Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The judge is not helping

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  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I don’t think it’s desirable that membership would actually define rights in law, but it would clearly make it more straightforward to claim news media status.

    It's a pretty blurry distinction. If that claim is upheld, you have different rights. But yes, the law changes probably shouldn't confer the power to a particular body, instead it should define the kind of body, give some kind of guidelines as to what is acceptable. Then there could be several bodies, which strikes me as more workable, at least to get it started. This means that as technology changes, the bodies can change, too. There might be quite different standards for blogs vs twitter accounts, for example.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Even without making membership of a body a condition, it’s not a big ask to require a level of integrity and honesty in order to qualify as a journalist; which is what the judge appears to be saying. By his own admission Slater acts as a paid shill, without disclaimers of such. “Proper” media either tag such content as advertorial or, at a minimum, have disclosure statements at the article’s close. If you’re taking money to spread someone else’s lines, and not making it obvious which bits are yours and which bits are theirs, you’re not a journalist you’re an advertiser.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to WH,

    Blomfield puts it this way:

    [WhaleOil] doesn’t check facts. He doesn’t research, investigate, or otherwise seek balance. He has no regard for anyone’s rights except his own. He has no time for anyone whose views don’t accord with his own. […]

    Mr Slater is no more a journalist than he is a brain surgeon.

    And I’d most disrespectfully suggest Mr. Blomfield take the proceedings of the Leveson Inquiry to whatever beach he intends to holiday at…

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

  • DexterX,

    This judgement is pretty sound::

    http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Decision-of-CS-Blackie-26_9_2013-1.pdf

    The decision re the disclosure rests on the facts of this particular case and has regard to the defence being run by Slater.

    If you look at [9] of the judgment - Slater has admitted the publication of the material and admits, in some instances, the defamatory meanings (that are pleaded), Slater relies on the defences of truth and honest opinion and has produced a list of the particulars (docs etc) that he relies on to support the defence he is running.

    The purpose of discovery is to assist the decision maker in making a decision. To eventually make a decision the judge needs the “particulars” disclosed that Slater says support his defence.

    The judgment does not consider the material published by Slater, the material that is the subject of the proceedings, are protected as New Media/Medium under s 68.

    The judgment does not modify or create a precedent that lessens the purpose of s68. The judgement deals with the materials published by Slater in this case – not the wider blogging universe.

    The judgment is pretty sound – what it does is signal to Slater the nature of the materials published are such that he cannot rely on s68 to defeat the disclosure sought.

    The judgment here is not the end of the world, it would be a twisted world that casts Slater as a champion of the rights of others.

    I feel Slater will likely challenge the judgment, the judgement will stand, Slater will refuse to attend to disclosure and will be held in contempt of Court – Slater will play the victim and milk it for all it is worth - perhaps he will end up in custody for failure to attend to disclosure.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to DexterX,

    I feel Slater will likely challenge the judgment, the judgement will stand, Slater will refuse to attend to disclosure and will be held in contempt of Court – Slater will play the victim and milk it for all it is worth.

    Well, at least "until his contempt is purged".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to DexterX,

    It's "news media" not "New Media". An important difference.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    You are right - I meant "News Media"..

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • alobar, in reply to Russell Brown,

    He's admitted to taking PR money to run certain lines on his blog, which would seem to undermine his claims to media protections.

    I quoted that on Whaleoil , ( pointless I know , I might have better luck quoting Gandhi to Neonazis) . First response from Slater was to say you're wrong if you said that , but he doesn't believe you said it . (My comments have since been deleted )

    auckland • Since Apr 2010 • 63 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to alobar,

    Well, if he wants to provide an affadavit to that effect in an appeal? I can hear the creaking of the prison door now..

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to DexterX,

    The judgment does not modify or create a precedent that lessens the purpose of s68

    Since it's only a district court judgement it couldn't create a precedent anyway, not even for other district court judges. It's the outcome of the appeal which will create a precedent, one way or the other.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to alobar,

    I quoted that on Whaleoil , ( pointless I know , I might have better luck quoting Gandhi to Neonazis) . First response from Slater was to say you’re wrong if you said that , but he doesn’t believe you said it . (My comments have since been deleted )

    On Media3 ...

    Me: “Have you ever demanded money from PR companies on the blog in return for running certain lines?”

    Cameron Slater: “Absolutely.”

    Me: “You have? How often does this happen?”

    Slater: “I’ll tell you why. They get paid.They’re getting paid to put a message out. They’re getting paid to put spin into the media. And one way they try and do that is to freeload off people who have an audience. That audience is actually worth something. You’ve got an audience. You’re getting paid by NZ On Air and other parties to have a TV programme that you believe people will watch. And I don’t believe that freeloaders like …”

    Me: “I’m not being paid to present certain opinions on behalf of the people paying me.”

    Slater: “Here’s the thing, right? I have particular political views and particular personal beliefs. If I was being paid to present beliefs that were against my personal beliefs, then you’d have a valid claim. But I don’t see why I shouldn’t be paid for my opinion. I get paid to go and radio and paid to go on television, although you’re not paying me to come on this. People people pay me for my opinions. Keith Ng got paid for writing a story. That’s what makes the world go round – money. That’s just how it is. As long as you’re true to yourself and you’re not compromising your own personal beliefs and personal ethics then I don’t see a problem with it. I’m a shameless capitalist.

    You can hear the recording for yourself here at Peter Aranyi’s extensive post from last November.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • alobar, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Thanks. I'll take your word for it . (Noone credible is denying it)

    auckland • Since Apr 2010 • 63 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I'm a little confused by Slater's angle. Surely the truth defence comes down to the truth of the statements, and Slater's evidence of the truth relies on the veracity of the source. Even if the source could not be compelled, the absence of any information about the source means that the evidence is useless, and his truth defense would fail.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to BenWilson,

    Even if the source could not be compelled, the absence of any information about the source means that the evidence is useless, and his truth defense would fail.

    no. Truth is about the claim. If I claim, based on something XYZ told me, that BenWilson is also Redbaiter, it doesn't matter how credible XYZ is if I can prove that BenWilson is also Redbaiter.

    That claims here are basically that someone is a crook. If Whale can prove that that someone is a crook, it doesn't matter whether the person who provided that information to Whale initially was credible and informed, or just really lucky.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Russell Brown,

    On Media3 …

    Me: “Have you ever demanded money from PR companies on the blog in return for running certain lines?”

    Cameron Slater: “Absolutely.”

    Me: “You have? How often does this happen?”

    Slater: “I’ll tell you why. They get paid.They’re getting paid to put a message out.

    Mostly, I took that to mean advertorial stuff. Whale has been asked by a company to say something nice about a product, and essentially to give them free advertising. He replies that he'll do it if they pay him. The PR companies doing the asking are being paid, so why shouldn't he?

    It may be more than that - in the Colin Craig sense, I have no idea - but I don't think you can point to what Whale said on Media 3 and conclude that it is more than that.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Mostly, I took that to mean advertorial stuff. Whale has been asked by a company to say something nice about a product, and essentially to give them free advertising. He replies that he’ll do it if they pay him. The PR companies doing the asking are being paid, so why shouldn’t he?

    It may be more than that – in the Colin Craig sense, I have no idea – but I don’t think you can point to what Whale said on Media 3 and conclude that it is more than that.

    Can you actually point to any likely advertorial content on Whaleoil? And if there was, what would that have to do with Slater’s political views? And how would my question about “running certain lines” apply to product promotion, rather than political positions? You’d have to be squinting pretty hard to make your first impression that he was talking about doing advterial for consumer PR companies.

    Also, the reason I asked the question was because I had in fact seen correspondence in which Slater demanded money to take a certain line on a current news story.

    So, no.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • alobar, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    He replies that he’ll do it if they pay him. The PR companies doing the asking are being paid, so why shouldn’t he

    I didn't see it as a big deal either , until I quoted RB on Whaleoil , which prompted both a denial and an accusation that I was lying (actual words were something like he doubts RB said that ).

    auckland • Since Apr 2010 • 63 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to DexterX,

    The judgment here is not the end of the world, it would be a twisted world that casts Slater as a champion of the rights of others.

    Oh, FFS, Dexter. It would be really nice if the freedoms we enjoy had been won -- and defended -- by saintly people with pure motives we'd all like to hang out with. They weren't, and I doubt that's ever going to change because people don't work like that.

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

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Can you actually point to any likely advertorial content on Whaleoil?

    How about the series of posts on the Azor?

    He says he asked for one. They gave him one and then he blogged on it. They even gave him some to give away. I got one of them. I quite like it. Not saying he was paid - I very much suspect he wasn't - but if he was, why not?

    Also, the reason I asked the question was because I had in fact seen correspondence in which Slater demanded money to take a certain line on a current news story.

    Publish it. I'd be interested in seeing it. All I'm going on is what he said on Media 3. And I did not see the claim as starkly as you did. That you had additional information provides a proper basis for our differing interpretations of what was said. I do not think that, based on what was said on your show, that there was an admission that Whale has sought money to run lines on a political story. Indeed, it's possible you agree. The reason you think Whale has sought money to run lines on a news story is not really what he said on your show, but because you've seen correspondence where he sought money.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    If I claim, based on something XYZ told me, that BenWilson is also Redbaiter, it doesn’t matter how credible XYZ is if I can prove that BenWilson is also Redbaiter.

    Yeah, but how are you going to prove that, if your evidence IS what XYZ told you or gave you? The evidence can be challenged as fabricated or selectively picked from. Since the onus is on the defendant to prove the truth, surely it's also on them to come up with some chain of evidence, and for that evidence to be available to both parties.

    Unless you're saying that Slater probably has other evidence?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    He says he asked for one. They gave him one and then he blogged on it. They even gave him some to give away. I got one of them. I quite like it. Not saying he was paid – I very much suspect he wasn’t – but if he was, why not?

    He should say he was paid, ideally.

    But here’s Slater’s own response to commentary on his admission:

    PR flacks like Matthew Hooton, Deborah Pead and others get paid too for ensuing that their clients story is adequately covered in the media. They use all sorts of tricks to get that out there too…some of which have been outed. They also bill their clients for seeding stories in social media. I know this because I’ve seen the invoices. Matthew Hooton for example hired Martyn Bradbury to “interview” customers of the new medical laboratories in Auckland to attempt to spike them. He was working, paid, by Diagnostic Medlab as their contracted spin doctor and was attempting to cause outrage against the legal commercial arrangements of the DHB. SO he hired a blogger, who got paid, and they ran stories against the competition David Fisher never ran stories about Matthew Hooton paying bloggers to do his dirty work then, so why now? One can only think petty revenge.

    Hooton doesn’t do consumer PR and I’m damned if I can square the idea of “dirty work” or writing on behalf of trade unions with seeking publicity for a new razor.

    I do not think that, based on what was said on your show, that there was an admission that Whale has sought money to run lines on a political story. Indeed, it’s possible you agree. The reason you think Whale has sought money to run lines on a news story is not really what he said on your show, but because you’ve seen correspondence where he sought money.

    Graeme, my actual question to him was whether he demanded money to “run certain lines”. Here’s one example where he indicates his understanding (indeed, anyone’s understanding) of that phrase, in talking about Labour enlisting their tame journalists “to run lines for them”.

    Perhaps you can find some way to construe that as “here’s a great new razor!” but I really don’t have time to further entertain your silly fit of contrarianism.

    Publish it. I’d be interested in seeing it.

    Duh, Graeme. Source. Confidential.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    But if the claims are in fact false, the source having a particular motive to have them put out, and you yourself having a certain (allegedly pecuniary) relationship to the source that involves knowing a lot things you didn't let on to the public, that suddenly is quite an important fact.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Source. Confidential.

    Bloody journos. :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    You can hear the recording for yourself

    and those muted gasps from the audience - that's more than a few of us there that night realising exactly what Slater was saying. Wasn't just the host who had the "did he really say that?" moment.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Perhaps you can find some way to construe that as “here’s a great new razor!” but I really don’t have time to further entertain your silly fit of contrarianism.

    I'm sorry you feel that way. All I was saying was that when I saw the Media3 interview with Whale, I read it a different way. I didn't think he was admitting as much as some others thought he was admitting. That's all.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

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