Whale army fails to materialize

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camLast 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.

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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.

5 COMMENTS

  1. One of the key issues with The Truth would be that Slater gives his opinions, and the opinions of several of his mates, away for free on his blog so why bother buying dead-tree to read them?

    I actually obtained a couple of post-Slater Truth’s and the only thing that had changed from the declining pre-Slater Truth was there was now partisan content rammed in the first few pages – problem was though, it was the same ‘slamming Labour and the Greens’ stuff he posts on his blog.

    Not only this, the idea that The Truth would once again be a hard hitting tabloid, brave enough to publish the news the big boys wouldn’t was a completely silly business plan from the outset. I don’t doubt the people Slater talks about, when he talks about ‘The Whale Army’ exist; I know people that fit the bill he describes.I just don’t think most of them are as interested in politics as he thinks. While a lot of them probably vote National and hate the type of people that Slater describes when he describes Labour voters and Green voters, but beyond that (or when confronted with reality) don’t care. Certainly not enough to fork over cash when they get the opinions for free elsewhere.

    I’d hazard a guess that if he’d wanted to boost sales amongst them he should have canned the politics all together and devoted the whole paper to sports and soft porn.

    • “I don’t doubt the people Slater talks about, when he talks about ‘The Whale Army’ exist; I know people that fit the bill he describes.I just don’t think most of them are as interested in politics as he thinks. While a lot of them probably vote National and hate the type of people that Slater describes when he describes Labour voters and Green voters, but beyond that (or when confronted with reality) don’t care.”

      Spot on imo – that’s why their astroturf campaign against the Maritime Union on behalf of the POA executives and their backers failed to deliver. I think despite Slater’s wishes, the Whale Army is something of an HTML tiger.
      They can masacre an easy target like Aaron Gilmore who was as good as dead already, they can dance on Peter Dunne’s grave, or netbully that photographer dude whose email they published in the comments section the other day as revenge for rubbing in Slater’s failure as editor of the Truth, but their serious political objectives continue to elude them.

  2. Spotted an issue of ‘The Truth’ at the supermarket the other day… picked it up… looked at the crap on the cover… put it down again. It was offensive and the only ‘urge’ I had wasn’t so much to buy it, as wash my hands.

    As has been said, why would anyone buy that rag when that can get Slater’s nasty tripe free at his blogsite? What would be the point?

    The trouble with the Truth is that it doesn’t know what it is.

    A newspaper? Sorry, the stories it carries are mostly anti-left spin. Who cares about that. (If The Truth carried anti-National spin – I still wouldn’t buy it. I can get that online, for free.)

    Porn? If it’s a porn rag, it’s fairly tame from what’s available on the ‘net (from what I’m told… *ahem*).

    Sex ads? Pointless. You can get the same stuff on various internet sites. (Again, so I’m reliably informed.)

    Sports? Maybe. But I think others newspapers and specialist magazines do it far better. And they’re not tainted by the Truth’s reputation for sleazyness.

    Personally, I think it’s day has long gone. There are a couple of possibilities that might have worked – but I’ll be damned if I give out free advice on how to help Slater in his job.

    The Truth – like it’s Soviet counterpart – R.I.P.

  3. a person who stole a light fitting, Arie Smith-Vorkamp, who is compelled to do such things because he suffers from Asperger’s syndrome

    I take your point, but, as a person diagnosed with Asperger’s, I must object. First, one does not “suffer from” Asperger’s but from other people’s reactions to it. Second, if Smith-Vorkamp’s experience of the condition is anything like mine, it was not a matter of his being “compelled to do such things” but of his failing to understand (until after the fact) why it was inappropriate behaviour. If memory serves me correctly, he took it from an abandoned house, and may well not have realized that it still belonged to somebody.

    • Thanks for your observations Daniel…I stand corrected. I have very limited knowledge about Asperger’s, but like most syndromes it’s often people’s reaction that causes the most problems. A case in point is Cameron Slater and the Police’s reaction to Arie Smith-Vorkamp taking a light fighting from an abandoned house. Talk about overreaction.

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