Saturday, March 01, 2008

A question of credibility (Updated 3/25/08)

Over time many readers have left comments on this blog and for the most part i'm inclined to publish any comments that are germane to the posts here. With that said, there are a variety of reasons that i sometimes don't post comments - there are people who leave the same comment multiple times or leave inappropriate comments. In addition, i sometimes read a comment and come to the conclusion that the author is not genuinely who they say they are or are in some other way trying to interfere with what i hope is genuine feedback from other readers. These post are a very small percentage, but my fear is that if i start letting these kind of comments through, they will proliferate and readers will get an unrealistic view of things.
As an example, many months ago someone left a comment saying something like "hey dan, i remember trying to tell you about how great McKenzie Scott was - what happened? why didn't you follow up." Whether this was really Brian (or whatever his name really was) or some jokster or someone else trying to stir up trouble, i'll never know. But, i certainly felt that the commenter was neither genuine providing any help to readers of this blog.
Another time there was a comment that said something like "you guys are all jerks. ITS is great." Hmmm... wonder who left that?
I'm happy to say that the vast majority of readers who leave comments are civil and seem to be genuinely interested in the topics on this blog. For the others, the trolls out there, go find something else to do.
(more to come on this topic...)

Update: Looks like they're sending in the lawyers. That's one way to deal with an image problem (cheaper than providing a good product i suppose...) See this post for the latest.

Update 2: Here's another comment that i didn't publish (at least as a comment) - from Anonymous. The main reason is that it really doesn't contribute to the article that it was attached to (it was one layman's interpretation of the law). But in addition to all that, it was (as i understand it) pretty off base - something i thought worthy of comment.

Having been a journalist for years, I can tell you that the best defense against defamation charges is, indeed, truth, EXCEPT when the intent is to cause harm (malice).

If you are NOT posting EVERY positive comment about this firm that you have received, you are, indeed, liable. That will prove an unbalanced story which will substantiate their claim.

Plus, any connections you have to any of their competitors will be daylighted during a suit as well, in which case you stand to lose a lot.

Note to self: will be interesting to see if this gets posted...
Breaking it down...
Having been a journalist for years, I can tell you that the best defense against defamation charges is
The first obvious comment: you're a journalist, not a lawyer. And while journalists are no doubt worried about libel, i'm sure they consult a lawyer for the finer points. So, i could listen to what you say, or what multiple lawyers (and every law book & article that I've ever read) say...
...the best defense against defamation charges is, indeed, truth, EXCEPT when the intent is to cause harm (malice)
Not so. Even with malice intended, the truth is (virtually) an absolute defense in the United States. (So maybe there's an issue if this gets into a British court.) In the event that fails, I'd expect that the "public interest" defense applies to everything written here with regard to these companies. The closest i could get any legal authority to conjecture is that there might be some arcane state law that under some bizarre set of circumstances where something was perhaps technically true it was used in a way that was grossly and deliberately misleading might allow a libel case to proceed. But even so, i can't find any case examples (any LAWYERS out there got better info for those of us who are curious?)
"If you are NOT posting EVERY positive comment about this firm that you have received, you are, indeed, liable."
Oh yeah sure. I'd love to see case law on this! Being generous, I'll assume that the author's employers were simply litigaphobic (that should be a word) and gave some sort of bizarre guidance to their staff. Besides the obvious use of legal sources who call BS on this, these kind of statements also fail the basic smell-test - if this were true, you could be sued simply for not publishing a comment on a blog. Or more obviously, a newspaper could be sued for not publishing every single letter-to-the-editor.
That will prove an unbalanced story which will substantiate their claim.
Ah yes - the First Amendment's guarantee of a free press is all about making sure that the press writes every story with "balance" on every topic they address. The fact that this is written by a self proclaimed journalist is even scarier. I'd feel a lot better about the state of journalism if it's practitioners were less focused on reporting everything as a balance between two equal points of view ("some people think shit is bad to eat, but others disagree - today will look at both sides") and more focused on reporting the truth! ("shit tastes like... SHIT!")
"Plus, any connections you have to any of their competitors will be daylighted during a suit as well, in which case you stand to lose a lot."
Not that this is relevant at all, but i certainly have no connection with any of these scam artists. On the other hand, if there are good recruiters, placement firms, resume writers, etc. out there, i am happy to help them out!
Note to self: will be interesting to see if this gets posted...

Well, perhaps not posted in the way you expected, so i hope I didn't disappoint you...

1 comment:

joltin said...

Hi Dan,

Regarding your blog about ITS and in particular the comment from a "journalist" lamenting your biased coverage. I'm sure you've thought about this before, but:

1) don't you find it interesting that this comment clearly comes from someone
a) claiming to have a journalistic background and
b) who clearly has at least a cursory knowledge of legalese? (a somewhat unusual combination)

2) the Real Estate Attorney who you've been working with for ITS (Mark) also claims to have been a journalist in his Bio? A quote from his bio: "Mr. Honhart was a newspaper reporter and editor, with experience reporting on international business in China."

GEEZ! Wonder how these legal Einsteins spell BLOODSUCKING IDIOTS!