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Herald Sun

Mar 22, 2009

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A fine-looking mea culpa from the Sunday Herald-Sun this morning (as in, one day after the Queensland election) in which it both apologises for (a) being conned, and so easily, into publishing something completely wrong; and (b) for “not treating [its] readers with respect”.

There’s a sort-of reference to the privacy issue, but there’s little in the Hun’s response to give us confidence that they’d refuse to publish private teenaged photographs of a politician next time, if they were really, really sure they were real:

Paul from Hoppers Crossing has this to say on page 67: “Can the Sunday Herald Sun and other media justify this invasion of privacy?”

The answer is no. The trust you place in us to deliver the news fairly and accurately has been seriously breached.

We’ll see if the Hun starts delivering the news “fairly” – although I’m sure they’ll be trying harder to do it more “accurately”. Maybe they’ll start asking questions that test their own assumptions before publishing! I can’t wait to see it. It’ll be like a whole new paper.

Meanwhile, there are a couple of questions left unanswered by this (unattributed) editorial, the first being: were there extra profits they garnered as a result of their misconduct last weekend, in terms of extra sales of the paper and extra hits on their website – and if so, once the Hanson lawsuits are settled with an appropriately generous offer, what are they going to do with those extra profits? I’d suggest they should be donated to charity – isn’t it a bad look for News Ltd to profit from such a self-admittedly shamefully wrong breach? You’d think they’d have come up with that themselves, really – they could’ve made the offer and prevented cynical criticisms like this one, without actually being financially any worse off than if they hadn’t let their greed and malice get the better of them last weekend.

Also – “army of readers”? God help us all.

Herald Sun

Feb 26, 2009

5 comments

Yesterday I wrote a piece for the Crikey email (available to subscribers only) that said…

Broadly speaking, bloggers on non-commercial sites (like Tim Blair in his pre-News Ltd. days and me in my non-Crikey hat) can let a lot of comments through that probably fall into the questionable category, while bloggers who work for large media organisations (like Andrew Bolt, Tim Blair in his current iteration, and me in my Crikey hat) have to be a lot more careful because of the higher legal risk involved for the parent organisations.

Unfortunately, managing this risk requires the curtailing of one of the key features that makes blogging so valuable and so much fun: the free-flowing conversation that is possible due to instant commenting. News Ltd. blogs have adopted a strict moderation model where every single comment has to be approved by a human before appearing on the site…

The News Ltd. newspapers’ websites have also enabled (moderated) comments on most of their published stories, allowing readers to have their say or have a conversation of sorts with other readers. I think that it’s an admirable attempt to embrace social media, but it carries the same risks for the company that I was talking about in my article about blog comments — hence the moderation.

However, you’ve gotta wonder what the point of moderation is if comments such as these ones noticed by Club Wah are routinely published by the Herald Sun. Those comments represent blatant racial vilification and the highest-circulation newspaper in the country doesn’t seem to care.

UPDATE: Reader Shabadoo points out similar comments getting published at Fairfax’s The Age website.

Andrew Bolt

Feb 20, 2009

5 comments

The Herald Sun today reports on a legal case between a Queensland woman who was injured at a Victorian surf lifesaving competition and the St John’s Ambulance volunteers who she alleges caused her permanent physical injury.

Reading the report it’s very difficult to get a sense of who’s right and who’s wrong, and there are lots of details missing from the story that would assist in forming that judgement — but as this is a matter before the courts this scarcity of details is understandable. And because it’s a matter before the courts the Hun has quite sensibly disabled comments on the article “for legal reasons.”

But over at Andrew Bolt’s blog, legal reasons have been suspended. Bolt quotes a short passage from the Hun article (with even less detail than the article itself), adds a couple of lines of his own comment, and lets his commenters go crazy.

A plea to the chronically litiguous: when swimming, please put a sign on your back reading “rescue me at your peril”:

A Queensland woman given emergency first aid by St John Ambulance officers while visiting Victoria is suing and says her treatment was unlawful assault. Brodie Cambourne, 34, alleges volunteer medics permanently damaged her shoulder when they rushed to assist her at a Lorne surf carnival.

People like this endanger the rest of us by making volunteers feel too scared to help.

And crazy they go, making assumptions about the case (for and against the woman who is suing) with approximately zero actual knowledge of the case. Clearly legal reasons just don’t matter at Bolt’s corner of the Herald Sun website.