传播媒体 | media | 미디어 道德 | ethics | 윤리학

On the Levenson report

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I have been viewing the outcomes of the Levenson Report from afar and decided to revisit my first post on all this:

In the grand scheme of things the impact wasn’t that big. Whilst the News Of The World (NoTW) closed down, the replacement paper by News International has only managed to sell roughly half the NoTW’s circulation. I suspect that this is less about outrage and more about the disappearance of a well-loved brand – I was mildly surprised by the value in the NoTW brand.

News Corporation’s resilience. What is probably most interesting about the whole debacle is the way Rupert Murdoch has used the opportunity to split the firm in two and structure News Corporation for future growth. The company has also changed its approach towards its news media properties. With the split, there is a less sentimental approach and something similar to a fast-failure model has been in play. But this has also spurred innovation:

  • Closing down The Daily
  • The Times adopting a subsidised tablet model in a clear nod to the mobile phone industry

It was interesting that News Corporation used it as such a catalyst for change, either way it’s rivals will be competing against a leaner more dynamic business. They would have been better off with the status quo.

The confluence of interests. Whilst the Levenson Report was quite measured compared to some of the sentiment expressed, there was no way that it was going to get through on all recommendations. This would have upset the eco-system too much and there would have been likely blow-back in the future for the body-politic. Who knows the exact motivations but David Cameron’s administration took things about as far as they could. If one looks at the overall stance on the media industry from the Digital Economy Bill onwards, any greater moves would have been very out of character. The established media industry still has friends in power.

More information
The News Of The World: it’s probably not the revolution that you think it is
An enquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press by the Right Honorable Lord Justice Levenson – executive summary (PDF)

道德 | ethics | 윤리학

Anatomy of a hoax

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Around about Monday lunchtime news of a spoof Shell site appeared on my network via Richard Heap’s Twitter account @richheap.

The site was eerily reminiscent of a crowdsourcing advertising stunt that General Motors had done six years ago to get a new advert for one of its large SUVs, The Chevrolet Tahoe. This was then hijacked by environmentalists, which set alarm bells off in the back of my head because this example is well known amongst the kind of people likely to be counseling Shell – a crowdsourcing site of this nature would be well supervised or just not happened as the reputational risk was too great.

Looking at the page source and and web console views (using the Firefox browser) for both and showed that they were both similar, which made me wonder why domain was not just a redirect to a shell micro-site rather than apparently different site but built exactly the same. Some nice touches for authenticity included submitted artwork like this one below, which made it look like there was an agency asleep at the wheel:
How to spot it as fake:

The definitive evidence for me was looking at the WHOIS report for the domain:

Registrant: c/o ARCTICREADY.COM P.O. Box 821650 Vancouver, WA 98682 US Registrar:

Domain Name: ARCTICREADY.COM Created on: 29-APR-12

Expires on: 29-APR-13 Last Updated on: 09-MAY-12

Administrative Contact: UIzZJb@PRIVACYPOST.COM c/o ARCTICREADY.COM P.O. Box 821650 Vancouver, WA 98682 US +1.360-449-5933

Technical Contact: KHJlKb@PRIVACYPOST.COM c/o ARCTICREADY.COM P.O. Box 821650 Vancouver, WA 98682 US +1.360-449-5933

Domain servers in listed order: A.NS.MAYFIRST.ORG B.NS.MAYFIRST.ORG

Here is the key information that the WHOIS record provides you. Firstly, the organisers who registered their domain did a reasonable amount of work to hide who they were.

The domain name used in the email address belongs to a company that provides privacy services to domain name registrars. For someone like Shell I would have expected a contact detail of sorts or maybe even the details of the agency responsible. But I’ve used privacy offerings by registrars before so this isn’t completely out of the question.

The name servers that point to where the website sites was more interesting. is a ‘politically progressive’ internet service provider. Whoever set the website up chose to use a hosting provider that wasn’t likely to buckle on first contact with the legal department of a large oil company. They aren’t the kind of provider that Shell or an agency would go to.  This is the big telltale sign.

Greenpeace then showed their hand as reports of closed Shell service stations affected by direct action started to appear on the news.


Whilst the environment is important, and the issues surrounding deep-sea drilling in the Arctic deserve greater analysis; I was concerned about the quality of the site. It was not obvious that it was fake or satire fooling many of the the great and the good in the industry.

Instead it masqueraded as a groundswell of community action – what I would have called sock puppetry. As for the site itself, I have seen apparently successful phishing attacks built with less convincing sites.

Which brings me to a larger point. I am concerned the way organisations like Greenpeace are prepared to deceive the general public through online stunts like this. Yet if an opponent used similarly deceptive tactics there would be hell to pay. In the war of public opinion the first casualty is truth, if organisations are prepared to trample on that, how much further are they prepared to go?

There is no moral high ground of conduct, no discourse, there is only the dogmatic belief of the religious extremist; and it is that dogmatism which I find so distasteful. A website like this is the first step on a slippery slope. Not one that was slide down at great speed but in salami slices over time, which is the way moral transgressions usually progress – until you reach a place you never thought you would be and don’t really understand how you got there.

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Occupy Hong Kong and the rise of social concern

Reading Time: < 1 minute

If you had seen the ragtag nature of the Occupy protests in the UK, the orderly city tents underneath the HSBC building Hong Kong looks genteel by comparison.
Occupy Hong Kong
It seems to be part of a wider social concern springing up there which manifests itself in concern about local independent shops, the power of supermarkets and the excess produce thrown away by supermarkets that could have been beneficial to the less fortunate in Hong Kong society.
More information
Hong Kong: are you a friend of the earth? Not if you shop at a supermarket – Jessie Tao’s blog