Jersey Spud & Dylan
Of course there are some people who will believe what they read on the web and some who, as a matter of course, choose to believe nothing they read in the newspapers. That’s just a statement of the obvious.
But I’d bet you the average purchaser of the JEP, older Jersey people for example, do not look at its letters page and think “right – half of those letters are made-up and fake.” For sure people will have a broader scepticism when it comes to the content of news stories – but most people will imagine the letters The Rag prints to be genuine.
As far as the believability and reliability of stuff on the web is concerned – without exaggeration 99% of the many people I know will read sites – especially political ones – and doubly especially the readers’ comments section – and view them with healthy scepticism. There is an expectation that a lot of web content will be dodgy. Just as there is a general expectation that letters published in The Rag are real.
As far as my own blog is concerned – I cannot vouch for the validity or reality of my readers, or for what they say in the comments. I receive a great deal of comments many of which are just wild assertions which do not tie-in with other, corroborative evidence know to me. So I do try to weed-out such comments; just as I weed-out simple abuse, racism, homophobia, trollings and the occasional crack-pot who believes the world’s rulers to be giant, shape-shifting space alien lizards – or something like that.
So as far as my readers comments are concerned, I do try to exercise a degree of ‘quality-control’ – but I accept fully the fact that the decisions as to what gets posted are, ultimately, a judgment-call on my part. And I’ve never claimed otherwise. But as I feel it’s important that people have a site they can comment to in complete anonymity – without having to register – along with that liberal approach comes, of course, the risk that a commenter may be making multiple comments and manufacturing a dialogue. Like I said – it’s a judgment call.
But – to address the question put asked by Dylan – I say this:
Unequivocally - everything I write on my blog – either as a substantive post or as comments - I know, or strongly believe to be true. I have never knowingly written falsehoods.
Indeed, the more robust posts and comments from me – which name and shame people from time-to-time – are very strongly evidenced.
I mean, just have a read of my blog archive. I have written a vast number of very serious things which – if untrue – would be defamatory. Yet, since beginning the blog in January – I have not received so much as a single legal letter or e-mail threatening me with defamation actions. This is because all such would-be claimants know perfectly well I’d plead justification, public–interest and fair comment – and would adduce a raft of witnessed and material evidence. So I guess what I’m writing must be pretty accurate.
It’s true that a coupled of the individuals I’ve criticised – one wealthy businessman, for example – is saving-up an attempted defamation action against me (so my moles inform me) until a couple of months before my term of Office expires. He figures that to launch his legal action – naturally with the enthusiastic support and spin of The Rag – would be damaging to me electorally. There are two fatal flaws in his strategy: (a) I’m not seeking re-election, and (b) – he wouldn’t win the legal action anyway. As far as (b) is concerned – he knows that – but winning isn’t the purpose – the sole function of the legal action would be as a PR attack on me for a few months – in the hope I wouldn’t get back in.
So whilst I wouldn’t claim any kind of infallibility – the stuff written by me on my blog is true on the available evidence, witness accounts, whistle-blower and survivor testimony.
I also never, ever use pseudonyms on any site on the web. Every post or comment I’ve ever made has been done openly, under my own name.
Which is a damn site better than can be said of The Rag and it’s letters’ page.