Can He Handle The Truth? Cameron Slater has leveraged his extraordinary success as the author of the Whaleoil blog into the editorship of the once-mighty Truth newspaper. Now that they know what's possible, the Left's bloggers should aim for similar communications success.
“ALL I WANT is the truth!” It’s a measure of Cameron Slater’s propagandistic flair that he should celebrate his appointment as Truth’s new editor by posting a video-clip featuring John Lennon. Recruiting one of the Left’s pop icons to celebrate his new job as right-wing press baron – that’s our Cam!
Though you wouldn’t think it to read the response of the left-wing bloggers, who have, almost unanimously, greeted Mr Slater’s success with the level of enthusiasm usually reserved for the Black Death, his appointment is a very good reason to celebrate.
The extraordinary effort Mr Slater has put into his Whaleoil blog - propelling the single-man operation to the Number One slot on Open Parachute’s New Zealand blog-rankings - is almost certainly the reason he was asked to do the job. Mr Slater may not be a trained journalist, but 600,000 page-views per month more than entitles Whaleoil to be compared favourably with most of this country’s provincial dailies.
Certainly Whaleoil reaches more people than Truth has been able to attract over the past few years. And that, presumably, is the point. As newspaper circulation figures continue to decline and publishers tear their hair out trying to arrest the slide in both readers and advertisers, the proprietors of Truth have taken a punt on a guy who has proved that right-wing political blogging has mass appeal.
Okay, okay – so it’s not the sort of political blogging that appeals to me, but in assessing the effectiveness of any sort of blog the number of page-views it registers cannot be ignored. And by that measure Mr Slater is a highly effective communicator.
A crucial part of Whaleoil’s appeal lies in its direct and simple prose-style. That, and its author’s unerring eye for the political jugular. These are the qualities upon which Truth’s owners, Messrs Horton and Crow, have staked their reputations – and their fortunes. They are betting that Mr Slater can restore Truth to its former status as one of the most influential newspapers in the country.
From its current circulation of 10,000 to 16,000 copies, they will be hoping that Truth – both as a newspaper and as an Internet presence – will once again become powerful enough to make or break any citizen fortunate or unfortunate enough to attract its interest.
At present, the paper’s readership is made up, to the tune of around 80 percent, of the social group I have elsewhere dubbed “Waitakere Man”. Mr Slater will be doing everything he can to keep these blokes attached to the National Party and, if possible, recruit their friends and workmates to the right-wing cause.
If ever there was a time to throw one’s hat into the ring as a potential Truth columnist, it was the day Mr Slater’s editorial appointment was announced and his left-wing nemesis, Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury, resigned. Getting on board what could become one of the great publishing adventures of recent years (and hopefully seeding whatever left-wing ideas one could squeeze past the Fox News-style of journalism Mr Slater so clearly favours) was certainly worth a try.
I did my best, but the ubiquitous Josie Pagani beat me to it.
Well done that woman, I say, and congratulations to Mr Slater. The challenge before the Left is now to build their own version of the sort of extraordinary communications vehicle that Whaleoil has become, and which the proprietors of the Truth newspaper are clearly expecting its new editor to replicate on their behalf.
After all, anything Cam can do, the Left should be able to do better.
The last thing we need to see is Mr Slater, contemptuously twitting his left-wing opponents by posting a YouTube clip of Jack Nicolson snarling:
“You can’t handle the Truth!”
This posting is exclusive to the Bowalley Road blogsite.