Colin Espiner has posted his last post at On The House:
. . . It’s true that blogging has changed the way political journalists write; the style is more colloquial, and the topics we choose to write about are not always the ones that would fill the august pages of The Press or the Dominion Post.
But I’d argue – certainly for myself – that the standards never wavered. Off the record remained just that. Gossip over a glass of wine did not find its way on to these web pages – at least not without the author’s express permission.
For a while On The House became required reading in the Beehive, and I’m proud of the fact that Prime Minister John Key and many of his ministers read most of what I wrote.
I’m even more proud of the fact that he often went on to read what you wrote, too.
Because if there’s one thing that blogging has taught me about journalism it is that the old “sermon from the mount” approach to writing – particularly opinion writing – is no longer acceptable in the new multimedia environment.
Readers expect to have their own say about what is served up to them. I have certainly had to develop a thicker skin to cope with what has been served back to me.
I learned not to question Idiot/Savant on climate change issues, since he’d read all the United Nations reports. I learned to double-check what I wrote about Labour, because if not Jennifer would correct me – all the way from Texas.
I learned that whenever I wrote anything about law and order it would earn a diatribe from Adolf Fiinkensein (is that really your name, Adolf?) or that if I wrote about the smacking debate I was asking for trouble from Alan Wilkinson.
Other regulars on the site . . . helped keep me on the straight and narrow and were quick to correct me when I was wrong – or simply misguided.
It must be all too easy for those inside what Rob Hosking calls the Bowen Triangle – the confines in which political insiders operate in Wellington – to become insulated from other people and views, to think their views are the only views.
Blogging – and the response he got to it – took Espiner beyond the Bowen triangle’s boundaries.
Political analysis and journalism are the better for it.