Hyperlocal news about Melbourne's first suburb: Fitzroy 3065

just a blogger


According to Wikipedia, journalism is ‘the practice of investigation and reporting of events, issues and trends to a broad audience in a timely fashion’. The definition describes a behaviour, a process, a method. It matters not who undertakes this behaviour.

The act of engaging in journalism occurs regardless of whether individual journalists are paid to perform journalism or do it on an unpaid voluntary basis. It happens regardless of whether they are employed by corporations or organisations or work for themselves. It happens regardless of whether they have undertaken any formally recognised education or training.

In many cases, judging by the dross produced by Fairfax and News Ltd, tertiary education in journalism fails to produce professional and ethical journalists. The commercial imperative is the only important thing to commercial news companies, so if ethics gets in the way of profit it is forgotten.

Who hacked the phone of a dead girl in the UK? Professional journalists. Who routinely plagiarises social media content? Professional journalists. It’s as common in the UK as it is in Australia. News is a consistent thief whatever continent you’re on. Need I go on? Having a qualification is no measure of professionalism.

I’ve argued before that when ‘professional’ journalists employed by media corporations break the law that they stall, delay, prevaricate, lie and make excuses if they get caught. Alice Taylor similarly explains that ‘they infringe, they wriggle, they use dirty tactics, and then they settle for as little as they can get away with‘.

The current situation where state law defends the positions of media corporations against the best interests of citizens cannot be sustained. As Rebecca J. Rosen argues, ‘The age of the institutional media today looks like a flash in the pan, an aberration from the more-normal mode of citizen publishing. It’s not something we should seek to preserve artificially through laws.

But I digress. In my recent story about being banned from a cafe that does not exist, I published a photo sent to me by a reader. When I received it I emailed back and asked if I could publish it, and if she wanted a credit or not. When I didn’t get a response in a few hours I went ahead and published the photo in the post citing fair dealings, which I am legally entitled to do.

Six days later the photographer finally replied to me and complained that I had not waited for her response before publishing the photo. I explained that the timeliness of the story was crucial and I was allowed by law to publish it: ‘I have no wish to argue with you, but you’re being naive. You sent content to a journalist. What did you think was going to happen?’

She replied: ‘I didn’t realise I was sending the photo to a journalist, just a blogger.’ Sigh. How many times do I have to explain how I publish Fitzroyalty according to professional and ethical standards of journalism? Your ignorance about the nature of contemporary online journalism is not my problem…


  1. “I didn’t get a response in a few hours I went ahead and published”.
    Do you expect people to be addressing all their email every few hours? I doubt a few more hours would have made your story ‘stale’ or lose any of its news worthiness.

    • In this case the photographer was aware of the context of the content she contributed and thus had some understanding of the timeliness, so yes I considered it plausible that I could get a response in a few hours.

  2. The whole Stencil saga was talked about on ABC Brisbane radio the other day, but not in any great detail. One of the journos discussing the story characterised bloggers as ‘less rigorous’ than journos, and that pissed me off.

    And don’t even get me started on the ethics of journalists passing judgement on their own professional ethics vs those of another profession/group. I mean, come on!

  3. You’re really milking this Stencil thing for all you can. Also is that the whole conversation or edited bits?

  4. I’ve heard that Stencil isn’t opening now because they lost funding from partners after this blog went around. Can you confirm Brian? Also anything in the artists now chasing their works back?

    • How could I possibly know? Why would they share commercial in confidence information like this with me? I also have no idea if they have possession of any works. No one can confirm whether the business even exists!

  5. As the person here in question I wish to clear something up. I didn’t care what you did with the photo, I wouldn’t have sent it otherwise. All I responded was by questioning what is the point in asking someone if you can publish something if you couldn’t care less what the answer is? It was just a comment on your actions and I believe it still stands as valid. You seem to have either deliberately or conveniently missed the point.

    And is this really worthy of a blog entry?


    • If I didn’t care what the answer was I would not have asked the question about your permission. If I had received it I would have said ‘Used with permission’ under the photo instead of ‘Used under fair dealings’. I also asked if you wanted to be credited and despite several responses you have never answered that question. I respect your moral rights as the creator of the photo but if you can’t answer a simple question I cannot properly acknowledge you.

  6. LOVE !!

  7. by sending the image (and very quickly too) the reader clearly showed she was aware of the story surrounding the content that had already unfolded. having said that it would seem that she knew enough about this blog to know that you would publish it … surely it would seem that was her full intent in sending it in the first place?

  8. so, the same dude who cries about other sites using his content without permission or attribution is more than happy to do the same thing to others?

    should this post be titled “fitzroyalty is a content thief”?

    and yeah dude, you’re just a blogger.

    you’ve said yourself in previous posts you’re not a journo – why the change of heart now?

    is it because no journo worth their salt would publish sloppy research like yours (let’s refer to the Seabellies incident here, where you pulled in the story from twitter gossip and even incorrectly referred to the race of a band member before you got pulled up on it and then made corrects in THE COMMENTS section).

    whether a blogger or journalist or whatever you wish to refer yourself as, you’re still a hack of a writer.

    • Unsurprisingly, given your previous ignorant comments, everything you claim here is wrong. I have previously complained about my content being used illegally or unethically without adherence to journalistic codes of ethics. I used Jess’ content legally in an ethical manner. Your ignorance about copyright law is not my problem.

      I don’t recall declaring that I am not a journalist. Perhaps you could find that reference and prove me wrong?

  9. You still have not answered her question. Why ask if you can use something if you obviously don’t care whether she says yes or no?

    • If you bothered reading and understanding what I wrote, you would find that I did answer her question. Read my response to Jess above.

      • What are you on about? You’ve even admitted posting the article a couple of hours after asking. That is hardly waiting.
        It’s clear you don’t live by the ethics you preach. Perhaps it’s time to get that qualification.

        • Wow it’s really moron trolling time isn’t it? I didn’t legally need Jess’ permission to publish the photo she sent me. I asked her in order to credit her appropriately according to the concept of ‘moral rights’, where people have the right to be identified as the creators of their work. Some people want to remain anonymous; some want to be named. As explained, depending on Jess’ response I would have credited her according to her wishes, eg ‘photo © Jess [lastname]; used with permission’. As I did not receive a response I published the photo and correctly explained how I was using it, ie in the context of ‘fair dealings’. Learn some copyright law.

          • “…I emailed back and asked if I could publish it, and if she wanted a credit or not. When I didn’t get a response in a few hours I went ahead and published the photo in the post citing fair dealings, which I am legally entitled to do.”

            The problem here is that you are applying copyright law. Jess is relying on a commonsense approach.

            Ok, you didn’t do anything illegal. Let’s assume your understanding of copyright law is correct. But Jess is a reader who sent you material/info and it is fair for her to assume that you would ask for permission before using it, especially in light of how upset you get when other media outlets use your material without permission (yes, I know in those cases people acted in contravention to laws/codes of ethics).

            You did ask permission, but then didn’t wait for a reply? That makes no sense. THAT is where she takes issue with what you did. No one is saying you did anything illegal. They are asking you to admit that what you did could be construed as wrong. You asked a question and didn’t wait for an answer. You are entitled, legally, to do so, but are you honestly surprised this would upset someone who took that photo and sent it to you?

            It was a nice thing to do! All you had to do was say you were sorry for not waiting for her answer. Simple. She’s not even asking you to take the photo off your site!

          • I’m not sorry I didn’t wait. I would have had to wait a week. As there’s no agreed time that would be reasonable to wait, there was no reason to wait. I asked permission to determine how to describe the attribution. I then went ahead and attributed it a professional manner. End of story.

  10. I don’t think you are a real journalist at all. A real journalist would check all their facts and make sure they have the permission to use the content in which they are delivered. You could have found other ways of trying to contact her to use the photo but you chose to just go ahead and use it anyways and just pass it off like you have some kind of special rights and write an article making yourself out to be some kind of renegade jounalist because you don’t have any kind of accreditation. You are not a journelist because your articles are biased, you don’t take time to investigate a story beore posting and you make excuses as to why you should be taken as an expert when you clearly are not. The only reason you get so much traffic to your site is because you piss people off when you spout off your opinions without doing a thorough job. An opinion is just that, your opinion and when it isn’t supported by facts or ethics it just becomes the ramblings of a blogger.

    • Wrong. Professional journalists publish content without permission in breach of copyright law all the time. Your ignorance makes it impossible for you to understand that I have met the requirements of copyright law. You are therefore incapable of participating in this discussion.

      In terms of academic qualifications I have a PhD in Literature and thus have had a far more rigorous training in critical thinking, constructing logical arguments and explaining them clearly in writing than most journalists.

      The content on Fitzroyalty is a mixture of reporting and opinion. Newspapers are full of opinion-based ‘op-ed’ columns. It is a core form of news media. This site is a hobby. I don’t have time to investigate stories like full-time employed journalists.

      All media is biased. All journalists are biased, particularly those that write about all the free food and wine they receive. They get away with being so commercially biased because most media consumers like you are too naive and stupid to expect anything better or understand anything that is different.

  11. If this site is just a hobby and you don’t have time to investigate stories? You have time to write comments on all your pages, maybe if you spent more time on the stories rather than talking about it, people would take you a little more seriously.

    • Your comments demonstrates that you fundamentally fail to understand how Fitzroyalty operates and its purpose in analysing (in other words offering opinions) about life in Fitzroy.

  12. I can’t help but think none of this would have happened if you hadn’t allowed them to use the quote in their poster in the first place?

    • You don’t understand what you’re talking about. I didn’t give permission for the quote to be used and asking permission is not necessary to quote someone. The point is the quote as depicted on the poster is false and deliberately misleading.

  13. Hi Jess

    Please be aware that the fair dealing exception to which Brian refers requires that the dealing be for the purposes of, or associated with, the reporting of news in a newspaper, magazine or similar periodical of which this blog would struggle to classify.

    If you would like legal assistance in seeking an injunction to require Brian to cease publishing your photo please let me know.

    • Fitzroyalty has consistently demonstrated superior journalistic ethics to News Ltd or Fairfax and would be classified as a periodical in reference to the Copyright Act. You are merely a troll. Your email address is not published with your comment so Jess cannot contact you. Loser.

  14. I do not know whether it has been tested in law, but I would anticipate a compelling case that the Fitzroyalty blog is news. Basically because it actually is a periodical delivering hyper local news, to a local community. Brian has a lot of respect, he IS one of the Fitzroyalty.

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