The Herald has a Q & A with Paddy Gower – TV3′s new political editor – here. Excerpt:
8. How have you coped with the commentary and in some cases the vilification about your stories this week?
I guess by vilification you are talking about the blogosphere. It comes with the territory. The left-wing blogosphere are coming at me right now over my coverage of Labour’s leadership “issues”. I can totally understand that – people are passionate about their politics, and when it’s their side in the spotlight they don’t like it. It’s just the same when we do stories like the teapot tapes or the GCSB spying issue, but it’s the right wing blogosphere that gets fired up and comes at you. The blogs and Twitter add a new dimension to the public sphere. The passion and debate is great – keep it coming guys, I can take it. I cope by going out and mowing the lawns. They’re always pretty short.
I haven’t discussed this issue with Paddy, but my impression from other political reporters is that political stories are generally very ‘managed.’ Political parties invest huge amounts of money and energy into controlling their presentation in the media, which can frustrate some journalists. If they’re reporting on, say, a leader’s speech, and the policies have been dreamed up by pollsters and strategists, and the speech has been written by the communications team, and the leader’s delivery of the speech has been coached and choreographed by a media trainer, how genuine is it?
I suspect that’s why journalists like Paddy get (very) excited when things don’t go as scheduled, ie the tea-pot tapes, the Labour conference. ‘Something’ actually happens – ie something that isn’t calculated and pre-planned by teams of highly paid experts. Suddenly reporters are finding out something real instead of being led around by the nose. Of course the political parties hate that – they’ve invested all this effort into building a facade, and now everyone can see around it! That’s often when we hear that something is ‘a beat-up’, or ‘a beltway issue,’ or that journalists should ‘concentrate more on policy issues’, ect. But it can also seem a bit bewildering to the rest of us.