Cameron Slater simply isn’t a journalists arsewipe. For him to claim the legal privileges, protections and authority that the journalistic profession holds within our political and economic community makes a travesty of the whole concept of a free and responsible press.
Now I’m aware that many of the marching morons that make up the more extreme sociopathic tendencies here and overseas tend to regard “free” as meaning they can do anything that they childishly want and that the responsibility as a outmoded concept. But they’re wrong.
A “free press” is one that is unencumbered by oppression or obligation to their sponsors about what or how to report. A “responsible press” doesn’t use their implied authority against individuals in a vendetta. This is literally the argument going on in Britain at present. It is a common pattern with unconstrained and irresponsible organisations who taint all of their better behaved brethren with the stench of excess.
It has been clear for a number of years that the Whaleoil site “demands” money from interested parties for whom it is writing advertorials for. The PaePae provides a good explanation of the background to the exposure of this in “As playful as he is psychotic“, including the links to Cameron admitting this in November 2012 on Russell Brown’s Media3 show.
Apparently provided Cameron thinks that he believes in the cause, he can’t see anything wrong with writing what he thinks that potential clients want to hear and then demanding money from them to continue to do so. Since the advertorials paid or otherwise aren’t marked as such, there is a certain stench of ambiguity about all of what Cameron writes. Of course you can understand why in mid-2012 when looking at his site advertising income of $251 for July 2012 .
That is a bit of a problem because you really can’t be sure where or why Cameron Slater or (these days) his various minions start writing stuff on his site expressing “their” opinions and “demanding” money for continuing to do it. What you can do is map it and the people involved.
Back in July 2011, Whaleoil had the first of a wee series of posts on the perfidy of Hell Pizza not giving money to a charity. Coincidentally it appears that a few weeks earlier a Hell Pizza director was being raided by the Serious Fraud Office and blaming it on Matthew Blomfield. Since Warren Powell was at the centre of both, it hardly seems a leap that he’d have explained his financial woes to the blogger attacking him?
Jump to May the following year and it appears that a hard drive with Matthew Blomfield’s emails has in a mysterious and convoluted fashion made its way to Cameron Slater. He according to the Wayback Machine (the posts have been removed from the site) and the legal docs launches a series of attack posts on Matthew Blomfield based on Cameron Slaters unique level of knowledge about the events leading to and from Blomfield’s bankruptcy. Purportedly based on the contents of that mysteriously acquired hard drive. This eventually leads to the defamation suit and eventually to a dispute about information of the source of the drive and emails.
Ok, so lets look at some of the documents floating around just on Judge Blackie’s decision in September. I’d point out that as far as I’m aware these documents are in the public domain at present and not subject to any suppression.
Matthew Blomfield’s submission shows that he really does need a lawyer. However his suspicions about how the disk drive came into the possession of Cameron Slater are pretty obvious.
13. The most recent Statement of Defence relies almost solely relies on
information provided by Mr Warren Powell [referred to more than 10 times
in the SOD]. The defendant will need to call Mr Powell to establish Truth, or
the True Facts which support the Honest Opinions pleaded. Mr Powell was
my former “employer” (I was a contractor) for 8 years, and therefore must
be the “former employer” who provided the stolen hard drive to the
Jordan William’s submission essentially relies on almost entirely on the protection of a journalist’s source in section 68(1) of the Evidence Act (see MickeySavages’s post). He also raises the 8.46 of the High Court Rules “Honest Opinion” but without stating where the public interest was served or where privilege applies which made it kind of pointless.
Now if you read the PaePae post and as I remember it, it is quite clear that Whaleoil at around the time of the alleged defamation was definitely not describing himself as a journalist. Peter Aranyi describes him as “journalist-denier”. Now I haven’t been able to track down overnight a definite reference for that in May/June 2012, but I’m sure that one of the media watchers will be able to. So I’m kind of puzzled that the Evidence Act 68(1) was even in consideration as it is all about protecting journalist‘s sources of information.
However if we assume that Cameron was an inadvertent journalist despite his stated intent, then the criteria in 68(5) is…
journalist means a person who in the normal course of that person’s work may be given information by an informant in the expectation that the information may be published in a news medium
Now in July 2012, we know that the advertising revenue from the Cameron’s site was $251 which is barely enough to keep a server running. May and June in the middle of winter also aren’t exactly the best times for website advertising revenue.
So I’d be asking who he was “working” for. There is a reason that work was inserted into the act and made specific to the news medium. It was to prevent exactly the kind of ambiguity that this case presents to me. Given the history of this sorry saga about this blog, a “source” to “demand” payment to fund a hellish advertorial campaign comes to mind. If my speculation is correct then effectively Cameron wasn’t working for the blog, he was working for someone else and using the blog.
Now I can sympathize with Russell Brown with his call The judge is not helping, because as he points out he is one of the relatively untainted. We are much the same we have had two defamation threats this year. Both disappeared when I explained how little they knew about defamation law. However I have little sympathy with the cause he is dithering on supporting.
The judge quoted the questions about blogs from the Law Commission report in his decision. He was right. They are pretty chaotic some of the time. But do they need or should they get journalistic protection. Hell no….
However outside of my opinion, I suspect that what he should have also looked at is how people can “work” for a blog as a journalist when there is insufficient revenue to support both them and the server. It always leads to a suspicion that the actual revenue is unseen and corrupting to journalism. In this case I suspect that is something that I suspect can only be traced by examining the source of the hard disk. I rather expect that when Whaleoil finally has to cough up his source, it is likely to also cough up his employer.
I’ll leave my last words on the final statements in Russell Brown’s post.
Perhaps Judith Collins should have looked more favourably at the Law Commission’s regulatory proposals (Slater has said he would have made himself subject to the new regulator, as would I) and not simply shelved them, because this really has become a mess.
Anyway, Slater is appealing the decision and I don’t need to defend his work in this instance to hope he succeeds.
But of course I could be a deeply cynical blogger…. But I was deeply sceptical about the proposals as were several of our authors for instance Michael Valley. Mostly I viewed them as being a license for someone to make money off blogs without providing anything more useful than a ignorant view over how blogs run and acting as a ridiculous figleaf that would be as ineffective as most seals of quality.
The existing legal structures are more than sufficient for citizen bloggers. There is exactly one problem with them. They are simply too slow.
And I hope Cameron fails because I suspect that getting a victory for blogging that way will simply destroy it for all for most of those who actually contribute to the blogs – the authors and commenters.
This post will be fully moderated because I really don’t have time to waste on the idiotic assertion crap I had to moderate yesterday. It was half of the reason I dug into details overnight.
Updated: Added a second later link to PaePae where some documentation is displayed where Cameron Slater denies (strongly) being a journalist.