Brian Edwards Media

A Little Bird Has Chirped In My Ear…

Randall K Roberts

A little bird, who fled the nest some time ago, has chirped in my ear that when  Jonathan Marshall went to Hawaii to interview Mark Hotchin, the poor boy’s tape-recorder was kaput. That’s what the little bird chirped. I, of course, could not possibly comment. So many little birds have been chirping in my ear this week, it’s been  positively deafening.

, , ,


  1. So when he thought she said, “Let them eat cake.”, she’d actually said, “Go away, you’re a fake.” He just can’t prove it any more.

  2. …so one may surmise that you have your own ‘Deep Throat’ at the SST!

    What was the other advice from Watergate (besides, “follow the money”)? If you throw a rock into a cave, and you hear a yell, you’ve usually hit something.

    Your invitation to the SST to publish a copy of the transcript, while linking recording to good journalistic practice, and the subsequent legal letter from the SST would seem to fit that criteria.

    With raised emotions, and quick-fire dialogue that was shooting back and forth when Marshall was being asked to leave the property, it would be really difficult to coolly and calmly remember Amanda Hotchin’s exact words, and their context. Yet they appear so straight-forward in the SST story. Which means Marshall didn’t cover his backside…

    But as you say, you couldn’t possibly comment…

  3. Loved the photo!

    This is of course the only positive story the Hotchins currently have to peddle. I notice the NBR reported that they won’t allow the public into the Hanover High Court trial today… let alone the media.

    I’m sure we can believe Amanda. She knew nothing. Ever. Honest.

  4. His age suggests that his technical skills with a phone would be well above the need for a recorder that is broken. The average smartphone (iPhone, dare I say?) can record at the touch of a finger. But only if you want a recording.

  5. “Theres a mighty judgement coming but I may be wrong”. Leonard Cohen-Tower of Song

  6. Good work Brian, keep the buggers honest.

    Remember the blogger’s union rules, no links to the SST.

    Don’t want to drive any traffic to the bully boys.

  7. Many of the posters will be wondering, if there have been further noises from the lawyer after you went against her instructions. esp. when you went ahead and published some of the contents of her email, when she expressly forbade you to do so.

    BE: No. But I think, in fairness to Ms Bacon, one has to say that she will undoubtedly have been acting under her client’s instruction when she sent the email.

  8. Well well well. So the crux of the issue is that the SST doesn’t have a tape recording and is relying on its reporter Jonathan Marshall…

    No wonder they want to shut this blog down. The more questions asked the more difficult it becomes for them, especially if they cannot justify or back up the headline they ran.

    Does not look good for either of them. Talk about media honesty and integrity. Well done Brian for keeping on going with this.

    BE: I don’t of course know whether Mr Marshall had a tape recorder or not. The affidavits say that he hadn’t. So does my little bird. But it isn’t a crime not to have a tape recorder. Just unwise if you’re going to quote more than a couple of words verbatim.

  9. The sst needs to produce some evidence or maybe we will have to boycott next Sunday’s issue…hit em in the cheque book. Short sharp shock!

    BE: Slight edit for potential defamation.

  10. In the police force it was (and may still be so) not uncommon for an officer upon receiving an unwelcome radio call to claim later; “sorry, Guv, must have been a blind spot” or “the radio’s been playing up for a few days”.

    Do tape recorders encounter blind spots?

  11. a tape recording is not necessary .Does Amanda have a tape recording?Does it make any difference ?Do the public really care?If its just about journalistic integrity ,take a cold shower and tune into Fox News!

    BE: If you’re going to report in quotes something which is likely to damage the person alleged to have said it, one wrong word, deliberate or accidental, can be fatal to them or to you. Recorded evidence or witnessed evidence is the only real evidence.

    The rest of what you say reminds me of when my kids were teenagers. They thought ti was cool to say, ‘who cares?’ I’m really not impressed by ‘cool’ people or people who recommend not caring or taking a cold shower or citing something worse. It’s the uncool, caring people who contribute most to a civilised society.

  12. Agree with LS. Why are some of you insisting that a tape recording is necessary otherwise there is a presumption that she didn’t say it? The Hotchin’s are not scared of litigation nor do they lack the means. If reputation is important to them here they should take it to Court. Instead they get you guys all worked up over having “four sworn affidavits”. But do they? It is still far from clear whether the 2 American affidavits were in a position to hear or were known to the Hotchin’s personally (after all they did seem to be on a first name basis) and whether or not the other 2 affidavits would stand much scrutiny at all in light of the fact the Hotchin’s and Brian (due to conditions imposed on him) refuse to rule out the possibility they were given by Amanda and Mark themselves. As Brian says: “But it isn’t a crime not to have a tape recorder”. There are people far less able to defend their wealth or reputations in court than the Hotchins and who are more deserving of our efforts.

    BE: See my reply to LS. Your mindset, Ruth, is, ‘rich bastards!’ Nothing is going to change it. Mrs Hotchin claims she didn’t say those words. She has four sworn affidavits which say she didn’t speak those words. The SST has those affidavits. Its response is that it stands by its reporter and the story. We’re being asked to take their word for it. Could you take your blinkers off for long enough to at least recognise that that isn’t really an adequate response?

  13. I was under the impression that covertly taping someone without consent was illegal & unethical.

    If Amanda Hotchin had said that sentence to me I would sure remember it in the five minutes it might have taken to get off the property. It’s hardly the Gettysburg Address.

    So if Jonathan Marshall came up with an affidavit Brian, would you accept that as evidence?

    Oh dear, Gen, maybe I’m getting old and curmudgeonly, but this really is becoming tiresome. You’re the lawyer, so you ought really be able to answer your own question. Journalists record conversations with people all the time and generally without telling them. I’m regularly interviewed by the media and no-one ever tells me they’re recording what I’m saying. I much prefer it anyway; at least the quotes will be accurate.

    I’m also not entirely sure that you’re right about the illegality of recording what someone says without seeking their consent. My understanding is that, under the Broadcasting Act, you can’t put that recording to air or indeed put anyone on air without their consent. That’s a rule regularly broken by commercial radio stations, most noticeably with joke or spoof calls.

    There’s also the entrapment issue. But there the courts seem to take the view that if the entrapment (secret filming or recording) provides evidence of criminal behaviour, then it’s justified. When a reporter secretly filmed an interview with Dr Morgan Fahey in which he admitted misconduct with women patients, there were no complaints about ‘illegal’ or ‘unethical’ journalistic behaviour. Fahey was convicted and imprisoned as a result.

    You’re also telling me that five minutes after hearing it, you could have recalled the following with 100% accuracy, not a word wrong or out of place. “We don’t have to justify where we get our money from or what it is spent on to anyone. I don’t care what anyone says.” I’m impressed. And all of that while you were being shouted at to leave the property.

    But the real point is: why would you object to a journalistic practice that guarantees accuracy and protects your back in the event of a complaint.

    “So if Jonathan Marshall came up with an affidavit…” Cripes, if Jonathan or the SST came up with anything, I’d be impressed. And if Marshall came up with an affidavit which he was prepared to be examined on in court, he’d be risking prosecution if it could be shown that it wasn’t true, which, as you’ve pointed out yourself, is exactly the same position the people who signed the Hotchin affidavits would be in if they were examined on them in court.

    As it happens, I’ve never suggested recording people ‘without their consent’. Our advice to clients is to record all their dealings with journalists, to do so quite openly if the journalist is with them and, if it’s on the phone, and the journalist asks if you’re recording the conversation or interview (which they never do) to say, ‘Yes, of course. Aren’t you recording me?’ Strange if that were illegal. When Fair Go first started in 1977, the Post Office installed a recording booth in our office. They were worried about what our own efforts might do to their lines or equipment. “POST OFFICE COMPLICIT IN ILLEGAL RECORDING!” Good story.

  14. P.S. Can I add:
    – I know that there is a public interest defence to covert recording;
    -I haven’t considered whether it would apply;
    -my gut feeling without thinking about it much is probably not;
    -favoured answer of all lawyers: “it’s arguable”

    BE: See my previous reply to you.

  15. What I would like to know is what is happening in the SST’s offices.

    Mr Marshall is doubtless a model of probity but were I his editor whilst I might support him publicly, in private I would be highly pissed off that one of my journalists had landed me in this mess by what at best can only be described as sloppy behaviour.

    I am quite sure that had Marshall the documented evidence of Hotchin’s quote it would have been splashed across the front pages of the SST. For ever more it will be “yes, she said it, no, I did not” and sadly two reputations have been besmirched and one is innocent.

  16. Um…they were in Hawaii which last time I checked was the 50th state of the US of A. I’m not sure what the law is there about covert recordings but I’m fairly certain it is different than here.

    And Brian, you are quite wrong when you diminish my point with your “rich bastards” rebuttal – and I am surprised by it given your own good track record. Respectfully, my point is that the Hotchin’s are not without options and as such it is hard to feel sympathy for them and hard to understand why you and others are doing their bidding when there are others who really do need your help. The SST, who I have no sympathy for whatsoever, have openly stated what they believe to be true by publishing the article. I simply cannot understand why the Hotchin’s who feel so wronged by this refuse to take legal action to clear their name. Instead they drip feed information through you and spin it via the imposition of conditions. What are they scared of? Why don’t they front up if they are so confident in their position? Why don’t you interview Amanda about it and ask the hard questions of her? Have you offered? I think your site’s ratings would sky-rocket if you could do that especially if you wear something appropriate! By definition SST did front up by printing the story in the first place. The only thing coming back is a claim of lies, lies, lies by Amanda. If she’s unhappy, she should sue. If she won’t, given the importance of the issue to her and given her means, I will draw an inference from that.

  17. …and Ben, one of those reputations was already besmirched, irrespective

  18. A bit curmudgeonly, yes. I’ve never had to consider the covert recording issue in a print scenario in NZ (though I have had to overseas, and in a broadcast scenario here). Hence the “I was under the impression”.

    The covert recording of Dr Fahey was clearly justified in the public interest as it got him to admit to historical sex crimes. Not sure what the public interest here would be. Assuming she did say the words (and I’m 50/50 on this, for avoidance of doubt) – what would the public interest justification be? Getting the wife of a failed company director to say she doesn’t care about investors? Not really a public interest justification in my opinion (although again, arguable).

    Fahey suggests that information obtained as the result of trespass could be enjoined, but it is obviously too late for that. I suppose the same point could apply if the info was obtained in breach of privacy as well. But it does go to the point that covert recording is not without risk, though it might very well shore things up from a story point of view.

    Recording conversations, without advising the other party to the conversation unless specifically asked, sounds like covert recording to me.

  19. Ruth, apart from being married to Mark Hotchins I am not aware that Amanda Hotchin (I assume you mean her) has ever done anything to damage her reputation other than this allegation which she denies.

    Perhaps you would enlighten us and tell us why Amanda H should be ashamed? Whatever her husband may or may not have done is not down to her.

  20. Ben, fair question however I see no value in going through all that again (Brian might accuse me of hating the rich) although really that was some party she organised for Mr Hotchins on Vomo; some mega house she rented in hawaii (I think she personally drove around in a swish convertible whilst up there); some extended holiday she took through Europe; and there’s more assuming we believe at least a small percentage of what has been reported AFTER Hanover froze repayments and interest – whilst at all times claiming as SHE now expressly does through Brian, to really really care about the plight of the Hanover investor. If that behaviour is not a metaphor for “let them eat cake” I’m not sure what is. Brian – my apologies for going there again, but Ben did ask…(at least I didn’t mention her “present room” this time!)


  22. the way this thread is going, there will be a gala ball laid on to welcome Amanda back to NZ. Just stoooopid, all this sympathy.

  23. Gen, do you think it is possible, just for a while to take off those ‘glasses’ that is the unique construct of legal thinking, and assess this from the point of view of another profession? Applies to you too, Ruth, and the matter of who actually swore the affidavits.

    Something isn’t ‘true’ just because a court correctly (or erroneously, for that matter) declares it so. Believe it or not, ordinary folk do live their life without contemplating every legal permutation regarding their actions. talk about, “nine lawyers, ten opinions…”

    Marshall is not just any old slob off the street giving his version of events. He is a journalist. His account of events is his bread and butter, and also the bread and butter of the SST. Without being able to prove his credibility, when requested, we may as well get my news from Gen, or Ruth, or Arvind, the dairy owner down the road, instead of forking out my hard-earned cash on the SST.

    Which is why the MEDIA EXPERT here is saying it is good practice to record conversations, especially when the exact account of those words gives an angle on a story that both sells a lot of papers, and drags someone’s reputation down in the public estimation.

    No, we don’t know for sure if Marshall taped it. But when a journalistic source tells Brian a basic piece equipment for someone in his profession was on the fritz…

  24. …with your attitude, Gen, Nixon would still be President!

    Your profession uses affidavits, and sworn testimony as a stock-in-trade. Brian’s profession uses sources.

    So when a couple who market themselves as the BEST in the business when it comes to dealing with the media put their credibility on the line by quoting a source…not just any source, but one source in particular amongst many who have been “chirping” like “little birds”.

    And then he gives you the advice, “I, of course, could not possibly comment”…do you think, in an attempt to avoid the consequences that can accrue from, just as a random example, your profession, you are being invited to read between the lines?

    Tune in next week for lesson 2 of “Join the dots”.

  25. For Gen, s 216 of the Crimes Act 1961:

    Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years who intentionally intercepts/records any private communication by means of an interception/recording device unless the person intercepting/recording the private communication is a party to that private communication.

    I should also point out that the Lawyers Code of Conduct forbids a lawyer recording anyone without making that known to the recorded party.

  26. first off @Gen and @Ruth, it is perfectly legal to covertly record a conversation in NZ as long as one party (the person recording) is aware the conversation is being recorded, and / or the conversation is likely to be heard by some other person or persons. The only exception is a registered Private Investigator (yes it’s a strange exception I know). These recordings are permissible as evidence in NZ courts. (google it… it’s true). This is known as One Party Consent. (I’m not a lawyer… so I won’t charge you for that one)

    However, we are discussing a conversation in Hawaii. Well it turns out that Hawaii has One Party Consent for phone calls, mobile calls, wireless AND for journalists. So yes… it’s legal here, it’s legal there.

    Is it ethical? Well that depends. In my mind a person who is being harassed, a person who may be called on for professional reasons (exactly like journalist), a call centre (though for business at least in the US the law is a little more complex), if it may be required for evidence at some later stage… (I’m sure you can come up with other examples), then yes it is. I’m sure you can also come up with unethical examples too.

    Right then, with that sorted.

    I have been travelling the world and the one thread I have been following with close interest is this one. (Thanks to Russell Brown for tweeting me in this direction)

    It would seem to me there are three themes here. I care about one of them very much. The other two… not so much.

    Theme 1) Is your / you’re / ur grammar correct.
    This one I personally don’t care for too much. I realise many here do and that’s fine. It does seem to distract from the thread I care about a bit, but I also realise it is important. It is also important to communicate in a way that the audience understand. Far too often the “participle” is the focus and not the “content”. To many of the people in this forum who were educated in grammar after to circa 1999, the sticklers for grammar will be talking gibberish, and therefore not understood. In my opinion, it is very important that those educated in English language prior to this time are understood. It may pay to let some of those lessons go, for the greater purpose of communication. (flame me for this, I am reasonably thick skinned).

    There is of course, for the purposes of this thread, a very important exception. If you are writing for a publication, such as a newspaper or magazine, and you are quoting someone, it is EXTREMELY important to use quotations marks (66’s and 99’s is what they were called when I was learned to wrote). If you’re not sure about what was said, it is EXTREMELY important NOT to use them.

    Thread 2) Mark Hotchin bad… All Hotchin BAD!! (or are they?)
    This is the thread I care for least. It is discussed else where ad infinitum (though I really do hope it is “finitum” (sic) I really really do). I know none of them. I couldn’t say “Lady GaGa is a better person than Amanda Hotchin”, though I know more of GaGa than I do of the Hotchin clan.

    Perhaps it is that I see this theme as a cousin to Herald comments / trademe forums etc (in my view the modern version of talk back radio). So you see why I find this thread the least interesting.

    Thread 3) FINALLY!!!
    For many years I have been involved in the “media”, from being a consumer (like all of us), to running a radio show, to working for a radio / internet advertising abrogator, to making up news stories for a major news outlets (I won’t name them), to advising companies (small and large) in brand networking and social networking, talk back and a few other things.

    I am also a fierce consumer of linguistics and media analysis (whilst I may detest the ideals of the people he works for, I find Frank Luntz extremely interesting, by the same token my favourite book is “Manufacturing Consent”, Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman’s now somewhat dated thesis).

    A defining moment in my life was when a politician, under parliamentary privilege, falsely accused the patriarch of a close family, of financial impropriety. No evidence given, no legal requirement for such evidence… and none ever given. No court case, no SFO… just a business destroyed by a grand standing politician.

    With all that in mind, I have become concerned, then apathetic, and now concerned again about the quality of news reporting in NZ. It seems to me that the dailys, the networks and the weekenders are just as guilty as I was when I reported a news story that the “trench coat Mafia had set up in Remuera, and some elderly members had been spotted in Auckland’s Fort Street, brazenly wearing their trench coats” (that one never made it into AP or Newsroom)

    Networks seem politically aligned, newspapers too. Editorial is seeping into any story not taken from an AP feed. And far too much is taken from a feed. The TV networks edit down Panorama or Dispatches and sell them as part of a “leading current affairs / news” show… at least on air planes they tell you it’s an edit and not the original.

    And here we are. A “major” NZ weekender prints a news story. It states “facts”. When asked to provide evidence… it threatens those who ask with legal action and a muzzle. Some here think the onus is on the subject of the story to provide evidence. Those staring in reality TV shows “may” be able to provide every minute of their lives… though even then it’s not likely (script writers aside). And that is the core of this whole thing.

    I’ll /end rant with a poor paraphrase… A news outlet can get a story around the world before the evidence has had a chance to put it’s shoes on.

    Flame on.

  27. If Mrs Hotchin is not responsible for the behaviour of her husband and is entitled to live however she choses with impunity, then I would have thought she is right to claim that she need not explain how she spends her money to anyone? If however her behaviour and what she says does reflect on her poorly in this regard then we should judge in toto? The statement reported cannot be looked at in isolation when determining whethe ror not the reporting of it has “dragged” her reputation somewhere other than where it already was.

  28. Felix, I assume as “a consumer of linguistics and media analysis” you understand the meaning of the word, ‘prolixity’. For those not so blessed, it might be noted that you suffer from extreme pomposity and verbal diarrhoea.

    Get back on your camel, Marco Polo.

  29. Thanks for the one party info Felix, you are quite right.

    I was wondering whether a recording that was obtained as a result of trespass (or invasion of privacy) might prevent a recording being made public/admitted in evidence. So on the basis of tort rather than statute. TV3 v Fahey suggests it might. So potentially Amanda could prevent Jonathan from using it, if it existed, if she wanted to – way back when the story was first printed I mean. Circumstances have obviously moved on and this is irrelevant, but it’s an interesting (to me) unsettled areas of law. (Serves me right for rambling out loud.)

    Kimbo, obviously the Watergate recordings had a public interest justification. I’ve never said that covert recording can’t be justified in the public interest (in fact I think quite the opposite) – just that I don’t think there is one here.

    Without viewing things legalistically, both parties seems equally as credible/non-credible as the other. I haven’t seen Amanda’s affidavits, and I haven’t seen Jonathan’s notes.

  30. BE: If you’re going to report in quotes something which is likely to damage the person alleged to have said it, one wrong word, deliberate or accidental, can be fatal to them or to you. Recorded evidence or witnessed evidence is the only real evidence.

    “The rest of what you say reminds me of when my kids were teenagers. They thought it was cool to say, ‘who cares?’ I’m really not impressed by ‘cool’ people or people who recommend not caring or taking a cold shower or citing something worse. It’s the uncool, caring people who contribute most to a civilised society.
    ‘the size and the strength to withstand any conditions’…a few words that had fatal consequences for some.I thought it was ‘cool’ being Mark and Amanda,living a fabulous lifestyle,emphasised by an ostentatious display of wealth.I need a Porsche to drop the kids off to school…….whatever!(p

  31. “Without viewing things legalistically, both parties seems equally as credible/non-credible as the other. I haven’t seen Amanda’s affidavits, and I haven’t seen Jonathan’s notes”.

    Quite right, Gen. Now take the next step. Who in that driveway had a professional obligation to ensure their record of events could, if possible, be verified? Who, in contrast, were ordinary folks who just happened to be there, had no idea a journalist was turning up that minute, had no opportunity or inclination to prepare by having a recording device on them, and who have now sworn affidavits just as anyone is entitled to do…?

    Legally, and until tested in a court, Marshall’s standing is equal to those who swore the affidavits. But judge him by the standards of the profession he was operating under, and resulted in him being present in that driveway that day!

    And Ruth, I note you still play the circular-reasoning game: Amanda Hotchin is reported as saying ‘let them eat cake’. Even though Amanda Hotchin has fronted with some proof, that proof doesn’t seem to count because we don’t know all the details of who swore them. It is really they-said, she-said. The details they-said, she-said don’t matter, because whether she literally said it or not, her lifestyle, in effect, says ‘let them eat cake’. Which means it is thoroughly believable she said….

  32. Gen – I defer to your legal knowledge. You say “Without viewing things legalistically, both parties seems equally as credible/non-credible as the other. I haven’t seen Amanda’s affidavits, and I haven’t seen Jonathan’s notes.” My understanding of defamation laws is that the offending publication must also harm a person’s reputation from what it was prior to the publication? Or does that just go to damages?

  33. There still seem to be one or two comments focusing on the culpability of the Hotchins. This issue is not about the Hotchins – and I don’t think this debate should be seen as promoting sympathy for them.

    This is about accurate and responsible reporting. Something that is thin on the ground with our major news organisations.

    My view is that reporters are often sent to cover an event with their conclusions already drawn. Then they simply seek evidence to fit with the line which their producer/editor has decided will be taken.

  34. Felix: Your 2nd to last paragraph was fine.

    And this one,”A news outlet can get a story around the world before the evidence has had a chance to put it’s shoes on.
    This is interesting since it seems to be a process that I think current politicians are using.
    Make a statement succinctly. Wait for the reaction and watch another opposing politician stumbling along trying to refute and explain but by then the audience has switched channels. The art really is now into Sound bites. Conquer them or fade away.

  35. Tim B , I agree with your sentiment and the cause you stand for. However, this is Hanover debacle is a terrible platform to use as a soap-box to do so. There’s conflicting evidence. Games within games eg undisclosed affidavits and conditions of disclosure. Real victims being disrespected. A party who clearly has other avenues including the law at their disposal had they truly been wronged. And no real loss of reputation to the alleged defamed party. By all means advocate a higher standard of journalism – no one could doubt that that is needed and important – but not in this matter. To do so is to allow this debate and its participants to become complicit in a convenient PR sideshow to one of the ugliest occurences in NZ corporate history, and some of the most shameful commercial and personal behaviour from the benficiaries of an unprecedented wealth transfer from retired savers to a couple of fly by nighters. It’s wrong to cooperate with them in this sideshow and in that regard I am guilty too. It takes a lot to acknowledge when you’ve been used but when one does, one should not be too proud to put a stop to it.

  36. Well Kimbo, if any sort of action against Fairfax had resulted from this debacle – even a Press Council complaint, which is free – Jonathan Marshall or the SST would have to stump up with some sort of evidence, be it a recording, journo’s notes, or an affidavit.

    As it hasn’t, Fairfax has decided it doesn’t wish to engage in a debate under the jurisdiction of Brian Edwards Media. So they’re under no obligation to produce anything. Amanda could easily make them do it though – she could serve papers.

    Ruth – the generally accepted test for defamation is a statement published that would tend to lower the plaintiff in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally.

  37. …so because Amanda Hotchin chooses, as is her perogative, not to use the ‘slap over the wrist with a wet noodle’ that is the Press Council, or protracted and expensive court action, and instead wages the battle in the forum that the SST operates in and chose to fight in the first place, i.e., the media, that absolves the SST of an obligation to its customers to release notes and/or recordings?!

    No doubt your advice is legally sound, and yes, it is Fairfax’s perogative to exercise that option. However, as I’ve pointed out before, from a PR perspective, your advice is a disaster for the SST.

    There is a greater weight of responsibility on the SST, because their version of events is their professional business. And they don’t have to wage it here on Brian’s site. They didn’t last time they wrote they “stand behind their story”. They can do it within their own pages, and sell some extra papers via lurid headlines when they do!

  38. @ianmac, I wonder if this is the influence of media training for politicians? BE it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on this.

    @Gen, it’s interesting to me too. Trespass in Hawaii not protected by the first amendment (though many news organisations have tried to use this as a defence). Was Jonathan charged with 1st or 2nd degree trespassing?

    JC: The preponderance of sound bites – and their decreasing length – has nothing to do with politicians or media training, and everything to do with the increasingly tabloid nature of the media. It’s a worldwide trend led by the need to sell audiences to advertisers. Politicians would be happy to talk for hours on their subjects. Alas, according to research, the average soundbite on commercial television has now shrunk to roughly five seconds.

  39. …and I note, Gen, that you are still reverting to legal sophistry as your default setting!

    You even (deliberately?) misunderstand when I gave the watergate example, by giving me your legal opinion about the admissability of recordings!

    This is a matter to be judged by journalistic standards in the first instance, not legal ones. So when a respected member of the media industry tells you he has a reliable source close to the action, it is obtuse not to be guided by that information. Forget legal niceties like, “well, I cannot tell until I see…” Brian has put his reputation on the line.

    Knowing what you know (by common sense, and according to informed, media-savvy reader standards, not legal shibboleths!), do you

    1. have confidence in the SST as a reliable news source?

    2. Are you confident thay gather and record the information for their stories using the best possible practices and standards for their profession

    3. Are you willing to continue to pay money for the SST?

    Well? Time to get off the fence, Gen.

  40. Felix, re soundbites. Joe Atkinson ran some interesting papers on this when I was at uni. He wrote a lot about the “McDonaldisation” of the news. Was quite interesting to see how news reporting had changed even since the 1970s.

    Kimbo, I didn’t misunderstand you when you gave Watergate as an example. You said that with attitudes like mine Nixon would still be President. I said clearly use of the Watergate recordings were in the public interest (so, no, he wouldn’t be). The “public interest” is a journalistic as well as a legal concept. You seem quite confused?

    The Hotchins’ reluctance to take any sort of action speaks volumes to me and I can’t take Amanda’s complaints seriously unless she puts her not inconsiderable money where her mouth is, or unless the evidence is disclosed and I can judge it for myself. Unlike you, I’m unwilling to let someone else do my thinking for me.

    To answer your question, yes I’ll continue to buy the SST.

  41. “The Hotchins’ reluctance to take any sort of action speaks volumes to me”. She has, and I suggest it is arrogance on your part to refuse to acknowledge her win thus far, because it doesn’t suit your standard or expectation. You say both journalism and law serve the public interest. Why then insist her means of recourse must only be legal. No, I am not confused, and I suggest you are tangled in your own contradictions.

    Watergate first blew as a newspaper story over 12 months before anyone even knew the tapes existed. It was a story that was kept alive because Woodward and Bernstein relied on sources close to the action. It then took yet another year after the discovery of the tapes before all Nixon’s legal avenues were exhausted, and he resigned rather than be impeached.

    The moral of the story: The law is often slow and cumbersome in serving the public interest, and without the aid of nimble journalists filling in the blanks via informed sources, is often futile in getting to the truth – which is usually always in the public interest.

    No, Gen, it is not a case of letting someone else do your thinking for you. It is a matter of letting go of prejudices, and unrealistic expectations…

  42. There’s nothing arrogant or prejudiced about Gen’s point of view or the way she has put it across. Kimbo that’s quite condescending and that type of personal comment has not been of a one-ff nature in your entries. Gen seems quite balanced and thoughtful. I’ve just gone back and looked at your comments on the three BE blogs about the Hotchin’s. The number of times you have played the man not the ball is quite high. Almost every entry makes snarky personalised comments. Is that really necessary? Do you feel that your point of view on this matter so lacks substance that you must resort to this tactic?

    JC: I’m getting really tired of this petty ‘she said/he said/you’re awful/you’re stupid’ bickering between commentators. Had enough of it. Stop it, please, all of you, or I’ll delete it before approving the comments. This is a forum for reasoned debate, not childish taunts and insults.

  43. Fair enough, Judy. I’ll try and keep my response to the required standard.

    Ruth, when you are in legal setting, you follow certain rules and protocols, and assume certain things. That is what Gen has done. The same thing applies, with different rules, when you are in a media setting like this…

    When media people like Brian (and Judy) say they have a source who has told them something, which they then deem significant enough to quote, you can safely assume

    1. The source is reliable
    2. The incident reported really did occur
    3. It is being phrased in such a way to inform the public, while avoiding the possibility of legal action.
    4. The reporter (in this case, Brain) has put his reputation on the line.

    I would tactfully suggest it is the height of rudeness, and folly (not meant as an ad hominem attack – simply a description of actions) to then come again and again from various angles questioning the report, especially with legal permutations. It was reported in the way it was to avoid precisely that.

    So unless you are prepared to trust Brian’s discretion and judgment, there is no point reading or commenting on what he has reported, or what others have to say on the matter. Like when you buy the SST. You either trust them as a reliable source of info, or you don’t.

  44. Furthermore it seems like very poor judgment to me to be using a ‘legal’ perspective to assess the reliability, or otherwise of any ‘notes’ Marshall took, because we now ‘know’ he didn’t record.

    Seems to willfully overlook the reality Marshall was a news professional, who should have prepared himself with appropriate recording equipment, as he had the chance to do. The media expert’s opinion on the matter has weight.

    I don’t doubt MAYBE one or two of the wider Hotchin clan swore the affidavits. Not their fault they were there that day – they didn’t plan the encounter – Marshall did! That is why their exact identity is not of great importance at the moment. To say Marshall’s version has equal value/believability, as Gen does, seems timid in the light of what Brian has revealed.

    If I was on a jury, and I heard the journalist had not taped the conversation when he had the chance, it would certainly go a long way to determining the credibility of what was said. But then, that’s me, and I don’t have an axe to grind, or a present disposition about the Hotchins or the SST – or at least I didn’t until the SST forsook their fourth estate obligation, and went running to lawyers…

    However. my apologies for what you (and maybe Gen) perceived as my tone – which, on reflection, despite a certain warranted rhetorical frustration to reinforce my point, exceeded what was appropriate at times.

    Anyway, I think we have thrashed this one to death, and time to move on…(a loud cry of “Amen” from the gallery!)