Saturday, 26 May 2012

Bad faith? I think not!

I just wanted to let readers know that I was contacted by Ms Hogan complaining that I had acted in bad faith in publishing my response to her email online. 

She initially claimed that the email had been marked 'not for publication'. 

Actually, it hadn't been.

A tale of three emails...

I received three emails from Ms Hogan yesterday. 

The first was marked not for publication and I respected that (notwithstanding that I actually think it deserves publication as it offered an explanation for a claim made by a commenter and its counter-claims deserve, in my view, to be scrutinised and tested...).

The second was explicitly for publication: it offered me a copy of a blog post by a reader that Cath News had not used, and stated that if I had the author's permission it would be ok for me to publish it here.  A positive gesture.

The third was the much longer email I responded to here last night.  There was no indication that it was not meant for publication (something Ms Hogan has been careful to state in past correspondence).  Nonetheless, I refrained from publishing it in full, sticking with a summary of its key points instead.

So why didn't I publish it in full?

I did consider publishing it in full, because its inimitable style deserves to be made known: it explains, I think, why so many who have encountered Ms Hogan have complained about her (and I know that because more than a few have told me about their complaints to bishops and others offline over the years).

But in the end, I decided to stick with the policy I have always adopted here, which is to comment on other people's words in full if they are available publicly, but stick to summarising the pertinent information (if necessary including short excerpts for the sake of clarity) if it is provided offline, unless I'm given explicit permission to publish the actual words. 

It's called fair use, and was I thought justified in view of the nature of the comments she made that directly impact on my readers efforts to publish over at Cath News, and those who have read about my campaign to reform Cath News here.

Help make AI better!

So just to summarise my position, do feel free to contact me offline (by email or phone) if you want to help make Australia Incognita blog a better place!

I'm quite open readers, including priests or bishops (such as those who have jurisdiction over me; or whose words or actions I have commented on; or who support my work but don't always think that I've got my pitch or position right in a particular case) suggesting I rethink a position or blog post.

I do get it wrong on occasion, and I do remove or amend blog posts on further reflection from time to time.

Indeed, I really really treasure the emails and calls I've received from readers, especially priests, supporting my work and/or providing good counsel.

As a general rule, if you want to suggest I rethink a post, or want to debate me on its content, I'd prefer that you do this via a comment in the comments box.

But I appreciate that sometimes that isn't the most appropriate way to go.

But equally, I will make my own judgment as to whether your comments are made in good faith nor not.

And if it is just an attempt to intimidate or slime me, I will react accordingly!

Providing information in confidence

Similarly, I do welcome readers letting me know about things they think I should know about, or write about.

I don't always have time to respond (though I do try), particularly at the moment. 

But I do appreciate it, and your information and views will inform my future blog posts.

I will respect confidences when you ask me to.

So here is my policy in full:
  • if push the comment button on the blog, your comment is fair game.  I can either publish it, or comment on it in a post;
  • if you email me and explicitly tell me something is not for publication, I won't use it (unless of course it is clearly sent in bad faith, and intended to intimidate, bully or otherwise be nasty, in which case I may well make a reference to your diatribe online, see below).  People give me confidential information all the time which even though not for publication provides useful context, help builds up a picture against which to interpret things that are publishable!  I really appreciate this, and will safeguard what you tell me;
  • if you email me with information for which you don't want to be identified as the source, I will protect my sources, subject to the usual rules of our faith (claim to me that you are a child abuser and I will refer your email to the appropriate authorities for example!).  Again, many people provide me with useful and important information.  Sometimes it is things that are in the public domain that they are aware of, but I don't have time to go digging for. Sometimes, it is something involving them personally.  They don't want to be identified as the source lest it jeopardise their vocation or career.  I will respect that!;
  • but if you email me offline in order to have a go at me, my blog, or my readers; if you email me to provide information that other people genuinely need to know, you are fair game!
Corrections, clarifications and comments

I've let Ms Hogan know that if she feels I've misrepresented her, I'd be happy to address this on the blog.

The comments box is open, and there are other options I'd be prepared to consider to continue this debate...

1 comment:

A Canberra Observer said...

RE: correcting things that are inaccurate.

Well what's good for the goose should be good for the gander.

I have my own story there re CathNews itself - the key issue: implicating Pope Benedict with the Nazi regime.
Perhaps not about written words, but the equally, perhaps more potent association of a picture with a headline.
CathNews has an established practice of selecting pictures on its own initiative to illustrate the stories re-run from other sources.

The instance, quite some years ago now, - a story (perhaps two, can’t recall) was republished from European media - allegations that the Pope was a willing participant in the Hitler youth. The CathNews re-publication had a picture of Hitler youth. The publication(s) from which the stories were taken had no such pictures.

I protested to CathNews, vigorously, but to no avail. I saw this as a Catholic news service was going even further than the secular media in smearing of the Pope by the visual association.

A second instance, very recent, - a story about the murder of a Filipino Catholic radio presenter in the Philippines. The photo chosen was retained was of a Filipino holy week 're-enactment' of the crucifixion. I complained in a comment that this was an unfair and stereotypical portrayal of Filipinos, and that the picture had nothing to do with the story, but to no avail.

Your point about the distinction between source aggregators and content providers is also relevant. The content provider generally has an imperative to check accuracy of what they produce. The aggregator I suppose does not. However surely it is just a little bit disingenuous to suggest that one should have as a starting premise that just because something got published it is accurate. Indeed my experinece suggests that the more realistic starting premise is that any syndicated media story will be inaccurate.