O’Sullivan versus Journalism, Media and Democracy research

A post at The Standard – NZ Media and blogs vs blogs – quotes from a report from The Journalism, Media and Democracy research centre at AUT University.

More evidence of unethical alliances

Researchers say there is increasing evidence of what it calls unethical alliances between bloggers, politicians, media and public relations companies. The Journalism, Media and Democracy research centre at AUT University says the boundaries between those groups are blurring. The report highlighted what researchers said were major revelations in Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics, and said they cast a shadow over long-established media organisations.

It refers to blogger links with NZ Herald journalists.

Hager’s book has cast a shadow over long established media organisations. After the publication of Dirty Politics, Fran O’Sullivan, Jared Savage and David Fisher, journalists working for The New Zealand Herald, came clean about their earlier collaborations with Slater.

Jared Savage admitted that “information was shared, there was a bit of “horse trading”, we talked about developments as the story rolled along (Savage, 2014).

The paper’s investigative journalist David Fisher admitted in his opinion piece that “Cameron Slater was a contact of mine – Nicky Hager made this clear in Dirty Politics”; before he stopped “dealing with Slater”, he was “speaking to Slater as a contact and source” (Fisher, 2014).

The report quotes how Savage and Fisher ‘came clean” but doesn’t back up their claim about O’Sullivan.

Fran O’Sullivan has responded to this in a comment on the Standard thread:

This is ridiculous. I have never “come clean” about any so-called collaborations with Slater. The author of this academic study fails at 101 Research. If she bothered to check the author would have found I said it was risible to suggest Odgers influenced my writings.

This casts a shadow over the veracity of the research.

The report: JMAD NZ media ownership report 2014

Confronting war versus promoting peace

John Key has outlined the Government approach to dealing with the Islamic State threat in the Middle East. There have been a variety of reactions.

Audrey Young at NZ Herald reports on what Key said in John Key: Kiwi forces will help train Iraqis fight ISIS

Three NZ Defence Force personnel have already left for the Middle East to scope out a role for New Zealand forces to help train Iraqi forces fight Isis, probably in conjunction with Australia.

But any such training would be done “behind the wire” and would be undertaken by regular forces on a base, not by the SAS, Prime Minister John Key said today.

“New Zealand cannot and should not fight Iraqis’ battles for them. I am ruling out New Zealand sending SAS or any troops into combat roles in Iraq.”

Later he said the SAS could be deployed to help to protect a base in which New Zealand Forces were conducting training.

Mr Key said the role of the SAS would not be similar to the “aid and assist” role in Afghanistan, which saw it accompany the Afghanistan Crisis Response Unit on jobs.

The Dominion Post (Stuff) raises fears and dramatics in Key lights a fuse that may fire up terror:

It may not have been coincidence that John Key chose Guy Fawkes day to light a bonfire under New Zealand’s complacency about being far removed from terrorism.

Key’s landmark speech outlining New Zealand’s national security risks paints a stark picture of the rising threat from within.

There are radicalised Islamic State sympathisers living and working among us, some of them actively discussing terrorist acts on New Zealand soil, Key told a Wellington audience.

They included those thwarted in their wish to take up arms in Syria with the Islamic State (Isis) and who now posed a threat to New Zealand’s safety and security.

With the recent shooting at the Canadian Parliament still fresh in people’s minds, few will quibble at Key’s view that we can no longer rely on our place at the bottom of the world protecting us from such acts.

They stress the threat:

But that does not minimise the nature of the threat from Isis and its chilling use of social media to spread its “kill a Westerner” message.

That could be brought even closer to home if Isis makes specific threats to New Zealand after Key’s announcement yesterday of a military contribution. That contribution is likely to be limited and confined to training Iraqi forces.

But Isis is unlikely to draw that distinction.

Karol at The Standard quotes Metiria Turei’s idealistic view in Turei for peace & freedom: rejects politics of fear

The Green Party stands for peace and freedom.

Peace is the best weapon we have in achieving personal security. It is a simple fact that New Zealanders are safest in a peaceful world.

And our democracy is only as strong as our personal freedoms. When personal freedoms are eroded our democracy is weakened.

Today, John Key has eroded both our quest for peace at home and abroad, and eroded New Zealanders personal freedoms.

By offering support the US led war with ISIS we are part of a strategy that reduces the prospects of enduring peace in the Middle East; and in the process we are also being told that we have to give up freedoms here at home too.

Conclusion

Mr Speaker

Today I speak on behalf of a truly independent foreign policy that works for peace as the best form of security.

A foreign policy that aligns foreign and domestic interests.

I speak on behalf of our personal freedoms. I put them on a pedestal, only to be eroded in the most extreme of circumstances.

And I speak on behalf of those New Zealanders who believe in alternatives to war and fear; those who aspire to peace and freedom.

We can build a better world, but it will require a better approach than the one outlined by the Prime Minister today.

Most people want peace – but when some people are intent on war doing nothing won’t stop them. Pacifism didn’t do much good for the Moriori.

Karol concludes:

Today Metiria Turei was bold and clear.  She showed a positive way forward.  I give her a standing ovation!

Rather than accept the narrative Key is trying to build, Turei identities and rejects that narrative. At the same time, she provides an alternative narrative, with a positive way forward.

The real world needs the promotion of peace, but it also needs to confronting of warmongers.

Herald calls hacking “relatively minor” common theft

NZ Herald calls political hacking “common theft” and claims it is “relatively minor”. They are wrong on the first count and I think they are also wrong on the second.

In Editorial: Hager raid an intimidatory over-reaction the Herald voices a concern I share:

The effect of such raids is to intimidate such people from approaching media to disclose uncomfortable truths.

The raid on Nicky Hager’s home may be over the top police action and raises valid concerns about freedom of expression for  journalists – but we don’t know many details apart from Hager’s side of the story so it’s difficult to judge how much of a concern at  this stage.

While the heading promotes this concern the paragraph quoted above is well down the editorial.

I disagree with something in particular the editorial repeats – they talk down the severity of the hacking of Cameron Slater’s private data, possibly for political purposes and used by Hager for political purposes.

In response to a complaint of theft – common old theft – five police officers spent the best part of a day searching the Hager home and taking away everything from computers to an iPod. Not because Hager was considered a “suspect” but because he could be a “witness” to the crime.

The Herald unquestioningly promotes Hager’s version of the raid, and refers to the hacking as “common old theft”. The Rawshark hacking and subsequent use of data to try and defeat the Government in an election campaign is far from ‘common” and it isn’t even theft.

The Ministry of Justice refers to “unauthorised access to a computer system (hacking)” – that’s as I understand it. Copying data is not theft. And Findlaw describes the two offences that Rawshark could be investigated for:

Accessing computer system for dishonest purpose

The Bill creates a new offence of accessing a computer system for a dishonest purpose. Anyone who accesses a computer system and dishonestly, or by deception, either:
obtains some form of property or advantage; or

causes loss to any person;

can be sentenced to up to 7 years imprisonment.

Anyone who accesses a computer system with intent to either cause loss or obtain property is liable for up to 5 years imprisonment.

Accessing a computer system without authorisation

Accessing a computer system without authorisation will become a new crime punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment. This new provision is intended to cover “hacking”.

The new offence will catch a range of cyber crimes that have recently featured in the news, including stealing credit card information from Web sites, industrial espionage, the unauthorised transfer of funds from company bank accounts, and the destruction of data by hackers or disgruntled employees.

Not theft, and not common old theft, new laws were created specifically for hacking type crimes. The Herald should know basics like this, but apparently not:

A complaint of theft had been made and Hager had been identified as the eventual user of the stolen material.

If every theft complaint made to police resulted in this kind of response, searches under warrants of houses and businesses would be constant and not much else would be achieved by our constabulary.

The theft complaint was made by Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater.

It is unlikely anyone else reporting a theft would have resulted in the police raiding the receiver of the stolen property quite so readily.

Apart from the fact that it isn’t theft I’m sure the police readily raid suspected receivers of stolen property quite often.

The editorial concludes:

It would be good if that judge took a stand for freedom of expression. He or she will not be deciding whether the hacking was a crime, just whether the police treatment of Hager and his sources can be justified in the pursuit of that relatively minor criminal offence.

It’s important to determine “whether the police treatment of Hager and his sources can be justified”. If it is more intimidatory than investigative then I’ll have serious concerns.

But referring to it as “a relatively minor criminal offence” is an interesting judgement, considering the hacking of Slater and the use of his data to attempt to bring down the Government is unprecedented.

If political hacking was deemed not worthy of investigation by the police where could that lead us? I think it’s a serious threat to our democracy.

Of course what the Herald doesn’t say is media organisations like the Herald can make headlines if they are provided with hacked data.

While the Herald is not openly encouraging hacking they are trying to depict it as trivial and theft. They’re wrong on both counts.

And the Herald also doesn’t disclose that they are also the recipient of data hacked from Slater. They have a vested interest in encouraging the police to ignore this offence that is deemed serious enough to have a seven year maximum sentence.

The possible intimidating of journalists is a serious issue.

I think political hacking is also a serious issue. The playing down of hacking as minor may be in the Herald’s own interests but I don’t think their self interested stance is good for democracy at all.

Final poll results – table

All five pollsters have released their final week results, with results narrowing.

Election 2014 final poll results

Notes:

  • Polls ask “If an election was held today who would you vote for?”, they don’t try to predict election day voting.
  • It is common for movements in support late in campaigns due to tactical voting and undecideds deciding.
  • If ACT and United Future win electorates they may add more to seats than their share of vote.
  • If the Maori Party hold all three seats they will get more than their vote share. If they hold two seats they will be about proportional to their party vote according to the poll average.
  • If Conservatives don’t make the 5% threshold the other parties will increase their % share of seats.
  • If Hone Harawira loses Te Tai Tokerau Internet-Mana will not get any seats and their party vote will be ‘wasted’.
  • In 2011 National got 47.31% and with ACT and United Future seats were just able to make a majority.

Most of this polling will have occurred before Monday night’s “The Moment of Truth” meeting. NZ Herald recorded before and after results:

With 60 per cent of the poll done by Monday night, when the event happened, National was polling at 47.8 per cent, down on last week, said DigiPoll general manager Nandan Modak. From Tuesday it jumped to 49.1 per cent.

But I asked Andrew from Colmar brunton if he’d seen any change and he responded:

Was looking the whole time, even during.

Impossible to tell if any impact, with any degree of certainly.

I saw no increase for National compared to first two days, but it’s not that simple, as party support differs by day normally.

- @Unimatrix_0

Colmar Brunton explain ‘margin of error”:

The maximum sampling error is approximately ±3.1%-points at the 95% confidence level. This is the sampling error for a result around 50%. Results higher and lower than 50% have a smaller sampling error. For example, results around 10% and 5% have sampling errors of approximately ±1.9% points and ±1.4% points respectively, at the 95% confidence level.

See full final results – Final pre-election poll results

See also Coalition possibilities many and varied

Five polls – latest results

Stuff-IPSOS
September 11 (+/- from September 4)

  • National 52.8% (-1.4)
  • Labour 22.4% (-1.9)
  • Greens 13.0% (+0.1)
  • NZ First 4.4% (+0.8)
  • Conservative Party 3.6% (+1.2)
  • Internet-Mana 1.4% (+0.1)
  • Maori Party 1.0% (+0.7)
  • ACT Party 0.7% (+0.5)
  • UnitedFuture 0% (-0.1)

One News-Colmar Brunton
6-10 September 2014 (+/- from 30 August-3 September

  • National 46% (-4)
  • Labour 25% (-1)
  • Greens 14% (+3)
  • NZ First 7% (n/c)
  • Conservative Party 4% (+1)
  • Internet-Mana 1% (-1)
  • Maori Party 1% (+1)
  • ACT Party 1% (+1)
  • UnitedFuture 0% (n/c)

Rounded to nearest whole number.

NZ Herald-Digipoll
September 4-10

  • National 48.6% (-1.5)
  • Labour 24.6% (+0.8)
  • Greens 11.5% (+0.1)
  • NZ First 8.1% (+2.1)
  • Conservative Party 3.8% (no change)
  • Internet-Mana 2.3% (-1.2)
  • Maori Party 0.7% (+0.3)
  • ACT Party 0.3% (-0.1)
  • UnitedFuture 0% (-0.3)

3 News/Reid Research
September 2-8

  • National 46.7% (+0.3)
  • Labour 26.1% (+0.2)
  • Greens 13.5% (+0.4);
  • NZ First 5.9% (+0.1)
  • Conservatives 4.7% (+0.5)
  • Internet Mana 1.7% (no change)
  • Maori Party 1.3% (-0.7)
  • Act 0.3% (-0.3)
  • United Future 0.1% (no change)

Roy Morgan
August 18-31 2014

  • National 45% (-3)
  • Labour 26% (-1.5)
  • Greens 16% (+4.5)
  • Maori Party 0.5% (-0.5)
  • Act NZ 1% (+0.5%)
  • United Future 0% (-0.5)
  • NZ First 6% (-0.5)
  • Internet-Mana Party 1.0% (- 1.5)
  • Conservative Party 3.5% (+2.5)
  • Independent/ Others 1.0% (unchanged).

Rounded to nearest 0.5

Five Poll Summary

Polls are coming out thick and fast leading up to the election showing quite a bit of variability.

Here are the latest results for each party.

National

  • Roy Morgan 45% (-0.3)
  • 3 News/Reid Research 46.4% (+1.4)
  • Stuff/IPSOS 54.2% (+3.4)
  • NZ Herald/Digipoll 50.1% (-0.6)
  • One News/Colmar Brunton 50% (+2)

Labour

  • Roy Morgan 26% (-1.5)
  • 3 News/Reid Research 25.9% (-0.5)
  • Stuff/IPSOS 24.3% (-1.8)
  • NZ Herald/Digipoll 23.8% (-0.3)
  • One News/Colmar Brunton 26% (-2)

Greens

  • Roy Morgan 16% (+4.5)
  • 3 News/Reid Research 12.6% ()-0.9)
  • Stuff/IPSOS 12.9% (+1.1)
  • NZ Herald/Digipoll 11.4% (n/c)
  • One News/Colmar Brunton 11% (-1)

NZ First

  • Roy Morgan 6% (-0.5)
  • 3 News/Reid Research 5.8% (-0.5)
  • Stuff/IPSOS 3.6% (-0.4)
  • NZ Herald/Digipoll 6.0% (+1.0)
  • One News/Colmar Brunton 7% (+1)

Conservative Party

  • Roy Morgan 3.5% (+2.5)
  • 3 News/Reid Research 4.2% (-0.4)
  • Stuff/IPSOS 2.4% (-0.3)
  • NZ Herald/Digipoll 3.8% (+0.5)
  • One News/Colmar Brunton 3% (n/c)

Internet-Mana

  • Roy Morgan 1% (-1.5)
  • 3 News/Reid Research 1.7% (-0.4)
  • Stuff/IPSOS 1.3% (-0.9)
  • NZ Herald/Digipoll 3.5% (+0.1)
  • One News/Colmar Brunton 2% (n/c)

Maori Party

  • Roy Morgan 0.5% (-0.5)
  • 3 News/Reid Research 2.0 (+1.3)
  • Stuff/IPSOS 0.3% (-0.4)
  • NZ Herald/Digipoll 0.4% (-0.6)
  • One News/Colmar Brunton <0.5%

ACT Party

  • Roy Morgan 1% (+0.5)
  • 3 News/Reid Research 0.6% (+0.3)
  • Stuff/IPSOS 0.2% (-0.5)
  • NZ Herald/Digipoll 0.4% (+0.1)
  • One News/Colmar Brunton <0.5

UnitedFuture

  • Roy Morgan 0% (-0.5)
  • 3 News/Reid Research 0.1% (-0.3)
  • Stuff/IPSOS 0.1% (n/c)
  • NZ Herald/Digipoll 0.3% (+0.1)
  • One News/Colmar Brunton <0.5

Polling periods vary but are ordered oldest to latest.

Rounding:
- Roy Morgan rounds to the nearest 0.5
- One News/Colmar Brunton rounds to the nearest whole number so parties not included are <0.5%

Roy Morgan poll two weekly, the others are currently polling weekly.

Updated 5/8/14 with latest One News/Colmar poll.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three polls

There have been three polls in three days with some different movements and results showing that polls are indicative of current opinion only and can’t be taken as definitive election predictions – they ask people’s opinion if the election was held today and not how they might vote at the election.

  Stuff
IPSOS
NZ Herald
Digipoll
3 News
Reid Res.
Average
National            50.8            50.7            45.0            48.8
Labour            26.1            24.1            26.4            25.5
Greens            11.8            11.4            13.5            12.2
NZ First              4.0              5.0              6.3              5.1
Conservatives              2.7              3.3              4.6              3.5
Internet-Mana              2.2              3.4              2.1              2.6
Maori Party              0.7              1.0              0.7              0.8
ACT Party              0.7              0.3              0.3              0.4
UnitedFuture              0.1              0.2              0.4              0.2

Margins of error are about +/-3 for National but less for lower results see this table from Stats Chat:

Lower and upper ‘margin of error’ limits for a sample of size 1000 and the observed percentage, under the usual assumptions of independent sampling

Percentage lower upper
1 0.5 1.8
2 1.2 3.1
3 2.0 4.3
4 2.9 5.4
5 3.7 6.5
6 4.6 7.7
7 5.5 8.8
8 6.4 9.9
9 7.3 10.9
10 8.2 12.0
15 12.8 17.4
20 17.6 22.6
30 27.2 32.9
50 46.9 53.1

 

 

Excellent poll coverage from NZ Herald

NZ Herald (Audrey Young) poll coverage starkly contrasts with 3 News, giving clear results with good consideration of wider things like trends and polls from other sources in Digipoll: Minor parties surge as Labour sinks lower.

Summary of results:

The full party vote results compared with last week’s:

National 50.7 (up 0.7)
Labour 24.1 (down 1.1)
Greens 11.4 (down 2.3)
NZ First 5 (up 0.7)
Maori Party 1 (up 0.3)
Internet Mana 3.4 (up 1.3)
Conservatives 3.3 (up 0.7)
Act 0.3 (down 0.3)
United Future 0.2 (down 0.2)
PREFERRED PRIME MINISTER (compared with last week)
John Key 67.8 (up 3)
David Cunliffe 11.6 (down 2.8)
Winston Peters 8.2 (up 3.1)
Russel Norman 3.8 (up 0.3)

The poll of 750 eligible voters was conducted between August 21 and 27. The Party vote is of decided voters only and 7.9 per cent were undecided compared to 12.5 per cent last week.

This contrasts in some aspects with the 3 News/Reid Research poll yesterday – National, Labour down in 3 News poll  – which shows that a single poll can’t be taken as a definitive indication of an election outcome.

National are significantly higher and rising in this poll, and Labour are 2% lower and will be worried.

NZ First and Conservatives have risen but not as much, and Internet-Mana has jumped up potentially significantly.

Hacked data good, spied data bad

Few will sympathise with the exposure of the dirty agenda of Whale Oil and Cameron Slater, but there are wider implications from the illegal hacking of data used for a doubled barreled political hit job.

If it can happen to Whale Oil it could potentially happen to any blog – or newspaper.

Didn’t David Fisher at NZ Herald write against potential breaches of privacy through spy data? He seems to be less concerned about hacked data.

Minister’s staffer took part in blog.

The Herald was able to confirm the use of Mr Bryant’s ministerial computer through details obtained from an individual other than the hacker who also accessed information from Whale Oil during the Denial of Service attack.

In the file held by the Herald, hundreds of messages sent from people working on ministerial or government computers are linked to the servers and IP addresses from which they were posted. The file links those details with email addresses – including Mr Bryant’s.

That’s getting quite intrusive. I wonder how people on other blogs would feel if a media organisation or a private hacker or an unprincipled blogger were able to identify people who posted under pseudonyms.

Fisher refers to “people working on ministerial or government computers” – but Cameron Slater claims to have communicated much wider than that, including with Fisher and MPs and staff from other parties.

If this is correct Fisher is only highlighting selected illegal data, following Hager’s and the hackers’ target of just one party, National. Is Fisher going to out other politicians? Journalists? I highly doubt the latter.

Comparing GCSB surveillance to illegally hacked data is pertinent. Who would be worse to discover sensitive data, the GCSB, NZ Herald, Cameron Slater or an anonymous rogue political activist?

I presume we can’t rule out what happened to Whale Oil happening to other blogs. I’m very concerned about the precedent that this has set and where it could lead. I personally don’t care if people find out what I’ve been posting because it’s already in the open.

But others might be more uneasy. If they aren’t perhaps they should be.

The best advice for anonymous bloggers and commenters is to not post anything that you wouldn’t want made public by a hacker or newspaper.

The risks of trying to remain anonymous have been highlighted by this. While Whale Oil has been exposed and to some extent at least neutered (a good thing) the political blogosphere in New Zealand has been compromised.

It seems that the potential of the GCSB intercepting your data with a legal warrant is regarded as the pits, but hacking and outing is fair game in politics.

Hacked data good, legally intercepted data bad?

Multiple hackers?

David Fisher at NZ Herald implies that more than one person hacked Whale Oil in Minister’s staffer took part in blog.

The Herald was able to confirm the use of Mr Bryant’s ministerial computer through details obtained from an individual other than the hacker who also accessed information from Whale Oil during the Denial of Service attack.

Either there was one person who hacked Whale Oil or the person who hacked has shared the information they extracted (illegally).

And Nicky Hager claims he obtained the data that he used to write ‘Dirty Politics’ after hearing a rumour.

“I heard a rumour about someone who had some stuff,” says Hager, whose books on spies have generated contacts in IT circles.

If this is correct there must be a number of people who know about the hacking and who was involved.

If Hager “heard a rumour” and was then able to track down the hacker then journalists must surely be asking questions along the same lines to track down the hacker’s identity – if media want to do that.

Perhaps media like NZ Herald are more intent on sourcing illegally obtained data and outing the identities of people communicating with bloggers than discovering or publicising who hacked.

Dissecting the data makes good stories but legitimising political hacking sets a worrying precedent. Hacking data is like burgling data – a bit like Watergate.

I wonder how the Herald and David Fisher would feel if their communications with protected sources were hacked and outed?

Fishing for Whale data could catch a snag.

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