Let’s have a peek at moderation quality elsewhere

I have put together a snapshot of comments made on New Zealand political blogs, MSM websites and one Facebook page. These are the kind of comments that would be moderated out of our blog as they contain foul language. If a blog or media outlet cannot afford to have a full-time moderator they can automatically prevent comments from going live if they contain any foul language. Disqus offers this feature. Admittedly, automatic moderation is more difficult on Facebook pages but the National party managed to work out how to do it on their Facebook page so we know it can be done.

Is it unrealistic to expect high standards from social media if it is affiliated with a professional media organisation? More to the point, should other New Zealand political blogs moderate out foul language, given that it is very easy to do so automatically using a comments system like Disqus?

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It has finally happened, mainstream media have morphed

I enjoy blogs because they are freer to be more entertaining, creative and imaginative than mainstream media. They can introduce comedy, tell stories and mock. In an ideal world we would go to mainstream media for a dispassionate recitation of the facts and to blogs to discuss in more light-hearted manner what is happening in the world.

Today I went to Stuff ?and read an article so blog-like that I thought I was on

What do you think? Is this a news article or a piece of creative writing? I have never read anything so bizarre. Is this really what the media think the public want?

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Political blogs are all about ‘freedom of speech’, except when they are not

There seems to be some confusion about what is free speech and what is not free speech. It is a topic often debated. Today I am looking at why political blogs are examples of ‘freedom of speech’ in action but not necessarily in the way that some think they should be.

The argument gets complex once we start talking commenters and moderation. Some tiny blogs with limited readership take pride in what they consider freedom of speech. Due to the small number of comments on posts, Blog authors are reluctant to rein in their readership in any way, as they are in the start up phase and are desperately trying to grow their audience. In this phase they tolerate regular commenters who often dominate discussions and feel free to use offensive language and to make personal attacks on other commenters. On blogs like this, the ‘we promote free speech’ argument is really a smokescreen.

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Say my name

It looks like Claire Trevett can’t say my name:

Craig’s problem came to light after a blog printed material pertinent to the resignation of his former press secretary Rachel MacGregor and some board members began to speak their concerns about that resignation. Craig’s attempts to clear it up only served to smear the glass more.

A blog?

Surely she means THE blog. You can add up all the traffic of every other blog in NZ and still you don’t get to THE blog.? Read more »

Commenting Standards from a readers perspective

I haven’t passed comment on our now more than a year old moderation and commenting policies. I haven’t commented for a reason…there is no need to comment, I am happy with the results despite more than a few detractors who are now junking up other people’s sites.

But people have noticed, and here is one reader who has sent in his comments about the difference between comments on my site vs the mainstream media.

Yesterday?I read two articles on the same subject – Helen Clark and her ambition to lead the UN, one on Whale Oil the other on TV3’s site.

No surprises in the content of the articles, but it was the comments sections?which I though gave?a very?interesting insight on the whole perception of Whale?Oil versus MSM scenario.

Often Whale Oil is portrayed as the nasty attack Blog with the lowest (or no) standards and the MSM the defender of standards and arbitrators of what is right.

Here are? random shots of both sites comments section where I could include at least three commentators?who?responded to a different point of view?- the difference is stark.

I am betting If you?asked a non Whale Oil reader who has been subjected to the anti Whale Oil propaganda they would be extremely surprised at the result.

TV3 has it so wrong on so many fronts it doesn’t need pointing out – they should actually close comments on their site if they cannot keep them to a reasonable standard.

This is why Whale oil continues to fight and win the good fights. ? Read more »

From the passenger seat: It’s only just begun

by Pete

If you haven’t yet, read Cam’s 8:00am article first.

We have gone through a period where people have asked me how I can possibly be associated with “someone like” Cameron Slater. ?We’ve been quiet, taking the blows, day after day. ?Occasionally a post to warn people to choose which side of history they want to be on.

As with Kim Dotcom, when we told people to pick carefully, this particular story has had too many people pile on top of Cameron thinking that the guy who laughs at dead babies, calls people feral and is generally unpleasant (all extreme distortions floated by his enemies) was going down. ?As happens in cases like these, when people sense blood on the floor, they pile in.

Personally, I am bursting at the seams. ?I’ve been wanting to tell the story for months now. ?But being quiet and letting the investigations continue have paid off. ?We don’t care who rawshark is. ?We’ve known for months. ?We don’t care who paid him. ?We’ve known for months. ? The patience to stay quiet has taken some energy, and it is still not the right time to tell all. Read more »

NY Supreme Court says websites don’t have to reveal their anonymous contributors in potential libel cases

Another case in?the?US upholds the rights of bloggers and online media to protect their anonymous sources and contributors.

Joshua Benton at Nieman Journalism Lab writes:

Seeking Alpha?is a site for people to write up and share their investing ideas ??a platform for investment research, with broad coverage of stocks, asset classes, ETFs and investment strategy.? Some of its contributors use pseudonyms, and earlier this year, someone using the?nom de investissementof ?Pump Terminator? wrote a?piece?arguing that a company named NanoViricides was wildly overvalued and using sketchy business practices.

NanoViricides went to court, demanding that Seeking Alpha turn over the real identity of Pump Terminator so that it could pursue a libel claim against him or her. Seeking Alpha fought it, and now, in what the site is calling?a victory for free speech, the New York Supreme Court has?denied?NanoViricides? demand. (You can read the court?s opinion?here.)

Of interest: The very nature of open crowdsourced platforms ? the ruling lumps them together under the rubric of ?message boards,? though that seems imprecise in 2014 ? makes it harder to pursue the sort of claim NanoViricides was trying to make. Quoting an earlier ruling (emphasis mine):

[i]n determining whether a plaintiff?s complaint [or pre-action petition] includes a published ?false and defamatory statement concerning another,? commentators have argued that the defamatory import of the communication must be viewed in light of the fact that bulletin boards and chat rooms ?are often the repository of a wide range of casual, emotive, and imprecise speech,? and that the online??recipients of [offensive] statements do not necessarily attribute the same level of credence to the statements [that] they would accord to statements made in other contexts.??

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A reader emails about the ‘media’


A reader emails:

Hi Cam,

I?ve never posted on your blog before, but the mainstream media has been getting me down so much lately I felt I had to speak out.

It seems to me that the MSM is duty bound to ensure any one party never has enough of a percentage of the popular vote to govern alone. To me it seems that if one party nears 50% the MSM suddenly pulls out articles they?ve been sitting on for months – beat us to death with them, until the party the articles are invariably about is eroded to below the threshold of being able to govern alone.

I believe in free speech, but I believe that if you are attempting to speak to the masses – we should at least know the colour of the soap box you?re standing on. It?s ridiculous to accept there is no media bias, when those writing the articles day after day seem to follow party specific lines.? Read more »

Radio Live interviews on blogging and bloggers

RadioLive’s Wallace Chapman was looking at bloggers,new media and the elections this year. He talked to a few bloggers.

This was my interview.

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New Zealand not the only country to struggle with blogs as media

Russia has a bill before parliament suggesting a 10,000 audience threshold at which point a blog or other “independent” (non-traditional) news source ?automatically becomes eligible to be part of the “mass” (or main stream) media.

The Russian newspaper Izvestia quotes an unnamed parliamentary source as saying that the proposed legislation is part of suggested amendments to Russia?s Law on Mass Media. Izvestia?s source allegedly said that the figure of 10,000 daily visitors already has been fixed in draft proposals, but that it hadn?t yet been specified if this was a single-time threshold or a mean visitor index.

When a blogger registers for media accreditation, he or she will automatically have the obligation?to observe all legal norms applied to registered news media?outlets, which includes the obligation to verify information before distributing it and responsibility for the consequences caused by publications. Izvestia adds, that the bill is based legislation [on] used by Israel.

Makes sense that you can’t have a foot in both camps. ?Once you apply as “media”, you are subject to all the benefits as well as all the responsibilities.

But, this has far reaching consequences

  • Would accreditation enable independent media like?nsnbc?international to protect its sources on equal footing with ?mass? media?
  • Does accreditation imply access to press conferences, access to crime scenes, access to information that is usually reserved for ?mass? media?
  • Does accreditation protect aspiring independent media from unlawful closures of their websites under false pretenses, as it happened with?nsnbc?international at least once within one year?
  • Does this accreditation mean that?remuneration?of contributors from the ?sparse? advertising revenue and ?almost non-existent? donations would become tax deductible?
  • Does it mean that small, independent media enjoy the same protection as mass media when someone sues them for libel?
  • Would independent newspapers, like?nsnbc,?be held accountable for the material of each individual blogger and his/her material?

Oddly enough, we already follow most of the responsibilities without having any of the benefits.

And if Russsia has a 10,000 daily visitor threshold in mind for a population of around 145 million, would that mean that for countries like New Zealand the threshold is going to be proportionally lower? ?Using that figure NZ blogs would only require about 110 daily visitors to meet the mark.

At that point, just about any New Zealand blog would qualify for media accreditation.

But then again, under our laws, media isn’t about audience size. ?It is about what you do.

The law is very clear: ?publish or broadcast to the public anything of public interest that wasn’t in the public domain before.