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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
Is the Woodford Blog the real deal, or self censoring logger story?
Mood:  accident prone
Topic: independent media


We started our micro news/blog as an offshoot of our Sydney IndyMedia contributions, and our Alternative Media Group resuscitations of the Sydney City Hub (in administration in 2001) hence the hybrid name Sydney Alternative Media. Sometimes we follow the Big Meeja, sometimes they echo us leaving a smug feeling of vindication and self worth.

We take seriously our goal of independent and trustworthy.

Like the old saying about the definition of good journalism, we get the odd bit of hate mail. One this week was from Bob Beale copying in James Woodford of "Real Dirt" based on a bit of media monitoring analysis we did on our Sunday Political Talkies way back in June 2008:

 From: Bob Beale

To: SAM micro news 

Cc: James Woodford, Real Dirt

Sent: Tuesday, October 28, 2008 2:56 PM

Subject: Your Sunday political talkies blog

 ......We may not see eye to eye, but is it too much to ask – once again - that you play the ball and not the man? Is there a problem with agreeing to disagree? Your tedious and puerile personal taunts and keen eye for conspiracies no doubt reveal something about your personality but they enlighten no-one about anything else. It is possible, you know, to be respectful to people who hold divergent views from your own. It even encourages others to respect you – and your views – in return. I’m sure you are by now aware that the converse is also true.  

Should you feel the need to return to these issues again, I suggest that you take into account the following: 

First, I hope I’m not telling you how to suck eggs here (after all, you write with such authority on the media that I can only imagine my few decades of involvement are inadequate), but it simply is not possible in either a tight op-ed piece or short radio interview to comprehensively canvass a complex issue, especially given short deadlines. It follows, therefore, that it’s easy to take one report in isolation, seize on its omissions then read into them whatever you like. It’s called a cheap shot. .......

Notice the moral inconsistency of Beale's exhortation to play the ball and not the man (a principle we agree with) then slipping into personal insult of "peurile and tedious". Such inconsistency is the hallmark of  trench warfare applying slippery language wrestling for the high moral ground based on mixed motives. Naturally we returned serve accordingly and reject his whining as misconceived. It was fair comment and he just didn't like it.

We are not so surprised even as Big Bob Beale is at UNSW and former environment editor at the SMH, and now PR operative for Prof Michael Archer. He wrote most recently in the Sydney Morning Herald extolling the 'virtues' of commercialisation of National Parks. One day early this year we got a call from blogger Tim Blair of News Corp fame also requesting a change/take down which we negotiated to a satisfactory outcome for rivaling ideologies. This was about his time at The Bulletin and reportage nuances of the David Hicks affair.

But we do find ironic that since Monday this week we have been following the Bermagui forest protests and there is no coverage on Woodford's blog. Woodford is a hobby/serious farmer based on the South Coast so the logging protest is in his general region of the world.

He is a former environment writer for the Sydney Morning Herald. But we know his spouse is a former PR operative of the NSW Govt logging agency. We also believe he puts career before the environment. On logging in particular we have felt for some years Woodford has feet of clay and we know that's the suspicion amongst the ChipStop network of environment groups in South East NSW.

His blog specialises on

"An Australian environmental news website edited by author and journalist James Woodford: photos, blogs, a weekly summary of the best stories, the latest discoveries and guest viewpoints."

But the fact is there is no entry on Woodford's website on a serious logging dispute which claims to publish "The real dirt, the whole dirt and nothing but the dirt" all in capital letters no less.

By contrast his own alma mater Sydney Morning Herald has at least published the koala forest logging story on its website, if not the hardcopy version (as per our penultimate SAM story here). Today there is an amusing letter writer responding in the hard copy as follows:

Incident of the passive verb

The article "Last koala habitats get the chop" (smh.com.au, October 28) refers to the police issuing "a warning against violent protests, in light of recent logging-related incidents in Tasmania, which saw an activist's car smashed". Please get rid of that passive verb. It was loggers who took a sledgehammer to a car with an activist inside it - the incident saw nothing.

Naomi Blackburn Darlinghurst

(SMH 29/10/08, p10) 

So is Real Dirt "trustworthy, independent"? We started out in January 2007, Woodford kicked his thing off on April 2008 judging by the archive. We feel a cetain flattery of imitation, probably misplaced.

Don't get us wrong: We believe Woodford knows alot and no doubt has his loyal audience. And we do support growth of the indy media sector but we also support truth in advertising, advisedly. We will give him a few more days and wait and see where his news sense and reportage integrity takes him.

Posted by editor at 6:44 PM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 30 October 2008 11:31 AM NZT

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