Back in May, I wrote a post entitled ‘Cameron Slater – journalist?‘. Well, now, apparently, the question mark is no longer required. Justice Asher, in the High Court, has over-turned the District Court’s decision that Slater was not a journalist.
The decision doesn’t surprise me. In my original post I argued that for all the Whaleoil blog’s faults (and there are many, publicised at length in and since the release of Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics), Whaleoil was a news medium and Slater was a journalist under the very broad definition provided in s 68(5) of the Evidence Act.
The full decision has yet to be made publicly available. At the time of posting, Cameron Slater has merely released a picture of the first sentence of para 145 of the judgment, which states:
“Therefore, Mr Slater was a journalist and Whale Oil a news medium, and he could invoke the protection in s 68(1).”
What Cameron Slater doesn’t say is that he is still required by the Court to disclose his source, as there is no public interest in the source’s identity being protected. As AAP reports:
Although Whale Oil was considered journalism Slater still has to disclose his sources because the case wasn’t in the public interest, the sources weren’t whistleblowers, and the case had the mark of a “private feud”, Justice Asher said.
“Any public interest in protecting sources must be further diminished when there is evidence that a personal vendetta appears to be driving the disclosures,” he said.
I’ll post more fully once the judgment is made public.