Surely they saw this coming?

Gerry Brownlee has said what was bleeding obvious from the moment the media started a campaign for special rights and privileges over and above anyone else.

These are the unintended consequences that Stephen Franks blogged about the other day.

Press Gallery chairwoman and Herald deputy political editor Claire Trevett told the committee the Parliamentary Service had no authority to hand over swipe card information – which could be used to track Ms Vance’s movements around the parliamentary complex – or logs of which numbers she called from her office phone.

As well as asking Parliament to recognise the central role of the news media in a healthy democracy the Press Gallery has asked that, where in future Parliamentary Service was asked for information it holds on any accredited political reporter, it referred the request to the Speaker for further consideration and consultation with the reporter, their employer and the Press Gallery.

But Mr Brownlee said he found it “slightly ironic” the gallery was asking for that protection when Ms Vance had published details of a report that at the time was “clearly not in the public arena and not at that point for public consumption”.

“What is the difference here?” 

The media bleating was as monumental as it was shortsighted.

Ms Trevett said the Kitteridge GCSB report wasn’t personal information, she presumed the person who passed it to Ms Vance had lawful access to it, and the classified status of the document didn’t extend to it being a matter of national security.

The sensitivity of the report related to “just political inconvenient timing” of its release.

Mr Brownlee asked at which point the gallery believed it would acceptable to release information about a journalist held by the Parliamentary Service.

Ms Trevett said at issue was the protection of a journalist’s source, a matter which is covered by law.

“If they’re required to by the courts I assume they would have to hand it over but they can’t go out willy-nilly handing that information out.”

Mr Brownlee went on to question whether if similar information about a person other than a reporter came into the possession of a reporter that they would seek permission from that person to use it in a news report.

Ms Trevett said that was up to individual reporters and news outlets.

“So you want us to have a policy but the gallery has no policy?”, Mr Brownlee asked.

But Ms Trevett said journalists didn’t have the same obligations to those they had information about as Parliamentary Service did to those whose email, phone and swipe card access records it held.

“If the information is of public interest it’s our responsibility to report it. People make judgement calls but we don’t hold the information ourselves we’re not in control of releasing it.”

Let’s hope Claire Trevett remembers that little definition when someone decides it is in the public interest to start picking apart the lives of journalists in the same way they do it to other people.

Nice to see it confirmed that journalists don’t think they have the same obligations or responsibilities as everyone else….they can hold people to account but must never, ever be held to account themselves.

The tide has turned on the media, they just don’t know it.


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  • opusx

    Big G talks a lot of sense a lot of the time.

  • Whafe

    Would it be pure arrogance and ego that most / many in the media have not as yet fully accepted the tide has changed?
    Just checking, thought so to!

  • johnbronkhorst

    Well Cam…time for you to research the backgrounds, stories and scandals of these “trained and skilled” Journo’s (got it’s hard to call them that without laughing)!!!
    Start with all the shady associations of Ms Vance while at the News of the world!

  • I fail to see how the swipe card records are Vance’s, she is merely someone allowed access, she does not ‘ own’ the information.

    • johnbronkhorst

      I have “swipe card” access to some of the factories I service. Does that mean that they are not allowed to look at when and where I have been, in THEIR factory. I have suggested to one customer that they lock out my card at the rear entrance, as it is a security risk for ANYONE other than staff to have access at this point!
      I journo’s want to play this game, make them apply and sign the official secrets act before they have any access to certain places!!!

  • Alloytoo

    It’s in my interest to know what access journalists have to my government……..

  • Phil

    There is an easy answer, turn in the access cards, close the ‘press’ gallery office and tell the all to fuck off and find ther own offices.

    • peterwn

      They do not need to be turned in – just change access control settings to zilch on the computer and let them find out the hard way the cards no longer work.

      • Euan Ross-Taylor

        Maybe a memo should be sent to all card holders, You are advised that the NZ parliament is a public building. All phone calls and card details in said public space are public records. If you require privacy, please use your own phone line from your own private space. There – sorted. MPs offices are private offices and so are not included.

        • Hmmm, they should put them on a website showing them in real time.

  • Justsayn

    She, like most media these days, has no concept of the difference between something being “of public interest”, and the publication of something being “in the public interest”.

    Titillation and sensationalism may attract the unwashed and sell advertising space, they may be things “of public interest”, but that is a long shot of saying that the media are doing something that is “in the public interest”.

    Take the GCSB report. Publishing it a few days in advance of its official release did absolutely nothing to benefit the public – to further the public interest. Nothing at all. They can trumpet their line as much as they like but it doesn’t make it true.

    Arguably, the public interest might have been better served by waiting to see what was released, and if the final report was sanitised in some unfair way than asking why (armed with the pre-release copy). That might be a true public interest route. Instead, what Vance and her hacks did was to try to jump the story for no purpose other than to try to look clever and to sell advertising.

    The media have become a pack of back-slapping hypocrics focused solely on their own “fame”. The free press’ place in the democratic system has long been lost. They are no longer free. They are slaves to viewer numbers, readership figures, and the seemingly overwhelming need to be “famous”. They report yesterday’s news, so the only way to “break” a story of to make it yourself – aka Vance.

    The place where the truly free “press” remains is on blogs like this one. The information is current. The agendas are transparent. And assertions are tested.

  • Patrick

    C’mon Big Gerry, man up on this one & make all those records publically accessible, after all the tax payer is the one funding the phones, emails etc.
    Unfortunately it will not happen though as the pollies do not want the great unwashed knowing what dodgy deals they are mixed up in.

  • Blue Tim

    Funny/annoying listening to Red Soper disagree with Larry Williams last night.

  • AngryTory

    But the problem is NZ has neither a healthy democracy nor an objective press.

    NZ has a corrupt, irredeemably leftist legislature elected primarily on the votes of government dependents, a unionised bureaucracy of dependents even further to the left, and a “mainstream” media dedicated to ensuring the leftist domination of the bureaucracy and legislature.

  • old shunter

    they have opened a pandoras box so the media don’t have the same obligation as Parliament does under Law , So Gerrys says “I feel a new bill coming on” and what they don’t also realise is they are no longer the source of news and information in that internet has out performed them and often what they are telling us as News today we read on internet three days ago from some other source so their days are numbered they simply too slow

  • BJ

    While the protection of a journalist’s source may be the universal argument in a journalist’s world, I would argue that taking advantage of the access they enjoy by trying to get documents leaked deserves the very outcome that did arise is this case. The actual movements of persons within The Beehive is not something that can be called personal information even at a long stretch. If journalist’s want to butter up some weak-willed Minister for information they wouldn’t otherwise have access to then they should do it outside the privileged confines of Parliament.