Internet culture

Some advice for the opposition from Rodney Hide

Rodney Hide tells the opposition to find a better cause.

The Opposition is making heavy weather of trying to make Prime Minister John Key responsible for what Cameron Slater writes on his blog and in his personal communications.

I say in a kind and caring way that they should give it up. Because – and I say this even more caringly and kindly – Slater, aka the Whale, is not always responsible for what he writes.

By his own admission, Slater has had his battles with depression. By his own admission he is an embellisher.

Anyone who follows his blog knows him as a force of nature once he starts tapping his keyboard and pushing the upload button.

His blog is one man’s opinion, raw and unedited.

It is politics red and bloody and some of what you read you wonder if you really needed to know.

But back I go like a junkie. I enjoy the Whaleoil blog just like I enjoy the Left’s The Standard and The Daily Blog.

I’m not sure The Standard or the mouth breather at The Daily blog will appreciate that Rodney Hide enjoys their hate fuelled rants.

The blogs, as mad and as bad they are, add richness and diversity to political debate.

It’s true much of it is gossip. The blogs have lifted the lid on what was once confined to Bellamy’s. They have opened it up.

Political gossip always has an angle, juiciness trumps veracity and its effect can prove lethal.

But don’t blame blogs. Gossip has been used as a political weapon for as long as there’s been politics.    Read more »

Franks on engaging social media

Stephen Franks has written a LONG (but very considered) piece on why not only should lawyers not be afraid from engaging with social media, but arguably they are ethically obliged to, where using effective channels to get a message out there is in the interest of a client.
It’s a bit of a read, but for anyone interested in the media, politics and the law, it is an essential read.

A public voice for clients, and for views of what the law should be, does not shun effective platforms.

We have in the past, do now, and will in the future, write, publish, talk about and promote causes and interests in any medium that seems to us likely to be effective. Of course that includes social media. I have my own blog. I comment on the blog posts of others. Frequently the participation is on issues where I or the firm have a view, and our participation is a pro bono attempt to add expert correction or advice to the public discussion. Sometimes participation promotes the firm. Sometimes it is expressly to advance a client’s cause.

Like most people, we are probably more effective and more energetic on issues where our views coincide with those of the client. With their approval we’ll use as many channels as is practicable to ensure that the client position is communicated to the people who should have the information. We are public advocates. We do not eschew any lawful form of communication.

He then turns to the irony of the NBR reporting asking about using a media resource that calls on accountability and causes some offence.     Read more »

Interesting ODT article

There was an interesting ODT article yesterday that quoted Julian Miles QC.

Ironically he represented Fairfax, I think, in opposition to my application for an injunction. He is one of the most qualified barristers in the land, especially in areas of defamation and also media law.

When he speaks people should listen.

A lawyer who prevented Cameron Slater from gagging traditional media says he expects the controversial Whale Oil blogger will soon enjoy the same legal protection as journalists.

Julian Miles QC represented three media organisations at a hearing in the High Court at Auckland on Friday and less than 24 hours later spoke at the World Bar Conference in Queenstown.

Mr Slater had sought an injunction stopping further publication of private emails hacked from his computer.

The emails have caused a storm of controversy during the past three weeks, leading to the resignation of Minister of Justice Judith Collins.

On Friday, Mr Slater won an interim injunction against ”unknown defendants” publishing his private emails – referring to the hacker known as Whaledump, or Rawshark, who obtained the information used as the basis for Nicky Hager’s controversial book, Dirty Politics.    Read more »

Radio Live interviews on blogging and bloggers

RadioLive’s Wallace Chapman was looking at bloggers,new media and the elections this year. He talked to a few bloggers.

This was my interview.

Read more »

Does anyone still read the news?

Apparently not according to research by Microsoft. 

If analysts at Microsoft Research are correct, a startling number of American Web users are no longer paying attention to the news as it is traditionally defined. In a recent study of “filter bubbles,” Sharad Goel, Seth Flaxman, and Justin Rao asked how many Web users actually read the news online. Out of a sample of 1.2 million American users, just over fifty thousand, or four per cent, were “active news customers” of “front section” news. The other ninety-six per cent found other things to read.

The authors defined an active news customer as someone who read at least ten substantive news articles and two opinion pieces in a three-month period—if you remove the requirement of reading opinion pieces, the number of news readers climbs to fourteen per cent. The authors studied U.S.-based Web users who, between March and May of 2013, accumulated a total of 2.3 billion page views.

News can be a vague category; the authors defined by collecting news sites with appreciable traffic (the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and Fox News), blogs (Daily Kos and Breitbart), and regional dailies (the Seattle Times and the Denver Post). Using “machine learning” algorithms, the authors separated what, based on word usage, they considered front-section news from the other content on news sites, like sports, weather, life style, and entertainment. What’s left is the narrow, classical news article, about, say, the State of the Union, as opposed to one about the latest adventures of Justin Bieber or Farrah Abraham.

Various influences shaped the study. The data was collected only from Internet Explorer users (who, the authors say, tend to be slightly older), and it represents only those who agreed to make their Web-browsing history available. Additionally, just because people don’t surf news Web sites doesn’t mean that they don’t get news from other sources, like physical newspapers, talk radio, Twitter, “The Colbert Report,” or the evening news.

That said, the sample size, 1.2 million, is impressive—far greater than that of a typical survey. And the number of people whom the study shows to be paying attention to the news online is consistent with the low ratings of cable news during the same period. Also, as opposed to relying on what people said they did, the Microsoft researchers drew on a record of what they actually did, which is significantly different. In a 2012 Pew survey, for example, thirty-nine per cent of people said that they had read news online the day before. The difference between the two numbers—fourteen and thirty-nine—may, in part, reflect different definitions of “news.” (The Pew survey did not define the term.) And, of course, what people like to think they do is often different from what they do.   Read more »

Southland Times editorial on me, journalism and the law

The Southland Times editorial doesn’t like me, but they have still come out against Judge Blackie’s decision.

He is heavy and he ain’t our brother.

In journalistic terms, Cameron Slater is more like one of those relatives that you don’t get to choose. A distant one, we’d like to think.

The Whale Oil blogger forces us to reconsider the boundaries of what constitutes a journalist. It pains us to acknowledge kinship of any sort. But we do.

Right now he’s embroiled in a defamation hearing, during which a High Court judge has ruled he’s not a real journo, so cannot rely on the special – though still sorely limited – protections journalists have to keep their sources secret.

And that’s a ruling that cannot stand.

Whether Cameron Slater is a good journalist is a different argument from whether he is one at all.  Read more »

The Press editorial on my appeal

The Press editorial has also come out on side:

Until recently, the question of who is a journalist and what is a news medium was relatively straightforward.

Journalists were people who worked for outlets delivering news and commentary within an industry governed by rules to ensure ethical standards, including fairness, accuracy and balance.

The proliferation in the last decade of alternative sources of news and comment has muddled things.

A recent decision by a District Court judge that the well-known, some would say notorious, Whale Oil blog is not a news medium highlights the difficulty.

In a paper on new media published last year, the Law Commission observed that bloggers are often highly partisan, can be offensive and abusive and are not accountable to anybody.  Read more »

Russell Brown on matters

Russell Brown gives a thoughtful piece on the matters of the ruling of Judge Blackie.

Whatever you think about Cameron Slater, I don’t think you should be rejoicing in Judge Charles Blackie’s decision that Slater cannot rely on the protections in the Evidence Act to avoid disclosing correspondence that would reveal the identity of his source for a series of Whaleoil posts that have provoked defamation action from former Hell Pizza franchisee Matthew Blomfield.

Blomfield, acting for himself, argues that access to the email correspondence would allow him to determine malice, which could be important to his case. He continues to claim that the hard drive from which Slater took and posted his emails was stolen in a burglary. Slater says he received it from a source. Judge Blackie’s decision in Blomfield’s favour gives some of the tone of what Slater wrote – it seems to have been vicious, even spiteful.

Yes Blomfield does claim repeatedly despite evidence to the contrary and the Police telling him it wasn’t stolen. To continue to claim this is simply murk and lies. Evidence has been produced and accepted, quite apart from the fact that Blomfield falsely claims it was his office, it was not… and falsely claims it was his Police complaint…it was not.  Read more »

Chart of the Day – Blogs Influence Consumers’ Purchasing Decisions

I found a very interesting article about the influence of blogs. Which is funny because I was once told by a media buyer that blogs were irrelevant.

The latest findings from Technorati’s 2013 Digital Influence Report show that “consumers are turning to blogs when looking to make a purchase.”

In fact, blogs rank favorably with consumers for trust, popularity and even influence.

pr-success-for-inflluencers Read more »

Whaleoil Awards – Best Political Blog

Here it is…the post you have all been waiting for.

Which blog is the best political blog in the land. If you go by Open Parachute stats then the most popular and well read blog is this blog, but is it the best.

Perhaps you may prefer David Farrar’s lesser read travel, arts and fitness blog…he does sometime blog about politics.

THen there is Russell Brown’s lambchop recipe blog and old hippy blog…he used to be rated the best of the best.

Cactus Kate surely must get a mention, though she doesn’t blog nearly as frequently as she ought.

Comment away.