Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Big Chill

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  • Steve Curtis,

    Isnt there a book out next week by Herald journalist/author John Roughan on John Key ( published by Penguin)

    Perhaps this too could be a good source of background material if you had some sort of lawsuit against John Key.

    Anyway, the best way to make these things go away, is do what the GCSB did, and 'age it off your computer'. This is techno speak for deleting it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome,

    I should like to point out that if anyone thinks you write books for profit, then they haven't a) tried to negotiate a book contract, b) looked just how little money the majority of authors might make from writing a book and c) written a book, which is a costly process of both time and money.

    My, book, for example, will sell for £60 a pop and I'm getting the magnificent sum of £1.50 a copy (which is quite a generous royalty rate for a first time academic author, I might add). The book took almost a year to write with no advance: I wrote it to contribute to the current state of knowledge in my particular field, not to make money. Most authors won't make money on their books and saying that is our primary motivation is just rubbish.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • David MacGregor,

    Why burn books about subjects you don't like when you can repress the likelihood that they will be written in the first place?

    Auckland, New Zealand • Since Feb 2007 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • Edward Murphy,

    Having read Hager's Other People's Wars and been deeply impressed by it, I couldn't agree more. Russell, please take time off popular music topics to scream blue murder about this. You can make a difference!

    Hamilton • Since Jun 2014 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    I do find this finding extremely disturbing, though the fault is clearly with the Act; I don't blame the judge for the interpretation - there wasn't really an alternative way to interpret it.

    So... what if, instead of (or as well as, but before) publishing his book as a "book", David Fisher had presented the material as a series of blog chapters with subscriber access. Would that mean it was presented in a news medium, and therefore protected? Would that mean that the subsequent book, being merely a compilation of those blogs, was still protected? Or would its later publication mean that the same material suddenly stopped being journalism?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 580 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    Or would its later publication mean that the same material suddenly stopped being journalism?

    I expect the judge would argue that the material in the blog is still protected, but the material in the book is not and can therefore be queried. The law commonly makes such distinctions without a difference.

    What I like are offenses like "bringing parliament into disrepute" or likewise the law, but which judges and politicians seem to be exempt from. It does not matter how badly they behave, they are somehow not the ones making the hind end of a horse look like the smart one in the picture.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1198 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    an author publishes a book for profit, and that is the primary motivation of books – profit, not journalism. Nothing wrong with that, I say.

    Typical of the right wing mind, money is everything and all else is namby pamby sentimentalism and we have no truck with that when we can make money instead, oh, by the way, did I mention money?.
    Money is great, you can buy it and sell it, even swap it for favours if you have to but if you have enough people just give you things anyway because you have money and the best thing is that if you have lots of it you never have to be poor unless you have a tax bill and we don't want one of those do we because that is Socialism.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    I have a friend who faces ongoing harassment as the man she testified against and who was subsequently convicted of serious sexual offences, won permanent name suppression (because he came from a powerful family, as far as I can tell). But if a journalist wrote a book about the case and talked to people who had more evidence the person convicted could access all the sources, and continue his campaign of intimidation, under protection of the law .
    Is this what this judgement means? if so that seems really unjust.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    But if a journalist wrote a book about the case and talked to people who had more evidence the person convicted could access all the sources, and continue his campaign of intimidation, under protection of the law .
    Is this what this judgement means? if so that seems really unjust.

    There would have to be a legal action that required discovery from the respective parties, one of whom could presumably do what the police and GCSB lawyers have done here and force the other(s) to exercise their rights under the Privacy Act. So it's not open slather, but there's certainly a line that's been crossed here.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    So… what if, instead of (or as well as, but before) publishing his book as a “book”, David Fisher had presented the material as a series of blog chapters with subscriber access. Would that mean it was presented in a news medium, and therefore protected? Would that mean that the subsequent book, being merely a compilation of those blogs, was still protected? Or would its later publication mean that the same material suddenly stopped being journalism?

    These are excellent questions!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Keys,

    I made much the same points on Friday
    http://unframednz.wordpress.com/2014/06/19/david-fisher-please-lose-your-notes/

    Nicky Hager is the best exponent of book form investigative journalism. Isn't he currently working on Wikileaks material pertaining to New Zealand? What are the implications for him from this ruling?

    Auckland • Since Jun 2014 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Stephen Keys,

    Nicky Hager is the best exponent of book form investigative journalism. Isn't he currently working on Wikileaks material pertaining to New Zealand? What are the implications for him from this ruling?

    That he should destroy his notes after publication if they may become the subject of such a query.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Juha Saarinen,

    Bizarre stuff. Does it mean that literary or narrative journalism which is often published in books isn't protected as "news activity" in New Zealand because this can only be done in articles as per Justice Winkelman's reading of the law?

    And yeah, Farrar. Lizard brain response there that was possibly unintentionally candid.

    Since Nov 2006 • 529 posts Report Reply

  • Juha Saarinen,

    Destroying notes is a silly suggestion, for a raft of reasons.

    Since Nov 2006 • 529 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    In related news, Cameroon Slater tests his blog's status as a "news medium" in the High Court tomorrow.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Juha Saarinen,

    Destroying notes is a silly suggestion, for a raft of reasons.

    Can you please explain why for the benefit of dummies like me?

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1198 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Steve Curtis,

    the best way to make these things go away, is do what the GCSB did, and 'age it off your computer'. This is techno speak for deleting it.

    Easier said than done. For one thing, the moment Fisher got served with papers for this claim he became legally obliged to preserve all material related to the claim or risk penalties for contempt of court. Being so close to publication, he's unlikely to have wanted to have no records to fall back on in case anything arose from the publication.

    Also, for academics such as Dr Gilbert, they need to preserve their original research to defend publications as well as serve as building blocks for any future research. Going back and re-conducting all their investigations on a sub-culture just to get started on a new piece of work would make it pretty much impossible to do any additional research beyond what's already published.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    What if you scanned all your notes and other research material onto a single USB stick, password protected the whole stick, and then forgot the password?

    But then remembered it later, when you needed the material for your next book?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 580 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    But then remembered it later, when you needed the material for your next book?

    Nah. Remove the stick to a jurisdiction safely outside of 5 Eyes and destroy all copies of the material in NZ. Saves having to persuade a judge that you have these oh-so-convenient brain fades just when you need them, then your memory kicks back in when required, and your name is not John Key.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Remove the stick to a jurisdiction safely outside of 5 Eyes and destroy all copies of the material in NZ.

    I can imagine the courts being very unhappy about that. Saying "unfortunately to retrieve those records I need to convince the person holding them that I am not going to allow a government to obtain them and that I am not under duress" would no doubt trigger the "get him, lads" reflex that Kim Dotcom has so thoroughly experienced. If only we were all multi-millionaires able to defend ourselves as expensively as he has.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1198 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand, in reply to HORansome,

    Certainly not for the money. It hadn't helped Alan Duff pay off his debts.

    I had a bizarre experience a year or two ago when I contributed a chapter to an edited collection published by the German outfit Springer. After jumping up and down, they sent me a copy but over-valued it so much that I had to pay NZ Customs over $100 before they would release it.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2539 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Moz,

    Destroying notes is a silly suggestion, for a raft of reasons.

    Can you please explain why for the benefit of dummies like me?

    For one thing, if someone tries to sue you for something said in the book, those notes may be the only way to support a defence of truth.
    "I didn't say that! You have defamed me through that misrepresentation."
    "Ah, but you did. Here, listen to this recording of our first interview, from which I transcribed the quote. And our second, where you repeated it."

    The treatment of Jon Stephenson and its exposure could only have been supported by notes taken at the time: who he was meeting with, when, where, how he got there, etc. Without those notes, the lies of NZDF would have stood with no chance of reputable challenge.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    There's also the small matter that if you write a book with institutional support or public money, I don't think it's entirely unreasonable they'd want some evidence you didn't just interview your laptop between trips to the liquor store.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • mpledger,

    So what happens if an excerpt of the book appears in the newspaper? Once it's in the newspaper does it become "news" and therefore does the book become protected? Or just the excerpt (and the notes pertaining to the excerpt) become protected.

    What happens to the author if he refuses to release the material to KDC? Will he get charged under the privacy act for refusing to comply? What are the charges and penalties?

    There is a journalistic imperative that a journalist must protect his/her sources. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    Since Oct 2012 • 97 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    I boggle that journalism could be defined by format rather than by content.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

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