The Dim-Post

September 12, 2014

Dirty tricks and anonymity

Filed under: media — danylmc @ 12:24 pm

This story is in the Dom-Post today:

Labour candidate Anna Lorck has apologised profusely for parking her branded vehicle in a mobility car park in Hastings.

Lorck’s SUV was seen parked in the designated car park outside the Ellwood Function Centre, where she was attending a meeting of farmers.

Lorck is the Labour candidate for Tukituki, which takes in Hastings, Havelock North and Flaxmere.

She was “genuinely very sorry” and had “absolutely no intention to park there”.

“I had no idea. It was dark and I didn’t notice the signage. I was late and I arrived just before it started. The car park was full and I saw the car park and just parked,” she said.

If someone had let her know she was in a mobility park, she would have moved.

“If I had noticed someone else parked there I’d have let them know.”

Her actions came to light this week, after The Dominion Post was shown a photograph of the incident, which happened on June 19.

I think that a candidate parking in a disabled car-park speaks to character and its okay for journalists to write a story about it. But I’m interested in that last sentence. The incident happened three months ago and now in the last eight days of the election campaign someone has shown the Dom-Post a picture of it. Who? We don’t know, and given what this campaign has been about that seems like – potentially – a way bigger deal than the original story.

Because it seems really, really, really likely that this story came from the National Party, doesn’t it? If so, why has the Dom-Post decided to grant their source anonymity? Why do political parties get to be anonymous when they’re smearing their political opponents? I mean, given that we’ve just had this HUGE scandal about political parties hiding behind source anonymity to manipulate the media and smear their enemies, it would be nice to see, like, a faint flicker of soul-searching from the media instead of more anonymously sourced smears.

36 Comments »

  1. …slaps head on keyboard…lifts head reads report on carpark scandal sinks Labour…. whacks head on monitor..everything hurts nowadays

    Comment by Cnr Joe — September 12, 2014 @ 12:31 pm

  2. I’ve fed stories to the media before. I’m aligned with a particular party, but I am no longer involved in any way so that I get any ‘insider information.’ However, due to my previous links with this particular party if anyone was to Google me they would draw the inference that I was acting for this party trying to smear our opponents: this isn’t true, I feed stuff of my own initiative. When I feed anything to the media I insist on anonymity due to the revelations in Dirty Politics: I don’t want anyone digging up stuff on me or to have death threats made against me. If there was no anonymity I would chose simply not to engage in the political process. I don’t think it’s quite as simple as you make out Danyl.

    Comment by JoshG — September 12, 2014 @ 12:36 pm

  3. Nicky Hager said he was given material involving a number of journalists and Slater, yet choose to leave them out of his book.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/10474046/Hager-avoids-shaming-journalists

    Better to not dilute the “National bad” message I suppose.

    Comment by Toomuch — September 12, 2014 @ 12:41 pm

  4. I’ve given a few stories to the media before too, and I guess because of my wife they could be linked to the Green Party. But they were public interest stories rather than smears, and I like to think that if the Greens had just been involved in this huge scandal involving anonymous smear stories against their opponents, and I rocked along to the newspaper with an anonymous smear story, they’d blink

    Comment by danylmc — September 12, 2014 @ 12:48 pm

  5. @Josh G

    Protecting anonymity is fine – often essential. That’s part of good journalism.

    Another part of good journalism is to have a functioning brain, which immediately asks “Why?”. And clearly the answer in this case is not “Because Outrage!”. If that were true, the photo would have come to light in June. Danyl has simply pointed out the obvious (unless you think the photo spent three months at the chemists, in the 19th century?).

    It’s so obvious, that we would expect even a junior reporter to know that they were being played, and – most important – CARE that they were being played. Marty Sharpe and the Dominion-Post fail on both counts. And we should ALL care about that.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — September 12, 2014 @ 12:52 pm

  6. It’s hardly an earth shattering story. I find it hard to believe that Lorck didn’t know what she was doing. The car park was full but this park right outside the main door was vacant?

    The incident did happen three months ago but I am not sure that is relevant. The Judith Collins Oravida scandal was a little dated too….again, that was beside the point. She should have known better.

    Comment by Ross — September 12, 2014 @ 1:06 pm

  7. If so, why has the Dom-Post decided to grant their source anonymity?

    What if the source isn’t aligned to the National Party? Again, that misses the point that Lorck erred. It almost sounds like you want to shoot the messenger even though you admit there is a public interest here.

    Comment by Ross — September 12, 2014 @ 1:14 pm

  8. Anna Lorck can’t take a trick. Maybe the media really do have it in for her.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11279732

    Comment by Ross — September 12, 2014 @ 1:25 pm

  9. If you really believe what you are saying then you must strongly disapprove of whoever hacked Whale Oil and passed the material along to his/her stooge Nicky Hager.
    After all the hacking took place at the beginning of the year didn’t it, but it was all kept saved up until a month or so before the election. If they had really been concerned it would all have been released immediately wouldn’t it?

    As for the candidates excuse that they didn’t realise it was a handicapped park. I don’t believe a word of it. If your eyesight is so bad that you don’t see the signs you shouldn’t be driving. You would have to be legally blind.
    Is it trivial? Of course it is but the person concerned deserves to be blamed. I rely on these parks myself as I cannot walk any distance and I also need the extra width to get out of the vehicle. People who abuse them deserve all the contempt they get.

    Comment by alwyn — September 12, 2014 @ 1:38 pm

  10. Hilarious false equivalence @alwyn.

    There’s numerous photos of National and Labour vehicles parked illegally. They’re not hard to find, with a simple google image search. This is clearly bad ‘journalism’, simple as that.

    Comment by lefty — September 12, 2014 @ 1:47 pm

  11. @alwyn really? You must know there is no comparison to be drawn

    Comment by nw — September 12, 2014 @ 2:02 pm

  12. This is news?!? A photograph taken 3 months ago! Whatever is The Dominion-Post thinking?

    Comment by BruceW — September 12, 2014 @ 2:23 pm

  13. Wait, so NOW we don’t like anonymous sources?

    Comment by rickrowling — September 12, 2014 @ 3:01 pm

  14. Regardless of the terrible standard of journalism, you’ve got to yet again give it up for the Eye of Sauron, it certainly clocked Lorck early on as someone who is always capable of a shocker.

    Comment by Ant — September 12, 2014 @ 3:22 pm

  15. The incident did happen three months ago but I am not sure that is relevant.

    Blimey Ross, it’s as though you haven’t read a word that anybody else has said.

    Let’s make it easier for you. If you saw somebody parked in a disabled parking space, would you (a) say or do something then, or (b) do nothing except take a photo, then wait for months, until you could cause maximum political damage?

    One is the action of a concerned, public-spirited citizen. The other is holding up a neon sign saying “I don’t give a shit about disabled people, but … Campaign Gotcha!”.

    It’s not when it happened. It’s when they knew it happened. OK?

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — September 12, 2014 @ 3:27 pm

  16. National MP Nathan Guy must resign immediately … we are OUTRAGED …

    OK, it was months ago, but that doesn’t matter, eh? (We can do this all day, Google has plenty more …)

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — September 12, 2014 @ 3:42 pm

  17. I like the NPR’s guidelines on this issue:

    Describe anonymous sources as clearly as you can without identifying them.

    When a decision is made to use information that we have obtained from a source that must remain anonymous, we describe in as much detail as we can (without revealing so much that we effectively identify that person) how they know this information, their motivations (if any) and any other biographical details that will help a listener or reader evaluate the source’s credibility.

    It is never enough to say “NPR has learned” something. It is not enough to report that “officials say” something, or that some detail is “reportedly” true. If it is important for listeners or readers to know, for example, what political party the source is from, we report that information. If it is important to know what agency the source is from, we report that. If it is important to know which side of an issue the source represents, we report that. We push to get as much detail as we can about how the source knows this information, and to get the source’s agreement to report as much of that detail as possible. Was she in the room when the meeting happened? Does he have a copy of the report? Did he participate in the investigation?

    http://ethics.npr.org/tag/anonymity/

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — September 12, 2014 @ 3:44 pm

  18. Sammy, you seem to agree that Labour really should have had a go at Judith Collins much sooner after her visit to Oravida in October last year.

    Comment by Ross — September 12, 2014 @ 3:48 pm

  19. Andrew, that might be useful in a different context but here the source of the photo doesn’t alter the fact that Lorck erred. It’s bit like the PM screaming that Nicky Hager is a left wing conspiracy theorist. Whether it is true or not is irrelevant.

    Comment by Ross — September 12, 2014 @ 3:52 pm

  20. “The car park was full but this park right outside the main door was vacant? ”

    it is what usually happens if everyone else hasnt parked in the disabled park – or are you saying that you dont believe it cause you wouldnt hesitate to use a disabled park even if other, further away parks were empty?

    Comment by framu — September 12, 2014 @ 3:53 pm

  21. ross @ 18 – yes yes thats wondefull – shame the topic of discussion is the timing and source of the revelation not whether an MP did or didnt do something that they have already admitted and apologised for

    Comment by framu — September 12, 2014 @ 3:56 pm

  22. …here the source of the photo doesn’t alter the fact that Lorck erred. It’s bit like the PM screaming that Nicky Hager is a left wing conspiracy theorist. Whether it is true or not is irrelevant.

    But it helps to inform the reader as to the full context of the story – not only that a candidate did a bit of a dumb thing (whoda thunk?), but also that someone held onto the evidence of that dumb thing for three months before thinking to tell the paper about it for some reason. What was that reason? What were their motives for doing so? What does that tell us about

    Now, you may say “what does it matter who they were?” Well, how can we know if it matters or not unless we’ve some information about who they were? If they were a concerned citizen who is pissed off with arrogant people who misuse mobility impaired car parks, that’s one thing. Good on them for taking an interest. But if they were, say, the campaign manager for the candidate’s opponent? Well, that’s another thing. In fact, that’s a story in itself, with a real public interest in being told. But we don’t get told it, because … anonymity. Why is that a good thing?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — September 12, 2014 @ 4:08 pm

  23. I read it, came to the June date and immediately assumed it was dirty politics and turned the page. Such a pathetically blatant attempt at gotcha politics infers the Dompost printed it (and various other papers repeated it online) for politically mischievous reasons. Or else the Dompost printed it without reading it.

    Comment by Snowdrop — September 12, 2014 @ 4:31 pm

  24. framu says

    ” an MP did or didnt do something that they have already admitted and apologised for”.

    Perhaps you will tell us WHEN the candidate (candidate, not MP by the way) made her apology.
    Was it by any chance when the paper approached her and asked if there was an innocent explanation or they were going to publish the story? In other words when she was trying to duck for cover?

    She was of course given the opportunity to explain. That is of course rather different to Nicky Hager who made his own interpretation of what was said about, not by, people in the hacked e-mails who were never given any opportunity to explain, or deny, or whatever before they were smeared.

    Comment by alwyn — September 12, 2014 @ 5:22 pm

  25. Yep, Dom Post could at least have said from a “rival political party” if a political party and preferably identify the party. As Ross says it doesn’t change the act of parking in the wrong place but it gives the reader some contextual information- “in spite of this coming from a partisan source, Anna Lorck is still a dork.” Of course this rule has to apply across the spectrum. Mostly journalists don’t supply the information for reasons of professional vanity – it does not fit with a journalist’s or a publication’s self image as a fearless seeker of truth (don’t laugh) But while it is desirable that these things happen if we applied them rigidly there is an awful lot of information that we would not see. I put it in the desirable but not essential category and I would bet the NBR rule is honoured much more in the breach…

    Comment by Tinakori — September 12, 2014 @ 6:05 pm

  26. Perhaps you will tell us WHEN the candidate (candidate, not MP by the way) made her apology.
    Was it by any chance when the paper approached her and asked if there was an innocent explanation or they were going to publish the story? In other words when she was trying to duck for cover?

    I know I’m feeding the troll here, but…

    a) A lot of places don’t have disabled parking. And if it was dark, someone was late, and you saw a spot that could have just been emptied by someone leaving, it would be easy to grab it and find out later that it was a mistake. Or maybe they just hoped to get away with it. It’s not great, but it happens and a lot of people do it, so it’s not really surprising that a few MPs are in there as well. It’s not mass corruption. It *is* a chance to raise awareness about this issue, but we all know that’s not what the article is about. At best, it’s celebrity journalism (a FAMOUSish PERSON did something), at worst it’s gotcha journalism (this MP we Don’t Like because Reasons did a Bad Thing).

    b) How, where and to whom was she supposed to apologise to, if not to the paper when approached? If she discommoded anyone on the day, hopefully she would have apologised directly if she had known about it and had the chance. Otherwise… what, she was supposed to pay for a full page ad going “mea culpa”? Assuming she noticed, AND genuinely felt bad, the rational response would be to make a note to be more careful next time and not do it again, not to run around apologising to the entire population in person. The point at which this becomes a story isn’t “MP did this once”, it should be “MP did this *again*”. (Or possible “All MPs do this”).

    Comment by Flynn — September 12, 2014 @ 7:37 pm

  27. Cool, you’ve decided to bring the twittersphere’s “[Some Of] Teh Left vs The Media” carnival to your blog.

    I agree with Tiso, that there’s been an obvious, and dispiriting, return to the status quo. (I think it was Jessica Williams who inferred, ‘don’t worry! we’ll go after them after the election!’) The Steve Gibson stuff was clearly instigated by the VRWC. He and Lorck are useless, but the point is, nationally, they’re political non-entities. So the gleeful reporting on their idiocy feels like Labour-targeted mud throwing – yet there’s been no(?) stories about the Lusk candidates (except Nash, tonight on Onesnooze) who are set to return as parliamentarians, nor about the allegations of Tolley (‘s office)’s smearing of primary school principals via WO, etc.

    The journalists demanding cookies for “saturation coverage” of the biggest political scandal in a generation, is pitiful. And their claim of ‘not biased’, is risible (Politics 101: Everyone Has An Ideology). Balance, in the context of this election, is a façade. And there is precedent for the press in taking a position – ‘Democracy under Attack’, anyone? It’s just been frustrating to realise that extent of the commercialisation of our our media means (tinfoil hat time) that certain depts. are telling them that consumers and advertisers don’t like them tarnishing Brand Key/Brand ABs, so back off, or something…

    Brendan Manning outed the source of the attempted hit job on Jenny Salesa, so there’s that, tho.

    Comment by hydey — September 12, 2014 @ 8:17 pm

  28. Will be waiting for the media story on this I guess: https://twitter.com/JPGodfreyNZ/status/510419563201048576/photo/1

    Comment by the pigman — September 13, 2014 @ 2:03 am

  29. “Lorck’s Green Party opponent in Tukituki, Chris Perley, who uses a wheelchair, did not wish to comment.”

    Comment by prgcnt — September 13, 2014 @ 4:45 am

  30. “I agree with Tiso, that there’s been an obvious, and dispiriting, return to the status quo”

    which is precisely what non-partisans ere saying from the day dirty politics was released.

    danyl, why no mention that slater and farrar had been running smears on anna since ages ago.?

    Comment by Che Tibby — September 13, 2014 @ 8:05 am

  31. Sorry, but what’s the big deal about parking in a disabled space anyway. This woman is being judged as a potential MP because she parks her car in a certain way? Give me a break.

    Comment by Dave Mann — September 13, 2014 @ 8:57 am

  32. it is what usually happens if everyone else hasnt parked in the disabled park – or are you saying that you dont believe it cause you wouldnt hesitate to use a disabled park even if other, further away parks were empty?

    I am saying I don’t believe Anna. It’s like Hekia saying I didn’t realise I was parked on yellow lines!

    Comment by Ross — September 13, 2014 @ 9:13 am

  33. “I am saying I don’t believe Anna”
    Frankly, Ross, I don’t care what you believe, you have a beam in your eye.
    In simpler words, you’re a straining gnat.

    Comment by paritutu — September 13, 2014 @ 4:41 pm

  34. Geez the dompost is such a bubblehead publication. It missed the rather more up to date pic of Hekia Parata’s car (resplendent in election livery) parked on a footpath and a no parking yellow line.

    Maybe they knew of the Parata thing and and ran a 3 month old irrelevancy as a diversion.

    Sigh! The staff of that rag really are desperate.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — September 13, 2014 @ 10:39 pm

  35. this was on kiwiblog the other day, could just have been picked up by a browsing journalist rather than explicitly handed to them.

    Comment by Andrew Llewellyn — September 14, 2014 @ 1:09 pm

  36. ross – so your saying that there were other parks free then?

    Your not even making sense mate, the explanation given was that the disabled park was the only one left and in the dark the fact that it was a disabled park was missed – which leaves only a few alternate explanations – none of which you seem capable of vocalising for some reason
    \
    and in case you missed by staggeringly obvious point – it is incredibly likely that if you turn up to a popular event late – its not that unplaussable for the only park left to be a disabled one

    and alwyn – lay off the crack mate – your talking rubbish that is somewhat off topic to the post which is about how and why this came to light

    Comment by framu — September 16, 2014 @ 1:17 pm


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