set to public, and who have generally let him know they’re doing so.

    Top of the table by miles, is Whaleoil, which leads Gio and others to argue that the stats are somehow invalid or misleading, which they aren’t. They are what they are.

    I’d far rather have a simple, consistent measure than place my faith in something like the Tumeke blog rankings, which take a bunch of Alexa woo and combine it with some made-up criteria.

    There are other ways of measuring the way blogs engage and influence their readers, but I don’t think they invalidate the simple measures. Indeed, if you deal with something like Comscore – which someone was urging on me on Twitter last night – you have to deal with quite significant privacy issues.

    The fact is that Whale does do a million-plus page impressions monthly. He writes 20 posts a day and to some extent structures his site to maximise impressions. But, you know, a lot of people look at his website. That fact is what it is.

    The thing is for me: why would I want to be in a league table that implied Whale and I had common cause or were doing the same thing? Our current traffic would put us in fourth place on page impressions, but I don’t want to be in a table with Whaleoil, Kiwiblog, The Standard and The Daily Blog.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    Her predecessor Mitch Harris might have fared better – not because he’s male, but because he was unmistakably an editorial figure.

    Perhaps. But on Monday night he was doing talkback on Radio Live, and describing these events as like a "witch hunt" and "McCarthyite" (if anyone wants confirmation, audio may be on their website, approx 11.45 pm Mon).

    So there's still a long way to go (and a lot of History 101 to be studied) at that station.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1330 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to simon g,

    Perhaps. But on Monday night he was doing talkback on Radio Live, and describing these events as like a “witch hunt” and “McCarthyite” (if anyone wants confirmation, audio may be on their website, approx 11.45 pm Mon).

    Mitch's politics are sometimes dreadful. But I think he'd have twigged sooner to what needed to happen. As it is, we have yet to hear at all from the woman who replaced him as the head of the station, which is bizarre.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • simon g, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Sure, but the issue for me was not so much his politics (he's actually more reasonable than many talkback hosts) but that the message was not getting through the walls of the building.

    I understand company loyalty, and I understand natural defensiveness - I've done both in my time. But Radio Live really need a period of reflection, because it's not just about one bad interview. The slow, painful reaction to it - the station not "getting it" - is what damns them.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1330 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Top of the table by miles, is Whaleoil, which leads Gio and others to argue that the stats are somehow invalid or misleading, which they aren’t. They are what they are.

    I'm going to do my spiel about this. Bear with me, or not. It’s incredibly boring.

    During the David Shearer beneficiary on the roof saga, Whaleoil linked prominently in one of his posts to the transcript I posted on my blog of Shearer's interview with Dunedin Radio One broadcaster Aaron Hawkins. This netted me half a dozen hits, which rather surprised me. For comparison, every time Russell links to my blog here I get 100 hits very quickly on a bad day.

    So I looked at Google Reader, which in those days let you see how many subscribers on the service a blog had, and he had, from memory, around 140. Kiwiblog had over 1,500. And I just couldn't see how a blog with ten times as many subscribers could have (as per Open Parachute) a fraction of the number of readers. Hits, maybe, yes. But readers, no.

    But that’s just Google Reader, right? Yes and no. After I talked about this on Twitter, Whaleoil countered by saying he had 800 Feedburner subscribers. This statistic isn’t public, so I could only compare with my lowly, unranked blog, which had 600. Not a lot less. But again, a tiny, infinitesimal fraction of the readership.

    So my theory is this: Whaleoil actually gets relatively few individual and meaningful unique readers for each of his post. Either that, or he has several orders of magnitude more browser bookmarkers than I do (and why would he? Makes little sense to me the behaviour of our readers would differ on such a gigantic scale). This matters because one of the key elements of the Whaleoil myth is that he had a readership comparable to that of mainstream publication. I don’t think this is remotely true.

    (By the way, when I say ‘meaningful’ readers, I mean people who actually read the stuff, and who didn’t come through a link about weaponry or naked Miley Cyrus, which are some of the things he uses as Google bait. If you run a blog, you know how to tell apart real hits from the noise. And there’s a lot of noise. That’s why my only personal metric is unique returning readers on Google Analytics, and I don’t bother to be ‘ranked’ by Open Parachute. It’s just too blunt a tool. At this time, for example, it ranked The Real Steve Gray as NZ’s second most read blog. And how many Google Reader subscribers did The Real Steve Gray have? 2.)

    Now since this little, very unscientific survey of mine, I think the prophecy of Whaleoil’s massive popularity has self-fulfilled to an extent, especially after his editorship at Truth and the habit that Labour party members developed to leak him stuff. But again this is largely I think magnified by the fact that people in media feel that they have to follow him. And I still think he gets a tiny fraction of the readers of, say, the Herald.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    During the David Shearer beneficiary on the roof saga, Whaleoil linked prominently in one of his posts to the transcript I posted on my blog of Shearer’s interview with Dunedin Radio One broadcaster Aaron Hawkins. This netted me half a dozen hits, which rather surprised me. For comparison, every time Russell links to my blog here I get 100 hits very quickly on a bad day.

    And why would I debate your point here, sir? :-)

    That is a very useful illustration of the limits of the simple measures.

    On the other hand, since I became less employed and had more time to spend here, our monthly page impressions have gone from 160,000 to 260,000+, and that's a very interesting statistic to me. You could say that the best use of those numbers is to measure trends over time on a single site.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Russell Brown,

    You could say that the best use of those numbers is to measure trends over time on a single site.

    Yes, precisely. I came quite quickly to the conclusion that the only use of those statistics is to track one's blog over time. In fact I sort of planned it that way from the beginning, as every one of my posts stays up as 'front page' for exactly a week. And I care about that number of returning readers ticking up over time a great deal - I'm not a stats snob by any means.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Maybe our media regulation needs rethinking:

    There's a continuum of what's acceptable, ranging from the BBC standard (mostly polite, balanced, clear differentiation between broadcasters and politicians - we don't have this in any NZ media) through to blogs/LPFM which just have to stay legal. This roughly reflects their use of scarce spectrum, amongst other things.

    Maybe the requirement for large commercial broadcasters needs to move up a notch, so the whole shock-jock thing isn't allowed.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Maybe the requirement for large commercial broadcasters needs to move up a notch, so the whole shock-jock thing isn’t allowed.

    But they're also the people who pay tens of millions of dollars for the use of spectrum. Their view is that that buys them the right to choose how they act.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    Anyway, it’s a silly idea whose time has passed

    I, for one, happen to be ultimately proud of my 69th-ranked blog. Take that, Rodney's Aviation Ramblings! Nobody cares about your numerous photos of various aeroplane models landing and taking off from Wellington Airport! :-P

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Hooton, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Disagree. The system (including its informal, free-market aspects) seems to have worked quite well in this case, hasn't it? State regulation always protects the status quo and hinders reform. See excellent article making the case for hate speech in this month's Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/11/the-case-for-hate-speech/309524/

    Auckland • Since Aug 2007 • 194 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    it's amazing how many emails from PR people - and otherwise very thorough and objective journalists, for that matter - ended with the words "And on a personal note, allow me to say...")

    I think too often we forget that businesses are made up of people. Like when I emailed my bank manager to thank her (as my representative of the bank) for them pulling their ads, she was like "yeah I was really relieved about that too", and I've written before about the truly excellent response I had from Vodafone in relation to some horrible blog comments coming from their IP. Just because their primary directive is to make money, doesn't mean they're run by robots.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 746 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Just to add to Gio's point: running a quick script on my own blog stats, whenever DPF and WhaleOil both link to one of my posts, DPF routinely sends over 15x as much traffic as Slater.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Danyl Mclauchlan,

    This neatly matches their relative ratio of Google Reader subscribers. (And both blogs existed before Google Reader, so we should expect the take up to have been similar.)

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Hooton, in reply to Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Very very interesting

    Auckland • Since Aug 2007 • 194 posts Report Reply

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