DPF in the media

I try to reference on this blog any media stories mentioning me, mainly so I can find them all in future if necessary. Been four this week.

One on how National’s campaign was going which appeared Thursday (was interviewed a couple of weeks ago for it) in Dom Post but is not online.

A mention in today’s Herald on political bloggers.

NZPA also did a story on Thursday about political blogging. It is not online, but according to the Farrar version of the Copyright Act I can reproduce anythign which mentions me 🙂 so it is after the break as a handy frog stole a copy for me.

And it wouldn’t be a Friday without me featuring in NBR. Their column on etiquette advice from Dr Don is also after the break!

POLITICAL BLOGGING TAKES OFF FOR ELECTION ELECTION-BLOGS (newsfeature) 1234 words Aug 25th 2005 3:01pm General/Other


By Belinda McCammon of NZPA
Wellington, Aug 25 NZPA – Think you’re safe from the swarm of politicians invading your telly and radio by escaping to the Internet? Think again.

In the 21st Century you are just as likely to bump into Don, Helen or Winston in cyberspace, as politicians discover blogs, the final frontier of campaigning.

Blogs, short for web logs, emerged in the late 1990s, an electronic diary for personal musings.

The ease of setting up a blog has meant even politicians can become part of the blogosphere community and in the process are discovering the power of blogs for the politically motivated.

Like websites and text messaging in previous years, blogs by politicians have become this election’s `must-have’ campaign gimmick as parties try to embrace any tool which takes their message to the voter, especially if it means by-passing the media in the process.

You can find the inner thoughts of our political leaders on the hustings on Stuff.co.nz, which has signed on Labour MP Steve Maharey, National leader Don Brash, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, Maori Party leader Tariana Turia, ACT leader Rodney Hide, Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, United Future leader Peter Dunne and Progressive leader Jim Anderton to give first-hand accounts of their campaigning until September 17.

Wooing voters from cyber-space may seem extreme but in a too-close-to-call election race politicians are practising the politics of inclusion in their choice of election armoury.

The new medium of blogging may give politicians an opportunity to court voters who may not be tuned in to traditional campaign propaganda.

But despite the cutting edge medium the messages are very last century. The postings by our blogging leaders reveal not so-much first hand accounts from the campaign trail as more carefully crafted messages in a predictable and formulaic way.

It’s slim pickings for readers looking for genuine insights or feedback.

Mr Hide has revealed his nervousness before his debate appearance with the worm, Ms Fitzsimons has chuckled at seeing Dr Brash being seated for a debate in the fiction section of a library and Mr Maharey has kept us gripped with his account of the weather in Auckland.

Worryingly Mrs Turia managed to draw a comparison between the election campaign and the cult 1970s movie Deliverance.

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail it is not. However we should probably not expect too much of these virgin bloggers, afterall their postings have probably been written by an over worked press secretary who does not consider blog updates high on there list of things to do.

Therein may lie the problem for politicians. Blogs have become successful because of the debate and community they create but so far these blogs seem to be just another way to broadcast their ideas and party dogma. Observers are divided whether blogs have any real impact or influence on voters .

Michael Appleton, co-ordinater of the Green Party blog, Frogblog, agrees many politicians have not quite grasped the true potential of blogging.

“Our blog allows us to talk directly to young voters but we also know political journalists read the site and are influenced and draw information from it,” he said.

Mr Hide and former Labour cabinet minister John Tamihere were the original MP bloggers, with mixed results but while most politicians have been slow to see the potential of blogs political activists have been quick to embrace the platform it offers them.

A recent audit of political blogs in New Zealand by blogger Spanblather identified 29 party affiliated blogs, with Labour leading the way with 9, which were capable of drawing attention to an issue more effectively than the parties themselves.

David Farrar, author of Kiwiblog, believes blogs can make an impact if used to their potential but politicians should not rely on the idea that a huge number of swinging voters would be logging on.

“Blogs are not about swinging voters but are about creating a direct dialogue with voters and they’re useful for delivering and making accessible information to people who already agree with your views,” Mr Farrar said.

Blogs such as those posted by politicians on Stuff were probably written by press secretaries and added little value, he said. “But someone like Rodney Hide, who has his own blog, is an example of a politician effectively using it.”

However, Victoria University political lecturer Jon Johansson was dismissive of the impact of blogging on the campaign.

“I don’t think it’s important at all,” he said.

While blogging had the virtue of newness for politicians and political commentators, it was still a tool designed to help support their messages, he said.

“In terms of value they add nothing. I liken them to middle-class talk-back.”

Mr Appleton said he disagreed with people who were quick to dismiss the power of the blog.

The Frogblog, which started in March, was set up partly because it allowed the party to address myths perpetuated in the media, to rebut stories and to post their own information, he said.

“Political journalists tend to have similar views and the blog allows us to breakthrough that to get to the voters.”

Readers were also very savvy and were able to determine what information was of value and what wasn’t, he said.

Mr Farrar said the power of the blog was the influence-makers who read them and the spin-off from it.

“Not a week wouldn’t go by without at least one story in New Zealand being generated in the media from a story which originated from a blog.”

With political blogging still evolving it may take several election cycles to see its value and impact on campaigning in New Zealand.

In the meantime the jury may be in on what the public think of the current crop of blogs written by politicians this election cycle.

Peter Burton, one of less than 20 people who bothered to respond to the politicians blogs, gave a verdict which spoke for the masses.

“Having just read all of the leaders’ blogs all I can say is thank god for the NPC!”

NZPA WGT bmc dj ob


Dear Don,

I suppose I really ought to be a happy man right now. >From being a humble political studies lecturer known for entertaining the students at Victoria University with my George “Dubya” Bush jokes, I now find myself catapulted to national fame as the most all-over-the-place commentator on New Zealand’s coming election. Sadly, I am finding that whenever I am asked to comment on the matter at hand I become overcome with private grief when I remember the way the awful National party treated my dear friend Simon Power. I’m afraid it could be affecting my style. What should I do?

JJ, Kelburn

Dear Jon,

The most important thing you can do is keep a bright face. Your public like upbeat, happy political commentators, so if a desolate thought does pass through your mind – whether it be the memory of what happened to your political chum Simon, the thought of what might happen if your right hand were to suddenly drop off, or the faintest prospect of getting left off the vice-chancellor’s Christmas card list – you should find the strength to imitate the television presenters who always smile brightly when reading the latest news from Iraq or the weekend road toll.

– Don, cheerfully

Dear Mr Don,

I have recently been spending time with a really wonderful man who is very sweet and boasts a fine career as a corporate leader. However, he is somewhat “old school” in terms of his manners, and always insists on opening doors for me. As somebody who prides herself on being a bit of a “bovver girl” feminist, I find this habit a tad disconcerting, especially when it happens as we make our way out of the green room to appear together on a nationally televised debate. How can I gently stop him from engaging in this sexist behaviour?

Helen Wheels, Wellington

Dear Helen,

Don respectively suggests you “chill out,” as the young might put it. Any gentleman who performs graceful gestures on behalf of the fairer sex is worth keeping. And when he does so, always be sure to half-turn your head as he does to give him a grateful smile.

– Don, chivalrously

Dear Don,

My eyebrows are extraordinarily bushy but I’m told they rank high among my strongest political assets. For this reason, my campaign manager has taken to using them as a visual signature in all the publicity material for my campaign to win Wellington Central . That’s fine, I suppose, but it doesn’t really address the problem of what I need to do whenever I am at a public appearance and one of my huge follicles detaches itself from the original owner and takes up residence on another’s upholstered furniture. What should I do?

Mark Bushky, Wellington Central

Dear Mark,

If it is not practical to carry a wastebasket around with you on the campaign trail then the very least David P Farrar can do is supply you with a small ashtray to gracefully and unobtrusively park any unexpected sheddings. Just remember to pay attention to whatever the matter at hand is. Your well-wishers would not want you walking into walls or falling down the stairs.

– Don, despairingly

Dear Mr Manners,

As well as being the country’s sassiest Singaporean, I think it would be fair to say I am widely recognised as a major literary figure in my own right. Whenever my name is raised in a public forum, people make a point of mentioning I was the recipient of a major Landfall prize last year. The problem is, it’s not often mentioned I shared this particular honour with Martin Edmond, who I fear does not happen to be of similar cultural stock. Do you think I should clear up the matter for my adoring public?

Tze Ming, Auckland

Dear Tze Ming,

Don understands what it is like to harbour the occasional Asian secret. For instance, very few people probably know that Mr Manners himself is married to a Singaporean – it’s something he prefers to only be known by a few close friends. Life would be a cold bowl of cherries indeed if we all had to reveal our innermost selves to the world.

– Don, inscrutably

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