Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Truth to Power, etc

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  • Phil Lyth,

    David, nice to see you emerge today from the shadows of the blogsphere, here and at NBR.

    Paul, up-thread I did invite comment on two possible new approachs to defamation. Craig responded: would you care to?

    Giovanni, for the record, Farrar has blogged her name since 2005. I always took the transition to CK to be seamless. Indeed, the Short Man even posted a photo of the two of them together. (Pic has disappeared somewhere over the years, leaving only a file name)

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    I would like to think that "Outing" the protagonist of a dubious claim would be news. As much as celebrity name suppression is news.
    It has been mentioned several times that defamation law is not as good as it could be and how inadequate a tool it is in social networks.
    If you want to be important and expose the evils that others do then you should be prepared to stand and be recognised.
    Even if all you are saying is "someone at the Herald wrote something that could be interpreted as being not Kosher"

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • dubmugga,

    perhaps Russell you could counterfactualise the scenario if you got the 'smoking gun' email Cactus Kate got. What would you have done ?

    good on her for blogging it and FWIW i too think blogging is the last refuge of the free press.

    say for arguments sake, there were a list of people you knew not to fuck with in public at the expense of your job/companies legal budget, the inference is, theres subjects you dont broach in public either...

    ...call them conspiracy theories, secret neoliberal agendas or plain ol muckraking but it seems easier to not bite the hand that feeds, toe the company/gov't line, wind your neck in, keep your mouth shut and learn to write cutesy animal stories jo public loves to be distracted by

    so for entertainments sake what are some of these stories ? outing sexual preference and drug habits of celebrities/politicians ? trampling of indigenous rights/instituionalised racism ? big pharma ? insider trading ?

    seems we only get those when a scapegoat is needed for a very public sacrifice.

    personally i'd like to read more about "those sorts" of stories from the presumed 'legit' source that a journo tenured to a mainstream media company provides than the dumbed down shit we do get spoonfed by them, and as representative of your average dumfuck i bet i'm not alone.

    its just too easy to dismiss and discredit bloggers as crackpots and play "shoot the messenger" but when the mob mentality kicks in i suspect a case of 'though dost protest too much' and where theres smoke theres fire.

    and lastly i wouldn't want to be outed with my real name either:)

    the back of your mind • Since Nov 2006 • 257 posts Report Reply

  • Gen,

    You have a point dub.

    Just to seize on one of your points though, I don’t think anyone, esp a politician, should be outed for their sexuality by the media (unless they act hypocritically in their public life - in which case there's a public interest justification).

    This is New Zealand, not Alabama.

    Since Nov 2009 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Dubmugga:

    Up to a point, but let me retort. On-line, I always use my real name, because I'm a big believer in the notion that if you don't have the testicular (or ovarian) fortitude to spit in someone's face you shouldn't be able to piss on them while hiding behind a pseudonym.

    Do you think it's entirely coincidental that the most rancid guttersnipes on Kiwibog and the Sub-Standard froth under pseudonyms? I don't, and perhaps the quality of discussion would improve exponentially if commenters had to publish under their real names, and provide the site owner with verifiable contact details like everyone who writes a letter for publication to a newspaper or magazine.

    Sorry, but I really don't have a lot of sympathy for the likes of Cathy Odgers and Cameron Slater. At least Russell -- and his troll farming titanic ego -- will put his name to everything he says, on-line or in-print. It's not a perfect accountability mechanism -- and certainly no guarantee of accuracy or civility -- but it's better than sweet F.A.

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

  • Phil Lyth,

    On-line, I always use my real name

    What Craig said

    (That bit, that is. Not necessarily the other bits he has ever said.)

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • dubmugga,

    re : sexuality Gen, yeah fair enough, off limits but how about sexual exploits...like the latest name supressed kiwi musician of note whereby it would affect his international marketability if it got out that he flopped his wang out in front of 3 teenage girls and told them to kiss his balls.

    This after all is a contemporary pop musician whose demographic is those whose trust he betrays. Hypocrisy is a byword for justice by media.

    Craig, of course i dont think its coincidental that gutter dwellers hide behind pseudonyms nor is it that superheroes hide behind masks and flash costumes. its more to protect their families who dont dwell in gutters or have super powers. My family would be so shamed if they knew i dwelled in the gutter when they expected so much from me, but with that comes the abiity to do and say things beyond the powers of your average citizen with either little or great responsibility.

    its a fine line between the comedian and dr manhattan:)

    the back of your mind • Since Nov 2006 • 257 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    perhaps Russell you could counterfactualise the scenario if you got the 'smoking gun' email Cactus Kate got. What would you have done ?

    Read it properly, for a start.

    I might have given it a mention wondering what someone had done to prompt general a tune-up on journalism standards from head office.

    I might have asked around about it. I certainly would not have constructed a fanciful conspiracy theory about a slashing of legal budgets and a new corporate legal policy, or mused about whether I'd been put through to a "phantom line" when I called about it (I mean, really ... ). Even people who've been supportive of her here have noted that she's made a mountain out of a molehill.

    And the people who would have the most to lose if Odgers' conspiracy theory was actually true? The APN journalists? They're laughing at Odgers. Believe me.

    its just too easy to dismiss and discredit bloggers as crackpots and play "shoot the messenger" but when the mob mentality kicks in i suspect a case of 'though dost protest too much' and where theres smoke theres fire.

    It was actually Murphy's "blogosphere rides again" crack in his email to staff that helped prompt me to write about it. When Odgers goes off half-cocked, she gives journalists an excuse to say that. Her acting like a hysterical idiot becomes a reflection on all of us.

    and lastly i wouldn't want to be outed with my real name either:)

    I guess that's where we diverge. I'll stand behind what I say.

    But I think we've already dealt with the "outing" charge. When she uses her real name herself it's a bit hard to sustain.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22763 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    My family would be so shamed if they knew i dwelled in the gutter when they expected so much from me, but with that comes the abiity to do and say things beyond the powers of your average citizen with either little or great responsibility.

    I'm thinking more of the vile shitbag on Kiwiblog whose actionable defamation I'm not going to repeat here. I can take what I dish out, but this turd crossed every line I have. Not to put too fine a point on it, David Farrar should thank whatever God he believes in that I didn't (and still don't) have the time, energy or money to set the local equivalent of Carter-Ruck on his arse.

    And it's still my belief that it's a matter of when, not if, one of his resident trolls lands him in very serious shit indeed. DPF is a friend, but when that happens I'm not going to have any sympathy at all. You reap what you sow, honey.

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

  • Matthew Poole,

    And it's still my belief that it's a matter of when, not if, one of his resident trolls lands him in very serious shit indeed.

    Isn't DPF and/or Kiwi Blargh being investigated for contempt of court? I'd call that much, much bigger shit than anything his rabid trolls might land him in with defamation, TBH, but that is just me.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Isn't DPF and/or Kiwi Blargh being investigated for contempt of court? I'd call that much, much bigger shit than anything his rabid trolls might land him in with defamation, TBH, but that is just me.

    I believe the Solicitor General dropped the investigation into possible contempt charges over his coverage of the Wetherston trial, and DPF has cleaned up his act a bit.

    But on the wider point, You're right -- in a sick way, the best protection DPF has is that his resident trolls are so vile most of their targets wouldn't come near the place if they were sitting at their desks with a Hazmat suit. I know plenty of people who will read Farrar's posts, but avoid the comments because they're bullet trains to Crazytown.

    But the only thing that's certain about luck is that it runs out -- and Kiwiblog is going to go too far with someone with deeper pockets, and a more finely evolved vindictive streak, than Farrar. When, not if.

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

  • dubmugga,

    sometimes i'm not the person i pretend to be and i dont want to be held accountable for what i say as some of my online personas no more than a superhero wants to be accountable for damage to public amenities in the course of saving the world or say, america in democratizing iraq and liberating afghanistan.

    case in point, i got stood over at work once by a very irate rapper of some note for dissing him online and apart from not wanting to make a scene at work given it's inappropriateness. i'd always claimed that what i said should be noted in the same context as marshall mathers inventing a character named slim shady, narrating a story by an alternate persona named eminem, to extoll views about marshalls ex which he may not have held himself.

    thinking back maybe i shoulda just kicked his arse and prolly ended up as another victim in subsequent tit for tat reprisals of hiphop violence. My kids woulda loved that...not! ahh but my integrity would have been intact.

    so anyway, should journalists be worried about law suits if its the truth they reveal ? i say no, but its not my livelihood i have to protect either so to each their own.

    that said there are stories needing to be given more airtime than mikeys parking tickets, dan carters undies or what shrek the sheeps been up to lately ?

    the back of your mind • Since Nov 2006 • 257 posts Report Reply

  • deborah coddington,

    Such an enjoyable read, all of this. Brilliant comments from so many people. I've had such a good laugh over this whole episode - I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about from the beginning. Why shouldn't editors give staff a regular rev-up from time to time? Yes, defamation is a pain, and we in MSM would often like to have free rein to slag off many we write about but that's not how it works. I've been sued, personally, for defamation, when I published the Sex Offender Index. It was settled in the end, but it took me three years to pay off the legal bill so I can understand media caution. Just a comment on that clause about some people being more likely to sue. On face value, that is of concern, and in her usual drama-queen manner, Odgers took it to mean people like lawyers or politicians get preferential treatment from APN, and that's not good journalism. But I'm contracted to APN and it's not correct. I don't think anyone could accuse the Herald of being soft on Richard Worth, for example, who was both a lawyer and a politician, and threatened defamation (and remember, thanks to Russell, this document dates back to April). But also remember, for someone to win damages in a defamation case, they need to already have a reasonably substantial reputation. So in context, that clause could take on a different meaning.
    Defamation's a pain not just financially, but in terms of taking up so much of your time. Ask any journalist who's had to spend hours - months - with lawyers going over everything with a fine toothcomb preparing for court. Far easier to get things right before you publish.
    And as for Lange - he was the one who persisted with the case!

    new zealand • Since May 2009 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Hi Deborah. Nice to see you here.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22763 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And as for Lange - he was the one who persisted with the case!

    Sure, but who really won out of that case? Even ACP (the publisher of North and South) could have found much better uses for the considerable amounts they shelled out in legal costs.

    Towards the end, Lange admitted that he would have left Parliament a term earlier than he did if he didn't need a Parliamentary salary to keep his head out of the financial shit. Entirely self-inflicted, but still sad.

    At least, Deborah, you had the sense to walk when your heart wasn't in politics any more. I sure wish there were a lot more people like you in public life.

    that said there are stories needing to be given more airtime than mikeys parking tickets, dan carters undies or what shrek the sheeps been up to lately ?

    Dub: If you want to start me up on what's wrong with the media in general, and The Herald in particular, clear a couple of months, lay in a supply of ear plugs and prepare to be bored into a coma. But let's not waste our shot on a rather flimsy beat-up.

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

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Sorry for flogging a dead drama queen, but is there supposed to be a point to this? I suspect there is actually a useful post in there, but I shouldn't have to extract it from the stew of basic factual errors (especially the ones that totally FUBAR her anti-APN jihad) and incoherent hyperbole.

    And once more:

    And Russellite's on Public Address will no doubt still be filling the troll farm with things that would make my mother blush about me.

    Jesus, Cathy, is your close buddy and political soul-mate Bill ('I'm not going to let the media destroy my family') English ghosting your posts now? Any woman who raised Cathy Odgers without throwing her to the wolves and demanding a do over is made of sterner stuff. As the Cactus would say to anyone else: Harden the fuck up and stop whining.

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

  • Phil Lyth,

    Craig, you were the one who slapped me for giving the wrong gift when I linked to Cohen: WTF were you thinking with what you just linked to?

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    I challenge anyone to find a more depressing read than todays Press.
    For no other reason than the lack of stories in it.
    I can cope with the lead story being "Bitch has kittens", but there is very little else in it.
    The Star - now a free paper has more local news per issue, but of course it's not a daily.
    Who will win the race to the bottom?

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Craig, you were the one who slapped me for giving the wrong gift when I linked to Cohen

    Phil: I was paying you a compliment for pointing us all towards a rich vein of unintentional comedy (not David's measured and sensible initial post, but the whirling vortex of self-created drama CK and Whale Oil wrap themselves in). :)

    But seriously, you think CK was trying, however badly, to make a reasoned point there? Or has she tipped over into some kind of aphasiac word salad? Buggered if I know.

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

  • Phil Lyth,

    Then I must learn to recognise a north-of-the-Bridge compliment.

    Do I think CK was trying? Yes
    Do I think CK was trying to make a reasoned point? Come on.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Then I must learn to recognise a north-of-the-Bridge compliment.

    FYI: Make me laugh, and I'm your bitch forever.

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

  • deborah coddington,

    Thank you Russell, it's nice to be acknowledged.
    Craig, yes, arguably ACP could have found better uses for the money used to defend the Lange case, but that would always be subjective. More cash-book journalism stories, maybe, in Woman's Day? (I'm only playing devil's advocate here). But no one won that case, ACP only won the right to argue it's point - qualified privilege, I think was the legalese (and I'm being too lazy to stroll into the next room and ask my husband). It was a very sad case, I quite agree, but isn't all defamation because in the end the only ones who profit are the lawyers because the words they most love to hear from a client are "it's a matter of principle".
    But doesn't your argument that ACP should/could have found better uses for the money contradict the argument against APN's so-called "shrinking budget" and its being extra cautious, and urging journalists to self-censor to save legal dollars. You can't have it both ways. Either publishers risk money on defending defamation - publish and be damned; or they take no risks at all, offend no one, and spend the budget on more worthwhile things like, say, promoting celebrities? Just a thought.

    new zealand • Since May 2009 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Deborah:

    Oh, sorry for not making my point clearly enough. I'm not arguing media outlets should vigorously defend themselves and their journalists against defamation and contempt charges; but as you so nicely pointed out, no sane editor or writer would invite a writ either. Ms. Odgers may have some weird romantic notion that careless journalism and a telephone number-like legal bill is some indicator of quality, but I don't. Nor is stating the bloody obvious a sinister bean-counter stealth agenda to emasculate APN's newsrooms.

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

  • Phil Lyth,

    Craig

    Are you missing a 'not'? Perhaps

    I'm not arguing media outlets should NOT vigorously defend themselves and their journalists

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    is your close buddy and political soul-mate Bill ('I'm not going to let the media destroy my family') English ghosting your posts now?

    Surely that would be C/T, but not pro-bono. So would the troll-farm expect Cathy to release the invoices C/T have billed for writing her posts?

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

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