The Guardian

Should there be a source shield law?

In the US there is a move afoot to further protect press freedoms by extending protection of sources further.

It is an interesting discussion and one well worth having, especially where sources could suffer a clear and present danger to their well being from those who would seek to identify them.

Geoffrey R. Stone writes at The Daily Beast:

The press isn’t free if it has fear of prosecution for leaks. It’s time to give reporters the same type of privilege attorneys and doctors have.

The Guardian and The Washington Post were each awarded the Pulitzer Prize for public service Monday for their reporting based on classified documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. This will no doubt annoy many in the intelligence community who believe that Snowden, The Guardian, and the Post have done serious damage to the national security of the United States.

Unlike most disclosures of classified information, this reporting has not raised any central issues about the legitimacy or value of a journalist-source privilege, because Snowden chose to make no secret of his identity. Nonetheless, the bestowal of the Pulitzer Prize presents a good moment to reflect on the appropriate relationship between the government, the press, and source.

The issue is particularly timely at the moment because Gabriel Schoenfeld, a senior fellow at theHudson Institute and a former adviser to presidential candidate Mitt Romney, recently published an article in the journal National Affairs in which he concludes that for Congress to enact a federal journalist-source privilege would be “a bad idea.” Although I admire and respect Schoenfeld, in this, he is wrong.  Read more »

No supporting evidence but the daft poms look at plain packaging too

As with climate change governments are being hoodwinked into policy changes without any reliable or accurate scientific data to support their contentions.

We are seeing this particularly in the health arena with the foisting of plain packaging on consumers of tobacco products. But the same people who are lobbying for tobacco control also have their trotters deep into other health troughs, usually in areas of obesity.

Now in Britain their government has fallen for the latest assaults and decided to look at plain packaging, again without any sensible evidence.

Standardised plain packaging for cigarettes is to be introduced in England, following a comprehensive review of the evidence which found unbranded packs could cut the number of children starting to smoke.

Public health minister Jane Ellison told the House of Commons that she would introduce draft regulations swiftly “so it is crystal clear what is intended” – although there will be a short consultation.

Sir Cyril Chantler, who was asked to look at the potential benefits, particularly to children, of plain packaging after the government postponed a decision last summer, made “a compelling case that if standardised packaging were introduced, it would be very likely to have a positive impact on public health,” Ellison said.

Weasel words like “very likely” and “potential benefits” are the key indicator to their being no actual evidence, rather it is emotive and subjective agenda being pushed by state funded researchers on a jihad against big tobacco. When they finally kill of them, they will turn their guns onto “big food”, and yes they are already calling it that…along with “big sugar”.

The Guardian editorial is unusually forthright about where this will lead to.    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 »

Has Chris Turney lied about his support by institutions?

Chris Turney and his now infamous Ship of Fools are looking more and more foolish as evidence mounts as to the real purpose and backing of their little trip of fancy to the ‘ice-free’ waters of the Antarctic.

When this debacle unfolded people started rummaging through their website. One page, that of their supporters, raised alarm bells.

It appears that taxpayers funds may have been used to promote this little warmist holiday camp on ice.

The Taxpayers Union followed up by contacting the New Zealand organisations listed and found some pleasant news…for taxpayers…and not so pleasant news for Chris Turney.

Following the well publicised case of global warming scientists being stuck in record pack ice in Antarctica (ironically the expedition was intended to study the dwindling sea ice) and the efforts to rescue them, the Taxpayers’ Union began enquiries late last year to find out precisely how much taxpayers’ money the NZ Government “supporters” listed on the exhibition’s website had contributed.

It appears that thankfully New Zealand taxpayers’ haven’t forked out the huge amounts feared. In fact, it appears that the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) is claiming at least one ‘supporter’ it doesn’t have…

The expedition’s website lists expedition supporters the Department of Conservation, Landcare Research, and the University of Waikato.

Despite asking the AAE leader (via email and his very active twitter account), and the media contacts at the University of New South Wales, no one would tell us how much kiwi taxpayers had contributed via the three agencies.

On 1 January we lodged Official Information Act requests with DoC, Landcare and the University of Waikato.

To DoC’s credit it responded by 8 January, stating that DoC were not participants in the expedition and therefore the information (i.e. what financial and non-financial support was given) does not exist.   Read more »

Voter fury stops people voting

While the left-wing thinks that 800,000 voters didn’t vote for them and conjure up all sorts of conspiracy theories about why it is that people don’t vote, some people have actually conducted some research and found out the major reason people don’t vote is fury with politicians.

I guess they are working under the old anarchist proverb “Don’t vote it just encourages them.”

Nearly half of Britons say they are angry with politics and politicians, according to a Guardian/ICM poll analysing the disconnect between British people and their democracy.

The research, which explores the reasons behind the precipitous drop in voter turnout – particularly among under-30s – finds that it is anger with the political class and broken promises made by high-profile figures that most rile voters, rather than boredom with Westminster.

Asked for the single word best describing “how or what you instinctively feel” about politics and politicians in general, 47% of respondents answered “angry”, against 25% who said they were chiefly “bored”.   Read more »

Even Christmas isn’t safe from the lefties peddling their mythology

God loves a trier, and The Guardian is certainly trying and stretching with this article from Larry Elliot where he tries to tie Santa and Christmas into his socialist horror story about capitalism.

Up in the frozen north, it’s the busiest time of the year. At the world’s biggest toy production and distribution centre, the workforce is under pressure to fill the long list of outstanding orders to meet the Christmas Eve deadline. Outside, the snow lies crisp and deep and even, but inside Santa’s workshop the pace never slackens.

Actually, workshop is a misnomer. It was the rebranding consultants who came up with the idea of a “workshop” after a whistleblower revealed that Santa’s little helpers were underpaid, overworked and suffering from a range of stress-related illnesses. The workshop is actually the world’s biggest warehouse, millions of square feet of aisles filled with toy trains, books and computer games.   Read more »

Daniel Hannan on judging blogs by their comment threads

People, okay mainly left wing tossers with their heads jammed up their fundament, claim that this website is rubbish or a sewer not by what is written on it but by what is in the comments. their site is better, smarter or more erudite because we have nicer commenters is the answer.

Of course it is petty jealousy fuelled with an unhealthy dose of intellectual snobbery. The market speaks and the market decides if you’re good enough not some pompous leftwing snob’s idea of what people should say or think.

Daniel Hannan explores this in his blogpost (again the Telegraph is a mainstream “news medium” that has bloggers).

The FT’s former correspondent at the European Parliament used to ask me the same question at every press conference. “So does this mean you voted the same way as Jean-Marie Le Pen?”

It’s amazing how many people want to judge a proposal, not by its merits, but by its incidental supporters. We need only state their implication openly – that you should drop an otherwise sensible idea because someone you don’t like agrees with you – to see how absurd it is.

Yet people carry on doing it. It’s the phenomenon that lies behind Godwin’s Law, the observation that all Internet discussions, if allowed to run long enough, end with comparisons to the Nazis. Hitler didn’t like trade unions! Hitler banned foxhunting! Hitler was a vegetarian! Hitler was an atheist! Hitler was a Catholic! Hitler was a pagan!

Now there’s a new variant of the phenomenon: judging a blog by its comment thread. Again, the absurdity should be obvious. Bloggers are not responsible for what happens after they have posted. Those who comment most aggressively are more often than not hostile to the writer. The word “troll” didn’t originally mean, as is often thought these days, someone who is rude and unpleasant; it meant someone who used an assumed identity to discredit someone else.  Read more »

The Guardian translates Strine

The poms are bit thick at the best of times but helpfully The Guardian has provided some translation for some weapons grade sledging by David Warner.

His initial response to that was not encouraging – he was back in the black book of Cricket Australia last month when he missed a match for his new club team, Randwick-Petersham (or Randy-Petes), and went to the races instead.  Read more »

Ways to avoid becoming a sex pest

With all the murk that has been thrown at me and the Palino campaign in an attempt to distract from Len Brown’s personal failings and his dodgy behaviour people have missed several points.

With regards to the affair it was never about the sex…it was always about the power relationship…Len Brown thinks that he can take advantage of a much younger woman, granting her favours regarding references, jobs and then perks including  what can really only be described as “quickie sex”. Never mind the serious code of conduct breaches.

With all the other evidence piling up in the tipline inbox that needs investigating it seems to me that there is a real problem with Len Brown that transcends a simple affair between consenting adults.

The Guardian has an article that applies in every way to the situation that Len Brown finds himself in.

Following an incident in which a female science blogger was called an “urban whore” for not writing a guest post for free, writer and playwright Monica Byrne updated a year-old post detailing an encounter in which she was sexually harassed, with the revelation that the person in question was Bora Zivkovic, Blogs Editor for Scientific American and a figurehead for the science writing community. Zivkovic confirmed that the incident happened, and many people were left confused and shocked.

Except it turns out that what happened to Byrne may not have been an isolated incident. A Scientific American blogger, Hannah Waters, then posted claims about her experiences with Zivkovic. It has been heartbreaking to see the ensuing flood of stories about personal harassment, abuse, and the legacy of trauma and self-doubt that it leaves. At the same time, it is encouraging to see that many people feel they are now able to come forward and talk about their experiences, and that many are trying to reflect on their own attitudes and beliefs, and learn from the mistakes of others.

So how can leaders combat this pernicious culture of sexism and abuse of power?  Read more »

Why reader interaction is important

Yesterday I blogged two posts about the speech by Katharine Viner, deputy editor of the Guardian and editor-in-chief of Guardian Australia.

Yes I know it is the Guardian, but this is the first mainstream editor that shows she understands online as opposed to online plonked on top of newspaper sales.

Over the years I have tried to be as inclusive as possible with readers and commenters…most of my great posts have a seed somewhere in the readership and/or the commenters. I also try to have as light a moderation as possible…I don’t want an echo chamber, I want to encourage sensible dissenting voices as much as possible.

I believe that with the help of Pete and Travis as main moderators that we are getting the balance right and as a result w are constantly improving, not only content but also the quality of our commentariat. We are never going to be the intellectual snobs like those who inhabit Public Address’ comments section, nor are we ver going to be like the rabid forelock tuggers at Lyn Prentice’s hate blog. I think we are getting it right…and you can see that in the increase in comment traffic as we grow. This is also the premise behind a little project I have been working on since the demise of Truth…I will start to share where that is going in coming weeks.

Katharine Viner also discusses the importance of reader’s conversations.

For several years, the Guardian has been running comments beneath many of our articles, especially op-eds, requesting engagement and response. An article doesn’t end with the op-ed writer’s last full stop; in many ways, a piece is brought to life with the first comment. An op-ed without comments is now not only unthinkable to Guardian readers, but to Guardian writers too.  Read more »