Digest – Feb 28 2010

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For serious? What the…

Gardaí investigating the source of a leak which culminated in Trevor Sargent’s resignation last week have acquired the phone records of the reporter who broke the story and believe that his source is a serving garda.

Holy…

All the Gardaí require to obtain the phone records of a journalist or one of their members is a suspicion that there was some sort leak? Whatever the source’s motives Sargent did wrong. The source is a whistle-blower and the journalist was doing what they’re there to do. Scary. Very scary. And not only because I’m a journalist.

The headline should be about the Gardaí observing the private activities of a private citizen by obtaining his private information (on the face of it) without reasonable suspicion that the citizen has done anything illegal. Whatever about it being against the law for a garda to leak information, the journalist has partaken in no illegal activity.

Gurdgiev on double dipping.

Gene Kerrigan on the Your Country Your Call nonsense. Simon McGarr’s blog post looks at it from a different angle, he points out several details in the terms and conditions of entry that would make you wonder. Additionally, the people behind the scheme are interesting.

They say it’s about what people have for their lunch and what they see when they walk their dogs, but Twitter is what you make it. Here’s why you should be on it. A conversation from earlier today…

Matt Cooper: why would anyone believe they will be realistic when “long term economic value” is criteria for Nama price on loans?

Dan Boyle: That long term economic value is inclusive of the premium. Wait for the valuation process to kick in.

Matt Cooper: pay premium in a market of discounts? Would you overpay for house as it might be worth more in future + you’re sorry for seller?

Dan Boyle: It’s how every house is bought Matt. It’s why money is borrowed to purchase those houses – the expectation of future appreciation.

Matt Cooper: I’d love you to buy my house! It’s valued at x so you’ll pay me x + 10%. Let’s not even get into yield.

Dan Boyle: It isn’t about the owners of the house. It’s the lenders Matt. That’s why we’re in this mess.

Matt Cooper: Lender distressed and needs to sell assets. Instead of getting a discount NAMA is paying a premium. Capital another issue.

Dan Boyle: But the loans have already been discounted.

Matt Cooper: but not discounted enough. Does a rational entity overpay billions buying from a distressed seller? Hoping for recovery?

Dan Boyle: That’s where the risk lies Matt. I accept that.

Fair play to Dan Boyle for taking the questions, just have a look at his Twitterstream and see the number of them to which he has been replying. You may disagree with him but at least he’s engaging in debate. You can follow this site‘s stream for updates or myself and Gav individually if you want to know what we had for our lunch contact us.

From Dublin Community TV have a documentary on Dublin as a cyclist friendly city on the way, promo below (though please lose the feathered frame on the final cut!)

– WORLD

This seems to happen with every major news event nowadays. Someone, or some people, with a blog and a twitterfeed becomes part of the news gathering and dissemination process. This is a good account of what happened in Hawaii to one man. I like how a blog can go from being the random musing of one individual on some niche, to a public service news source, without notice.

These media outlets weren’t just putting out updates via twitter – they were taking them in. The Honolulu Advertiser had up a twitstream of the hashtag “#hawaiitsunami” on their homepage. Hawaii News Now constantly provided viewers with updates of different areas sent to them by twitterers, and I learned as much about what was going on watching twitter feeds as I did watching the news.

It was truly incredible was how much information was being gathered by nobodies like me, people just sharing their personal experiences on the web. And in turn, those that looked to twitter and social networking to stay informed got accurate, real-time information, while those who looked to CNN and Fox got much, much less.

Of course, gathering news in that way is partially reliant on the presumption that most people want to tell the world the truth. That’s not the case with most stories. It seems to work during large-scale events like natural disasters in populated areas, but you can’t rely on it for stories which require sources who have specified information.

I love this, this is journalism. The Nation has teamed with ExplainThis to staff a new project. They’ll be taking questions in from the public and setting journalists on the case to find and explain the answer.

Also from The Nation, The Media-Lobbying Complex, an interesting investigation by Sebastian Jones into the other activities of the talking heads who appear on news networks in the US.

Article in The Economist on data management.

…that the world contains an unimaginably vast amount of digital information which is getting ever vaster ever more rapidly. This makes it possible to do many things that previously could not be done: spot business trends, prevent diseases, combat crime and so on. Managed well, the data can be used to unlock new sources of economic value, provide fresh insights into science and hold governments to account.

But they are also creating a host of new problems…

More journalism, The New York Times maps the Chile earthquake. The Boston Globe Big Picture blog has the strongest images of the aftermath. Also, Former contributing editor of The Nation and translator to Chilean president Salvador Allende, Marc Cooper (now a member of the journalism faculty at University of South Carolina), writes about what may happen there in the coming weeks

I doubt seriously if Chile will now descend into social chaos. People are too busy figuring out where to sleep to go out and riot.

I just as much doubt, however, that this episode is going to be just some passing and unfortunate moment. Economic and social frustration has been mounting for years, creating great dissatisfaction with the centrist and timid administration of the last 20 years which has been loathe to radically reverse the free market policies of the Pinochet era.

Interesting fact: In Europe the scale a natural disaster is judged (officially) by the number of deaths, in the US it is judged on the monetary value of the damage caused.

– OTHER

Conor McCabe of Dublin Opinion is making a series of documentaries on Irish labour and working class history. Below is an interview done with Joe Deasy of the Inchicore Co-op (which was active in the late 40s and the 50s). I’m in fan of any attempt to document social history.

1 thought on “Digest – Feb 28 2010”

  1. Gardaí investigating the source of a leak which culminated in Trevor Sargent’s resignation last week have acquired the phone records of the reporter who broke the story and believe that his source is a serving garda.

    Holy…

    All the Gardaí require to obtain the phone records of a journalist or one of their members is a suspicion that there was some sort leak? Whatever the source’s motives Sargent did wrong. The source is a whistle-blower and the journalist was doing what they’re there to do. Scary. Very scary.

    You’ll be relieved to know then that the Data Retention Bill currently before the Oireachtas will extend data retention to the internet and will log every time you go online and details of every email you send. Oh, and did I mention that this doesn’t require any warrant or any form of court approval?
    http://www.digitalrights.ie/2009/07/14/more-thoughts-on-the-data-retention-bill/

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