Derryn Hinch: “very unpleasant, very right wing, and very popular”

Who on earth was Derryn Hinch talking about?

Firstly he explains a bit about his recent issues regarding name suppression.

Without boring you with all the details of my recent expensive court battle I should point out that in his judgement – explaining why I should be fined $100,000  for contempt of court  – Judge Stephen Kaye ruled that I could have deleted an offending blog  from the humanheadline website 12 hours  before I did.  That the night before, I could have called my lawyer – as if a one-man editorial band has 24. /7 access to a law firm.  Hey judge, I’m not Rupert Murdoch.

He also was of the opinion that as a ‘news junkie’ who reads The Age and the Herald Sun I should have been aware of a suppression order brought down in Melbourne when I was in Sydney.  A suppression order implemented five hours after my editorial had been published from another city.

Judge Kaye’s verdict also has opened a can of worms that I don’t think has registered yet with MSM.  He ruled that a website story is deemed live on the net if somebody accesses it days or weeks later after a suppression order has kicked in.

That is different to a printed newspaper article.  I mean, no court would rule that archive copies of the Herald Sun should be burned because they contained a since-suppressed name.  They wouldn’t. Would they? 

And now onto something about a unpleasant, right wing and popular fellow.

Which leads to the other legal conundrum about bloggers.  When is a blogger deemed to be a journalist?  Are all bloggers now journalists?  They seem to think so.  But what is the legal interpretation?

There’s a fascinating and important case involving this issue being fought across the ditch.

A  District Court judge in NZ has ruled that a blogger does not have the right to protect his sources because he is not a ‘news medium’.

The blogger is a right wing curmudgeon, a gadfly, named Cameron Slater who blogs under the pseudonym Whale Oil.

My contact describes him as ‘very unpleasant, very right wing, and very popular’.

‘Whale Oil’ is a shortened version of ‘Whale Oil Be Hooked’. Which in itself is a play on ‘well, I’ll be fooked’. Which, if you are Scottish, you’ll know what I really mean.

The judge denied the right of Whale Oil to protect his sources in a defamation action on the grounds that he is not a news medium under the Evidence Act.

I’m sure somebody will test that ruling in an appellate court.

Yes Derryn, that someone will be me.

On the issue of the internet, blogs, Twitter, FB, ‘journalist’ definitions, suppression order reach and such, this isn’t even a Hinch’s Hunch.  This is a certainty:

Our courts and our laws are still in the age of the Gutenberg press. The Luddites face a rude and inevitable awakening.

That they are.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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