18 Jul. 2007

Here's My Problem With Tim Dunlop

An old friend of mine once characterised a work colleague as being "far too hail-fellow-well-met sort of thing". At the time it hardly sounded like a criticism, but over the years I have come to understand exactly what she meant.

It's now over a week since Tim Dunlop's anti-editorial blog post at Teh Oz got spiked by Rupert's News Ltd elite, and he still has not come through on his repeated promises to follow up with more details of the incident. Nor has the offending post been reinstated.

Dunlop told Crikey on Tuesday that he was hoping to post an explanation at News Ltd on Wednesday morning:
Dunlop had nothing to say in reply to questions such as "Will you still be blogging for News Limited?" and "Have you discovered the limits of News Limited tolerance?"

This morning there was no post from Dunlop on the affair, although he is blogging on other matters. He told Crikey he expected to talk to the editor of news.com.au later today, and to watch the Blogocracy space.
Two days later, and still nothing. Surprised? You probably shouldn't be.

I think Tim is prepared to tolerate such censorship, because he shares the same blinkered mindset as Rupert Murdoch's men when it comes to open and honest debate. Let me explain, and provide a bit of potted history.

Tim first deleted a comment of mine when I suggested that a particularly annoying troll at Road To Surfdom might be getting paid to disrupt debate. Tim said the comment was out of line and the whole idea was preposterous. Well, guess what? I was right! Turns out there really are paid-for-comment trolls on the blogosphere:
For this campaign season, it looks like someone is offering the services of trolls and sock puppets for hire.
Ironically, Tim this week links to that very same story at his News Ltd blog (without further comment).

I stopped posting at RTS for a while after that little incident, but drifted back (mostly out of frustration at the lack of comparable alternatives in Ozblogistan). Then came the Darryl Mason incident.

When Tim moved "inside the tent" at News Ltd, he asked regular commentators at RTS to post stories. Darryl wrote an angry post, satirically suggesting someone should shoot John Howard. It was obvious that Darryl's post was not a serious incitement to violence. But Tim Dunlop spiked the post anyway, and banned Darryl from further contributions. His main stated concern was that Andrew Bolt might use such prose to attack Tim.

I launched a short-lived protest on behalf of Darryl, who took it on the chin (and has since continued his prolific good work at his own blogs). Dunlop's response was basically "It's my blog, I can do what I like." There were murmurs of discontent from his regulars, but everybody soon moved on. I decided (again) to stop visiting.

Now consider Tim's initial response when he got back to work after his own blog post was spiked at News last week:
Yep, the editor here pulled a post yesterday, which I ain’t happy about, though of course, in the greater scheme of things editors pulling copy is hardly unusual. Nonetheless, it is something we are discussing. In the meantime, let’s just go John Howard and his new aircraft wallpaper, shall we?
You see? Nothing to see here, folks. Happens all the time.

Well, actually, such nonsense does seem to happen a fair bit at Tim's blogs.

It's worth noting, too, that my latest comments on this sorry saga have not been appearing at either Blogocracy or Road To Surfdom. It seems I am banned. As usual, there is no explanation. Tim Dunlop simply does not tolerate criticism.

So there you go. It's his blog, and he can do what he likes. It's Rupert's media organisation, and he can do what he likes. Everyone happy with that?