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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Doonegate: wedge between Act and National?

Darren emails this weeks "Scuttlebutt" column in the The (NZ) Independent:
ACT leader Rodney Hide has complained long and loud that National Party leader Don Brash dropped the ball by failing to work with minor parties in the pre-election build-up.

But one thing Hide has not mentioned is just how much he annoyed the Nats when the "Doonegate" material was leaked.

National and ACT MPs had been happily working together on several projects for a year or so, including the Doonegate saga.

Until early May.

The day before they were poised to make a joint parliamentary hit on Prime Minister Helen Clark's alleged shafting of former Police Commissioner Peter Doone, Hide leaked the carefully and jointly prepared Doonegate material at an ACT press conference.

So senior Nats, among them chief strategist Murray McCully, Gerry Brownlee and the since-deposed Epsom electorate representative Richard Worth, finally decided ACT couldn't be trusted.

"We won't tolerate behaviour like that," one senior Nat said.

The rest is history.
OK, if true Hide shouldn't have done that. But the Doonegate issue was so big National could have landed a king hit on Clark. Instead Clark's credibility wasn't questioned during the election campaign and Labour beat the Nats by ~1%.

Still, even if most New Zealanders remain ignorant, at least readers of SH know what "Doonegate" was all about.

On a related note, a former John Kerry campaign worker suggested this: blogs have little political influence unless involved in a three-way dialogue with the media and political parties. Aside from curiousity-type items, we've seen little acknowledgement in the media of political blogs and the issues they raise. The smaller political parties seem more 'clued up' on the potential of blogs to address and publicise issues ignored by the media. I know Act leader Rodney Hide suggested blogs could play an increasingly important role in Act's political strategy, and the Greens obviously respect them enough to sink serious resources into the Frogblog. But I've got no idea how widely blogs are read by National and Labour Party higher-ups.

Any comments? I suggest following the three-way dialogue link first.

There's one suggestion I'd like to make to any politicians who read this blog (and I know Rodney Hide does, at least). Access to raw documents is incredibly important. Publishing the originals means we can fact check reporters and develop our own interpretation of whatever issue is under discussion. Political parties get access to interesting documents tabled in Parliament and through 'other sources'. The next step is to scan, PDF and publish them on a website as standard policy.

Posted by Antarctic Lemur | 9/28/2005 12:35:00 pm


Blogger Gooner said...

This morning's Herald editorial covered blogs, media and politics but you can't access it unless you pay $3 which I won't be doing.

9/28/2005 01:40:00 pm  
Blogger darren said...

Other than treating blogs as a curiousity, or some new tech trend, yes, blogs have had little or no influence this election.
Obviously our media hacks have been so partisan during Election 2005 they have ignored the 'stories' waiting to be picked up on the blogs, even when they were alerted to some of them.
For example, the Doonegate papers AL put online, Zen Tiger's refuting of the Green's Bretheren leaflet claims, were both worthy of a juicy splash.
Doonegate , especially, but that can still come up another day.
What the blogs need to do, is find ways of getting their name out there. Rodney Hide may have told a meeting of Act supporters that Sir Humphrey's is his favourite blog, but how many were at the meeting? A few dozen maybe?
Perhaps one reason, politics aside, why blogs were ignored is that the MSM believes blogs are still a minority interest.
Yes, they know of David Farrar's Kiwiblog and Russel Brown's Hard(ly) but other's less so and there are some real treasures like Sir Humphrey, of course, Cathy Odgers, Kiwi Pundit, IP, Whale Oil, etc.
Now, many political parties and MPs produce their own newsletters, which are instantly emailed to their subscribers.
So why shouldn't Richard Prebble, for example, mention Sir Humphreys or Kiwi Blog in his next "Letter from Wellington" email, or Murray mcCully, etc?
The MSM, I believe, treated ACT and National unfairly in this election so it is in the interests of centre and right wing politicians to promote the blog alternatives.
This can be done by directing potential 'viewers/ readers' towards the sites and giving the bloggers material too.
Not only will it help these politicians get their message out there to a wider audience.
But by gaining a greater audience the MSM will be less inclined to ignore the bloggers.
Furthermore, if the blogs receive fresh material that is genuine news, then because something is out there and known by many, then it cannot be ignored as many people will wonder why.
Yes, SH readers knew about the freshly released Doonegate papers. The MSM was alerted to them as well, but felt they could safely ignore them.
But if SH was read by say tens of thousands of people, then the MSM would have to sit up and take notice.
So the issue now becomes, how does a blog, like Sir Humphreys, get its name out there for as little cost as possible.
I could spare $20 to help fund an ad in the Herald, or have a plane flying a banner but I doubt no-one has the funds for a 30-second ad during Coronation Street.
So how do we do it?

9/28/2005 01:47:00 pm  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

Ironic really. The Herald has ensured it will receive less readers and presumedly less advertising revenue.

9/28/2005 01:48:00 pm  
Blogger JamesP said...

I wouldn't worry about missing it. I'm holding the dead tree edition and the editorial is based on a rather suspect piece they ran with yesterday (a straw man perhaps?) that laments the commercialisation of the web. It then goes on to make the old allegations about blogs: media is more accountable, reliable, expert, safe etc.

Spend your $3 on something worthwhile. Speaking of which, how in the hell do they think that is good value for a few "premium" articles when you can get the entire paper for $1.50 or even less on subscription?

9/28/2005 02:01:00 pm  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

I suspect its a way of keeping subscriptions higher. After all, its not like they have a competitor in Auckland or anything.

9/28/2005 02:04:00 pm  
Blogger JamesP said...

Yes but the paper edition has far more value to me. Among other things I use it to cover the floor near the cat plates and litter box, clean the windows, start fires, and in extremis as toilet paper. Plus it is much easier to solve a sudoku when you can make little notes on the page...

9/28/2005 02:12:00 pm  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

Darren: If SH got tens of thousands of readers I'd give up my day job!

9/28/2005 02:17:00 pm  
Blogger darren said...

Well, AL, I think 20,000 get Prebble's Letter from Wellington emailed to them.
And while it has yet to happen here, 1-2 bloggers in Oz make enough money from advertising on their blog to make an income.
The people from IdolBlog are trying the same business model here.

9/28/2005 03:26:00 pm  
Blogger Gooner said...

There are 2 sides to every story. Think of the reasons RH might do such a thing? Think election and MMP. Maybe what RH did was his way of saying "Act won't tolerate behaviour like that"?

9/28/2005 03:42:00 pm  
Blogger Gooner said...

Darren, good points. I'm still thinking on these issues.

9/28/2005 10:28:00 pm  

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