Just because you're online, it doesn't mean you're on the ball

Thanks to the Internet, political junkies and citizens roaming far from home had fast, accurate election news at their fingertips, didn't they? Well, no, says our UK special correspondent

It was the first New Zealand election in the age of mass internet use so, naturally, political junkies and citizens roaming far from home had fast, accurate news at their fingertips, didn't they? Well, no. Here's what the major news carriers had on their Web sites at 4-5am last Sunday morning (NZT) .

TVNZ gave a useful series of news briefs, but nothing more than a paragraph and, oddly, given that is was one of the most crucial features of the election, no mention of the Greens' predicament.

TV3 fared much worse. Checked twice during the hour, its Live Newswire Service promising "the news as it happens" carried only the message "News headlines being updated. Please call back soon". Oh, and it had a lovely picture of Hillary Barry at the bottom of the page.

The New Zealand Herald was best, running a lead story covering the major points, including the only mention of Max Bradford's seat loss and Georgina Beyers' win. But its promised breakdown of votes electorate by electorate was largely empty, with the curious exceptions of Albany, Aoraki, Banks Peninsula, Hamilton West and Ilam.

Without the pressures of spin or sales the Electoral Commission's site should have been the most reliable. Wrong again. While its list of victors and margins in each electorate was clean and accurate, its map of the country was contradictory, showing the Greens having won in Coromandel, Labour in Hamilton East and National had in Tauranga. Which proves that just because you're online, it doesn't mean you're on the ball.

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