The Herald’s John Armstrong delivers a furious attack on NZ Politics Daily author Bryce Edwards and Scoop’s Gordon Campbell, culminating in the most vicious criticism Armstrong can conceive of against a journalist – that the government might not like the things they write about it:
The rapidly growing influence of Edwards’ blog was initially down to its being an exhaustive wrap-up of all of the day’s political news. It is now starting to develop a much more political dynamic that is unlikely to please National.
Actually I sort of sympathise with some of Armstrong’s complaint – that covering international political trips is hard work and don’t often result in ‘hard’ stories. My wife went on these trips when she worked for NZPA, and I heard all about their brutality and logistical challenges, mostly when I was trying to fall asleep at night. Because there’s a general bi-partisan consensus around foreign policy and trade, and there aren’t any opposition politicians on the trip the news stories generated are generally pro-government. Journalists go on the trips anyway because there’s public interest, they can question the PM about political events breaking in New Zealand, and they can write critical stories if something does go wrong.
But it’s hard to credit Armstrong’s tantrum against Edwards as being about ‘bile and invective’ directed at the press gallery ‘based on ignorance’ (he goes on like this for many hundreds of words). On the contrary, Edwards’ blog mostly consists of an extended love letter to the press gallery and their work. Here’s yesterday’s on the NBR site: he links approvingly to Fairfax journalist Andrea Vance (twice), the Herald’s Claire Trevitt, Radio New Zealand, Fairfax political editor Tracey Watkins (twice: ‘an excellent summary’), David Fisher (‘a must read’) and Herald political editor Audrey Young. It’s like that every day. I note without comment that he doesn’t link to Armstrong’s work very often.
You also gotta wonder how many of the Herald’s readers actually care about an anti-blogger temper tantrum from their political courtier? Surely there’s a better medium for this kind of insular, personal rant than a column in a daily newspaper?