Last Monday it was revealed that one of the nation’s oldest newspapers, The Truth, is going down the tubes. There have been various rumours flying around; one being that it lost a major advertiser, another being the takeover by the Crow brothers caused restructuring difficulties.
Russell Beaumont, The Truth Weekender general manager, gave the not so credible excuse that “the owners and shareholders have said we should pause for a cup of tea”. However there’s a far more plausible explanation for The Truth’s timely and likely permanent demise: Cameron Slater.
The Truth’s expiration is no real surprise to those familiar with Slater’s work. Indeed, the only real surprise is that the tabloid, which has been published since 1887, lasted a whole six months after the appointment before an obvious lack of interesting content and editorial skills brought it to its knees.
Cameron Slater, who became editor of The Truth at the end of October last year, is well known for being a dishonest blogger of the highest order. In fact hardly a day goes by without Slater publishing a blog or two of mendacious spin that is easily deconstructed by the facts.
Perhaps Slater’s most inglorious blogging moment was when he breached suppression orders and made the identity of a sex abuse victim publicly known, a crime he was convicted for in September 2010.
The right wing blogger is also infamous for saying a person who stole a light fitting, Arie Smith-Vorkamp, who is compelled to do such things because he suffers from Asperger’s syndrome; “should be hung, drawn and quartered” and “gut-shot”, which is unfortunately not an isolated incident of hate speech from the gun enthusiast, Slater.
Clearly somebody as morally corrupt as Slater wasn’t a suitable candidate to be editor of The Truth, which was purportedly attempting to clean up its act at the time…what on earth was management thinking?
In my opinion, the fact that Slater has laid the blame solely at the Crow Brothers feet, and claims The “Truth was too far gone” when he took over, and he inherited “a legacy of the mayhem caused by David and Steve Crow”, should be taken with a grain of salt. This is especially the case when you consider some of the other failed projects the right wing propagandist has had his grubby little hands on.
From publishing the personal information of a Port of Auckland worker during strike action, to his attempt at arms dealing in NZ Army tanks to overseas military buyers and his association with the discredited Simon Lusk, plus the immoral “freedom of speech coalition”, Slater truly has a dubious history that he will have trouble ever living down.
Despite his numerous failings, when he became editor of The Truth Slater made a number of grandiose promises to reinvigorate the scandal rag, which he claimed would “deliver REAL news” with “REAL opinion”. He also gave the assurance that “the little paper that could still can!” Unfortunately all that really changed was the standard of the tabloid deteriorating into the same old dross we get on Whale Oil Beef Hooked, which is by some inexplicable reason the most viewed political blog site in New Zealand.
Although there are questions about its contributors, Slater’s website boasts over half a million visits per month, which would make advertising space come at a premium. That’s also how newspapers survive these days and it’s likely the main reason The Truth has failed. With circulation declining further since Slater became editor, there’s no reason for advertisers to keep forking over their cash in an attempt to reach an audience that simply doesn’t exist.
So after all the free advertising given by the blogosphere, various politicians and other newspapers, what caused The Truth to continue to lose its readership? Well there was of course a price increase and with the content of the newspaper not living up to the overblown hype, it’s no wonder The Truth has had to close its doors. The Whale army has simply failed to materialize into the real world, because it was just a figment of Slater’s imagination to begin with.
I’m hopeful that this criticism will cause Slater to change his ways. But I’m not, for obvious reasons, holding my breath.