The Herald reports:
A High Court judge has ruled that a book written by a New Zealand Herald journalist about internet tycoon Kim Dotcom is not “news activity” and does not get special legal protections.
The book’s author and media commentators fear the ruling could have a “chilling effect” on New Zealand journalism if reporters were unable to protect their sources.
Justice Helen Winkelmann handed down her ruling on Monday, stating that material gathered by Herald senior journalist David Fisher to write The Secret Life of Kim Dotcom: Spies, Lies and the War for the Internet can be accessed by New Zealand Police and the GCSB in their case against Dotcom.
I can’t say I’m surprised by this ruling. Otherwise it would have given some authors a special status that other authors do not have.
Dotcom’s lawyers argued that the book was based on material gathered in the newsmaking process and was therefore an exception under the Privacy Act.
However, Justice Winkelmann found books were not within the definition of news activity by a news medium acknowledged under the Privacy Act.
“…the writing and publication of a book cannot, at least in this instance, be construed as news activity,” the ruling said.
News activity was preparing and publishing articles.
“Investigative journalism takes its form in long, detailed articles, which are covered by the Act’s definition. Books, however, are not.”
I think there is a difference between journalism and writing a book. A journalist is generally working for a news source, and they don’t get paid based on the sales of the news medium. But an author publishes a book for profit, and that is the primary motivation of books – profit, not journalism. Nothing wrong with that, I say.
Fisher said the ruling could compromise journalism in New Zealand if sources believed their interviews could be obtained through the courts.
“I think the ruling has the potential to undermine the public’s confidence in a free press,” he said. “The impact of the ruling has a potential chilling effect on anyone who wants to deal with a journalist who is writing a book.
I would never assume that telling things to someone writing a book has the same journalistic protection as talking to someone writing for a newspaper etc.
Political commentator David Farrar posts at Kiwiblog.
This article is tagged with the following keywords. Find out more about MyNBR Tags
- Warminger complained of 'aggressive selling' in email to NZX
- Court rules against Chinese investor over $7.3m Auckland property deal
- While you were sleeping: UPDATED US consumer confidence rises
- Hellaby shareholder: Bapcor’s offer price is too low
- Marlborough displaces Central Otago for best Pinot Noir in world competition
Most listened to
- NZX market surveillance manager Fraser Wyeth gives evidence at the Warminger trial
- Hellaby shareholder Aaron Bhatnagar says why he thinks Bapcor's offer is too low
- No knockout blows in first presidential debate, says NBR's Nevil Gibson
- Intueri's problems raise questions for the board, says Martin Watson of the Shareholders Association
- ANZ's Philip Borkin and NBR's Jason Walls on what's next for the kiwi dollar on Currency Talk