With less than a week until the general elections, we felt it was our duty to make sure you guys are making an informed decision. On the other hand we couldn’t be arsed doing all the research ourselves, so as a happy median we’re proud to offer the Salient, (plagerised from In Unison) 2008 Election Guide to Election Guides – basically, where to find out who you want and why. Enjoy.
They Work For You
TWFY has been around for ages, and while their website is nothing fancy they do an excellent job of tracking parliamentary debates and voting records. On their main page these days is a useful wee colour-coded table which compares and contrasts the voting records of each party, and here (http://theyworkforyou.co.nz/organisations) you can find a table of every organisation mentioned in Parliament since 2005 and breakdowns of their donations to political parties.
Why It’s Useful: you can check whether, say, the Maori Party are going to have much in common with National as coalition partners (http://theyworkforyou.co.nz/parties/maori_party/national) (at 27%, not bloody likely) or why no one’s too fussed about problem gambling (http://theyworkforyou.co.nz/organisations/skycity_entertainment_group) (Sky City Entertainment Group paid $236k in donations to parties right across the political spectrum).
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Why It’s Amusing: The refreshingly accessible representation of data highlights some very unusual quirks (based on their voting records, National have more in common with Labour (http://theyworkforyou.co.nz/parties/national/labour) than they do with NZ First (http://theyworkforyou.co.nz/parties/national/nz_first) ).
Their first leaders’ debate sucked and the presidential-race format undermines MMP, but One News’ website is actually worth a look. Unlike Decision 08 the emphasis here is on breaking news rather than conjecture and the Colmar Brunton polls collected at the bottom of the main page are pretty much the definitive political barometer of New Zealand politics.
Why It’s Useful: If you’re already reasonably well-informed it’s a good way to catch up on the issues of the day. The site also hosts a blog by Canterbury University PoliSci lecturer Therese Arseneau (http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/425825/1737358), whose posts are refreshingly bipartisan, well articulated, and address bigger issues than just ‘who’s winning’.
Why It’s Amusing: They’re still hosting footage of Winston’s ‘NO’ press conference (http://tvnz.co.nz/view/video_popup_windows_skin/2238138), if blatant lies and misinformation are your thing.
On the surface of it 7 doesn’t seem all that fussed about the election. Their main page is dominated by programming schedules and unlike One News there’s no special section for election coverage. That being said, their programming itself is excellent – check out the Leaders on 7 interviews (http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/2067225) and the Swing Seats debates (http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/2067808) especially.
Why It’s Useful: It’s probably the best thing on the box in terms of voter education, since the interview formats are less about creating a narrative and more about analysing policy.
Why It’s Amusing: Wallace Chapman’s Back Benches show (http://tvnz.co.nz/view/tvnz_7_index_skin/tvnz_7_back_benches_index_group) is a wry look behind the scenes that manages to be neither trivial nor hysterical. As the former bFM host puts it, “We’re in a pub, we have a panel of politicians, there’s a small audience, and there’s even a chance of an ale. All in election year. THAT’S Democracy.”
Decision 08 has been touted by TV3 as their one-stop shop for election coverage, but to tell the truth there’s very little substance here. A total of nine headlines manage to take up half the main page, including reports on which MPs think Sarah Palin is a hottie (http://www.3news.co.nz/Political-wounds-picked-in-feisty-debate/tabid/419/articleID/77600/Default.aspx?ArticleID=77600) and the state of United Future MP Peter Dunne’s hairdo (http://www.3news.co.nz/Dunnes-hair-is-the-winner-on-the-day/tabid/419/articleID/77574/Default.aspx?ArticleID=77574). The rest of the site is a mix of blogs from the TV3 staff, light humour (‘If Politicians Were Cars’) and paid advertorials from the political parties (only $299 + GST!).
Why It’s Useful: It isn’t, really.
Why It’s Amusing: Fashion journalist Sylvia Giles’ political commentary has to be seen to be believed (http://www.decision08.co.nz/tabid/199/Default.aspx). “Jeanette Fitzsimons wore a relaxed suit, in oatmeal. A soft collar with no lapel, a necklace framing her trustworthy face.” Good God.
It’s new and a little sparse at the moment, but Pundit has the potential to be the next big thing. It claims to specialise in all that ‘citizen journalism’ the young people have been getting into, but still suffers from a lack of citizens at present. Still worth a look though.
Why It’s Useful: If you’re an undecided voter, the GlassBooth party quiz (http://www.pundit.co.nz/category/category/campaign-08/party-quiz) is a simple and effective way for you to find the party that best represents your values. And Dr. Jon Johansson’s (http://www.pundit.co.nz/blogs/jon-johansson) is the best new blog I’ve read all year.
Why It’s Amusing: The bizarre targeted advertisements in the banner ads. Brazilian dating? GayThug.com?
VoteMe is supposed to be a database where you can learn about the various candidates in your electorate. It’s a great idea, since most sites are obsessed with the drama and party votes to the exclusion of all else. It’s even managed to get the backing of One News – the only problem is that relatively few candidates have actually gotten involved, and those that are actually on the site have mostly just copy-pasted their bios and party manifestos.
Why It’s Useful: Even in its embryonic state, VoteMe offers the opportunity to read up on the minor parties outside of Parliament. Who knows, maybe you’ll like one of them. That’s the nature of MMP, after all.
Why It’s Amusing: VoteMe offers the opportunity to read up on the minor parties outside of Parliament. Often they’re minor for a reason.
This is Aotearoa Student Press Association story, written by Rory Mackinnon from In Unison magazine.