The Dim-Post

June 19, 2013

Harder than it looks

Filed under: blogging,media — danylmc @ 10:18 am

Via the NBR:

Editor Cameron Slater has confirmed speculation Truth will not publish this week.

In October last year, the Whaleoil blogger was drafted to rescue the struggling tabloid.

Tonight he told NBR ONLINE, “The paper was just too far gone … I’m proud of the editorial and production staff and the changes we made, but ultimately the hole it found itself in was just too deep.”

Mr Slater blames previous management and owners for the paper’s plight.

I picked up a few copies of Truth after Slater became editor, and I always meant to write about them but never got around to it. ‘Strange’, is probably the best word: there was extensive racing coverage, extensive prostitution advertising (I would have expected this industry to move online years ago, I wonder why it hasn’t?), there was a column giving advice on how to have a threesome, and extensive political coverage in the form of attack stories about obscure back-bench opposition MPs. But the stories didn’t actually explain who the MPs were: just that Gareth Hughes – to use one example – was a hypocrite because he flew on a plane somewhere.

Maybe Slater is right and he inherited a dying paper, but I can’t imagine the Venn diagram of paying readers who are interested in sex tips, horse-racing and Gareth Hughes overlaps a whole lot, or that many of the paper’s stories made the slightest sense to anyone who wasn’t already plugged into the world of right-wing political blogs.

It’s also an interesting insight into the whole ‘bloggers will replace journalists’ meme. One of the advantages of blogging is that you never have to explain anything – you can just link to a news story in the mainstream media containing all the relevant background  about the issue at hand, assume they’ve got all their facts straight and then go on to complain about how rubbish the mainstream media are. That doesn’t really work if you replace the mainstream media, or try to.

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10 Comments »

  1. Danyl – I think you’ll find the prostitution industry has very much moved online…maybe it’s Truth readers and their ilk that haven’t

    Comment by Mike — June 19, 2013 @ 10:32 am

  2. The whole porn thing was really corrosive to the “Truth” brand, especially as editorially it often set itself up as a conservative panty-sniffing arbiter of public morals.

    I got the impression Slater was hired on the vague hope that somehow he could translate his online hits into newspaper sales. I would suggest the people that hired probably have no idea of how the internet works, and in particular how easy it is to pump up your stats. I suspect that as a man proven to have no scruples or morals, Slater has always juked his stats for reasons of his constant need to feel he is important. So instead of getting someone like, say, the UK’s Guido Fawkes (which is what I suspect they thought they were getting) as editor they just got a liar with no formal journalism background and not skillset to run a newspaper beyond repeating the only formula he knows.

    But all in all, the Truth was probably finished before Slater came along. As a youngster, I remember buying the Sunday News (sort of “Truth on Sunday”) for my Dad along with the more high brow broadsheets because it had Loosehead Len and was more punchy and direct in its sports and editorial coverage (my Mum wouldn’t have allowed “Truth” in the house). But they changed, trading iconoclastic hard-nosed common sense and populism for the mean spirited politics of division and envy. Truth was not just a victim of changing media – it was an active architect of its own demise. Where once it was the champion of the common man that often acted as a kicker against the pricks in the “establishment” it turned in a vehicle for right wing wedge politics – the very success of which made the purchasing of such a rag a luxury the newly impoverished and increasingly socially conservative working poor immediately dispensed with, and a brand reputation that meant women made sure it was kept it off the list of newspapers a business would pay to have in the smoko room/reception.

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 19, 2013 @ 11:27 am

  3. Truth’s special niche of accusatory journalism about small scale abuses of power plus stories on sexual subjects was absorbed into the mainstream journalistic spectrum many moons ago. Campbell Live plus any of the other current affairs shows plus the Sunday papers do everything Truth did and much more.

    Comment by Roger — June 19, 2013 @ 11:28 am

  4. >The whole porn thing was really corrosive to the “Truth” brand, especially as editorially it often set itself up as a conservative panty-sniffing arbiter of public morals.

    Or you could say that the porn thing was the Truth brand, and Slater killed it. The idea that it was going to die anyway is predicated around the idea of turning it into something it wasn’t, in the hands of someone who had no clue what he was doing. It could easily have continued on as an ad-rag for hookers, with a particular brand of humourous fabricated stories. Has any other “proper” newspaper besides the NZ Herald made it in Auckland? No? Then why should one make it in the hands of an incompetent talentless arsehole? In fact, considering that the main advertisers were prostitutes, and Slater is a notorious outer of small people’s secrets, a small time panty sniffer, I would think that practically anyone who did know anything about him who was contributing to the upkeep of the magazine would have been put off from it and considered other options immediately. I was pretty surprised they chose him, and not the least bit surprised at how fast they died, having done so.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — June 19, 2013 @ 1:20 pm

  5. A simple re-brand to Pravda would have ensured its ongoing relevance.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 19, 2013 @ 1:21 pm

  6. In a way I’m sympathetic to the Truth’s board – they were going over the cliff, so an out-of-left-field play like hiring Slater couldn’t really hurt them anymore than their current situation was. Obviously it didn’t work.

    I have some sympathy for Slater’s position, since rescuing Truth would have been an uphill fight. But given his refusal to ever give anybody else the benefit of the doubt for circumstances outside their control, he can go fuck himself.

    Comment by Hugh — June 19, 2013 @ 5:39 pm

  7. @ sanctuary – do you ever give up on the class warfare diatribe.

    Comment by Darren — June 19, 2013 @ 6:21 pm

  8. Well, this just goes to show that they should have hired Ian Wishart instead.

    Comment by Alex Braae — June 19, 2013 @ 7:32 pm

  9. Truth is mainstream media?

    Comment by gazzaj — June 20, 2013 @ 6:28 pm

  10. funny how the huge intellects supporting johnkey can only ever attack the greens for flying on airplanes – brilliant

    Comment by kmccready — July 3, 2013 @ 10:35 pm


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