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Whale Oil flaunts Canon award as evidence he is a journalist

Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater has presented his Canon Media Award to prove to the High Court at Auckland he is a journalist. 

The blogger presented his arguments today before Justice Raynor Asher where he is appealing a District Court decision which ruled he was not entitled to the rights of a journalist. 

In December, Judge Charles Blackie ruled Mr Slater was not entitled to rely on journalists' rights to protect the identity of sources, as set out in the Evidence Act, and should disclose the identity of a confidential source.

The ruling was made as part of a defamation case taken against Mr Slater by businessman Matthew Blomfield.

Mr Slater says that his blog – which gets 100,000 page views per day – is a news medium and, because he publishes on it, it follows he is a journalist.

He referred the court to several stories he had broken such as Len Brown’s extramarital affair and flaunted his Canon Media award before the court, in support of the contention his site is a news medium.He says the Best Blog award, which has the Newspaper's Publisher's Association mark on it, supports his case.  

Former Herald on Sunday reporter Stephen Cook has also sworn an affadavit attesting Mr Slater is a member of the news media.                                                . 

Mr Slater says on a daily basis he deals with informants and sources – not just from the National Party but from a spectrum of parties – and these need to be protected. 

The blogger also referred to articles he had written while editor of Truth newspaper as evidence of his news activities.

Justice Asher says “the concept of a blog is something interactive” and that while Mr Slater contended that while both Fairfax’s Stuff and NZ Herald’s websites have blog content, they also have news stories. 

“There is no doubt this new medium has developed, and it is now from a lawyer's perspective I am struggling to put words around that new development,” the judge said.

Mr Slater said he could not give a figure when pressed by Justice Asher how much of his website is news commentary as opposed to news stories.

He says blogs are independent media organisations, and journalism is not defined by being a large corporate. The blogger also conceded that during the relevant period in 2012 he had not received any payment for his journalism, aside from "paltry"amounts from advertisers.

Lawyer Matt Karam will give evidence this afternoon representing Mr Blomfield. 

Julian Miles QC is acting as amicus curiae – as an adviser to the court – on the case due to its complexity.  

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