OnPoint by Keith Ng

Read Post

OnPoint: H4x0rs and You

213 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 9 Newer→ Last

  • George Darroch,

    it's knowledge

    Knowledge, bro.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to George Darroch,

    zing

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19694 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It’d be sweet if we focused on the reporting and not the person.

    Well that veiled reference failed.

    Hey John hum any tune you want

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Cause everyone is

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    In EVERY case that I’ve ever seen a story reported where I had any background or inside information on the topic (though there haven’t been that many), the journalist has got it wrong. I’m not talking about them not knowing the full story or being fed wrong information, those are different issues. Instead, they’ve clearly got access to the basic facts, but either just didn’t understand, or else deliberately chose to misrepresent them.

    That's probably not really news to anyone, but I guess just provides background to the fact that I'm really not the least bit surprised at the journalist getting it wrong in this case too. Do they kick themselves later, I wonder, or just think "oh well, I had to get it out in a hurry and that was the best/most sensational I could do at the time"

    (The one exception to this, to my relief, has been reporting of public health research findings. I think it’s the SMC that makes the difference.)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 580 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to john Drinnan,

    Hi John.

    Big issue with hiring experts is that they would cost and cost is even more of an issue now than it ever was.

    I wish I could remember who was being interviewed at the time I was listening, except that I think it was someone who'd been in the business for many decades. I think his claim wasn't so much that media outlets specifically went after people in other professions and paid high wages, but that there was really no such thing as a journalism degree. (I'm not certain if this is true.) A consequence was that people were more likely to train on the job, that new journalists had frequently trained in something else before they became journalists (instead of being trained in "journalism"), and that it was probably at least as likely that new journalists would have a previous life experience or two as it was that they'd be fresh out of school.... Or something like that. Obviously I'm only trying to remember second-hand information, but it sounds as if it's not a given.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • john Drinnan, in reply to izogi,

    Yeah that sounds plausible -teachers become journalists - certainly journalism degree is a relatively new aberration - before than six month and 12 month courses at polytechs put you on a cadet grade and you were assigned to rounds - which made you relatively knowledgable on specific topics - and sometimes these became niches, Degrees much more common nowadays

    Auckland • Since Oct 2010 • 31 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Alan Perrott,

    this looks like a deliberate misrepresentation to establish a sexier angle which not only adds a new dimension to an ongoing story but possibly makes them active players in it's telling.

    Partly the Julian Assange factor I suspect.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5423 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to john Drinnan,

    certainly journalism degree is a relatively new aberration

    Sounds like a by-product of the bums-on-seats degree Fordism model. It's as if journalism is now a law unto itself, like the global finance sector over the past generation.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5423 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Bailey, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    I'm trying to get someone to report properly on the Protected Disclosures Act 2000 (aka the Whistleblower's Act) in relation to this story. Perhaps you might like to look at it? It seems that everyone's just assuming that the report from DiData got lost somewhere in the last 18 months of bureaucracy. Surely there are some white hats at MSD, or MOJ it now seems, who would've blown the whistle. I've written some more about this here: http://www.leftoutnz.wordpress.com/2012/10/17/msd-and-the-pda-aka-the-whistleblowers-act-wtfmsd/

    Since Oct 2012 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Ds, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Do think there a a case for defamation?

    wellington • Since Sep 2012 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    Instead, they’ve clearly got access to the basic facts, but either just didn’t understand, or else deliberately chose to misrepresent them.

    In my (science-based) experience it's usually a matter of context; they have the facts, but haven't put them in the context which makes them accurate. Sometimes the lack of context doesn't even make them interesting.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    In EVERY case that I’ve ever seen a story reported where I had any background or inside information on the topic (though there haven’t been that many), the journalist has got it wrong.

    I'm in complete agreement....

    And i expect, my personal areas of expertise have no, or low cross-over with yours....

    The point is... if, on the few occasions you see a report in an area you consider yourself to have some (any?) level of expertise, and you find it "wrong" or at least "more wrong that right" ... it's very easy to assume the area in question is quite specialized, and maybe the reporter is just not quite on form for that subject?

    But ask any of your friends or acquaintances... especially ones who's expertise is considerably different from your own (i.e.. not your work colleagues)... and they feel the same way about news stories they personally feel they have some background knowledge on...

    How can this be?

    When you see a report that contradicts your own knowledge, from a main stream media source, most reasonable people assume it's an aberration, because they only see news on a subject they consider themselves reasonably knowledgable about infrequently...

    But if every story is "wrong", "wrong-ish" or "misguided" according to the people who have "more knowledge than average" on any given topic... then you have to question what it is our media is doing for us?

    I'm not an "expert" on many topics, and have "some knowledge" of only a few more...

    But whenever I see a news story on a subject I consider myself to have more than just passing general knowledge of... the best I could ever say is "somewhat OK-ish"..."more right than wrong" is common but not a clear majority, and "more wrong than right" is all too frequent. "Completely and utterly wrong" is more common than it should be, and "missed the main point of interest" is frequent too...

    It's easy to feel that this is simply because a generalist journalist cant be expected to have the knowledge on any subject that someone intimately knowledgable on a particular subject has, and it's probably not as bad a problem on "other topics I'm not so expert in"... but if/when everyone you talk to feels the same about the topics they know about....

    The only reasonable conclusion is that you cant trust what you read in the papers or see in the TV news.

    I have no doubt that the reporters are trying their best... but theres just too much information on too many topics for them to research and present several stories a day with any level of accuracy ... (in my opinion :)

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 887 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to john Drinnan,

    With respect Keith - you might be getting a bit carried away with yourself.

    John you are defending an indefensibly poor job by an MSM reporter and you are doing it by denigrating someone who has just demonstrated his ability as a journalist to find and coherently report a technical story.

    The nice thing about this site is the people here can describe shit as shit. The pile of sensationalist drivel delivered in the TVNZ article deserves to be called shit.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I couldn’t say for certain, but I feel bad right now for some of the government IT and IS people I know who are really smart and careful at what they do with regard to information and network security

    The ones I know – and there are quite a few, including members of the community here – are exactly as you say: smart and careful. They are principled people.

    Same experience here. Talented, smart, careful. But incredibly hamstrung by ludicrously incompetent management. Asked to develop capability and then when management sees the plan told to implement it with half the money, as if the IT guys had lied about costs. Which of course is exactly what management would have done.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    In my (science-based) experience it’s usually a matter of context; they have the facts, but haven’t put them in the context which makes them accurate.

    To be fair a lot of the time our language is too divergent for a lay person to even remotely understand what is being said. But every scientist I know would be only too happy to spend the half hour or hour to explain in lay language, preferably with access to a pencil and paper to draw pictures. The problem we have is most folks just don't care to spend that time.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Clarke,

    I'm wondering if DiData were consulted/informed before Mr Craig talked to the media. I'm also wondering how they're now reacting to being seen as a company that employs out-of-control malicious hackers rather than security professionals. Somewhat damaging, that.

    -36.76, 174.61 or thereab… • Since Nov 2006 • 164 posts Report Reply

  • steve black, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    The one exception to this, to my relief, has been reporting of public health research findings. I think it’s the SMC that makes the difference.

    That’s certainly not my experience, although I can’t comment on how much the Science Media Centre might make a difference (no separate experimental control group ;-) ). Reporting of public health research can be seriously off. Do you read StatsChat (U of Auckland)? Examples are legion. Most recently:

    http://www.statschat.org.nz/2012/10/18/never-mind-the-numbers-look-at-the-neuroscience/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+StatsChat+%28Stats+Chat%29

    And for a more entertaining exposition enjoy this Ted lecture (sorry I don’t know how to include the link with little preview window):

    http://on.ted.com/Goldacre

    sunny mt albert • Since Jan 2007 • 116 posts Report Reply

  • Lew Stoddart,

    As someone who spends a lot of time working with news but who has never worked as a journalist, this looks like a function of the generalist imperative in newsgathering culture. As journalism isn't a high-status, high-wealth sort of career, and usually requires long years of graft to make a name, build competence and so on, it tends to be staffed by people who come in at the bottom and work their way through a range of general reporting beats, becoming very competent at the generic skills required, but not building specialist competence in any given field. Reporters have to be instant experts on everything, and as Fletcher says, most of the time they can bluff their way through because they know just as much about any randomly-chosen subject as most punters do. We only spot the gaps when they happen to align with our fields of specialist expertise. For the most part this works well -- a really deep knowledge of most fields is not necessary to report well on them. But occasionally it doesn't, and this was one of those times.

    I generalise, of course, and there are exceptions in every field -- Juha Saarinen and Chris Keall in tech; Matt Nippert and Bernard Hickey in finance; Lynn Freeman in the arts, many more. But most journalists just aren't specialists.

    The problem with this case was that it got framed as 'politics' rather than 'tech', so they put a political journalist on it who, through no real fault of her own, doesn't grok the technical and cultural aspects necessary to put it in context. This was a failure of editorial discretion as much as it is of journalism -- bearing in mind that the editor who made the editorial calls also likely doesn't have a fucking clue about these tech aspects. I think this is disappointing but inevitable -- one thing I liked about Keith's initial story was that it was rigorously apolitical, and the government was only criticised by virtue of the fact that it's the government.

    I don't see a fix for this in the short/medium term. Sure, baseline tech awareness will improve as tech becomes more ubiquitous, but that doesn't change the generalism imperative in other disciplines. The strategic fix is to make journalism a high-status, high-value career and attract better-qualified, or more specialised people. With the industry going the way it's going, I don't see this happening, especially in a narrow, shallow market like New Zealand's.

    L

    Wellington, NZ • Since Aug 2010 • 109 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Withers,

    Even if the journalists know what they are talking about, the detail, subtleties and context will be almost wholely lost on the viewing audience....most of whom would know less about IT than our MPs.....or TV journalists.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 312 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lew Stoddart,

    Excellent comment Lew.

    The strategic fix is to make journalism a high-status, high-value career and attract better-qualified, or more specialised people.

    I can't think how to do that, though. Indeed, being unable to think of how that could work, makes me think that can't be the solution, or perhaps not the right formulation of the problem.

    Left to the market, traditional journalism is dying, being superseded by the kind of thing Keith has just done. But I'd be mighty surprised if Keith can make a living doing just that - you break a story like this only a few times in your entire life. Even if he makes ten grand out of donations, that's a month's salary for "high qualified, specialized people". And he risked losing a whole lot of it to legal costs, which as an individual rather than an institution, is pretty bloody significant.

    Perhaps an alternative model will work, like Hickey's initiative. But I can't see it. An industry can't survive on donations to itself from itself. It's righteous work to try to make it happen, to be applauded at every turn, but I hate having to be the guy who thinks like a capitalist and knows he wouldn't risk his wad on it.

    I don't know the solution. I only have an opinion, which is that our very conceptions of work and value, and the connection between them, have to change. Or, more likely, economic equality is going to continue to slide backward, hidden behind the fact that formal social equality is improving. This is the extremely clever (whilst at the same time incredibly stupid) thing about neoliberalism, that it gives as it takes, so we don't notice what we lost until its gone. Everyone can be a journalist now, it's an equal opportunity employer, just so long as it doesn't matter that you can't make a living out of it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Lucy Bailey,

    I'm trying to get someone to report properly on the Protected Disclosures Act 2000 (aka the Whistleblower's Act) in relation to this story.

    Nice post, thanks. Sure seems an angle worthy of a journo's attention..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19694 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to FletcherB,

    But if every story is "wrong", "wrong-ish" or "misguided" according to the people who have "more knowledge than average" on any given topic... then you have to question what it is our media is doing for us?

    ...


    I have no doubt that the reporters are trying their best... but theres just too much information on too many topics for them to research and present several stories a day with any level of accuracy ... (in my opinion :)

    The volume and breadth of knowledge most of us are expected to engage with every day has increased hugely, and that won't stop. Even if it's sports or celeb gossip for entertainment, there's so much more of it.

    Media traditionally performed a research and filtering function that can now be shared across more of us. However, viable quality systems and business models haven't settled yet and cost pressures have gutted the quality measures that were relied on such as senior staff and time to craft and check a story.

    Wikipedia was an early example of a different approach and there are many more now. Bernard Hickey's local journalism.org.nz initiative should be most interesting when it kicks off next month.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19694 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    Everyone can be a journalist now, it's an equal opportunity employer, just so long as it doesn't matter that you can't make a living out of it.

    The location and nature of value is shifting, just like it did when scribes were no longer the only ones who could write. Journos have some great skills - and legal protections and privileged access. But yes, the business hasn't quite kept pace with the shifts.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19694 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Lew Stoddart,

    The problem with this case was that it got framed as 'politics' rather than 'tech', so they put a political journalist on it who, through no real fault of her own, doesn't grok the technical and cultural aspects necessary to put it in context. This was a failure of editorial discretion as much as it is of journalism -- bearing in mind that the editor who made the editorial calls also likely doesn't have a fucking clue about these tech aspects. I think this is disappointing but inevitable -- one thing I liked about Keith's initial story was that it was rigorously apolitical, and the government was only criticised by virtue of the fact that it's the government.

    Yes, and the political 'immune system' kicked in mighty fast. Bennett's office has answered an OIA request in record time for the charming Cameron Slater which shows at least some of the internal email trail and carefully redacts names which I'd guess are probably from the PM's office or similar.

    I reckon traditional media seem more comfortable with crime and politics than with science, tech or policy fields. I guess broader than 'he said, she said' takes more to cover, and there aren't agencies like the courts and police providing ongoing and sanctioned judgement about what matters.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19694 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 9 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.