Thursday 25 June 2009

NightJack: The debate continues

The debate about The Times' move to out police blogger NightJack continues in the blogosphere.
A thoughtful contribution comes from Martin Cloake on his blog.
He raises some interesting questions, like :"Suppose a serving police officer wrote an anonymous blog which gave his views of the job from his perspective as a member of the British National Party. And suppose an enterprising journalist examined the details in that blog and managed to unmask the identity of the officer concerned. Suppose a little further that the officer tried to prevent publication of his name, but that the court ruled his blog did not give him an automatic right to privacy. What would the shape of the ensuing debate be? "
Also:"Some may see this as evidence of the vendetta against ‘new’ media being waged by the ‘old order’. I’m afraid I see no evidence of any such vendetta or conspiracy, and I think it’s a fairly childish accusation to make."
And: "But I’m still troubled by what The Times thought it would gain – just as I’m troubled by the vitriol that’s being directed at Foster, a journalist who was doing his job properly. What I think is particularly interesting about this case is that many people seem to be taking positions on the basis of their opinion of the NightJack blog, The Times, or the police"
Martin adds:"For the record, the limited extracts I saw of the NightJack blog made stimulating, engaging and occasionally troubling reading. But you can’t base a principle on whether or not you agree with something – a principle has to apply across the board. You can’t agree with one person’s ‘right’ to run an anonymous blog criticising something you are critical of while simultaneously disagreeing with another person’s ‘right’ to hide behind anonymity in order to push views you don’t agree with."
Thought provoking stuff, which doesn't go for the old versus new media angle which has typified much of the comment on the NightJack case.


Martin Belam said...

It is good to see someone thinking along different lines other than a knee-jerk "Old media done bad" response. Myself, I think The Times were perfectly right to investigate and try to unmask. However, having found there not much of a story there (as Daniel Finkelstein himself admits, NightJack was neither an imposter or a senior officer) they didn't particularly *need* to publish.

Jon Slattery said...

Thanks Martin,

I really liked Martin Cloake's blog because I think the issues surrounding NightJack are complex and he examined them very well.
I liked what I read of NightJack's blog and think it is a shame that it has stopped. But I don't see how all bloggers can be granted confidentiality.
On the other hand, I think whistleblowers in the UK get a very raw deal and are often sacked even though they have highlighted matters of great public interest.
I think they need much more protection.