Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Who Guards the Guardian?

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  • Aidan,

    Jay Rosen was pretty scathing of the Newsnight Interview

    http://pressthink.org/2013/10/the-bbcs-16-questions-to-glenn-greenwald/

    He even got Ian Katz, the Editor of Newsnight, responding. Still wasn't impressed.

    Canberra, Australia • Since Feb 2007 • 154 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Barnaby Nicholls,

    You can always argue that more time spent on a story would produce a tighter story, but I think the Guardian was right to publish so quickly – drawing public attention to the issue before it could be suppressed keeps them off the defensive.

    Here's my problem with "tighter stories" being treated as nice to have but not really essential (h/t The Hon. William English). One reason Rushbridger had this reputation long before Glenn Greenwald blew into town is that he invests the time in getting complex stories right rather than going for the quick scoop. Sorry for the marketing speak, but I thought the Guardian's brand was precisely that it has slightly higher editorial standards than the Daily Mail.

    At the risk of sounding rather bitchy, you don't get to have it both ways. Either we hold The Guardian to the kind of standards we all claim to care about, even when it's ideologically uncongenial or politically inconvenient, or it's time to ask whether we really care about them at all.

    And here's a little real world reality check. I suspect Rushbridger and his chief political editor, Patrick Wintour, have politicians and Whitehall mandarins trying to monster them every day of the week. That's part of the job if you're doing it properly, not a reason to start getting sloppy.

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

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Aidan,

    At least they’re asking someone the hard questions…

    (Before you ask: No, you're not stoned. No, I don't know what the fuck I just saw. No, you can't have cookies for breakfast.)

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

  • Kumara Republic,

    Via Twitter... (any way to embed Tweets?)

    Tom Phillips
    Imagine a nightmarish post-Leveson world where a cowed press simply parrots the government line OH HANG ON http://pic.twitter.com/bEA9VgaWXS

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    I'm not sure how to put this Russell. But once again your approach seems to be to shoot the messenger. This time Greenwald. In doing so you turn this (as you did with the Wikileaks saga) into a story of personalities over content.

    This seems deliberate and exactly what our governments would like. C.f. todays Daily Mail.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • James, in reply to Barnaby Nicholls,

    I would happily pay a subscription to the Guardian – it’s long frustrated me that I can’t voluntarily donate short of sending an envelope with cash to the office of A Rusbridger.

    For that exact reason, I'm using the subscription option on the Guardian's Android app, even though I use the website more often. The only drawback is that $1 a month doesn't feel like enough.

    New Zealand • Since Feb 2007 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Don Christie,

    This time Greenwald. In doing so you turn this (as you did with the Wikileaks saga) into a story of personalities over content.

    FFS, Don... Unless Rushbridger is a big fat liar, the 'personalities' are relevant here when an editor of a major newspaper went to press with a story he was far from entirely comfortable with. And one Russell wasn't actually alone in raising his eyebrows at, given that it wasn't as solid as is the norm on AR's watch.

    Can't speak for Russell, but I'm sick of the way any critique of Greenwald's actions (however mild or heavily nuanced) gets re-framed as some kind of personal attack that only gives aid and comfort to THE ENEMY. Are we really going down the road where you get a free pass as long as you're righteously "one of us"? Really?

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

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Rushbridger

    FFS - his name is Rusbridger
    If facts are as important, and personalities as relevant, as you say.
    Just sayin'...
    :- )

    </pedant patrol>

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7939 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Craig, credible track record is important. Greenwald, Rusbridger, Wikileaks, and the Guardian have it in spades. The personality issue is a side show. If the content is weak, attack the content. Personal attack is exactly how the US government has tried to discredit this and many other similar stories.

    Have you not spotted the pattern yet?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Don Christie,

    Craig, credible track record is important. Greenwald, Rusbridger, Wikileaks, and the Guardian have it in spades. The personality issue is a side show.

    OK, Don, it's an irrelevant side show that has nothing to do with journalism. Just like the "personality" of Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre, who's still defending running a hit-job on Ed Miliband's father so vile even hardcore Tory politicians and pundits are openly musing whether he's a couple of scones short of a full Devonshire tea. (BTW, Darce is still chairman of the Press Complaints Commission's external Editors' Code of Practice Committee. Just fills one with confidence in industry self-regulation doesn't it?)

    And frankly, you're being spectacularly naive if you think The Guardian's credibility is an excuse for being careless and cutting corners, rather than the strongest incentive to do the exact opposite no matter how hard the likes of GG stamp their feet and threaten to flounce out of the building. That credibility is easier to lose than to build up. Just ask the New York Times and New Republic what single pathological fantasy writers with weak editorial oversight did to standing that had taken decades to accrue.

    There's a reason why editors edit, and sources don't get to dictate the timing and placement of stories. And despite what you may see in the movies or on television, not every cautious editor is a spineless whore of the media-industrial complex, just as not every plucky "speaker of truth to power" is a paragon of virtue.

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

  • Don Christie,

    ...Daily Mail...Ed Miliband. QED.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Don Christie,

    I’m not sure how to put this Russell. But once again your approach seems to be to shoot the messenger. This time Greenwald. In doing so you turn this (as you did with the Wikileaks saga) into a story of personalities over content.

    NOT I AM NOT. Dammit Don, I’m critiquing a specific editorial decision taken in the face of Greenwald’s threat to go elsewhere with the story – and comparing it with the way other stories have been developed. Every time I’ve talked about this, you’ve accused me of “playing personalities” and it’s getting silly. This was an editorial decision that directly affected the the way a hugely important story was presented to the world.

    This seems deliberate and exactly what our governments would like. C.f. todays Daily Mail.

    Yeah, of course. It was deliberate because I’m secretly in league with the enemy – or something. FFS. Come on, man. Get a grip. This is ridiculous.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    I don't think you are in league with anyone, except those lizard beings maybe.

    I do think the general approach being taken to Greenwald is a reflection of a meme being perpetuated by the US government.

    I still struggle to see what your point about the timing decision is or was. Of course Snowden was in a hurry, he knew he could be shut down or taken out very quickly. Urgency made sense, the details you seemed to have concerns with generally stacked up as more and more evidence was presented.

    The point you and others seem to be buying into is that Greenwald, Snowden et al are unstable and therefore unreliable. If that's not the case then why not make it clear that is not what you are saying?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Just on the money side of things, I am less concerned than Russell. The Grauniad is investing in growth and market share. Ask Xero what that does to cash reserves. It doesn't mean it is not able to generate revenues.

    I love this quote on many levels, including Rusbridger's broad awareness of context:

    "In just five days, Rusbridger said, its traffic eclipsed that of Murdoch’s national newspaper, the Australian. “We’re being a digital disrupter,” he said, smiling. “We’re doing to that market what the Huffington Post is trying to do to us.”"

    It's actually what Murdoch did in the 80s with Sky TV. I think there's a pretty good future for the Guardian online, which is a good thing.

    Maybe they should invest in Public Address for the NZ edition.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Don Christie,

    I still struggle to see what your point about the timing decision is or was. Of course Snowden was in a hurry, he knew he could be shut down or taken out very quickly

    Which is not, I feel obliged to note, the reasoning he actually offered himself.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Don Christie,

    Just on the money side of things, I am less concerned than Russell. The Grauniad is investing in growth and market share. Ask Xero what that does to cash reserves. It doesn’t mean it is not able to generate revenues.

    But Xero is investing towards a very clear revenue model. The Guardian is having to bet on internet advertising, which is arguably completely screwed. That's what I'm worried about.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Russell Brown,

    In the Auto Trader business, they have the Trade Me-like model of being the dominant player in B2C / C2C vehicle classified advertising in the UK (possibly other markets??). That's a pretty solid business, except insofar as people stop buying cars. Similarly, Top Right Group (formerly EMAP) have a pretty solid legacy business, albeit one without much growth opportunity.

    This model of having a non-journalism driven cash-cow funding a newspaper business makes a lot more sense for the Scott Trust than for e.g. Fairfax. The Scott Trust has an underlying charter to run a newspaper and seeks to employ capital to fund it. A shareholder-owned organization will always have to ask itself why it bothers with the newspapers at all.

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

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Which is not, I feel obliged to note, the reasoning he actually offered himself.

    And the idea going around in certain quarters that Rusbridger (silent H, Ian :) ), was going to crumple at the first hint of an injunction if Greenwald didn't insist? It's a long read, but I'd warmly recommend reading Rusbridger's 2011 Anthony Sampson Memorial lecture: 'The long, slow road to libel reform', which also contains some thoughtful reflections that "the public interest" isn't quite as clearly defined as the "publish it all, and let God sort it out" Cult of Wikileaks would have you believe.

    I don't agree with everything he said, but it's irrational to suggest he hasn't thought deeply about the ethical complexities of what he publishes, or is easily monstered by corporate/political special interest.

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

  • Don Christie,

    isn't quite as clearly defined as the "publish it all, and let God sort it out" Cult of Wikileaks would have you believe.

    Which is a libel to Wikileaks and the work they had carried out for many years. And the fact that you can make that sort of statement as fact is why I worry about the sort of article Russell has written here.

    Note to self, again: Maybe I shouldn't be so abrupt in my initial comment :-)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Which is a libel to Wikileaks and the work they had carried out for many years. And the fact that you can make that sort of statement as fact is why I worry about the sort of article Russell has written here.

    Oh, fuck off Don.

    If Wikileaks has never published documents containing unredacted personal information from Wesley Snipes' social security number to the identities of whistleblowers and sources in the then they've got be bang to rights, and I look forward to hearing from WIkiLeaks lawyers.

    But gee, I'm going to be in some damn good company including Rusbridger himself.


    And I make zero apologies for holding in utter contempt those whose support for Wikileaks justified the identification and villification of two women who dared lay sexual assault complaints against Julian Assange. "Cult of Wikileaks" is about as nice as I'm willing to get with those people.

    Now I think it would be wise to just agree to disagree and move along, before I lose my rag and say something genuinely actionable.

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

  • Don Christie,

    Love your work, Craig.

    before I lose my rag

    Go you good thing :-)

    I do appreciate your passion. But insinuating I am <insert your misogynistic misrepresentation here> because I disagree is a bit low.

    I think that you may wish to consider what power government agencies across the globe have to discredit individuals before making too many snap judgements. The Cold War perfected those techniques and just because its over doesn't mean they have disappeared.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Don Christie,

    Snowden et al are unstable and therefore unreliable.

    Snowden placed himself in the jurisdiction first of the People's Repubic of China then of the Russian Federation. I'm not going to say either "unstable" or "unreliable", but ever since the story broke I've been wondering about those two decisions.... something smells not quite right, is all.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    And so … Assange turns on Greenwald for “cashing in” with a planned Snowden book/movie. Greenwald has now been unfollowed by Wikileaks on Twitter.

    Snowden himself now seems to be in the care of Wikileaks’ Sarah Harrison, who is acting as his legal advisor. There was a slightly odd press event in Moscow yesterday, in which four other whistleblowers presented Snowden with an award. Nothing actually wrong with that, but it’s unfortunate that one of the four was Ray McGovern, who’s not a whistleblower so much as a 9/11 Truther.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Russell Brown,

    judgey pants on?

    ...unfortunate that one of the four was Ray McGovern, who’s not a whistleblower so much as a 9/11 Truther.

    You say that, like it was a bad thing?
    This list of his stories on Alternet doesn't seem to indicate anything more than a 'truth to power' stance.
    Something I thought we liked around here?
    Maybe drop the 9/11 and stick with 'seeker of truth', as are we all, yes?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7939 posts Report Reply

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