John Armstrong, bloggers, and the free market
NZ Herald “chief political commentator” seems to have taken issue with bloggers. Well, two bloggers, mostly,
Armstrong’s bizarre comments were… well, bizarre.
Personally, I put it down to an unholy mixture of jet-lag*; long nights; too much/too little caffeine; mid-life crisis; with a fair whack of frustration. Something has obviously crawled up his bits.
In fact, his comments in his column (above) were not just downright unprofessional, but suggestive of poor health. Comments like,
“Here is a blunt message for a couple of old-school Aro Valley-style socialists…”
“Get off our backs.’
“Stop behaving like a pair of tut-tutting old dowagers gossiping in the salons.’
“In short, stop making blinkered, cheap-shot accusations of the kind you made this week…”
And those were in just the first paragraph. After that, it was all downhill.
The tirade was directed at two gentlemen, Gordon Campbell and Bryce Edwards. Both responded in their own ways, and style,
All three are worth reading.
All three speak volumes about the state of journalism in this country.
Firstly; John Armstrong represents the Old Guard of the Fourth Estate; conservative; part of The Establishment; close to government. In fact, how close to government was exemplified by this extraordinary statement from opinion piece above,
“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.”
With an admission like that, you begin to realise why someone like Armstrong would be so belligerent to the likes of Campbell and Bryce, who are hardly Establishment-types.
Since when was it ever the concern of a journalist whether what s/he wrote was ” unlikely to please National “?!
A journalist is not put on this Earth to “please National” (or Labour). They are here to tell us what’s going on – regardless of whether or not National (or Labour) are “displeased”.
That one remark validates every criticism every made of the NZ Herald that it is a clandestine mouthpiece for the National Party. There is no other way it can be interpreted.
Secondly; whilst Armstrong represents the Old Guard of journalism, Campbell and Bryce are part of the New Wave of Media. In large part, this involves the latest advent of mass-media, the internet. But the internet is simply the tool – it is an attitudinal sea-change that best encapsulates what Bryce and Campbell represent.
When Rogernomics engulfed this country, it introduced the concept of the “free market” and “choice” to our economy. Some of it benefitted our nation – much of it did not. Thousands who lost their jobs will attest to that.
But the liberalisation and de-regulation of New Zealand was not simply something applied to our economy. It reached into, and affected every part, of our society.
MMP, for example, did to the electoral/political system was the removal of tariffs did to the importation of consumer products; it gave the Voter/consumer a greater choice in who to vote for.
That same liberalisation encouraged the de-regulation of the Media. It was no longer the province of card-carrying journos, feature writers, and freelancers. Suddenly, anyone could get “in on the game”. The internet did for citizen journalists, bloggers, and non-establishment commentators what the typewriter and paid salaries did for mainstream journos.
The richest irony here is that John Armstrong is a cheerleader for the de-regulated free market – the same de-regulated free market that has pissed him off by letting everyone in on his turf.
Right about now, Armstrong should understand what it felt like when our shops were flooded with cheap clothing and shoes from Fiji, China, and India – whilst New Zealand seamstresses and shoemakers were forced out of business.
Or how Labour and National politicans felt when MMP changed our political landscape and Parliament was flooded with Greens, NZ Firsters, Alliance, ACT, etc.
The de-regulated free market is such a wonderful thing – until it’s your arse that is bitten.
Painful eh, John?
Armstrong complains about the tough nature of his job – especially accompanying John Key and his entourage to the APEC conconference in *Vladivostok last week.
Perhaps instead of writing travelogue pieces (see: Curse of Russky Island strikes ) he might have considered writing about Key’s pursuit of a Free Trade Agreement with Russia. This might have been a worthy topic, considering that Russia appears to have an unhealthy, close relationship with the Russian Mafia. (See related blogpost: A FTA deal with Russia?! That’s a big “NYET” Comrade Key! )
Even the Guardian and Washington Post felt the situation warranted some decent investigative journalism. (See: The farce of Russian elections , Russia’s presidential election: rigging is a delicate art, Putin’s government moves to quash public dissent )
But we got none of that (unless I’ve missed it).
A story of a sovereign state that appears to have close connections to gangsters would seem to be much more of a story than interesting scenery in Vladivostok. That might’ve made an interesting story for Armstrong to pursue – especially if we’re going to be cosying up to our Russian cuzzies with a FTA.
Newsworthy, I would have thought.
Previous related blogpost
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