Every Man and His Blog
Blogs are a dime a dozen. I don’t mind saying that at all. Even mine is a particularly shiny needle in a continent-sized haystack. But even my tiny outlet has some reach. Why only last week I suggested that New Zealand was about due to change it’s flag and then THIS happened. It seems even New Zealand’s largest newspaper has to get it’s news from somewhere. In the last few days dozens of articles have been popping up like THIS ONE. What have I started? But seriously now…when you consider the rise and rise of the blog and its influence in tandem with unprecedented sources of information like Wikileaks it is no surprise that Fleet Street types are often drawing their information from a little house in surburbia.
Recently a blog came to my attention and for all the wrong reasons. Without wanting to give this guy anymore publicity than he has already(far more than he deserves), Cameron Slater the owner of the Whale Oil blog, had in the space of a few weeks, ownership one of the most popular blogs in New Zealand. How did this happen? Well he simply introduced some information. Just one story in truth but this story gave birth to countless other stories, had every paper and TV channel (there’s only three channels) buzzing and sent the Council into meltdown. This story was of the extra-marital affair of the re-elected Auckland Mayor – Len Brown. This situation reminds me of a small town version (very small) of Bill Clinton’s well publicized affair or for that matter Kennedy’s alleged indiscretions. And when I make this comparison, I mean a popular left of center politician who gets caught with his pants down. I’m not at all condoning this sort of behaviour but history says that full media condemnation of personal aspects of a successful politicians life doesn’t always have the desired effect. Just look at some world leaders that have been and gone. It’s no direct comparison however think of this: Kennedy is well remembered, Clinton is as popular as ever and well…let’s just say the New Zealand Herald have made sure we remember Len Browns name next time we see a voting sheet. Now back to Whale Oil…
This blog whose content I will describe as right of center on the political spectrum (actually I’ll go further and say it is moving off the spectrum altogether at a bearing of ‘Right full ahead’) not only broke the story but took a large increase in popularity because of it. Unfortunately what Cameron Slater calls ‘popularity’ the rest of us would call infamy. And recently it’s come to light just how low this son of a former National Party chairman will go for attention. This is where a half decent news editor comes in handy and is the greatest flaw in the blogosphere. Cameron Slater took it upon himself to describe a young man – Judd Hall – who had died in a car crash on the West Coast as ‘Feral’. It was not that this young man had died years before and Slater had researched his life and found it not to his liking. No, the young man had died the day before. Also by coincidence the mother of this young man had lost two other sons ( one who was run over and another killed in New Zealand’s worst mining tragedy). You can see that this attack from Slater made no sense and is why blogging can be bad for your health. When there is no quality control and minimal policing the internet can quite violently cause strife when tripe goes viral. So when I’m famous I’ll make sure I have the highest quality control available – My wife will tell me when I can press the ‘post’ button.
There is a happy ending to this story though. For the first time ever I decided to go to visit this god awful blog and see for myself what all the fuss was about. And when I typed www.whaleoil.co.nz I got a big fat denial of service (A DoS attack had been performed on Slater’s servers). Whether it was a gallant West-Coaster, Len Brown himself or the ghost of JFK who had taken down the webpage…I did Laugh. Just a Little.