Note: Just this morning, 13 April 2015, while searching for a graphic in the media library of this blog to insert in a comment, I came across this post (below) in ‘drafts’ from July 2014. I have no idea why I neglected to publish it at the time.
Reading it again this morning, I found some of my comments about Cameron Slater’s role as a deceitful PR attack propagandist quite … intriguing, in hindsight – particularly the references to Carrick Graham, Jason Ede and Simon Lusk ghost-writing material published in Slater’s name. I’ve noted elsewhere that reading Nicky Hager’s book ‘Dirty Politics’ made me feel like one of the blind men describing an elephant from the parts he could feel. Look how close I was … – P
This week [see note above] the phenomenally successful news aggregator site Buzzfeed apologised to its readers and ‘let go’ writer Benny Johnson after it was shown Johnson had repeatedly “lifted phrases and sentences from other websites”.
At first I thought it was a joke, given Buzzfeed’s … um, … demonstrated history (business model, even?) of — let’s be diplomatic here — re-purposing copy from other sources, then slapping on a ‘You’ll never believe what this boy scout found in Kim Kardashian’s trash!’-style headline in an effort to gather internet clicks. (A successful effort, to pay credit where it’s due.)
Here’s Johnson’s own apology on Twitter today:
‘Buzzfeed’ and ‘click-bait’ are, it seems to me, two word compounds made for each other. It’s unusual for an enterprise (web-based or not) to make as large a cultural mark. Even if it is temporary.
Nevertheless, it is true, and Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith makes the point in his apology, that Buzzfeed has come a long way, journalistically, from its roots as …
“…a laboratory for content” employing “writers [who] didn’t have journalistic backgrounds and weren’t held to traditional journalistic standards, because we weren’t doing journalism.”
That last line, “ …[we] weren’t held to traditional journalistic standards, because we weren’t doing journalism” is, of course, a pure bullshit argument in much the same way that local PR attack blogger Cameron Slater claimed for years to be ‘not a journalist‘ (thus exempt from expectations of ‘traditional journalistic standards’) … but has grasped for a different interpretation of what he does now that he’s trying to avoid the identity of his clients — oops, I mean ‘journalistic sources’ — being exposed through the court discovery process in a defamation trial.
I’ve made the point elsewhere that *if* Cameron Slater can be shown to be a deceitful PR gun for hire … carrying out denigration campaigns for money or other exchange, and *if* he’s judged to have defamed the Auckland businessman currently suing him, such a finding may significantly affect any damages awarded. But that’s just speculation. (Read some background to the defamation case here: Part of the news media? or a “PR blog” dedicated to “destroying” reputations? and Target of Cameron Slater’s ‘campaign’ speaks up.)
Like any number of less-offensive parasite bloggers, Cameron Slater has, it seems to me, a track record as someone who takes liberally from other media sources, re-publishing their words and images — sometimes with scant, if any, acknowledgement — merely adding a sentence or two of ‘spin’ or spitting an insult at one of his many targets. He’s certainly he’s been accused of plagiarism or ‘stealing’ from working journalists. He doesn’t like that when it happens.
I quickly formed the view (back when I read his hate blog for research) that Slater was an operator who appears to distort ‘news events’ and ‘facts’ … routinely fudging or omitting proper acknowledgement of the sources of his regurgitations — while wailing about the same treatment at the hands of the mainstream media. Dull.
But perhaps all that’s changed with his search for ‘news medium’ legitimacy. (retch) For instance, I noticed a recent change in author tags used at his site. Continue reading →