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Is Whale Oil a journalist?

Judge Charles Blackie has ruled that Whale Oil blogger Cam Slater is not entitled to rely on journalists' rights to protect the identity of sources, as set out in the Evidence Act, and must 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.

At a hearing in the Manukau District Court last week, Slater said he intended to appeal against the decision, and was given 28 days to file proceedings with the High Court, the Herald reports.

Mr Slater told NBR late yesterday, "Yes I plan to appeal. The implications of the Blackie decision are severe on anyone publishing online. As the world moves more and more online we are going to see these challenges and I suppose in some respects it must be up to me to lead those challenges just like I did on name suppression."

While Whale Oil is much-hated by some on the other side of the political fence, he argues Judge Blackie's ruling should be considered equally troubling to left wing bloggers like Russell Brown and Keith Ng (who broke the story about security holes at the Ministry of Social Development).

Mr Slater says defending Mr Blomfield's action has exhausted his financial resources.

At this point he doesn't know how he will pay for his planned appearance. "Some blog readers are wanting to donate, but I think some pro bono advice from a senior lawyer wouldn't go amiss," he says.

Below, barrister and media law specialist Steven Price looks at issues behind the ruling as they apply to Whale Oil, and the wider blogging community.

Read Mr Slater answers the Herald's article here.

It's worth noting this imbroglio could possibly have been avoided if the government had adopted the Law Commission's proposal for a single media regulator, which also covered social media. Bloggers would not have been obliged to bide by the new media regulator's decisions - but if they agreed, they would also have been extended the protections offered to traditional media. In the final event, Justice Minister Judith Collins sidelined the proposal.

Lastly, while the Evidence Act protects journalists, the Search & Surveillance Act, passed in March last year, reasserted the Serious Fraud Office's right to seize journalists' documentation related to a story - as the Crown agency did in the case of NBR's South Canterbury Finance coverage as it demanded recordings of interviews and other documentation from. In NBR's view the legislation is undemocratic, and anti-whistleblower.

- Chris Keall

Is Whale Oil a journalist?

More specifically, is Cameron Slater entitled to the same privilege to protect sources that other journalists have?

As the NZ Herald reports, the owner/operator/author of NZ’s most widely read blog is being sued for defamation. The plaintiff has formally asked him whether he knows the name of his source. (You might have thought that the answer to this might simply be “yes”. But I guess there’s an obvious follow-up). Slater has refused to answer on the grounds that he is a journalist, writing for a news medium, and therefore does not need to reveal his source. This rule is contained in s68 of the Evidence Act 2006.

Note a couple of things. First, in order to get this source protection, Slater has to show that his blog is a “medium for the dissemination to the public or a section of the public of news and observations on news.”

Second, even if he is a journalist, that doesn’t guarantee that he won’t be ordered to reveal his source(s). The judge can order him to identify his source on the grounds that the public interest in disclosure outweighs the negative impact on the source and the general impact on the flow of information to journalists. This rule applies to all journalists.

Anyway, Slater claims this prima facie right to protect his source. But the judge ruled that he doesn’t even get that. This is because:

Whale Oil is a blog site. It is not a news medium within the definition of s68… of the Defamation Act. It is not a means for the dissemination to the public or a section of the public of news and observation on news.

The judge gives very little reason for this conclusion. It seems a very questionable one. Whatever you think of WhaleOil, it’s hard to deny that he breaks news stories, and that he writes commentary on news. When you factor in the requirement that the courts are supposed to have regard to rights of freedom of expression under the Bill of Rights Act when interpreting statutes - and there’s a respectable argument that protecting sources facilitates the flow of important information - then there seems a powerful argument that this section ought to be construed widely enough to encompass at least some bloggers.

The judge cites a Law Commission report in support of his conclusion that what bloggers do isn’t news. The Commission pointed out that bloggers were often highly partisan, could be offensive and abusive, and weren’t accountable to anyway.

There are several problems with this. One is that the judge was in fact quoting from a Law Commission issues paper, not its final report.

Another is that the Law Commission in its final report had some complimentary things to say about bloggers: (2013 final report on News Media meeting New Media (p61, para 3.39):

There is ample evidence of the profound and growing influence new media are having both on mainstream media’s culture and content. As we discussed in chapter 2 of our Issues Paper, there are well over 200 current affairs bloggers in New Zealand, some of which have become a rich alternative source of information and commentary. Although primarily a forum for the expression of robust opinion, a number of high profile blog sites are used to break news. Blogger are also increasingly taking on a watch dog role over mainstream media, critiquing their performance and alerting the public to their alleged failures.

Another is that the Law Commission was discussing whether bloggers should be included in a new regulatory regime for the media, not how the Evidence Act should be interpreted. Its recommendations have been rejected by the government.

Yet another problem is that the Commission’s inclination was to allow bloggers to be included in the regime, on the grounds that it made no sense to distinguish between mainstream media and bloggers when both were serving the interests of free speech. It would have treated anyone as media who regularly published news and opinion of current value to a public audience, providing they agreed to be bound by an ethics regime. This last element is problematic for Cameron Slater’s case. But in the end the thrust of the report is the need to recognise the valuable news-role played by at least some bloggers.

So in the end, the judge’s conclusion is simply not convincing.

It gets worse though. The judge goes on to consider the High Court rules. He cites a rule that says a defamation defendant doesn’t have to disclose sources before trial when pleading honest opinion or privilege. The judge says this rule doesn’t apply because Cameron Slater didn’t argue a defence of “honest opinion on a matter of public interest.” This reasoning seems particularly weird to me. The defence of honest opinion no longer requires  that the comment be on a matter of public interest. He doesn’t need to plead public interest: it would be superfluous. It seems to me that this rule surely applies to a defendant who pleads honest opinion, which Slater did. So I think the judge is wrong there too.

What’s more, there’s also a rule called “the Newspaper rule” that the judge doesn’t discuss that allows  media defamation defendants to refuse to disclose sources before trial – Cameron Slater could have tried to invoke that too, but it’s not clear he did.

Where does this leave us? I’m not entirely sure. Is the judge saying that no bloggers can invoke the Evidence Act to protect sources? That’s certainly one way of reading the decision, since he doesn’t go into any real detail about the Whale Oil blog.

But another way of reading it is that it’s only bloggers like Slater who aren’t really providing news who don’t get the source protection privilege. Other bloggers may be.

In any event, bloggers who blog for mainstream news outlets seem to be covered by the source protection rule, since the outlet they’re writing for is purveying news and observations on news.

Apparently, Slater is appealing. (Now, there’s a sentence I didn’t ever expect to write). I have said that I don’t think the judge’s reasons are convincing. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the High Court judge will overturn the decision. There is a still an argument to be made that to provide “news” requires some degree of adherence to traditional journalistic ethics. At heart, this requires some commitment to an ethic of verification. Perhaps it also requires some element of fairness and balance. A readiness to correct errors. A respect for privacy. A sense of responsibility. More formally, a line might be drawn around media that are subject to complaints regimes such as the Broadcasting Standards regime and the Press Council regime. But that would exclude all the bloggers.

Anyway, it could be argued that Cameron Slater doesn’t satisfy this requirement, so that whatever he produces on WhaleOil, it can’t be said to be “news”. This may be attractive to a judge on appeal, given that otherwise, essentially anyone can set themselves up as a news blogger and automatically gain the power to allow sources to defame people with impunity, and to deny plaintiffs the right to assess the degree of care and responsibility taken by the blogger in preparing the story. The identity of a source may be relevant to at least a couple of defamation defences.

But that argument is no slam dunk.

Remember though that even if bloggers are given this right, a judge can still order the blogger (or any other journalist) to disclose a source.

Another thing worth bearing in mind. Even if the worst happens for bloggers and none of them is allowed this privilege, I’m not sure the sky will fall. They will argue that this will create a huge chilling effect and their sources will dry up. The media also make this argument. But there’s very little evidence that it’s true. My prediction is that even if WhaleOil loses this case, it will pretty much be business as usual for most bloggers.

Steven Price is barrister specialising in media law, practising in Wellington and blogs at Media Law Journal.

Comments and questions

If your Rule #1 is Explaining is losing, then you're probably not actually a journalist or doing journalism.

He is a blogger and a propagandist. He shouldn't be allowed to slither into the legal protections given to journalists.

If mainstream journalists actually did their job Cam Slater would be redundant. All power to him I say.

If Whaleoil wasn't putting the dregs of our society out in the open for all to witness their discretions, who would? Journalism in NZ in the press, radio and TV is nowadays down to the laziest quote noters. Investigative journalism is dead. So maybe Whaleoil is the ONLY journalist left?

He is happy to attack both sides for perceived unfairness. In recent months he has broken the Aaron "do you know who I am" Gilmore story on the Right side, which led to a resignation; and the Len Brown affair on the Left, which led to days of newspaper coverage.

If he isn't a journalist then my arm is a leg.

Mark Twain in a letter to W. D. Howells, October 30, 1880 wrote " Journalism is the one solitary respectable profession which honours theft (when committed in the pecuniary interest of a journal,) & admires the thief....However, these same journals combat despicable crimes quite valiantly--when committed in other quarters." in simple terms Whale Oil is a sensationalist, a gossip monger and lacks any objectivity fundamental to reporting the news, his blog is not a credible source of impartial news and therefore he is not a journalist.

Well - that's your opinion and we're all entitled to our opinions, but what about the thousands of us that do think WOBH and Cam are not only journalists, but are perhaps NZ most credible and honest and completely transparent journalist?

Yep - WOBH is a Right leaning news source... and the blog owner is very proud of that fact and makes no bones about being Right leaning. He favours no dodgy politician on any side of the political spectrum though - one only needs to read his posts on Aaron "Don't you know who I am?" Gilmore and Parata and Wilkinson to know he's not afraid to serve them one in the slats when they deserve it.

But most of the MSM detest WOBH - because he shows up their ineptitude and patsy handling of Leftie sycophants. Take Campbell's love fest with the Mayor as a prime example. Contrast Campbell's reach-around on Len to when Campbell was put right in his place by the PM. Who is being transparent and more credible in just those very recent examples?

So who are the REAL journalists just using that recent examples?

Utter rubbish.

"News is something somebody doesn't want printed; all else is advertising.”

Whale Oil is clearly a journalist and much more of one than many of the pedestrian and conventional second rate hacks that are all the printed media can now afford to employ.

There has never been any requirement for journalism to be impartial and real journalism almost never is.

The same could be said for The Herald - it is no longer a source of impartial news and therefore the people who regurgitate Labour and Green party press releases for the Herald are not journalists.

All media outlets are inherently biased, as everybody is inherently biased, what is important is that they are open about the bias and allow their readers to understand this. It works well in the UK; and nobody would argue that writers for the Daily Mail or The Guardian were not journalists (although they may disagree with what they write).

As it is the legal definition of a journalist does not require impartiality (which is lucky for The Herald's writers).

Get off the grass Xanthee! All 'journos' have their own predilictions, preferences, and biases - they are human after all. Based on your logic most MSM so-called 'journos" have also got a problem, given most of what they seem to do is recant AP and Reuters material with, it appears, little or no actual investigation or 'journalism', and seem devoid of any ability to ask relevant questions and actually understand what they are professing to be informing us about!

A lot of Journos probably did a better job in Twain's day.

Unfortunately for you the law is quite clear...and it is the law that decides not pithy quotes from Mark Twain.

A spectacularly poor decision by this judge which just illustrates why the business community has no confidence in our courts and their inability to take the wider and informed positions we used to rely on the expertise of the Privy Council to underpin.


It is indeed a sad day when the business community does not understand the law

It seems to me, as you have intimated, that the dividing lines between bloggers and other news media are highly blurred. While we are not dealing with the Wikileaks end of the spectrum here (given that Wikileaks cites press freedom as its justification for protectig its sources), it seems to me that some of the grounds mentioned for defining (or at least justifying) protections for traditional media are not necessarily universally observed by publications that might normally be regarded as coming within the traditional boundaries of journalism.

Before I even get started on the current fad for opinion as journalism, the crusading current affairs of evening television or on the front page of the leading print newspapers I must correct myself. For this is no current fad at all - "yellow journalism" has a long and not exactly illustrious history after all, but I see no reason why that would not be subject to the prima facie defence Cameron Slater sought to invoke. Similarly, any suggestion that the print (or radio/tv) media is free from partisan bias in all respects is surely laughable. I am quite sure that there are many bloggers who are far more politically neutral, or even apolitical, than many "card carrying" journalists.

Similarly, I don't think that any people would struggle too hard to think of failures of "information verification" by traditional media. The whole point of the process of seeking balancing viewpoints is based on the notion that sources may be inherently unreliable in at least some respects. I can think of past Whaleoil "stories" where even Slater appears to have done a better job of getting a balancing viewpoint than the standard "x had not responded to our questions before publication". Perhaps ultimately the dividing line is that traditional media has verification processes less because of ethics than the fact that in house lawyers insist on it.

So where does one draw the line? Can one draw a line, or is it just so blurred that do so so will always be arbitrary. Indeed, what is a blog anyway? With almost every story open to comments, is the NBR Online really a blog site, rather than a news site?

Very good comments indeed!

The Judges final "conclusion" can only lead any thinking individual to their own conclusion that the Judge must have been using solvent based paints in enclosed spaces without adequate ventilation... or is letting his blatant political bias over-rule what should be his ethics with acting fairly by protecting NZ's entrenched "Free Speech" provisions.

Dame Susan needs to contact WOBH and offer her assistance against a biased judiciary using the State to persecute a lone voice speaking up against blatantly biased, high-placed individuals.

This ruling by the judge could be the thin edge of the wedge with State-sponsored and enabled attempts to stifle Free Speech.

NZ's democracy is under attack from within.

Mayday Mayday Mayday Governor General are you listening? Are you prepared to protect NZ when she's under attack?

You are so right to call for the GG to get this sorted.
He will be the only protection left to WOBH -- and all other bloggers, left and right/ anyone responding to this discussion too, for that matter.
The Herald is a Python Parrot. A panderer to the lowest common denominator and, mostly, the sacred advertisers.
Try getting it excited about anything from ethical to fraudulent to patently unfair; the shutters go up. They are the Seven Blunt of print journalism and like the advertisers they protect and near they won't (challenge) say boo.
Calling GG. Get your combat boots back on. Fix bayonets.

Solidaity - I have an idea to solve the problem. let's formalise a collective so we can really take action together. But wait. Oh no! That would be a trade union!

Susan - the trouble with trade unions is that someone somewhere needs to be "in charge / control" be a "ruling elite" if you will... and then look at our closest neighbours and the trouble Aussie has with corrupt unions and corrupt union officials. NZ has it's fair share too with the Meat Worker Union being up to 7 years late with their annual financial filing requirements with many millions of cash and assets appearing then disappearing from the balance sheet. But they probably still fund Labour though.

But the trouble with unions is the framework they reply upon to operate - they are often the least democratic of "organisations" and very rarely offer a "secret ballot" for individuals to have their say, but rather tell the masses what they need to do/say/think - and the majority of the great unwashed masses simply do what they're told to do without a thought or care in the world.

Yeah nah... if Unions are the answer, then it's a friggin' stupid question!

Although - there is hope for the Taxpayer Union!

Interesting times - very hard to see how the Judge can say Mr Slater is NOT media, when he clearly is. Many news stories have been broken on his site. The wider implications for the online commentating / blogger community is far reaching - i would suspect that on review the ruling will be changed to see Mr Slater classed as media. A quick check over the weekend of the Blomfiled case on his site clearly demonstrates in the comments that most of his viewers / comments see him as media like any other reporter. I also note many of the comments like the balanced reporting style Mt Slater adopts as i think the article by Bevan Hurley was very one sided and only reported part of the facts of the case he attended. I see Mr Slater was not contacted for a comment on the story by Bevan Hurley, however Mr Slater made sure Blomfield had an unedited right of reply, and you certainly don't get a better opportunity than that. I guess the issue for Blomfield is he perhaps does not like to read the comments of what people think about him which is so often the case when the truth prevails. Mr Slater is purely reporting facts to which comments are attached. Hardly a rock solid indication of defamation as Blomfield believes. Then again, once you start to believe your own BS as Blomfield clearly does i guess you lose all sense of reality.

Yep Matt Blomfield certainly believes his own BS. He sells that BS to people like Bevan Hurley at the Herald and Bevan packages it up. Then Matt BS tries to say Mr Slater is the issue. I have all the emails Matt ever sent and I am putting them on a website so you can all make up your own minds. The evidence speaks for itself.

Its a shame Judges cant be fired or have performance pay withheld -as he is clearly wrong in this case.

Maybe he needs a 5 month 'sabbatical' to get his mind back on the job.

it would seem unlikely that the "public interest" factor could result in source identification being ordered, in the case of defamation proceedings?
How could "public interest" be relevant to a private defamation claim?
And what relevance is the source of a story to whether a certain statement is defamatory?

Many NZ judges are up with the play in an evolving world, but this is silly; of course he's a journalist. Blog or newspaper makes no difference; and both are merging, with journalists moving seamlessly between both, both ways. In the issue just out a few days ago, one of the legal profession's won magazines (NZ Lawyer) announced it will be moving to a mostly online format. Is it no longer journalism? Of course not. Pity Slater has to spend more money to appeal just for common sense to prevail.

In my book, a journalist reports the facts of an event and when seeking comment presents at least two sides of the story (for and against) - to give the reader a chance to form an opinion.
Blogging with a bias is not journalism.

If journalists did as you say that would good and most bloggers would not exist. But journalism today is nothing like that --it is either just cut and pasting PR / media releases or it is extremely biased one way or the other. If it was still like you would like to see it the newspaper industry would still be thriving --not slowly going out of existence.

Of course bloggers would still exist - most exist only to have a vehicle for their opinions!

You need a new book, or perhaps to read a few newspaper stories to discover how very rarely both sides of the story are evenly reported.

The current classic example of mainstream totally one-sided uncritical coverage would be climate change where one-sided nonsense regularly runs unquestioned.

You have obviously never watched Cambell Live.

You obviously dont read the Herald or listen to National Radio. Aw but they are biased to the left so thats ok?

As Hugh Ammundsen comments above, "this ruling by the Judge could be the thin edge of the wedge with State-sponsored and enabled attempts to stifle Free Speech"

Exactly right..... unfortunately, as a lot of others have found to their detriment, 'you can't beat City Hall'.

"unfortunately, as a lot of others have found to their detriment, 'you can't beat City Hall'."

Except in the examples where the likes of "Twitter" helped the masses overthrow corrupt and long standing dictatorships all throughout the Middle East Region.

Besides, transparent truth and honesty will always over-trump an individual(s) attempting to pervert and corrupt systems, processes and procedures to their own ends.

Twitter also indentified the wrong person as the Boston Bomber, the difference between a credible news source and a blogger like Whale Oil is that the former have an editor, just because anyone can be a blogger doesn’t make them a journalist

Please give us your definition of a blogger and a journalist and the differences as you see it?

11 by Urban Dickionary 30 minutes ago
As Hugh Ammundsen comments above, "this ruling by the Judge could be the thin edge of the wedge with State-sponsored and enabled attempts to stifle Free Speech"

'you can't beat City Hall'

Perhaps not, but the power of the internet has tilted the scales back in favour of the sheeple.

Judge Blackie's ruling is the voice of one individual and is his opinion only and I, like many others, vigorously disagree with him. Such inane thinking in a new world of information dissemination does nothing to instill confidence in the Judiciary

Quite right. The mob should be able to overcall judicial rulings. Will you lead us on our quest Paul?

Whale Oil provides a platform for us all to lead...

...and that's perhaps why this Dudge has come to the outcome he has. I wonder if he's taken any recent holidays to the likes of Zimbabwe or North Korea?

So it appears that if you agree with Slater's/Whale Oil's views, you think he is a journalist. If you don't, you don't. Well at least discussion here is consistent, not suprising given who have made the various contributions above.

But once you put the emotion aside, there is little real discussion about the journalist/blogger distinction. I suspect the law is weak in addressing modern media (especially s68 of the Evidence Act 2006). And any judge can only interpret the law as it stands.

But I also agree that bloggers lack any form of accountability to the Press Council or the Broadcasting Standards Authority. Maybe they should be and maybe that's where the debate should be.

The Press Council are paper tigers - except not as credible or vicious.

When you have financiers and funders of one of NZ's largest political party - the EPMU to the Labour Party - actually imbedded into the Press Council, it looses all credibility... and integrity.

The guard dog has morphed into a fox and now has the run of the chicken coup. The EPMU fox is now overseeing the Labour Party chickens in that chook house.

When self-regulating, self-policing Industry bodies imbed the financiers and enablers of the very people they are supposed to hold to account, then the self-policing, self-regulating industry body has been well and truly captured by vested interests. Corrupted even some might say!

That is an affront to our democracy. And when NZ looks back on recent political stories to see if the unions/Labour Party might have been able to influence the media's coverage of a political story... we look at how the MSM hounded Richard Worth compared to Campbell's man-love and reach around with Len... the complete silence of details on Shearer's secret off Shore USA bank account and the accuracy and credibility of CunningCV's CV... what does NZ get by comparison?

The Press Council needs formal Regulation to rid itself of the vested self-interest that slants political stories in most of the MSM.

A predictable yet still disappointing response Solidarity

The Press Council and the Broadcasting Standards Authority are a joke! I have given up complaining to them about bias and inaccuracy in the main stream media. They have no credibility as objective news critics. They defend the MSM every time, regardless.

Perhaps Lindsay they just don't support your bias? Anyone or anything attacked by both sides is most likely to be hitting a middle line pretty accurately.

But even then, what would you do to reform them?

Remove vested interest, crony related party stakeholders from the Watch tower would be a friggin' good start!

Having the EPMU unions imbedded into the media Watchdog body is akin to asking the Mafia to oversee the credibility of the judiciary.

John Key stated on television that he first heard and read about Len Browns shannigans on Whaleoil.

I wonder how our learned Judge Blackie would respond to that ?

Whaleoil, as far as I'm concerned does a Public Service.

Just another terrible decision coming down from the judiciary in regards to the new reality that is the Internet.

The worse and more bad judgements handed down the more they undermine the courts legitimacy as a whole in the eyes of society. The judges need to pull their heads in regarding always ruling in favour of the State in anything Internet related and put some power back in the hands of the beleaguered individual, who vainly tries to cling to a few legal protections that used to be widespread, and the bedrock of a healthy democracy.

For many reasons there are particular reasons in NZ's, small restricted media market and supposed democracy to allow a wide range of bloggers and blog comment.
NZ is a small market with declining print and internet readers for the established press. The general attitude of the media in NZ has to maintain long established media conventions long abandoned in larger English speaking western nations. Many outlets in NZ have tenaciously held to the view that the role of the press is to report fact rather than interpret it and present it from an angled perspective. That it is not the role of press to prematurely reveal the intentions of prospective and current governments to give the executive more chance to change policy and implement new policy. And opinion facts should not incorporate hard fact or mix fact opinion. All these traditional attitudes were ferciously advanced by recent PMs like Muldoon and Clark. Clark made many significant moves early in her Prime Ministership to restrict the ability of freelancers to comment on political and defence issues, after she started to be challenged on issues regarding the abandonment of the F-16 order. As a result she never faced serious questioning on the real issues. Clark and her acolytes in the late 1990s repeatedly advocating only allowing registered journalist to comment on political issues in the 1990s. In other words, restricting serious comment to news media employers whose owners and editors, Labour and Clark could pressure and also making being a media commentator or writer, a matter requiring positive vetting for political correctness.
Its somewhat similar to the requirement for matriculation. When I applied to re enter the University of Canterbury in mid 2005 to study Cold War History, the Admission Officer had only one question. Robert .Do you believe in evolution ?
On the issue of Whaleoil. The point about that blog is that it is active political warfare on the part of one faction in the National Party. In other words its politics not journalism.
Roger Douglas and Helen Clark didn't face any premature revelation and analysis of their political intentions, by 2005 Don Brash did. It might be argued that the chance to implement the Brash agenda was exposed. My own view is that a Brash government programme would have collapsed rapidly, given that many current Cabinet members were working resolutely to sabotage it, hinder Brash and present his policies in the worst light. Secondly the legitimacy of a Brash Government would have been doubtful given that probably 50 % of his support came from policy that was racist , hard line law and order and socially repressive and appealing to the exact opposite demography to typical neo liberal supporters.

The other side is of course where Governments avoid media scrutiny simply by refusing interviews with major media channels - sound familiar?

..The "trouble" for the likes of a National government is that the majority of MSM are so politically Left leaning, just about most things Key or a National MP says is taken out of context or only selective sound bites are used out of context - making it a complete joke and mockery and an utter waste of their time to attend.

Take Campbell Live's interview with the PM as an example - where Campbell was completely eviscerated by Key as Campbell tried his best to stick to an agenda that was so wide of the mark as to show Campbell up as a glorified, over-paid teleprompter reader. Campbell probably still has numerous paper cuts trying to heal from all the paper shuffling he had to do during the interview.

Why on earth would anyone credible waste their time with that? Perhaps if Campbell and cohorts actually found their investigative journalistic skills and started asking questions of Auckland's Mayor, then maybe they might get back some public credibility...

A good and accountable Government can stand up to any quesioning from anybody.

Or John Key's popular refrain when confronted with inconvenient facts:

"I'm not familiar with all the particular details of this case so can't comment on that, but in general ".

The judgment is pure gold.

According to this definition - is Cameron Slater a 'journalist'?

In my considered opinion - NO.

"As for a definition of journalism in NZ, I believe we follow the principle of fair and balanced reporting of news and issues that affect our community. The Otago Daily Times has a mission statement to: publish news, information and opinion in a fair, balanced and truthful manner that best serves our community. That underpins our role as journalists.” New Zealand "

'Freedom of expression' is not an unfettered right to defame people (by telling lies / untruths about them.)

Cameron Slater does NOT allow 'freedom of expression' on HIS 'Whale Oil' blog.

He has banned me from making comments on issues on Whale Oil , although I am never personally abusive (unlike him), and my opinion is usually considered, backed with facts and evidence.

(Mind you, Martyn Bradbury is no better. He too banned me from making comments on HIS 'Daily Blog', because he did not agree that I should have stood against John Minto as Auckland Mayor.

So - on that basis, and definition, I don't regards Martyn Bradbury as a 'journalist' either. )

I note that in the Len Brown matter, Cameron Slater made sure he got a sworn affidavit from Bevan Chuang before he broke that story?

(And, Ms Chuang's identity was hardly 'top secret'?)

If Matt Blomfield believes he has been defamed, doesn't he have a right to defend himself?

Doesn't he have a right to know what his 'accuser' has said about him, and who his accuser is?

What attempt did Cameron Slater make to get Matt Blomfield's side of the story - because if he made no attempt, then he's arguably not a genuine journalist, in my considered opinion.

If Matt Blomfield's accuser believes Matt Blomfield has committed an offence - why hasn't he made a complaint to the Police / SFO / FMA?

If Matt Blomfield's accuser has the FACTS and EVIDENCE to back up his allegations about Matt Blomfield's 'business dealings', then why hasn't he taken this to the appropriate authorities?

If If Matt Blomfield's accuser doesn't have the FACTS and EVIDENCE to back up his allegations about Matt Blomfield's 'business dealings' - then he/ she + Cameron Slater deserve to be sued for defamation, in my opinion.

Remember - there are always (at least) two sides to a story......

'Seek truth from FACTS'!

Penny Bright

(PS: You CAN 'beat City Hall.
After 22 arrests in the bad old Auckland City Council days, it ended up 21 - 1 to me. In the end the Police (sick of losing) refused to come to 'City Hall' on the basis that they weren't Auckland City Council's security guards. FACT.

Also helped beat 'City Hall' - Auckland Council in the Occupy Auckland vs Auckland Council Appeal following the (unlawful) eviction from Aotea Square. Details available on

Gosh Penny, don't be too hard on Cam......seems to me you guys have a lot in common.

Penny - have you paid your Rates yet?

How can you credibly run for Mayor, using all the infrastructure and resources everyone else has paid for - whilst you refuse to?

You aren't a corrupt Mayor yet thinking the rules don't apply to you!

What has that got to do with the topic of discussion here , is Cameron Slater a journalist?, Penny shared a well written contribution, and this is your retort?

If Slater is a journalist then surely he would also come under the scrutiny and authority of the Press Council ? Becareful of what you wish for Slater :-)