First off, lets get our limitations and bias out front.
I was once a avid hearld.co.nz reader. I am now a herald.co.nz skeptic.
This is not a scientific study of the herald’s web site. However having said that from over 15 years experience of developing web sites/stratergies and information design, not to mention a Masters Degree in the field, plus recent attendance’s at the likes of the Society of Newspaper Designer’s conference in Boston, I feel somewhat in a position to talk about this.
Ever since the introduction of the suggestions of the Election Finance Bill, of which the Herald was possibly more active than even opposition MPs on the topic, I have taken an anecdotal view that the Herald is loosing it’s neutrality. Something that a paper that is regarded as the ‘newspaper of record’ for NZ, the very thought that neutrality is called into question, should be worrying.
Not having the luxury of the paper in front of me here in Dunedin, I am having to work off the web only. However, after the Herald ran it’s third negative story in a couple of days, on the suggestion by Ms King that there may be environmental factors contributing to the higher than usual crime in Jan. All 3 of the stories (two disingenuous chest beating displays by Simon Power and the third a ‘mystical’ look), fail to acknowledge the documented facts that the weather and the moon do indeed contribute to crime rates rising.
So on a hat tip to Kiwiblog that there was a third ‘piss take’ view of the subject, I dutifully went over the Herald and bugger me if it isn’t there on the front page, #1 feature story.
This seemingly innocuous screen snap, may seem to show nothing that spectacular (a conspiracy theorists would say, ‘that’s what they want it to seem’). However if you are to look at the links to the stories. 6/12 are political, and of those 4/6 are seemingly negative for Labour.
The latest news section has a mention of David Benson-Popes fate (the very mention of his name these days conjures up negative media spin).
Then scanning to the right there is Noelle McCarthy’s supposedly mystical satirical view of Ms Kings attributing the rise in crime to possible environmental reasons (which is apparently a bad thing, well bad enough for the 3rd Herald story on the subject without any reference to the fact that she was correct).
Then we scan down again, and sure enough poor old David looses his nomination as the Labour candidate for Dunedin South to and up and coming party official. Sure it’s news, but how very fortunate for the herald it happened today.
Then to top it all off we are treated to one of the biggest waste of space stories I have had the misfortune to read in ages, the mountain biking jaunt by some National MP’s and the exercise regime of John Key.
But I thought the political story de-jour was the youth crime wave crippling this country, in which Mr Simon Power plans to simply ‘stamp out’. So when Labour announced that it was planning to do something about the taggers, where is that story, top, next top, front page? Well yes sort of, number 5 in rotation of the featured stories (by which time browsers have not hung around to see). Number 5 on the list is the govts response for those dirty little buggers that are holding the country to ransom. I guess when the mysitcal piss take of something serious is more important than the actual response to it, once can only guess as to the editorial motive of the Herald.
Hardly the waterfront tapes, or even a smoking gun, but just a purely a snap shot of the view that I am starting to develop that the Herald is bias against Labour. This will of course be mildly interesting to lefties and bloody boring and conspiratorial to those on the right.
But as I say, I’m just casting a web-news designers eye over the page, and this is what I saw.
I will be looking at this from time to time, only to see if this was coincidental or something that seems to be developing, and unscientifically I’ll be checking irregularly.