Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Truth to Power, etc

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  • Geoff Lealand,

    These days its the fifth estate, the blogs who are riding the white chargers of truth.

    Astride wombats might be a better image!

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2557 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Astride wombats might be a better image!

    Badgers.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    @Kyle

    ...last night Henry read out a BSA finding on Close Up, which I had the misfortune to be watching.

    At the end of reading it out he sneered and screwed up the bit of paper he was reading from and tossed it aside and made some comment.

    Such. a. dick.

    While we're talking about accuracy and media and stuff, I should point out (I just went and watched Close Up from last night to check):

    1. Paul Henry doesn't do Close Up any more. That man was Mike Hosking.

    2. At the end he didn't sneer (IMO), definitely didn't screw up the piece of paper and certainly didn't toss it aside. He placed it on the laptop in front of him and tapped it with his finger.

    3. He did make a comment though. He mistakenly turned to another camera and then realised his mistake and turned back, and said "oh don't I turn? Because that was so serious?" Facetious or self-deprecating cos he'd just fucked up his eyeline? Dunno.

    4. Such. A. Dick? Sure, why not, but that was obviously just your opinion from the get go, as the facts don't add to it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    The Four Wombats of the Press Apocalypse: Crime, Celebrity, PR and Boobies.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    if Catcus is amoebic then be very afraid.. Ascerbic she may be , but she has one of the finest intellects in the blogzone..

    These days its the fifth estate, the blogs who are riding the white chargers of truth.

    A disturbing image. And I suspect the vast majority of those "chargers" wouldn't be fit for glue.

    Wait long enough and the story writes itself.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Brenda Leeuwenberg,

    So I heard. I deliberately avoided that session as I would only have got irate and everyone would have said, "There goes that Geoff Lealand again..."

    No biting the hand that feeds ... those guys will defend a flawed system to the hilt if it means they get to keep getting funding.

    IMO it comes back to 2 main things:
    - how is 0.03% (apparently i was .02% out) a representative sample
    - how does the behaviour of people who will willingly use the people meter system, reflect the behaviour of any other "normal" person or the many many "non-normals" who might have other preferences!

    Wellington • Since Oct 2008 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Shit barnes you just dont get it.. when you are doing investigative articles you push the limits..

    Since you brought up Phil Kitchin -- he has the (well-deserved) reputation he does because the one limit he doesn't push, bend or break is getting a story right rather than cutting corners to get a front page right now .

    And, yes, I'm sure Kitchin has spent many hours with evil "conservative" lawyers and editors showing that he can back up every claim, every quote, every citation with documentary evidence. You know, not because he's a craven tool of the media-industrial complex but because he gives a shit about telling the truth.

    I only wish certain bloggers would be that scrupulous.

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

  • Steve Barnes,

    The whole point, I think, of the Nielson People Meters, is to tell us what is Normal rather than as a true reflection of what "normal" people watch. I don't know anybody personally who has a meter but I know of people that have one and they strike me as people that you would expect to have one.
    Do you catch my drift?. It is a self fulfilling prophesy of sorts. We have the same thing with Music Charts and Box Office returns.
    God forbid if the people wanted quality entertainment that doesn't fit the "tried and true" template. It is far easier to foist formulaic rubbish onto a gullible public.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Don't want to be gushy, but I love the down-to-earth attitude Kitchin has to his work. He's extremely solid.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    I love the down-to-earth attitude Kitchin has to his work. He's extremely solid.

    As opposed to some others who are extremely soiled.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Morgan Nichol,

    PAS Lynch Mob Veterans for Truth!

    I'm sure there's a wide range of reading and perspective on offer, but trying to dismiss Russell as some kind of cult leader who doesn't know what he's talking about because he has the GALL to disagree with you is way too rich for my blood.

    It bloody is a cult. They killed me once, you know. I did nothing to deserve it. I mean, aside from being unforgiveably rude to one of Russell's writers, completely out of the blue, and immediately after she'd bared her soul.

    Fuckin' culty bastards.

    Related: Pitchforks hurt!

    If Cactus Kate is one of the blogosphere's finest minds, then well, it might be time to close up shop.

    What don't you understand?

    Main Entry: fine
    Part of Speech: adjective
    Definition: dainty, delicate; sheer
    Synonyms: diaphanous, ethereal, exquisite, filmy, fine-drawn, fine-grained, fine-spun, flimsy, fragile, gauzy, gossamer, gossamery, granular, impalpable, light, lightweight, little, loose, minute, porous, powdered, powdery, pulverized, quality, slender, small, thin, threadlike, transparent

    Sure, why not, but that was obviously just your opinion from the get go, as the facts don't add to it.

    Well if you love facts so much why don't you just bloody marry them? I'd call you a commie pinko if you weren't such a right-wing mother fucker.

    Auckland CBD • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Related: Pitchforks hurt!

    LOL.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    Pitchforks hurt!

    Well, I've found my placard for the "Democracy March" this weekend.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    No biting the hand that feeds ... those guys will defend a flawed system

    So many flaws...assuming that "Presence in a room where a TV set is on" is the same as watching TV. Measuring only the visual signal and ignoring the use of the mute button. The sample size of the overall panel and sub-populations. Lumping all 55+ viewers into an undifferentiated mob. Absence of non-home-owning viewers (students, young professionals) etc etc

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2557 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Pt 3: Odgers has done what she should have in the first place and looked at the Properties tab in her document -- which, she says, contains the name of an APN-based Sydney staffer.

    But so far as I can tell, the actual text still comes from the media training booklet. Presumably, someone took it upon themselves to email out a digest of the booklet -- although people I've talked to know nothing of the email and didn't get it.

    NZ Magazines staff did get an email pep-talk from their publisher on journalistic standards, but apparently it wasn't this one.

    She concludes by asking, triumphantly if ungrammatically:

    What has happened within APN and their New Zealand publications to instigate APN Sydney forwarding these guidelines and emails in and around the past couple of months?

    We appear now to have moved on from the bold claim that APN's legal budget has been slashed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • David Slack,

    We appear now to have moved on from the bold claim that APN's legal budget has been slashed.

    Spoke to a Herald person yesterday. They said they seemed to still be running up a lot of (editorial) legal bills for an enterprise that's supposed to have had its budget slashed.

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 599 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Don't want to be gushy, but I love the down-to-earth attitude Kitchin has to his work. He's extremely solid.

    Indeed -- Kitchin would be the first to say what he does isn't rocket science. It's about putting in the hours (or months) to do the basics right. Every time. All too often, bad investigative reporting is about cutting corners to get the 'scoop' right now.

    What has happened within APN and their New Zealand publications to instigate APN Sydney forwarding these guidelines and emails in and around the past couple of months?

    Damn good question -- what a shame she didn't take a deep breath and ask that question before the Whale Oily facials started to fly.

    As I said up thread, I wouldn't be surprised if APN management weren't perfectly well aware of things like apologies and retractions run in their titles, upheld Press Council complaints, and any legal actions for contempt of court or defamation. I don't see anything at all sinister in the idea that, perhaps, they'd like to keep all of the above to an absolute minimum. Not just because of cost, but because getting a reputation for being economical with the veritas does nothing for your journalistic credibility.

    And, sadly IMO, there are senior figures in the APN stable who need a tune up on Media Ethics and Law 101 -- that's the real scandal.

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

  • Kyle Matthews,

    1. Paul Henry doesn't do Close Up any more. That man was Mike Hosking.

    I'm not sure why I conflate those two. I withdraw and apologise.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    Astride wombats might be a better image!
    Badgers.

    The beige badgers of truthiness.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Ah -- I have the emailed Word document, which was created in March and amended in April. It's 500 words long. Someone vaguely remembered getting it and happily hadn't deleted it.

    The author is listed as Tammie Hunt, at an apn.com.au email address. (Odgers is being all secret-squirrel about this but I'm damned if I know why. It's there in the document properties.)

    People who have seen both are pretty sure it's just a digest of the media law training booklet -- although that may not apply to the first paragraph:

    Editorial could take a more conservative approach to the subject matter and content of the risky or contentious articles. Where editorial identifies an issue or risk in an article the relevant passages could be proactively removed, or rewritten internally, to remove the perceived risk, as an alternative to obtaining legal advice on the risks of publication.

    Which might be taken as impertinence but makes more sense as a reference to the "Checklist for common issues" that makes up the rest of the one-page memo.

    That's the journalism 101 stuff about not breaching suppression orders, substantiating potentially defamatory claims about individuals, identifying people correctly in photos (where the Herald has had a few whoopsies in the past 12 months), etc.

    It may be that corporate sent out a tune-up in response to a few fuck-ups on these basic issues. But deriving from this a plot to slash legal budgets and muzzle journalism requires a more fevered imagination that I've got.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    I like this bit from Cathy's latest post:

    Unless the receptionist put me through to a phantom line, that staff member works in Sydney.

    Hmm. That's a pretty big 'unless' to dismiss so easily, no? You see, when you're on the trail of something this big - a memo reminding reporters to be careful and adhere to basic guidelines - why wouldn't you assume that APN have set up phantom lines to throw you off the scent? They're a big corporate, it'd be easy for them to do. Next thing you're believing this so-called "Tammie Hunt" exists, and then they've gotcha!... you're having your brain sucked out by an anal probe and the reptilian shapeshifters have won...

    This has all the babbling paranoid subtext of Havoc's recent appearance on Media 7.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Gen,

    Most of it Russell, I agree, is Cactus Kate making a mountain out of a molehill. But the point re “categories of people” is not journalism 101. If it’s a training document, this kind of guideline strikes me as even worse than if it was a policy document.

    More seasoned journos will have a feel for how to approach potentially contentious stories, but teaching the young ‘uns to avoid controversial stories about the wealthy and well- connected (especially politicians!) strikes me as a massive de-knackering of the fourth estate.

    I was a libel lawyer in a former life. Yes, some people had a reputation for being litigation happy. Yes that was factored into the risk assessment of the story.

    But deciding on a case by case basis to reign in a story on a celeb’s crash diet versus giving across-the-board advice (to the largest newspaper in the country) to treat whole categories of people - and arguably categories of people who most require scrutiny - strikes me as quite different.

    That said, apart from that point (which is a shocker), the rest of the document seems pretty innocuous. I hope this isn't seen as carrying out an an adolescent blog feud - nerdily, it's a topic quite close to my heart.

    Since Nov 2009 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    @Gen:

    I was a libel lawyer in a former life. Yes, some people had a reputation for being litigation happy. Yes that was factored into the risk assessment of the story.

    But isn't that basically what the text says?

    There are categories of people who are more inclined to sue if they are the subject of adverse publications, so particular care should be taken in reporting allegations of misconduct against lawyers, doctors, judges, other professionals, politicians, critics and wealthy businessmen/women.

    Taking "particular care" -- ie, making sure you can substantiate your facts -- in stories about potentially litigious people is just prudent, isn't it? It doesn't say don't do the stories, it says take "particular care". And I'm pretty sure that it's actually a direct lift from the Bell Gully booklet.

    I can see that a senior journalist might see it as being told how to suck eggs (the memo originally went only to editors), but I can't see a plot in it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    you're having your brain sucked out by an anal probe and the reptilian shapeshifters have won...

    But why are they coming all this way just to shove things up Kate's arse? Do they know something about the location of her brain we mere mortals don't? Why doesn't an evil Ocker corporation just put out a hit on her? Or something

    Most of it Russell, I agree, is Cactus Kate making a mountain out of a molehill. But the point re “categories of people” is not journalism 101

    Would "superfluous statement of the bleeding obvious" satisfy you, then? Teaching the "young uns" to be extremely careful about defaming groups of people who have a demonstrable track record of being more litigious than most isn't "chilling", it's a re-statement of the need to actually make sure you're filing (and publishing) water-tight copy.

    After all, isn't truth still about the only complete defence against libel out there?

    Or would you like to argue that there are certain classes of people who "require scrutiny" so badly, they're not entitled to exactly the same ethical and legal protections as everyone else? No more, but definitely no less. I sure hope not.

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

  • BenWilson,

    Instruction booklets are surely all about teaching the art of egg-sucking. The reality is that humans implement the instructions in those booklets, using the judgment they get from experience.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

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