All rise - On the House stands adjourned

21:33, Sep 01 2010

So this is it. The last post, if you like, from On the House.

It's been more than three years and 378 blog posts since the Stuff editor asked me to write a blog on politics, and it's been a hell of a ride.

When I first began writing this blog, an email went round all National Party MPs from Party Central, ordering them not to talk to me anymore. Apparently now that I was blogging I was A Risk.

Fortunately for me, and for this blog, party discipline has never been a long suit of the National Party, and its MPs by and large ignored the edict.

I'd also like to think that the fears some in Parliament held for my blog and the others that followed it - at least from the mainstream media end - have not come to pass.

Chief among those was the concern that, somehow, journalists would apply a different standard to their commentary online from that which applied in print. That we would be looser with our facts, or more likely to break confidences.

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: Eddie, Roscoe, Dave T, South Islander, Sailor Sam, Richard Right, Brett, Sheelagh, KiwiKraut, and of course Cullen's Sidekick also helped keep me on the straight and narrow and were quick to correct me when I was wrong - or simply misguided.

I thank you all for the intellectual discussion, the levity, the wit and the enthusiasm you brought to these threads and made it such a successful blog for the Stuff website.

I'm not going to try to count up all the comments or the page impressions On the House has generated since it began in June 2007, but it would number in the many thousands.  Clearly politics means a lot to you people!

(Are you insane? Just kidding.)

I tried to think of a blogging highlight that did not involving blending up my words and eating them but I have to concede while it wasn't my finest hour, it was certainly the most popular.

Since leaving the rarified world of Parliament it's been more difficult to post as regularly as I would like, however, and at times I'm afraid the threads have degenerated into a bit of a war zone as you've argued it out among yourselves.

So the Stuff editor and I thought it was probably time to lay On the House to a well-deserved rest.

But the good news is that out of the ashes a new politics blog will rise - keep your eyes peeled for more on that soon. I certainly hope many of you will check it out and continue your arguments - sorry, discussions - in the new forum.

I'm hoping to start up another blog at some point myself, though I'm not sure on what yet. I'll let y'all know.

For now, though, it's adieu, and thanks. It's been a lot of fun.

On the House stands adjourned.

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