July 17, 2009 | Graham

Nothing but due process and due diligence here Lee

Taking the combination of Lee Rhiannon’s answers and non-answers together, I
think I am entitled to infer bad faith on her part.

Here we have an author who has been published 13 times by us and only once
rejected, yet when she has a concern of political bias, particularly with me,
raises it first not with us, but with another media organisation without making
any attempt to contact me.

Here we have an author who misrepresents what an editor has said to her, even
though she must know that there are emails in existence which disprove her

Here we have an author who claims to be good at research yet appears to be
unable to understand a simple company structure and then seriously misrepresents
the background of two board members.

Here we have an author who accepts the right of some media organisations to
reject her work, but not others.

In fact, the whole episode appears to have been an exercise from the start in
gratuitously trying to involve Lucy Turnbull in her husband’s affairs. Whether
we had published the article or not, Lucy seems bound to have been pulled into
the field of play.

So let’s start at the top. There was no political interference in On Line
Opinion’s decision not to publish Lee’s article. Neither Lucy Turnbull nor Kathy
Sullivan was consulted. They are members of our Editorial Advisory Board. It is
a strategic body only. Its members are far too busy to run day to day issues
past them of whether or not to publish specific articles.

The full list of the membership is


  1. As this article is about On Line opinion’s supposed integrity the following relates to the editor’s approach to businesses using On Line Opinion for “business networking”
    I had an email conversation with Graham Young about a comment on article that was nothing more than a plug for a business. It seemed to me that commercial spam-like comments ought not be allowed but Graham Young disagreed. His Liberal Party connection may explain this laxity – let a thousand businesses bloom and all that – but I still believe it devalues the site.
    Below is a copy of our conversation. I don’t consider releasing the conversation has any privacy concerns and it has a public benefit in showing On Line Opinion’s relationship with private business and how he considers it okay for companies to use the site for “business networking”. This is the original ‘spam comment’ that provoked my complaint:
    I think Self-funded retiree’s should take advantage of the fantastic tax concessions that John Howard brought in for Over 60 year olds with super.
    Basically any money in a self-funded retiree’s superannuation fund will not be taxed.
    If they have more than $250,000 to invest into a superfund they can start a Self-managed superannuation fund which has low fixed rate fees.
    They can make all the investment decisions themselves and not risk their money with highly paid fund managers whose perfermance has not be great lately.
    Weem Financial Services allows self-funded retirees to set up their Self-managed superannuation fund online at [web address] and provides advice for self-funded retirees who would like to run their own Self-managed fund.
    Posted by weem, Thursday, 28 May 2009 11:27:51 AM
    Graham Young’s response to my complaint:
    Thanks David,
    Thanks for your email.
    I don’t agree that it is spam, but I think it is just on the right side of
    spam. We get a number of people attempting to post comment spam, and it is
    generally much more blatant than this. I’ve warned the commenter that it is
    running close to the line. If they push their business too blatantly I will
    act, but it will take more than the one post.
    This post adds little or nothing to the debate and its sole purpose is to push a commercial service. I’m surprised and disappointed that you do not see it as unambiguously requiring deletion.
    If you want to maintain your sites integrity then any post that pushes that users own commercial interests should be quickly deleted.
    David Sanderson
    I think the integrity of the site is pretty good David. As I said, if they pursue a course of just pushing their commercial interest and nothing else then I will do something. But if they are going to be involved in the debate and push their commercial interests as a conseqence, that is an entirely different matter.
    Dear Graham,
    What does that post add to the debate? Does any part of it go beyond being a sales pitch?
    It engages. I’m not going to get into discussing the merits of various posts. You will probably find my view is that most of them don’t add anything to the debate, but I’m not going to delete posts on that basis.
    Dear Graham,
    Look really, the rule should be that if they cannot “add to the debate” without doing a sales pitch for their product then they should not post a contribution. In virtually all circumstances that rule would not be an impediment at all to posting views .
    It is a simple and reasonable rule and if you are not prepared to enforce it then you will put at risk Online Opinion’s reputation.
    I have read what you’ve said David, but I disagree.
    Graham again:
    Further to our previous correspondence David, this is an example of spam that someone tried to submit just now. There are a lot of differences between this and the entry we’ve been arguing about.
    “Hey guys
    Just came across this site which i thought i should tell you about. [web address] allows you to get personal information on people you may be looking for – e.g. name, address. It works like an online phonebook. Gave me free $5 credit when i joined up too. check it.
    ev x”
    Dear Graham,
    I was technically incorrect to describe the post as spam as the wording was individually crafted. However, the commercial intent was no different from the spam quoted in your email – it was just better and more grammatically expressed.
    I remain puzzled as to why you are content to have your forums exploited for commercial purposes. I am certain that it will degrade their standing with readers.
    The forums are exploited for all sorts of purposes. I have no problem with someone networking and at the same time drawing attention to their business. If they do it in an offensive way they’ll lose business. I get a lot of my business just by being around. I’m a walking advertisement. Anyway, I’ve made a decision and I can’t afford the time to keep defending it, so I’m going to unilaterally close the discussion now. Hope that doesn’t offend you, but I don’t think either of us is convincing the other.

    Comment by David Sanderson — July 17, 2009 @ 4:37 pm

  2. There’s always at least one. So David’s complaint is that I allowed someone to post a comment on topic which might have given them some commercial income so that that legitimises him posting completely off topic to bring this to people’s attention. And he has a problem with me having been a member of the Liberal Party.
    Speaks for itself.

    Comment by Graham Young — July 18, 2009 @ 12:57 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.