Whale-watching: Always take the weather (with you)

January 12, 2010

I really don’t know why Cameron Slater (aka Whaleoil) wants to take on the NZ legal system, but my advice to the balls out blogger comes in two parts:

  1. Shut-up
  2. Get a good lawyer

?The first part is easy. Cameron, no matter how much you believe in your anti-name suppression crusade, you are making things worse for yourself by tricks like this:

Police will investigate a blogger for revealing the identity of a former politician accused of an indecent assault on a 13-year-old girl.

Cameron Slater yesterday outed the former MP from the top of the South Island by naming him in a binary code on his blog.

[NZ Herald, 12.01.10]

In a post yesterday Whaleoil said the binary code doesn’t breach name suppression orders:

  1. Firstly I did not defy name sup­pres­sion laws. I cat­e­gor­i­cally deny I did any such thing. I sim­ply posted some Binary Code with a Base64 Title. None of which iden­ti­fies by name, address or occu­pa­tion “in any account or report relat­ing to any proceedings”
  2. The “binary code which, when con­verted”, does NOT reveals the iden­tity of a defendant.

The link in 2. is to a TV3 piece that claims the code does reveal details likely to identify someone subject to name suppression

When converted, the computer coding in today’s post reveals the name of a national figure charged with the indecent assault of a girl aged between 12 and 16.

3news.co.nz had the code analysed by one of our programmers, who confirmed it indeed does reveal the name of the accused and his former role.

Court documents show it is alleged the man touched the girl’s breasts and genitals on December 30, 2009.

[Blogger investigated

Mocks suppression laws]

I don’t know if the code does or doesn’t translate, but both Fairfax and TV3 are reporting that they cracked it.

There’s more coded text on Whaleoil’s blog and I sadly think that this cat&mouse game is a sign that something is wrong.

It seems clear to me that Mr Slater needs some solid and effective legal advice. Maybe he’s getting it and he knows what he’s doing. Or it’s Don Quixote territory.

I’m also not sure Cameron is all that clear about his own motives. He seems naively surprised that his actions have attracted police and media attention.

Slater said he had received many supportive messages from victims of sexual abuse, saying they wished they were able to name their abusers.

And he said he did not name the former politician to attract publicity.

“People say that I’m publicity-seeking but I’m not,” Slater said.

“I didn’t seek for the police to charge me and I didn’t seek for you guys to publish about it.”

[NZ Herald, 12.01.10]

I don’t know what he expected then.  Of course there’s interest. After Cameron’s 1st legal outing last week, any further development was always going to get attention.

The root cause of this binary charade is that Cameron Slater doesn’t like the legal niceties that allow some defendants and convicted criminals to have their identity suppressed by the courts. He has repeatedly said so on his blog. This recent example pretty much sums up Whaleoil’s position:

All the hush-hush that comes with name sup­pres­sion in cases like this [sexual assault of a minor] is sup­posed to be for the ben­e­fit of the vic­tim. the thing is no-one ever asks a vic­tim what they think about it usu­ally because they are too young at the time. This allows the kiddy-fiddlers to get way with it for so long.

Right now one of the cases that I am alleged to have named both the vic­tim and the accused (”The Olympian”) and the case of the “Come­dian”, both of these fel­lows have been ordered to stay away from the com­plainant and in one case ordered to stay away from young chil­dren. The ex-MP with name sup­pres­sion is in the same boat. The thing is this. If we can’t be allowed to know who it is that should stay away from var­i­ous sit­u­a­tions or peo­ple then how can they be reported for breach­ing the court instruc­tion because we aren’t allowed to know who they are in the first place. There­fore we run a real risk of there being more vic­tims, espe­cially as they are all out on bail. If they were known then they would effec­tively be under house arrest as they sure as hell wouldn’t show their faces anywhere.

[Gotcha 12/01/10]

There might seem some logic here, but it is fatally flawed. In these cases, there is an accused and these person’s have a right to the presumption of innocence until the legal system says otherwise. I think the cops have got it right on this one.

“Clearly it attacks the very heart of our criminal justice system in a number of ways; that a person is entitled to presumption of innocence until the opposite is proven, the right to a fair trial, and in this case the breach of that order has the potential to identify the victim – the very reason the order was imposed.”

Mr Winter said he would be liaising with police in Auckland over the previous breaches as well as speaking to a crown solicitor and the judge who issued the suppression order.

“He’s certainly testing the boundaries of the law which doesn’t adequately cover the use or abuse of the internet, so there’s grey areas in both domestic and international law,” he said.

[Nelson Bays police area commander Detective Inspector John Winter @ Stuff.co.nz]

When media outlets get involved in trying cases before the courts they overstep the mark. We call it “trial by media”.

It is not up to Cameron Slater, the Weekend Truth, or anyone else ; either private individual, or media outlet, to prejudge the issues in these cases.

I wrote last week on the emotional pull of vigilantism in sex cases, we clearly see that here.

Bloggers and tabloid media want to be judge, jury and executioner.

I have more to say on this but I’m painfully pecking with one hand due to a large cast on my left arm. More later.


Some interesting thoughts on social media for legacy giants

November 5, 2009

I’m at #media140 in Sydney, the keynote this morning was ABC managing director Mark Scott. He outlined some interesting innovations for legacy media wanting to get on the Twitterverse bandwagon.

 

He started with the 4Ts: Telegraph, Telephone, Typewriter, Twitter. An interesting geneaology of communications technologies.

Scott noted that the 4Ts have always been about short, sharp reports of breaking news; particularly the generation of good headlines. He talked about how the ABC is moving quickly to embrace social media with the appointment of a coordinator of social media to formalise the ABC’s presence across all social networking sites.

The ABC is also today releasing its guidelines for staff using social media. The four guiding principles are really about brand protection and like the NYT are designed not to give guidance for journalists using social media as  tool, but more about social media as a distribution network:

  1. Don’t mix professional and personal social media views in a way that will bring the ABC into disrepute
  2. Don’t undermine your effectiveness as work
  3. Don’t imply ABC endorsement for personal views
  4. Do not disclose confidential information

Nothing here about journalistic ethics.

Scott made a good point about sharing information and allowing audiences to distribute ABC content. Setting up a number of widgets for people to embed on Facebook and blogs etc is obviously good business sense.

The ABC’s also launching ABC Open as a “digital town square” and part of this is training UGC providers in 50 locations to generate content.

This is the pro-am model and as Scott mentioned there has to be journalistic leadership, but also recognising that the audience is often closer to the story – at least in the initial stages.

The catchphrases are collaboration; conversation, communication and partnerships.

More later when I’ve had time to digest this and get my hands on some more notes.

Julie Posetti also argued that this is a revolution, not a war, but no doubt there will be casualties.


Twitter for the “peeps”: Celebs keepin’ it real?

October 18, 2009

Well, that’s nice, Miley Cyrus / Hannah Montana is leaving the Twitersphere; now maybe we’ll get some peace.

I think we should all tweet our favourite celebs (or their peeps) and suggest they follow Miley’s unselfish example.

I never could understand why there’s such crush on following the rich and fatuous on Twitter, not even Stephen Fry, though sometimes his jokes are pretty good.

Apparently, Miley and some of her celeb peers have been dissing and bitchin’ each other via tweets, so she’s pulled out along with Courtney Love and her daughter.

Nowhere is safe, it seems, from celebrinfection; I’m all in favour of disinfecelebritizing social media.

“Hey you, get out of MySpace!”

More at Stuff.co.nz


Media 140: Sydney social media & journalism conference looks interesting

October 2, 2009

Media 140Top

Future of Journalism in the Social Media Age An international collaboration asks “What is the future of journalism in the Social Media Age?”. Staged at ABC’s Eugene Goossens’ Hall, Sydney on 5th – 6th of November, bringing together Australia’s leading journalists, broadcasters, social media advocates and media academics.

To educate and promote debate within the media industry about Twitter and realtime social media platforms and practices. If you are a broadcaster, journalist, media academic, social media advocate, publisher or student in journalism you need to be at the event.

Register here for tickets. Available now from $145 until 5th October.

EM will definitely be attending this conference; the list of speakers is impressive, but I can’t help wondering if there’s going to be a lot of hype about how wonderful Twitter, etc are. The agenda reads like the table of contents for News 2.0: Can journalism survive the Internet? which is now “in house” at Allen & Unwin.

It will be a chance to catch up with the publishers too.


25 years of the broadcasting school: a celebratory gaze into the future of news

July 27, 2009

I spent an interesting 24 hours in Christchurch on Friday and Saturday as a guest of the New Zealand Broadcasting School. I was a speaker at the school’s conference to celebrate 25 years of turning out great Kiwi broadcasters and industry heavyweights.

Some other interesting speakers too, including the head of the Australian Special Broadcasting Service, Shawn Brown, himself a Kiwi; Brett Impey, the CEO of Mediaworks; Rick Ellis, CEO of TVNZ, Jim Mather, head of Maori television and John Follett, the head of Sky New Zealand.

All of them had some interesting things to say about the state of Kiwi broadcasting, but they are also fairly optimistic that the industry is in relatively good shape-if only it wasn’t for this blasted recession. Advertising revenues are down somewhere between 15 and 30 per cent and of course there’s been several rounds of cost-cutting, particularly in news and current affairs, but each of them was surprisingly upbeat about the state of broadcasting, particularly television, in the relatively (in global terms) small New Zealand market.

I was on a panel talking about the future of news and my fellow presnters were TVNZ head of news and CAff, Anthony Flannery, his TV3 counterpart, Mark Jennings and a recent NZBS graduate, Katrina Bennett, who’s now with the Radio Network in Wellington.

We had a lively discussion and again both Mark and Anthony were confident that television will continue to be the dominant news media for some time to come.There were some great questions from the audience too: about the ubiquitous TVNZ live cross that doesn’t seem to go anywhere. Anthony Flannery made the point that he thinks TVNZ news gets it right about 40 per cent of the time. There was also some discussion of how PR is tending to overshadow news to some degree and Katrina made the interesting point that to some extent journalists have just become the re-mediators of press releases. She asked why don’t organisations like the police just go straight to the public and this provoked some interesting responses from the panel and from the floor. Read the rest of this entry »


Someone’s lawyer might be interested in this

April 22, 2009

[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

Read the rest of this entry »


Join the cyber-revolt! Who owns your Facebook stuff?

February 19, 2009

I am well pleased with the current tide of resentment that’s building towards the way that Facebook is doing business.

We’ve had the amazing spectacle this week of the Facebook admins having to delete groups and personal accounts after public outrage over cyber-vigilantes baying for blood and revenge in the most obscene ways. [The witches of Facebook / Facebook vigilantes]

And, in an ironic twist of fateful timing, in the same week Facebook announced and then withdrew new terms of service because users kicked up a fuss.

The Facebook admins have been forced to create a group of their own Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, to allow users to address their concerns over who owns the rights to user-generated content on the site.

There’s certainly a fair smattering of dribblejaws on Facebook, but there’s also a large number of active citizens (netizens) who recognise the professional and social advantages of the networking site, but who are also savvy enough to argue points of law with the Facebook admins.

This could well be a watershed case about digital rights that rivals the Napster file-sharing case as a test of copyright and privacy law.

It’s a classic example of what I call the “techno-legal time-gap”. The law and the ethical regime do not keep pace with the technology. In this case it seems Facebook wants the right to sub-licence material (re-sell it) and to profit from what its members post.

Read the rest of this entry »


Facebook vigilantes “just can’t get enough”

February 18, 2009

The Witches of Facebook [so you can read background]

This is now something of a casebook social phenomenon. The Facebook vigilante groups calling for lynch mob style revenge for suspected Victorian arsonist B****** S****** are spreading like, well…actually like “wildfire”. The most prominent has gone underground, but several others have sprung up.

It makes me wonder what the Facebook moderators and the Victorian police are doing about this. Meanwhile the vicious and ignorant hate continues to dribble forth.

Burn the motherf***** like he did to all those innocent people. Jail is too good for the c*** [my edits]

The pro-lynching groups are now also claiming to be victims of an anti-free-speech brigade. It’s beyond laughable, it’s a sad indictment of the whole social networking idea. This is an example of the level of debate and discussion this is throwing up (literally)

Why do people want to protect that low life peaice of shit???..To hell with what authorities say about facebook groups on that freak not being aloud…cos we will anyway..if not on facebook else where. Its spose to be a flamming free country where freedom of speach is a high priority…. so c’mon ppl join this group im 100% in favour of it myself!!!

Personally I blame reality TV and the edumukashun system.

I see this as fairly clear evidence that we’re dumbing down public debate. I think it’s refreshingly democratic that “everyone” can join in on Facebook and I admire those hardy souls who take it upon themselves to intervene in these sick discussion lists with vigour, honesty and some humour, but really what are they trying to do?

It would seem to me almost impossible to think that getting involved in a slanging match with prejudiced and ill-educated dribblejaws is going to change anyone’s mind. All that happens in these groups is that like-minded people reinforce each other’s ignorance and find solidarity for their views.

Social networks like Facebook are not the new public sphere. They are not fora for informed debate on issues of public importance. Unfortunately, for many Facebookers it is the only media they engage in on any serious level. The interactivity is great, but the intellectual level is way down.

It’s the evil egging on the ignorant.

One line I did notice though that I think needs more attention is the way in which Kevin Rudd’s ill-considered comments about the suspected arson in Victoria being “mass murder” may have led to the legitimation of the hate-rant stuff that’s now taking off on Facebook.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Monday: “I think it’s important that the nation braces itself for more bad news. This is a little horror which few of us anticipated.””What do you say about anyone like that?” Rudd said. “There’s no words to describe it, other than it’s mass murder.”

This is how moral panics work. A “legitimate” source – in this case the Australian Prime Minister – makes a signal statement that looses the fear and gives an imprimatur to louder calls for action and revenge.


Epic 2015 – what’s beyond the horizon?

September 13, 2008

I was fortunate today to meet and interview Matt Thompson. He’s a journalist, blogger and thinker. He’s also the guy behind the wildly successful viral flash videos Epic 2014 and Epic 2015.

The premise of these 8.5 minute creations is to predict the future of the media in our digital world. They were both created a few years ago now and they tried to look ahead 10 years from when they were produced.

Epic 2014 was made in 2004, but a year later Matt decided it needed updating.

While I was in Columbia, Missouri at the Missouri School of Journalism 100th anniversary celebrations I met Matt and heard him talk about a new project. He calls it “Wikipedia-ing the news”, but admits the name doesn’t really capture what he’s doing.

Matt is a visiting fellow this year at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at MU that was also launched today.

I was able to grab a few minutes with Matt between his break-out session and the official launch where he and the other RJI fellows were announced.

I asked Matt why he had changed some of the content from Epic 2014 in the second version, a year later.

Read the rest of this entry »


Web Capitalism 2.0

February 23, 2008

I came across this at Andrew Keen’s The Great Seduction. I sometimes disagree with Andrew but I think his analysis of web-capitalism (summed up here) is pretty accurate:

For all the glib pieties about the “democratization” of media, the truth about the Web 2.0 economy is that it’s anything but democratic. That vast sucking sound you can hear is Google, YouTube et al gobbling up obscene amounts of wealth from the rest of the media business.