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So, I’m a journalist now

Cameron Slater went to the High Court last Thursday to overcome the next legal hurdle in the defamation case taken out against him by Mr Matt Blomfield.

For those of you late to the story, Whaleoil was given access to information about Mr Blomfield’s business dealings regarding Hell Pizza. ¬†Due to a series of events, allegedly supported by Mr Blomfield’s own documents (allegedly, because we’re still subject to legal action), some of Mr Blomfield’s business dealings ¬†were reported on, especially those surrounding Hell Pizza and Hell Pizza sponsorship.

Mr Blomfield took exception to having his business emails published and took Cameron Slater to court for defamation. ¬†Part of this process is that all the articles about Mr Blomfield on¬†Whaleoil have been removed from public view, and we are under a suppression order from the Court that stops us from revealing any new information about Mr Blomfield – anything that isn’t already out in the public domain.

As part of that legal tussle, Mr Blomfield wanted to know who provided Cam Slater with access to the emails and documentation. ¬†Whaleoil doesn’t reveal sources. ¬†We never have and we never will, so Slater respectfully told the judge he couldn’t do that, and invoked protections under the law allowing journalists not to be compelled to reveal their sources by a Court.

The next legal step was therefore obvious to Mr Blomfield: ¬†insist that Cameron Slater isn’t a journalist, and Whaleoil isn’t part of the media.

A District Court judge found in Mr Blomfield’s favour, and insisted Cameron Slater reveal his sources. ¬†Again, this was resisted, even though Cam Slater was now clearly in contempt of court. ¬† Read more »

Southland Times editorial on Press Council changes

The Southland Times editorial is very good on the changes the Press Council is making to include bloggers.

Sometimes the news media need to grab their ankles for a health check.

This being the case, it’s a welcome development that bloggers and other digital media are being offered to partake in the process, by means of membership of the Press Council.

It’s a body that weighs up complaints against principles including accuracy, fairness, balance, privacy, confidentiality, discrimination, the use of subterfuge, the distinction of comment and fact, and conflicts of interest.

Inviting independent digital media to succumb to such extra scrutiny not only brings more accountability but, equally, credibility.

It doesn’t do any news or current affairs media any harm to be found out when they have seriously erred, nor to have their judgments independently endorsed, as occasionally happens too.

Nowhere is it written that those running their own websites must now form an orderly queue and join up. But the absence of a self-regulatory body has become an issue for those bloggers and sites that have become heavy hitters. And those who aspire to be. So they should be willing to join up.

[This is provided the yet-to-be-confirmed costs aren't disproportionately high compared with their income and that they are fairly represented on the complaints panel.]¬† Read more »

Photo Of The Day

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The Hyena Handlers of Nigeria

 

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Journalists as politicians

With the alarming uptake of journalists moving to grab jobs as politicians, mostly for the Labour party it might be timely to re-visit an article from 2010 about this very same issue in Australia.

Sure it is from Australia and from four years ago but it makes for interesting reading nonetheless.

Peter Costello, now a civilian, has bagged the practice of journalists going into politics.

From Channel Nine’s 2010 election commentary panel, the former lawyer and Liberal treasurer (1996-2007) was remarking on the defeat of Labor’s Maxine McKew , a former ABC current affairs presenter/interviewer and¬†Bulletin¬†journalist, in the seat of Bennelong.

In his column for The Sydney Morning Herald on August 18 he wrote:

“Every so often a journalist chances their arm in real politics. Maxine McKew is one. Her underwhelming parliamentary career shows how much harder it is to do than it is to pontificate.”

Putting the possibility of partisan bias in Mr Costello’s dismissive remarks to one side, the issue of journalists crossing over into politics is worth thinking about.

Is it a good idea given the role of the Fourth Estate in a democracy?

Journalists are meant to be independent ‘pontificators’, objective observers of governance and a key part of the accountability process. They are not meant to cross over into party politics with all the vile distortions (spin doctoring) which accompany contemporary adversarial games.

Journalists, particularly political journalists like Maxine McKew, know about the viciousness of politics in Australia. They know about vested interest influence peddling through slush funding practices. They know about factionalism, tribalism, smear, character assassination and zealotry. They know about media management and focus group rhetorical and policy manipulations which pervert honest engagement with the electorate.

When a journalist decides to leave journalism for politics without a cleansing career change in the middle it does bring into question their ethics and leanings for their most recent work. It is much the same if a politician immediately becomes a lobbyist straight after bowing out of politics. It smells a bit whiffy and looks slightly dodgy.¬† Read more »

The changing face of media freedoms

There seems to be developing a narrative amongst some media elites that unless you travelled their path then you are no journalist.

The sanctimony and finger pointing is hilarious, then there is the personal animosity if your politics or beliefs or even behaviour don’t match their own.

But if you can’t stand up for the freedoms of your political enemies then who will you stand up for.

Glen Greenwald is suffering from this. Now his politics are not my own, I doubt we’d agree on much and I am unlikely to ever meet him, but he is facing this exact criticism, simply for telling a story, even if it is the story of a traitor.

Among the dozens of reporters, editors, and commentators who have worked on articles sourced to Edward Snowden, just one, Glenn Greenwald, has been subject to a sustained campaign that seeks to define him as something other than a journalist. NBC’s David Gregory¬†asked¬†him why he shouldn’t be prosecuted for aiding and abetting a felon.¬†Representative Peter King declared that “legal action should be taken against him.”¬†Representative Mike Rogers¬†charges¬†that he is a thief who sells stolen material.¬†The New Republic¬†published¬†a piece¬†alleging that he has a nefarious, secret agenda. Why this unique effort to discredit him in particular?

Countless American journalists have published classified documents in the modern era. All were paid for their work, and in a world with Bob Woodward, it’s unlikely that Greenwald has been paid the most for revelations of classified material. Greenwald isn’t even unique in writing about secrets stolen by Snowden, or in being paid as a freelancer for his work upon the publication of those articles. Nor has Greenwald authored the Snowden articles denounced most bitterly by the national-security establishment. That distinction goes to the talented Barton Gellman.

So what is different about Greenwald?

The news organizations he works with are different. Rather than publishing in the¬†Washington Post¬†or the¬†New York Times,¬†institutions that have particular, unique, and often cozy relationships with America’s ruling class, he started out with a personal blog, later moved to¬†Salon.com, started publishing stories sourced to Snowden at¬†The Guardian’s¬†U.S. edition, and has worked with the foreign press.

His approach to journalism is different. Rather than trying (or purporting) to be objective, he is transparent about his opinions and explicitly argues for their validity. He criticizes fellow journalists for being insufficiently adversarial. Unlike most mainstream-media reporters, he voices contempt for certain American officials. And when he believes that they have broken the law, he doesn’t shy away from urging that they be prosecuted and imprisoned for their crimes. It is no accident that there is no love lost for him in the national-security state. ¬†¬† Read more »

World’s oldest newspaper goes Internet-only

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With the debate as to what constitutes media, it is interesting to note how the “big boys and girls” started themselves, way back in the day…

One of the longest running newspapers in the world, which started as a¬†notice pinned¬†to a coffee shop wall, will soon permanently stop the presses. ¬† Read more »

Greenwald – ‚ÄúEvery journalist has an agenda‚ÄĚ

Glenn Greenwald, the ¬†journalist who broke the Edward Snowden story talks about journalism and agendas…disproving the lie that many journalists delude themselves with…that they are objective and don;t have agendas.

I have always said the same, and I don’t have a problem with agendas of journalists except when they deny such a thing exists. Why they continue to be cowards and continue to hide their agenda is beyond me…life is a contest of ideas…just be honest about them.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald jabbed at MSNBC on their turf Thursday, accusing the network of shilling for President Barack Obama and the Democrats nearly ‚Äú24 hours a day.‚ÄĚ

Greenwald, who broke the story about the National Security Agency‚Äôs levels of surveillance earlier this year with leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, was addressing the claim that he‚Äôs ‚Äúbecome more of a spokesman‚ÄĚ for Snowden.¬† Read more »

The Axis of Envy or The Overton Window as it applies to blogs

A reader emails some thoughts about media, blogs and the future:

Hi Cam

On holiday now and have some time to ponder the role of Blogs in NZ.

The New Zealand Herald, TV3 and TVNZ (The Main Stream Media or MSM) are not comfortable with the rise of Blogs and especially the rise of Whaleoil.  I have spent some time considering this and believe the major driver for their concern is that they fear the loss of their privileged position as the ordained elite guardians of enlightened thought in New Zealand.

To understand this we first need to understand the Overton Window.  The Overton Window concept comes out of an American Think Tank (www.mackinac.org) and was created by Joe Overton in the mid 90’s. Joe wrote an essay in which he observed that any collection of public policies within a policy area, such as education, can be arranged in order from more free to less free (or from less government intervention to more).

He also noticed that debates on policy tended to be limited by the boundaries of public acceptance, and ideas outside those boundaries are usually rejected with little examination. If the change you are pushing is outside of those boundaries, your chances for reasoned debate and more importantly changes to public policy or law are very low. Overton called these boundaries a window and hence the term The Overton Window. ¬† Read more »

The proper media, they wouldn’t lie, would they?

The whole argument out on the Interweb about Whaleoil’s status as Media and mine as a Journalist seems to have pretty much got to the point where the general position is “yes, Whaleoil is media”, and “Yes, at times Slater does things Journalists do”.

“But”.

And then come a lot of value judgments not present in law. ¬†My “brand” of journalism is not good enough, I’m not accountable or answerable to anyone, I don’t belong to a professional body that may curtail some of my excesses, there is no formal procedure to complain or seek redress.

They like to quote that I’ve found myself in court many times now. ¬†That’s of course spinning it a bit. ¬†The first occasions were a deliberate act of Civil Disobedience to make a case for Name Suppression being reviewed, and I’m proud to say I was instrumental in having that law changed.

It cost me a lot of personal money, and I am not keen to repeat that process, but this is a clear case of staging a protest and taking the consequences, not some indicator that Whaleoil is out of control – or needs control. ¬†Pus, when I did, I did have to answer to the courts. ¬† Read more »