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On Greg Jericho, groggate, and the public service.

By johnboy - 28 September 2010 39

An inordinate amount of media attention has been spent on the outing of Canberra Public Servant Greg Jericho as the blogger behind the Grogs’ Gamut blog which had hitherto escaped my attention but was apparently much loved by the narcissists of Twitter.

A great problem with many bloggers is that they love doing it until such time as people start reading what they’re doing. If you can’t handle that then keep it in your diary.

I don’t have a problem with Jericho, his comments seem saner than most.

But the twit storm demanding a right to blogger anonymity seems to be self interested and partisan rather than rooted in any principle.

It’s also worth noting that the “blogosphere” supposedly outraged is the small incestuous clique of self-identified lefties, with readerships composed mostly of themselves, who were more than happy to out other bloggers a few years ago with whom they disagreed.

Here at RiotACT I always thought it was asking for trouble to try and maintain anonymity. My employers in the past were always made aware of my activity to similarly head off trouble.

To do anything else while writing in a medium readable by all the world was always, in my opinion, both cowardly and stupid.

I hope Greg Jericho continues to blog, but if it’s contrary to the conditions of his employment (and that’s a big “if”) then he really shouldn’t have been acting contrary to those conditions hoping to not be found out.

That’s my 2c.

Yours,

John “johnboy” Griffiths

What’s Your opinion?


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39 Responses to
On Greg Jericho, groggate, and the public service.
pajs 1:40 pm 28 Sep 10

The Oz hardly covered itself in glory with this one. At least Jack the Insider outed himself in solidarity. The editorial they ran today is near-breathtaking for righteous hypocrisy from a paper running Henry Thornton and other columns without bylines.

Grog, as George Megalogenis observed, had a good election campaign. He wears his personal reactions somewhat on his sleeve, but it was refreshing to see real analysis of policies on his site. That just highlighted to me the lack of such rigour in other places.

I hope that Grog can keep blogging. The Australian public sphere needs people prepared to think and write like he does.

PM 1:20 pm 28 Sep 10

Just saw this on the ABC news website:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/investigations/contact.htm

What if it’s something about the ABC??

Thumper 12:49 pm 28 Sep 10

Thumper if you read the blog, you would note that it was not “reporting” it was opinion,

Ah, it was opinion, not reporting. Of course.

And so what if Greg’s blog was biased. Is he not allowed to have an opinion because of his job?

And just where did I say anything about his work?

BTW, I really don’t have an opinion about Jericho. Apparently he’s a reasonable writer and people like reading his stuff. As far as I’m concerned he should continue.

However, it is funny when small fish suddenly find themselves in very large oceans.

And Jim, you do get a bit hysterical at times.

smiling politely 12:45 pm 28 Sep 10

Thumper said :

Of course, Greg Jechico was totally unbiased and balanced in his reporting as well.

He wasn’t reporting, he was giving personal political opinions. Which he made clear in his post about his identity being made public by The Australian. The suggestion from The Australian is that his identity deserved to be made known as a matter of public interest – he wrote and published a particularly incisive piece about the coverage of the election campaign by the mainstream media, which was subsequently referred to by the ABC’s MD Mark Scott and may have affected that organisation’s coverage. Therefore The Australian has reasoned that this justifies ending his anonynmity (according to Greg Jericho the journalist had actually known his identity since November 2009).

That claim seems a bit dodgy to me, and to others. But this is the same paper that had a go at bloggers who disagreed with their Newspoll analysis by saying that “we own it therefore we know it better than anyone else does” back before the 2007 Federal election.

Good summary of everything here – http://egovau.blogspot.com/2010/09/when-traditional-media-exposes-public.html.

Tempestas 12:38 pm 28 Sep 10

I see the usual suspects are experts on everything and enjoy their ignorance. Thumper if you read the blog, you would note that it was not “reporting” it was opinion, the fact you can’t tell the difference is surprising given your usual standard.

The fact that so many here are ignorant of or dislike Twitter is good for those who use twitter and those here.

Johnboy the issue was not about maintaining anonymity so much as pseudomity to enable the separation of personal from professional views. The Oz’s action more or less suggest that if you work for the APS you should not have any views they disagree with.

However if you are Godwin Grech & you want to leak to them they have different standards

Jim Jones 12:34 pm 28 Sep 10

Thumper said :

Honestly, The Australian jumping up and down and pouting that someone is biased is the most hilarious case of hypocrisy I think I’ve ever seen. This is a newspaper known as the Opposition Organ (and as the Government Gazette when Howard was in office).

Of course, Greg Jechico was totally unbiased and balanced in his reporting as well.

From what I’ve seen, he was distinctly less biased than The Australian (a paper that often neglects to run political polling when it doesn’t like the results).

The Australian’s nose was put out of joint by the fact that his blog became quite popular for its withering criticism and insightful analysis of the media coverage of the last election.

And so what if Greg’s blog was biased. Is he not allowed to have an opinion because of his job?

Thumper 12:24 pm 28 Sep 10

Honestly, The Australian jumping up and down and pouting that someone is biased is the most hilarious case of hypocrisy I think I’ve ever seen. This is a newspaper known as the Opposition Organ (and as the Government Gazette when Howard was in office).

Of course, Greg Jechico was totally unbiased and balanced in his reporting as well.

Jim Jones 12:04 pm 28 Sep 10

If you’re interested in what Greg Jericho had to say about the matter: http://grogsgamut.blogspot.com/2010/09/spartacus-no-more.html

Jim Jones 11:53 am 28 Sep 10

He was outed by The Australian because Newscorp view him as an ideological enemy (i.e. he doesn’t like up the arse of the Liberal Party) and they want to get him fired.

Typical bully-boy tactics from The Australian, really.

Honestly, The Australian jumping up and down and pouting that someone is biased is the most hilarious case of hypocrisy I think I’ve ever seen. This is a newspaper known as the Opposition Organ (and as the Government Gazette when Howard was in office).

You want to know the difference between David Hasselhoff and The Australia?

One is a pathetic joke, and the other is David Hasselhoff.

eh_steve 11:25 am 28 Sep 10

My understanding is that he wasn’t being anonymous to avoid getting in trouble at work.

APS employees are encouraged to do this sort of thing so long as its done properly. Chapters 3 and 15 of APS Values and Code of Conduct in practice has been updated to reflect this.

More than anything, this just seems like a major stuff-up from James Massola.

From Chapter 3 of APS Values and Code of Conduct in practice :

Participating online
Web 2.0 provides public servants with unprecedented opportunities to open up government decision making and implementation to contributions from the community. In a professional and respectful manner, APS employees should engage in robust policy conversations.

Equally, as citizens, APS employees should also embrace the opportunity to add to the mix of opinions contributing to sound, sustainable policies and service delivery approaches. Employees should also consider carefully whether they should identify themselves as either an APS employee or an employee of their agency.

There are some ground rules. The APS Values and Code of Conduct, including Public Service Regulation 2.1, apply to working with online media in the same way as when participating in any other public forum. The requirements include:

being apolitical, impartial and professional
behaving with respect and courtesy, and without harassment
dealing appropriately with information, recognising that some information needs to remain confidential
delivering services fairly, effectively, impartially and courteously to the Australian public
being sensitive to the diversity of the Australian public
taking reasonable steps to avoid conflicts of interest
making proper use of Commonwealth resources
upholding the APS Values and the integrity and good reputation of the APS.
APS employees need to ensure that they fully understand the APS Values and Code of Conduct and how they apply to official or personal communications. If in doubt, they should stop and think about whether to comment and what to say16, consult their agency’s policies, seek advice from someone in authority in their agency, or consult the Ethics Advisory Service in the Australian Public Service Commission.

Agencies may find it helpful to provide guidance and training to employees in using ICT resources, including personal use, the use of social media, and any rules or policies about representing their agency online. It would be particularly helpful to workshop scenarios around some of the more complex or ‘grey’ issues that arise for employees in deciding whether and how to participate online, in the performance of their duties or otherwise, consistent with the above principles.

The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) Web Publishing Guide (available at http://webpublishing.agimo.gov.au/) helps Australian Government agencies to manage their websites and to identify their legal and policy obligations. The guide includes advice on using Web 2.0 technologies.

johnboy 11:13 am 28 Sep 10

No.

1) We undertake to maintain the privacy of our readers.

2) Commenting on posts is not the same thing as operating a blog.

3) By selecting which posts get published we take some responsibility for them.

4) If however a reader’s contributions became a matter of public interest, and other media found out about it because they’d been telling people what their ID is, and another outlet chose to publish it, that’s fair game.

It’s not that hard.

PM 11:10 am 28 Sep 10

Alfred Deakin, when Prime Minister, wrote articles regarding Australian politics for an English newspaper under a different name… he even criticised himself! By the time the paper reached the Antipodes, the articles would have had little impact. In that sense, we’re not experiencing anything new.

Waiting For Godot 11:09 am 28 Sep 10

They don’t call people on Twitter twits for nothing.

Woody Mann-Caruso 11:06 am 28 Sep 10

To do anything else while writing in a medium readable by all the world was always, in my opinion, both cowardly and stupid.

So the vast majority of anonymous Rioters are both cowardly and stupid? And if you decided that your public service readers shouldn’t be posting here during the day, that’d be sufficient reason to identify them in a public forum? And if you outed them, and they were a little pissed off by that, they’d be narcissists? And if they stuck up for each other, they’d be unprincipled partisans?

Got it.

davesact 10:40 am 28 Sep 10

Anonymity if desired should be respected if the commentary is not of an illegal nature. Writers, columnists and social commentators have been notorious for anonimity for decades.

Wasn’t @GrogsGamut just anonymous social/political commentary that he wanted expressed without it reflecting on his employer? All up i think it’s a hell of a big deal to be made about anonymous commentary by a blogger.

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