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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.


John “johnboy” Griffiths

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39 Responses to
On Greg Jericho, groggate, and the public service.
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PM 3:26 pm 29 Sep 10

johnboy said :

Well there’s never been a shortage of malice in the media.

You forgot the pithy insult at the end of that sentence there 🙂

Jim Jones 3:13 pm 29 Sep 10

So the decision to ‘out’ Greg wasn’t illegal or unethical, it was just mean-spirited.

astrojax 3:06 pm 29 Sep 10

i don’t buy that ‘choice of action’ is enough to justify the outing. i could ‘choose’ to take a kitchen knife, go out into the street and thrust it into anyone passing by. that doesn’t justify that as an action, just because i could choose it…

if the action has deleterious consequences, as per my knife scenario above, then don’t we, as a society, want to have some moral, or legal, code to enforce that those choices are not enacted?

    johnboy 3:07 pm 29 Sep 10

    No, but the choice you have described is illegal. And the one being discussed is not.

Growling Ferret 8:49 am 29 Sep 10

Would any of you want Crazychester dropping by for a cup of tea?

I doubt 95% of the current RA readership would remember Crazy Chester, or my all time favourite Ralph.

facet 7:40 am 29 Sep 10

Skidbladnir agree but I don’t take much notice of the Nelson Muntz haw haw types who operate with room temperature IQs (Fahrenheit not Celsius). Don’t find name calling or schadenfreude very amusing.

Skidbladnir 11:16 pm 28 Sep 10

NickD said :

I ignore most bloggers (snip)

And that is where it should have ended.

But beyond that, you’re kind of suggesting that having a verifiable background or work history in whatever the issue is before being able to discuss it is what you demand from your authors.
Most journalists in most fields and publications don’t pass that test (Canberra Times or The Australian, think about the qualifications of their journalists in legal affairs, science, public policy, arts, education, finance, etc. They studied Journalism at uni instead of something productive or insightful…), so why are you asking your non-established-media sources pass?
I’m not suggesting that having internet access qualifies anybody for anything in itself, but all you should really ask is that their statements or ideas are based on critical reasoning and they can withstand the criticisms of a public arena and engage in a reasonable debate to defend the ideas or statements. Bias is always going to be part of it.

Again, your statement is at its strongest when its just I ignore most bloggers.

Incidentally, I have now been offered paid work based on a RiotACT article I wrote after reading up on a subject, but I’m still not about to put my real name on the article itself.
By definition, half of the internet’s inhabitants are below average, most of them are easily manipulated, and at least 99.9% of them are people I wouldn’t want visiting my house or calling me at work.
(Would any of you want Crazychester dropping by for a cup of tea?)

facet 10:10 pm 28 Sep 10

Couldn’t care less about the issue of “outing” or the trash way News Ltd operates, what I value is the neat way Greg (Grog) put into words my gut reaction to recent political/ media behaviour. His insights have obviously resonated in quite a few people and this is a good thing.
I have viewed with alarm, the ease with which traditional media has been able to define news coverage and the sphere of legitimate debate. When the story becomes about Gillard’s earlobes or her carrying a handbag, our democracy is in deep trouble.
Thanks also Greg, for the references to other interesting stories such as “PressThink by Jay Rosen (
It will be a cold day in hell before I will pay for online content when gems like Grogs Gamut are available for free.

NickD 8:53 pm 28 Sep 10

I ignore most bloggers who don’t put their name to what they write as a) there’s no way to know if the author is informed about what they’re opining about and b) the fact that they’re not prepared to put their reputation on the line in a meaningful way raises serious issues about their credibility (I apply the same rules for newspaper columns without a byline or which rely heavily on unnamed sources).

That said, The Australian’s justification for this outing is lame; it’s widely known that there’s no problem with APS staff actively engaging in politics as long as they keep it separate from their specific area of work at all times, and the APSC guidance on this is very clear, practical and easily accessible. Hell, APS staff are able to be preselected by poltiical parties and don’t need to step down from their jobs until the election is called, and even then they’re guaranteed their job back if they lose.

sexynotsmart 7:44 pm 28 Sep 10

eh_steve said :

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.
The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) Web Publishing Guide (available at 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.

Both Grog and Greg have done the right thing here. And Stevo has nabbed the policy statement in one go.

I had the (mis)fortune of attending one of Dr Gruen’s “Gov2.0” gabfests. If the powers-that-be are looking to implement recommendations in the report, they should issue a statement clarifying the rightness (or wrongness) of Greg’s actions. And damn quickly.

Otherwise that pretty “Gov2.0” report will not be worth a tinker’s cuss, because there is no clarity about whether an APS member can participate in a democracy.

moneypenny2612 6:42 pm 28 Sep 10

Out of curiosity – do newspapers now identify the writers of their daily editorials? (I don’t read them much these days)

How is an ‘anonymous’ expression of opinion in the form of a newspaper editorial any different from Grog’s pseudonymous expression of opinion on his blog?

(For the uninitiated, editorials in a newspaper have over the years infrequently been written by ‘the editor’).

I look forward to the byline appearing henceforth on The Australian’s editorials…

    johnboy 6:58 pm 28 Sep 10

    To be fair the publisher of the newspaper is identified in all print publications and they are held to be responsible for the editorial, even if the name doesn’t appear on the editorial.

screaming banshee 5:48 pm 28 Sep 10

FFS, the whole Nixon thing happened after events at Watergate, so thats how the scandal became known as the Watergate scandal, NOT THE WATERGATE-GATE SCANDAL!

sirocco 4:47 pm 28 Sep 10

johnboy said :

The point is that if someone else becomes aware of an identity they are free to accurately attribute it should they so choose.

Absolutely. This is all about choice of action. But many of the ways journalists do things have nothing to do with legislation, rather a self-prescribed code of ethics. And while I understand that Massola was free to out GrogsGamut and that if GG wanted to keep his anonimity he might have been a little more careful with his identity, I do not believe that Massola should have outed GG given the lack of any clear benefits in doing so.

Also, I do not believe Massola’s suggested motivations – and if a journalist doesn’t have the public’s trust in their reporting then what do they have?

(other than their health, of course 🙂 )

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