I’m not huge fans of Cactus Kate or Whaleoil at the best of times, but this week I have had a chance to reflect on my actions and have to apologize to both of them, the blogging fraternity, Tumeke readers and Tim, the editor of Tumeke.
While I vehemently disagree with being labeled a 'blogger for rent' and will fiercely defend my opinion as my own, independent from anyone else and never up for sale, ever, my actions this week when blogging on Labtests without disclosing that I had charged their competitor DML for a guerilla interview segment where people complained about the service they had received from Labtests was just not up to the shared standards we all hold when blogging.
I wish to explain myself and apologize for something which on reflection was stupid and opened me up to the exact criticisms Cactus Kate and Whaleoil were able to level at me. You are both right, if either of you had pulled a stunt like this I’d be all over you, you were right to criticize my behavior. I wish to take this chance to apologize officially and explain my at times fuddled response, the backlash caught me by surprise because it was never my intent to misrepresent my opinion and I was taken aback by the righteous indignation.
I want to explain the time line here, because it was never my intent to deceive anyone of my opinion. I have been blogging about Labtests since 2007, my disagreement with the way they won the contract is on the record here and here. When the issue came back into the public arena, I blogged on it here.
It was after this blog I was asked by Exceltium if I would be interested in doing guerilla interviews to see how bad the Labtests transition was. I jumped at the chance.
My detractors have held up my working for a multi-national as some hypercritical refutation of all my previous criticisms of corporations. I disagree with this, I have worked for multi-nationals in the past, Channel Z, Radio Live and TV3 were all owned by the same multi-national and in a Neo-Gramscian counter hegemonic movement kinda way I have no qualms about using corporate cash to further aims I agree with and doing a guerilla campaign on Labtests whom I have argued against since 2007 seemed like a lot of fun. The idea excited me and I didn’t think through the ramifications. I charged for my time to film and left it at that, that tape was clearly identified as from DML and I was comfortable with my role in this because I agreed wholeheartedly with their aims. We in no way lied or pretended to not be from DML in the way it was presented on the News and we showed the worst examples from patients complaining about the Labtest service. I didn’t check when it was to go to air and on Monday 7th I reiterated my earlier criticisms on Labtests when I blogged about the Labtest debate on Breakfast. I did it without even thinking of the position I had just put myself in, of course I should have declared my role in the video, but I just didn’t think. Part of me thought it might not air at all, part of me just didn’t connect how it would be perceived, that was how removed I saw my role in doing the interviews and blogging my opinion on Labtests.
This wasn’t good enough and it opened me up to the very criticisms that I myself have made of others, while my opinion was always my own and it was never my intent for it to be anything other than that, by blogging without disclosure I failed my own standards and the standards we all blog by.
Perception is as critical as reality and by blogging without disclosure I fucked up, it's as simple as that. I must declare in good faith never to pull a stunt like this again without declaring any conflict of interest. It was never my intent to deceive anyone of my opinion on any issue at all but my actions can open me up to that criticism and for that I must apologize.
First let me apologize to Cactus Kate and Whaleoil. When you both challenged me on my actions I was taken aback and reacted angrily and personally, that is not acceptable and was unfair of me. You both showed an ethical certainty with your defense of transparent blogging that should be applauded, not attacked. While I maintain my opinion was never for sale, my actions demanded criticism.
I need to apologize to the wider blogging fraternity. I believe blogging is an essential counter balance to the mainstream media that many bloggers from across the political spectrum impact upon it with excellent research skills and well reasoned arguments (some of the time). As someone who has been blogging in the scene for as long as I have, I should have known better, it’s as simple as that and I apologize for not living up to our shared community’s values on this issue. I will do much better in future.
To the readers of Tumeke, I apologize for commenting without acknowledging my role in DML’s video. My opinion was at all times my own. I feel a responsibility to that continued patronage and apologize for putting it at risk, I give my word that my opinion is my own. I must also say sorry to Tim, the Editor of Tumeke.
I love blogging, I love the cut and thrust. Half the time I'm playing devil's advocate to stir, the other half I believe everything I write. I respect many in the spectrum for their tireless writings. I have not lived up to those standards in terms of transparency that I would attack in anyone else and that is an honest regret I will have to live with. Again, I charged for my time on the day and never my opinion and simply didn’t think before I started shooting my mouth off before realizing that I had painted myself into an ethical corner. I appreciate that some detractors will not accept this, and that’s something I will have to accept, for others I hope it’s a thoughtless transgression that can be forgiven.
Finally, Labtests and DML. While my opinion on Labtests hasn’t changed at all and my opinion was always my opinion, due to my actions of commenting minus disclosure, I have lost any right to blog on them until the day I die, no matter what happens from here on, That is something I will hold to as a reminder of the standards we demand.
(PLEASE NOTE: My comment "Half the time I'm playing devil's advocate to stir, the other half I believe everything I write" was in reference to the comments I made regarding Kate and Whaleoil, not a blanket statement on blogs I post)