Cameron Slater is the undisputed king of the New Zealand blogosphere (disputed). Here’s a chart of the publically available NZ blog traffic stats for August 2014, provided by Open Parachute:
WhaleOil towers over the rest of the extremely high quality blogs in the top seven. And he has some prominent fans. The Prime Minister and Justice Minister, obviously. National Party apparatchiks Sean Plunket and Bill Ralston are huge admirers, as is the Herald’s media columnist John Drinnen. There’s a lot of love out there for the Whale.
Which is weird, because have you looked at WhaleOil recently? Jump back a few weeks to the pre-election campaign and it is a very, very weird aggregation of pet videos and other viral videos and ‘mental health breaks’, pictures of old maps, pictures of guns, proverbs, tobacco company PR (as detailed in the book), posts laughing about dead or injured children, political commentary, open threads, and cut and pasted excerpts from media stories and other bloggers. As Hager points out in his book, Slater accepts payment to smear people on his blog, which means he runs attack campaigns against random unknown individuals and tiny companies which have no interest to anyone. Who are the hundreds of thousands of people apparently reading this stuff?
Well. One of those other bloggers Slater links to semi-regularly is me. My big traffic days are when I post a poll update and everyone links to it, or if say something mean about Labour, and both WhaleOil and Kiwiblog link to me to endorse it and someone at the Standard links to me to refute it. When someone clicks on a link at WhaleOil or Kiwiblog and ends up at the DimPost the origin shows up in my statistics. Here’s what the incoming links for the last three months look like.
DPF and Slater have both linked to me roughly the same amount of times during that period. I guess you could argue that readers of Kiwiblog and the other right-wing blogs in that graph are more likely to click on links than WhaleOil readers, for some unknown reason, or that my site is also linked to in their side-bars, maybe? But go back and look at the traffic stats for WhaleOil in the first graph. His traffic is, supposedly, immense, towering over everyone else – but the amount of actual people clicking through from his site is tiny.
My hypothesis is that the WhaleOil stats are gamed, somehow, and that the number of real people reading WhaleOil every day is probably in the low hundreds, mostly National and ACT activists and media elites and outraged left-wingers. Which is funny, because he’s paid very handsomely by the tobacco lobby and other industry groups to publish their PR on the basis that it’s going out to hundreds of thousands of people.