Christian Kerr was never my favourite Crikey! contributor back in the day, so I wasn’t especially aware of his opinion on many issues due to mostly skipping his byline (basically I avoided anything by him that was not straight political reporting), but apparently he was never much impressed with blogging even when that was essentially what he was doing. Now that he’s jumped ship to write for the Australian, he’s decided to let a wider audience know that blogs are evil, horrible bad group-think echo chambers lacking a proper sense of journalistic balance1 and encouraging wild conspiracy theories.
In doing so, Kerr has quoted from discussions at two popular Australian political blogs without naming them, let alone linking to them. To save others a bit of time on a search, the quote on free speech he uses as the basis for a rant regarding the UN Declaration on Human Rights is misinterpreted from this post written by Kim on Larvatus Prodeo, while the quotes he takes from a thread on the shortcomings of political journalism are cherry-picked from this discussion on Possum’s Pollytics, which offered many considered comments that he didn’t acknowledge at all.
As Mark Bahnisch over at LP wrote: he’s basically used The Australian to troll some blogs.
What’s the story anyway with journalism ethics? Direct unattributed quote and then going on to trash someone… It’s not a good look.
Mark decided to give Kerr what he so transparently desired, which was a response that linked to his op-ed, but he used something that he understands about blogs and Kerr doesn’t – the advantages of Web 2.0 features combined with LP’s high search authority ranking – to make sure that LP’s reponding post will rank high on search engine results on the name of Christian Kerr, right there next to a Wikipedia entry and Kerr’s latest articles for the Oz. Now I’m writing this post to add some more link-juice to Mark’s effort – I’m linking to Mark’s post but not to Kerr’s, so this will help to keep Mark’s post higher in search results on Kerr’s name (some of that link-juice will still filter down to Kerr’s article because it is linked from Mark’s, but that effect will be much weaker (besides, the more people contrast Kerr’s article with Mark’s post, the better)).
I recommend the discussion on Mark’s post, and it’s worth reading the original discussions that Kerr quoted without attribution, and that I linked to above, in order to see how they have been misrepresented. If you can stand it, the Kerr op-ed is a bit of a giggle for the sheer sense of effort that it exudes. (If you hesitate to give the Oz your eyeballs, rest assured that if you enable an adblocker extension on your browser, the your visit will not count towards their tally of advert impressions. They’ll still be able to claim you as one of their “hits”, but at least you won’t add directly to their ad revenue<).
1. Does anyone else wonder why it is, with all the current journalistic rhetoric about balance, that we hardly ever hear anything promising/praising journalistic objectivity any more?