Globe and Mail runs loony screed against "hackers", Aaron Swartz, logic


36 Responses to “Globe and Mail runs loony screed against "hackers", Aaron Swartz, logic”

  1. technogeekagain says:

    Where to begin? With a calm letter to the editor, and the owner, saying “I’m sorry to have to point this out, but your story of [date] on page [n], under the headline [...], had some of its basic facts wrong, and as a result drew completely incorrect conclusions. Specifically, [...]. I trust that you will recheck these facts and publish a retraction at the soonest possible opportunity, before this damages your paper’s reputation, and that you will speak to this reporter about how to cover a story more accurately.”

    Give them something that comes across as helpful, so they don’t just get defensive about it and throw it out.

    “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

    • Ryan Brown says:

      I always thought the original title of the paper was “The Globe and Malice”…. /snark

    • dragonfrog says:

      To clarify one point:

      The Globe makes clear that when an argument has an author’s name on it, it’s just that author’s opinion, not one supported by the paper as an institution.  It regularly publishes individual bylined essays by different writers that take completely opposite views on an issue.  This is different.

      That piece is an editorial – it’s got no cited author because it was supposedly written by, and represents the opinion of, the entire editorial board.  In other words, it’s as close as a newspaper can get to an official declaration.  It was vetted by all the most senior staff at the paper.

      •  Given that this article represents the opinion of the entire editorial board then I am not at all surprised by its tone.  In my experience the farther up the managerial/corporate/bureaucratic food chain you go the less they understand how things actually work.

        I suspect that from a board’s perspective the entire organization looks like it is just a set of rules and of course any breaking of the rules should be punished.  (Unless doing so punishes them as in the case of Margaret Wente.)

        Another attitude I find common from upper management is that when there is a risk due to a system vulnerability they see pursuing legal action after a breach as roughly equivalent to just fixing the vulnerability.

        Don’t get me wrong, vulnerabilities are often very difficult to fix.  However, I think too often the focus is on punishing rather than fixing.

    • technogeekagain says:

       Next step: Send a copy of that letter to the editors of the competing papers, with a cover letter saying “Thought you’d be interested/amused that the Globe and Mail got a technology story wrong again. I trust you can do better.”

      That both helps keep the errors from propagating, and holds the G&M’s feet to the fire — if they don’t correct themselves, their competitors will correct them, which is a bigger problem.

      If you really want to nail that down, add a PS to the G&M’s letter saying you’re doing this. Put it as “in the interest of accurate reporting” — again, you want to give them a chance to save face by agreeing with you, so you don’t want to come across as adversarial unless you absolutely must.

  2. Hoyden Here says:

    The Globe has made some serious missteps recently; I would hesitate to call it “the most influential newspaper in Canada” at the moment.  I personally see it as a paper in decline. 

    • Paul Renault says:

       Hear, hear!

      I stopped buying it about a year and a half ago, after they redesigned it.  And made it very clear that I wasn’t the target audience any more.

      (Before the redesign, they reported that the Globe was the only major newspaper that hadn’t lost readership – therefore, they needed to redesign, er, because an expensive consultant (the same one all the major, declining, newspaper used) told us to.  Seriously, WTF?)

      Grope & Fail, more like it.

      • mikei says:

         Yes, I gave up on them after how they handled Obama’s win, and then hearing the new Editor’s defense thereof.  And I thought the National Post was bad.  Ugh.

        • mccrum says:

          For this neighbor to your South who barely bothers to read newspapers down here, would you care to sum up their response?

          • mikei says:

            I can’t find it online, but I believe the headline was “Divided States of America.”  Something like that.  Didn’t mention Obama, and wasn’t even the top story.

          • mikei says:

            Today their ever-brilliant columnist Margaret Wente, whose plagiarism is referenced above, has a piece called “Whatever Happened To Global Warming?”  You know, one of those “Now I’m not denying that global warming is real, but to do anything about it would be a serious mistake.”  They definitely know who their masters are down there.

          • tlwest says:

             I quite like the Globe and Mail, but its stance on Global Warming has been a long term failure.  They went through a succession of science editors, who kept quitting because they had a policy of ignoring it.

            Anyway, preparing my letter expressing my disapproval of their “adherence to the law should trump common-sense” editorial.

            The Wente scandal I’d call bad journalism rather than plagiarism, but then I’d call Al-Kabaz’s actions trying to be helpful rather than illegal access.

  3. mccrum says:

    Dear Editor,

    Sorry to hear about your DDoS. But you guys really riled up that international community.

    • Luther Blissett says:

      Site’s up, and fast. And has a moderated comment section where you could do as @boingboing-3c5f649c852dd2623fc23d6baca7660a:disqus suggested.

      • mccrum says:

        Mine was an implication that something untoward was likely to happen if they’re going to go on about persecuting hackers.  I would comment, but I don’t care about them enough to urge them to change their policy.  They want to run crazy things up their petard and I’m willing to watch them.  I like my view from here, I have a big bucket of popcorn and a really comfortable chair.

      • dragonfrog says:

        The G & M’s comments section is sadly not worth contributing to – the writers and editors clearly don’t read it, it’s often a cesspool of vile racism, misinformed spittle-flecked invective, and internet tough-guyism.

  4. Nell Anvoid says:

    Well….yet another glaring example of why the “traditional media” is sliding into oblivion as the information age changes the world too fast for it to keep up. Talk about “uninformed opinion.”

  5. Kevin Pierce says:

    Hello slippery slope:
    “the international hacking community” ►
    “cybercriminals” ►
    “terrorists” ►
    “al qaeda”

  6. Funk Daddy says:

    Haven’t seen the G&M since they went behind a paywall. They did that to drive business to other papers more deserving of a tiny subscription fee, as a favour I guess.

  7. David says:

    So the argument is that no one should look inside any box whether that box lid is open, closed, locked, unlocked, full of holes,holds trash, holds treasure, holds a small baby,etc. No one should try to learn how to make their own boxes or improve the boxes around them? Because we all know those boxes were made perfect to begin with?

  8. shaweetz says:

    I prefer to give the authors more credit for their position, which is a perfectly sensible one if you believe that such vacuous hit pieces are specifically designed to poke the beehive and drive traffic.

    The alternative is to believe that otherwise intelligent people are as dumb and uninformed as they sound.  I don’t buy it.

  9. awjt says:

    Those buffoons.

  10. Peter says:

    When did it become wrong to stop expecting newspapers to know something about the subjects they’re writing about?

  11. rocketpjs says:

    I was a subscriber to the Globe for a decade or so, mostly because it was the only paper available out West that wasn’t owned by Conrad Black.  The only other major paper outside his clutches was the Toronto Star, and I was not about to start reading that in Vancouver (since it would not be about my city).

    In the rare moments when I am desperate for something to read I still tend to favour the Globe, but less and less.   Their coverage is firmly rooted in Bay Street and the protection of old-money and power in the country.  And I am most certainly not.

    In grad school I did a multi-year comparison of the Globe, the National Post and a few minor papers looking at their depiction of climate change, Kyoto and the various political, activist and business interests involved.  The Globe came out looking fairly good in comparison to the Post as far as balanced coverage, but none of them were ever taking the issue remotely seriously.  The Post routinely mocked, while the Globe mostly just ignored.  Of course, to my knowledge only about 3-4 people ever read my thesis, and now it is well out of date anyways.

    I am not surprised at their dismissive attitude.  If you ever want to know what position the Globe will take, first figure out the interests of the Toronto Club (rich guys club in Toronto) and the Chamber of Commerce (specifically the Ontario Chamber of Commerce), then extrapolate.  If they have an interest, you will literally never be wrong in assuming the Globe will promote it.

  12. Lothario Escobar says:

    The G&M lost me a while back with their “mistakes were made” attitude towards police brutality.

  13. smut clyde says:

    “rules exist for a reason”

    Corporate profits?

  14. Ryan Lenethen says:

    It may be that this story is getting a bit spun. On slashdot there was a post from someone claiming to be from the school that knew the kids. Apparently there was a bunch that were developing an app, and were given access by administration. They then used some infiltration tools found online to get at personal information. Administration then removed access, and they hacked in anyway. Hence the expulsion. It wasn’t clear if the programmer took the fall for someone elses actions also.

    In any case I have no idea if any of that is true at all. However either it was a really big over reaction by admin, or we arn’t getting the whole story, or authors have been writing what sells.

    I know I am not convincved that we are hearing at all an unbiased story. That said, it could very well be that he was totally innocent and the school admin totally over reacted and were a bunch of jerks. I know I was outraged by it initially. Or it could be that the story was told by the student and media ran with it without any confirmation from any other sources.

  15. You know, I still think they responded this way because we pitched the story to them before we pitched it to the National Post. They responded too slowly so we moved on and they ended up missing out on one of the bigger stories of this young year.

  16. You know, I still think they responded this way because we pitched the story to them before we pitched it to the National Post. They responded too slowly so we moved on and they ended up missing out on one of the bigger stories of this young year.

  17. Don’t forget that Wobbly member Darrell Issa, who must be part of the international piracy confederation, and a sleeper agent in the Republican Party, who plans hearings on prosecutorial behavior in this case.

  18. Jim Olbey says:

    The Globe and Mail is owned by the same gaggle that own Thomson-Reuters. Of course they’re going to be in the camp of “Gotta save what’s left of the old economic model”.

  19. robertdemeester says:

    Journalists, and especially columnists, are against an open Internet because it renders their job useless. Who’s going to pay to read a columnist’s opinion when we can all read each other blogs, which are by no means stupider than their usual rant ?

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