Someone’s lawyer might be interested in this

[28 April update Legal letter freaks out Big News]

I’ve just been to Big News and there’s a very interesting post that I reckon a couple of legal eagles might like to take a look at.

It seems that someone’s been a very naughty boy – and totally stupid to boot.

Someone has been posing as a number of senior New Zealand journalists to post comments on a Big News blog item and, apart from being very peurile, it strikes me as possibly worthy of a legal challenge.

Big News names the culprit as a student journo at Victoria University in Wellington. Michael Oliver is the news editor of the Vic Uni student mag, Salient.

[30 April update:

Big News wrote: I can now reveal that those comments on this blog were done in the offices of Salient, and a Salient volunteer has taken the rap. I doubt whether this volunteer was alone. I was advised today, after being threatened with a defamation suit by the Victoria University Student’s Association(VUWSA) two days earlier, that current editor Jackson Wood was “aware of it” and knew “who is responsible” after initially writing to me denying any knowledge of the spamming.]

If I was Mark Sainsbury, or Carol Hirschfeld,  or Tony Veitch, or Zoe Halford, or Mike McRoberts, or Glenda Hughes, or Dave’s mum, I’d want to take the jerk who did this outside for a quite talk and a noisy thumping. Or maybe I’d just sue the arse of the little turd who is responsible. You can view his/her handiwork on this post at Big News

If it is Michael Oliver then he’s Whoever did this has got some serious navel gazing to do and I certainly hope s/he doesn’t want a job in the New Zealand media when he graduates.

[material deleted by EM 30/4/2009]

If the perp is this person then he the responsible Salient volunteer appears to have no respect for others.

It seems that Michael Oliver is also not averse to slotting fake stories into his own publication. I don’t know, maybe you could argue it’s satire, but if so, it ain’t very clever or original. Salient is not The Onion

I have a strong affection for student newspapers and was editor of Honi Soit at Sydney University back in the day, but the Internet lets stupid people do stupid stuff.

One of my graduate students from 2008, Alice Neville, has written a couple of stories for the NZ Herald about some lunatic setting up fake Twitter accounts in the names of Kiwi journos, including  gossip columnist Rachel Glucina. Perhaps for more malicious purposes than those that could be ascribed to this loser who’s blog trolling at Big News, but whoever does it, it’s a shameful practice. When I checked tonight there was a Twitter account in the name of Rachel Glucina, it’s “champagnaholic”, but there are no tweets attached. Strange business.

And, Alice also mentioned that New Zealand politicians are also being imposted (?) on Twitter.

There seems to be something of a techno-legal time-gap here too. Twitter won’t reveal who the faker is, citing privacy rules. Now that’s funny. But a fake Mark Sainsbury Twitter account has been taken down. Impersonation is a terms of service violation.

This is another darkside to social networking, perhaps not as bad as the Witches of Facebook, but disturbing, none-the-less.

Faking Twitter accounts – twitterjacking – is big news around the world; Ewan McGregor and the Dalai Lama among those who are being impersonated. Even cops in Austin, Texas were scammed.

12 Responses to Someone’s lawyer might be interested in this

  1. Anon says:

    Don’t forget the legal challenge from Michael Oliver over the false and defamatory accusations.

    It was not Michael Oliver.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Crampton’s lawyer by the sounds of things.

  3. Michel, or whatever you’re calling yourself now. If you’re not prepared to put a name to your comments, don’t bother EM again.

  4. Matt Smith says:

    It’s pretty harsh to call Michael’s satire “fake stories.” Yes it is satire. It is headed in the publication with the title “The week that wasn’t.”

    Satire has been a feature of Salient magazine for a long time. I don’t think anyone would confuse satirical pieces written by MJO with his journalism.

  5. […] freaks Big News – should the Internet be “Adults Only”? A week ago I mentioned an interesting little blogwar breaking out in Wellington, now the skirmish has gone nuclear with one protagonist sending a […]

  6. Sean says:

    Being a professional educator of student journalists Martin, I’m a little disappointed that you see no issue with Dave Crampton’s flaming attack on what is an innocent person. Yes, innocent – we don’t live in a land of guilt upon accusation, especially when there is no proof.

    Dave Crampton is guilty of defamation: he has lowered the reputation of an up-and-coming journalist in a small national industry. How you can not be perturbed by such behaviour is worrying.

  7. Sean, you will see from my posts that I have not presumed Michael Oliver’s guilt. What is clear is that someone or some persons is/are spamming Dave’s blog using false names that actually defame others too. I sympathise with Dave’s anger and I think he’s actually made a reasonably good argument that at least one of the people attacking his blog is associated with similar streams of inane commentary at Salient.
    My own research leads me to believe that the two incidents are connected. I also drew attention to what I think is highly unprofessional behaviour among Salient staff, while recognising that satire and humour have an important place in student journalism.
    My position is that the material posted at Salient and on Dave’s blog does not reflect well on those involved.
    If you follow my links and spend a few minutes at Salient you will see what I mean.
    In my view a range of immature behaviour is being sanctioned by some of the senior people at Salient, in fact, it seems that they condone it and perhaps even participate.
    I do not think that Vic has a journalism programme, so technically the Salient team are not student journalists in the same way that those at AUT are for example. I would come down like a tonne of bricks on any of my students who got involved in childish pranks and used defamatory, racist and sexist language in public forums, particularly if they were doing it in a publication that was attached to the university.
    As for the ability of any of the Salient crew to land a job in the New Zealand news industry, well, let the marketplace decide. I merely pointed out that they’re not doing themselves, or the reputation of Salient, any favours.

  8. Sean says:

    Martin: I appreciate your response but you missed the point. Perhaps you need to re-read what I wrote.

    Nevertheless, I share your apparent sentiment that legal action against Crampton would be bad for the blogosphere. However, regardless of condescending jibes about juvenile behaviour in student media, Dave Crampton has maliciously attacked an innocent person and is the one who should be held in disdain for risking media freedom.

    Crampton’s attack by itself probably isn’t so damaging to Michael Oliver’s career. But now Public Address and Ethical Martini have given Crampton’s paranoid ramblings oxygen, Oliver’s reputation has been seriously tarnished (in a world of google searches).

    You might not have quite labelled Oliver guilty, but I’m sure you know enough about media law to know your writings are potentially libelous.

  9. Sean,
    As a judge said in a recent high profile case: “He is the author of his own misfortune.”

    I don’t know if Dave’s paranoid, but he was within his rights to be pissed off at the spamming of his site.

    An opportunity to issue a legal challenge was taken and then withdrawn.

    Some of the Salient crew have been exposed as juvenile and unprofessional.

    That’s the story so far.

    Draw your own conclusions from that.

  10. […] 22 April: Someone’s lawyer might be interested in this […]

  11. Sean says:

    So far, you’ve avoided replying to what I am saying.

    Because you’re an important New Zealand journalism educator, I think you need to be held to account for your views.

    I seriously hope you don’t think an opinion formed by amateur investigating suffices as right to defame and demean a person. Unfortunately, that’s how it comes across.

  12. Sean, see the last post on this topic at Big News.
    I have nothing more to add.

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