Sunday, October 3, 2010

More on Grog's Gamut

 Margaret Simons has a must-read post up at The Content Makers on the ethics of journalist James Massola's outing in The Australian of the blogger formerly known as Grog's Gamut, including a crystalline bit of analysis by Swinburne lecturer in media ethics Denis Muller.

Among other excellent points, he makes this one:
... there is another public-interest consideration to be taken into account here, and that is the public interest in having a plurality of voices in the public space or, as John Milton called it, the marketplace of ideas.  If, as a result of the outing, Mr Jericho withdraws from the public space, the Australian polity will be the poorer; it will have been harmed.  The harm would be negligible, certainly, but the principle is not negligible.  Ethical reporting requires that such possible consequences be identified and an honest rationale be developed to justify causing them.


lauredhel said...

I think he's missed a really huge chunk of the potential harm, here: the outing isn't just a threat to Grog's Gamut's further participation, it's a threat to all pseudonymous bloggers (and I think that threat is deliberate). That threat is also a biased one: privileged bloggers are more likely to be unaffected than those in marginalised groups.

Link said...

Annabel Crabb on twitter, in response:

"I don't think anonymity should be a right. Disclosure of identity would be a rebuttable presumption in my ideal world."

I'm not exactly sure what she means, trying to get my head around the rebuttable presumption bit, nevertheless I got the feeling that as a paid journalist she is slightly resentful of peeps who can 'hide' behind their anonymity, something she cannae do. Nor can she necessarily write whatever she feels/thinks, unlike some of us cowardly bloggers who keep their names a jealously guarded secret, mainly because at one stage there was some quesiton of being stalked by weirdos.

Bit of a storm in a tea cup really but I'd always argue that it's not a case of who said what, but what they said that really cuts the mustard. We're way too fixated on personalities as it is.

Helen said...

I think Crabb and co would just like to keep the comment field for themselves and slap down any talented intruders who might put *their* jobs at risk.

skepticlawyer said...

What Helen said.

I must admit I don't have much pity for the whining journalists (too many of them wanted to share their bad novels with me back in the day). I look forward to the day when I can step over the cardboard boxes in which they live on the way to the theatre.

But then, I'm a Tory.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Journalism, like academe, is a fairly Darwinian pursuit. Blogging's a kinder, gentler pursuit in one respect -- one doesn't have to do or be anything at all (be functionally literate for print, be good-looking for the telly) to get into it in the first place, and one can happily go on doing it no matter how few people read one. I think blogging's a bit like boxing -- the more successful you are, the more likely you are to get beaten to death.

One of the things about Grogsgate that has really bothered me is the way it has taken us back to the earlier days of blogging when certain people - almost always men -- saw it as no more than some kind of direct alternative to journalism. Blogging is a lot more than that as we know, but this kerfuffle has constructed it as though it isn't.

I know, and know of, some really excellent journalists. But we live in a Rupert world and one's work is shaped by what's possible. I'm keeping a low profile on the anonymity thing because my views there are not fashionable, but I do think the outing of Greg Jericho was done for base motives. I'm wondering when the Oz will realise that setting yourself up as openly politically partisan is going to make people read everything that appears in your paper as opinion and campaigning rather than reportage.

paul walter said...

Base motives?
The only good deed(s) these will ever do will be accidental.