Journalists relying on criminals to do their reporting for them

While Matt Nippert and David ‘Tainted’ Fisher are lapping up the adulation of the script kiddies in Wellington there is yet another article about the failure of journalistic ethics, where it appears that journalists are quite happy to rely on criminals to their reporting for them.

These so-called investigative journalists are even still in touch with the hacker of my emails (if tweets from the Kiwicon are accurate)…so much for their journalistic integrity and they claims at being investigative journalists.

Ryan Holiday, someone knows a thing or two about manipulating the media, writes about the media’s strategy of relying on criminals to do their reporting for them.

At first, I thought the media response to the celebrity hacking scandal was sanctimonious. Now I realize it was rank hypocrisy. Just shameless, awful hypocrisy from a group hardly better than the criminals they enable.

Because after every outlet, from Perez Hilton to Jezebel, called the hack, leak and publishing of nude photos of celebrities, including Kate Upton and Jennifer Lawrence, a crime, none of them seem to have any problem publishing the spoils of the Sony hack, particularly the many private conversations of its co-chairman Amy Pascal.

As Marc Andreessen put it on Twitter last week: “Hackers steal a company’s email files. No bad acts by company revealed. Press prints emails. Journalism, or federal crime?”

That’s exactly right. It’s the question we should be asking here.

How on earth do all these outlets—including The New York Times no less—justify printing or covering the contents of private emails obtained through clearly criminal acts? And not only that, but many in the media consider it real journalism and, in one case, criticize Sony for “choosing to stay silent” for months before telling anyone they’d been a victim?

“There’s really no other way to explain the horrifying lack of empathy so many of them show, time and time again, when women of all levels of fame are treated like they exist to be bullied and mocked.”

Well put, Jezebel. It makes it extra ironic that your boss, Nick Denton actually wrote a memo to Gawker’s staff in which he lauded the publishing of the Sony emails and said “that’s how good our editorial can be every day.” Really? That’s how good? Not: That’s how low we’re willing to stoop. This is the same guy who spoke last year about wanting to have a company people were proud to work at. These are the same people who criticized the supposed bullying tactics of #GamerGate, even though what they do is just as bad.

Tim Murphy with a big 'h' for hypocrite

Tim Murphy with a big ‘h’ for hypocrite

I wonder if Tim Murphy and Shayne Currie in particular are smart enough to realise what it is they have done. I suspect not.

When News of The World in the U.K. hacked the private phone conversations of celebrities, politicians and everyday people it was supposedly “a journalistic travesty” (Huff Post) and “flagrant criminal activity” (Salon). Would the same outlets have published leaked audio from this despicable act?

It’s a rather self-serving distinction to suggest that when individuals have their information leaked it amounts to an invasion of privacy but that when it happens to a company it is simply a matter of security or secrecy. Just because you think the sole mission of corporations is to try to screw over consumers does not empower the mainstream media (also made up of massive multi-national corporations, by the way), or give it the right to screw other corporations over.

What about when it happens for political reasons against a journalist? Can you imagine the howls of outrage if it was NZ Herald journalists who were hacked?

In 2008, when I worked at American Apparel, a former IT employee leaked my email to numerous media outlets. Information from benign, personal emails between the CFO and myself were printed in outlets like Gawker, CNBC, The New York Post and others, and spun by reporters to create what looked like a bankruptcy crisis, damaging the company’s reputation and stock price. It was the night of Christmas Eve and I was just 21 years old. It did more than just ruin some time with family. I was convinced in that moment that my career was going to end.

For what? So Hamilton Nolan could get 30,000 extra pageviews? Behind every online bully is an impotent fool, who justifies their dubious decisions behind the veil of “free speech.”

A police investigation later caught the culprit responsible and connected it to a series of lawsuits that had been filed against the company. The cyberteam caught the leaker by pretending to be a reporter who wanted access to the emails and tracked their IP. In other words, the criminal saw the media as allies in their attempt to exert undue leverage—and the media saw no issue establishing an alliance with someone like this. (In fact, those reporters still have jobs.)

Oh dear…that sounds ominous from media courting hacker Rawshark and his media enablers.

For all the people who said it wasn’t O.K. to judge Jennifer Lawrence for taking naked selfies, I don’t think you have any right to judge Amy Pascal or Scott Rudin. What they said might be offensive but here’s the thing—you have absolutely no right to know that they said it.

I won’t get into the contents too much, but I think that their argument about Kevin Hart and whether the $3 million they paid him entitles them to social media support is not something Kevin Hart ought to respond to. What matters is what they ultimately did—did they treat him well or not? Same goes for the remarks about Obama—the reality is that with their money and time these two individuals supported his campaign. Some inside jokes? They stayed inside … that is, until the media, conspiring with a group of criminals, took it outside.

Readers, writers, the subjects of these stories have no right to outrage. These are stolen goods.

Mr. Rudin is absolutely right when he says: “This is not about salacious emails being batted around by Gawker and Defamer. It’s about a criminal act, and the people behind it should be treated as nothing more nor less than criminals.”

Got that Messrs Murphy and Currie?

I was subject to mass outrage, attempted boycotts, intimidation, death threats, hounding of friends and associates and more…all enabled by the media working with a criminal hacker. The NZ Herald showered themselves in filth, and created a stench they cannot wash off.

It is not 2003 where even the half-baked excuse that “they shouldn’t have put this stuff in writing” might fly. Email is now the dominant communication medium. These are casual, private conversations between colleagues and friends. They are entitled to some modicum of privacy. Just as it would be obscene if someone had drilled into the wall and surreptitiously recorded meetings and leaked it, the same goes for the emails.

In fact, when a pervert spied on sports reporter Erin Andrews in her hotel room, the media agreed generally not to traffic in the footage. Imagine, a group of professionals got together and drew a line about what they will and won’t do. How human. (Or was it just the fact that she was one of their own?)

But I think the statement ESPN sent out at the time to the few publications that ran photos and videos of her personal violation adds perspective to the current situation:

“These pictures were obviously taken through a peephole or otherwise in a fashion constituting a trespass/assault on the rights of the woman involved.

Your continued posting of these pictures are highly likely to render you an accessory after the fact to a criminal act. We hereby demand that you (i) immediately remove these pictures from your site and (ii) disclose to us the source of the pictures. We intend to hold you fully responsible for further display of material that so obviously violates the law.”

How is this different? Spying on a woman while she’s naked is different only in degree to spying on a different powerful woman when she communicates with her employees, clients and partners. Especially when the people who did the hacking don’t even have the courage to reveal their identities.

Looking at you Mr Chickenshit Rawshark.

Now we are getting to the nub of the issue. A distinct laziness and lack of skill amongst modern journalists, and in particular the two wankers speaking at Kiwicon.

I wonder how much the media’s reliance on these criminal groups for these scoops has to do with the fact that its reporters are utterly incapable of producing legitimate stories on their own. I wonder how much time these reporters even spent verifying the actual emails they did run.

The answer is none, especially in the case of Nicky Hager.

The law of disruption states that technological advancements run in advance of our cultural attitudes, practices and laws. Only in retrospect can we see the holes that need to be patched and create new guidelines—explicit and implicit—to create a society that is decent and functioning.

To me, this means that readers must do their part to limit the market for these stories. After all, the real reason that outlets generally didn’t run the celebrity leaks was only that the violation was so repugnant that they were reluctant to be associated with it. And finally, I think it’s high time we create some explicit legal measures to deal with these hypocrites and criminals.

The media I mean.

That is coming to New Zealand.

Prepare to be Freed.

 


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  • jagjones

    interesting contrast between the two hacking situations… I suppose it shows that some journos are scum sucking spawn of satan and those with some integrity are toxic, feral haters who may be divisive but speak truth…

  • Sally

    And hackers are relying on the journalist to legitimise their crimes and spread the word. “All for the common good”. Hackers know that journalists protect their sources so they need to get along side them.

  • shykiwibloke

    I hope he MSM email servers are secure as Khama has a a very ironic sense of humour. So long as this blog remains squeaky clean, just deserts will be dished out in generous helpings – sooner or later methinks.

  • andrewo

    I smell desperation. These organisations are bleeding cash and will do anything to maintain viewer ratings. Of course it won’t work in the long run – they’re going the way of the dodo.

    In fact their thrashing around looking for ratings likely puts people off even quicker.

    In parallel with this, the leading lights of these organisations can feel their influence slipping away. They’re less and less ‘opinion formers’ as the recent election proved.

    That’s why they hate bloggers.

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