Saturday, December 01, 2007

An Apology to Sky

This afternoon Sky sent me an embargoed press release for 10pm. Because I was speaking on Kettering this evening I wrote the piece immediately. Unfortunately instead of pressing SAVE AS DRAFT I pressed PUBLISH. I knew straight away what I had done and took it down within ten seconds. Unbeknown to me the article had immediately been sourced by Google Blogs and within a couple of hours Mike Smithson of PoliticalBetting.com had seen it and wrote about it on his blog, thereby breaking Sky's 10pm embargo. Mike didn't tell me what he had done and I didn't find out until I was half way up the M11.

I'd like to publically apologise to Sky and Adam Boulton in particular for what has happened. I had no intention of breaking the embargo at all and hope that the subsequent events did not damage what is a very good story.

45 comments:

jonathan hemlock said...

Iain:

If it's any consolation...it wasn't a particularly exciting story when it first crept out and it isn't now. Just how many people visit your blog to read stories about the LibDums, for heaven's sake?

Feel free to print this out and send it to your source at Sky News.

It may help you to stay on their Christmas card list...

Anonymous said...

If you use the technology, you must understand the technology.

As the world's Greatest and Most Expert Blogger I thought you would understand that.

You twat.

molesworth 1 said...

so when do you think you might be on sky's paper review agane... hem-hem.

Anonymous said...

bad form on behalf of mike for breaking the embargo (though of course, Sky didnt think he was worthy enough to give him the report embargoed).

Suprising, because Mikes site has far more comment on it then any other politically related blog.

Your blog might get a dozen responses to an article, on a very busy topical subject, 30 or 40, and occasionally a bit more.

Politicalbetting.com articles regularly get 300 to 400 comments per articles...

Maybe its about time, that he was included in such news briefings.

dynamite said...

Pobody's nerfect.

Anonymous said...

If you're going to go on the "rubber chicken" circuit, as well as running your blog then maybe you need to delegate the job of moderating comments to someone else.

It's just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Who cares?

ukpaul said...

Who cares?

Well, if you are betting (as we will on pb.com) and someone else has privileged information you care, as you don't want to be affected by not having access to that information. Mike was therefore right to publish.

I sincerely hope that no journalist has attempted to use such prior knowledge now and in the past. That is always a concern and betting patterns are sometimes suspect.

Matthew said...

To anonymous at 11.05 PM: What on earth is your problem?

Bad luck Iain - doesn't sound like you're making it up. Hope Sky accept your apology in good faith.

Benedict White said...

Iain, my sympathies, however Mike is right, this is price sensitive information and the prices started to move before he published it which meant those in the know were raking it in.

So bad luck, but Mike had to go with it on a political betting site.

BTW, According to my blog, Wendy Alexander is about to resign...

Morus said...

Iain,

Credit for the apology - I can absolutely see that thjis was an honest mistake, and it I hope you do not beat yourself up too much about this. If honest, I am not sure that I was ever comfortable with a limited distribution press release, especially given the impact on the betting markets, and I think the true responsibility lies with SKY.

I think Mike was free to disseminate what he found on the public internet, and has not in any way acted inappropriately. Once he was aware, it would be wrong of him, as both a punter and the operator of PB.com, to allow the 'false' market created by limited-user information.

I am not sure he even had a duty to contact you, though I can see that this has exacerbated your embarassment. Given his character, I cannot believe that he would intentionally cause you any awkwardness - it would have been motivated by a desire for openness and honesty in the betting markets - which given he put £700 on Clegg, and the advantage of knowledge he forsook, proves his probity and virtue.

I think that in future, SKY should consider the impact of restricted releases, given the likelihood of leaks (accidental or otherwise) and the ethics of this approach given the money at stake.

Yours,

MORUS

Anonymous said...

Iain, we've all done similar things. God knows, I have. I did it once, and it caused a Ministerial statement to be moved forwards by an hour or so. You'd have thought the sky (no pun) had fallen in.

fake consultant said...

pressing the send button in such circumstances has got to feel somewhat akin to sliding off the road in bad weather: you know something bad will happen, but you're not yet sure how bad it might be...and there's just no way to turn back now.

as to the number of comments you might draw: if you wrote a column suggesting gordon brown killed jesus personally after he had tasted the blood of satan you could expect to draw thousands of comments-but would the number of comments accurately reflect the quality your work?

Terry Tibbs said...

"An Apology to Sky" - You seem to be blowing alot of smoke up one big arse!!!

raincoaster said...

Mike, of course, never agreed to the embargo in the first place, so he hasn't done anything wrong, inconvenient as it may be to the others involved. That's called being a good reporter.

That said, everyone who blogs makes this mistake at one time or another, and the Internet immediately hands you your ass in a sling. It's marvelous how it always knows when to pounce. I did something similar just last week, and that post had twenty times as many hits as usual over the next 24 hours. Everyone on Stumbleupon now knows I made an ass of myself. It happens. You apologized with grace, and they also can't afford to stiff you in future, so I don't doubt you'll be okay.

PS: forgive gratuitous linkage, but Blogger/Blogspot have now altered their comments so that you can't leave a link to your blog UNLESS it's one of theirs. We've discussed a related issue in the past; now they've made it ubiquitous and mandatory.
Must stick the link in the signature or do without, and I refuse to STFU just because I want to be properly identified. Sorry.
raincoaster

Paul Walter said...

Mike Smithson did NOT break the embargo because he was not given the information on embargo terms. The information had already been published when Iain Dale pressed the "PUBLISH" button. That's what the "publish" button does, you know, Iain. It publishes it. It immediately zooms down the RSS feed and straight onto Blogsearch.google.com.

All Mike Smithson did is republish something that had already been published. The embargo was broken when the greatest living expert on blogging pressed the "publish" button.

So, we're all have a damn good laugh at Iain's expense, but we've all been there!

A tip would be either to prepare posts in Word and transfer them later to Blogger, or use a postponing email service, such as Lettermelater.com to publish the post on a timer through email to Blogger.

Wally Timpson said...

You didn't even have the good manners to link to the Sky News website. You blew their embargo and didn't send them any traffic, Expert Blogger.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11.05 pm

You are Tim Ireland and I claim my £5!

Daily Referendum said...

Sh*t happens Iain.

Keep up the good work.

Iain Dale said...

Wally< I see you are living up to your name. Have you ever tried to do a link when writing a post on a Blackberry? Thought not. Idiot. Links have now been added.

Chris Goodman said...

The importance of a comments section in blogs is that it reminds us there are sad and bitter people in the world, which helps – at least it helps me - to understand why there are political parties such as the Labour Party.

The significance of the events of the last week is not that people are shocked to discover that Labour politicians are vile, it is rather that voters are going to find it harder to delude themselves that they vote for the Labour party because they are motivated by love of truth, beauty, and justice.

To be fair some Labour voters believe that by using the power of the State to extort money from people who are more successful than themselves, some of it (once the Guardian reading bureaucracy have taken their cut) will land on their lap i.e. it is unfair to describe the thieving which the Labour party like to call social justice as simply motivated by envy, it is also motivated by greed.

I saw a television journalist earlier in the week offer a microphone to one of a phalanx of men in black, face covered like terrorists, protesting against Fascists being given a platform at the Oxford Union. They angrily pushed the reporter away – how dare they presume that they are interested in rational debate! It was obvious (at least to me) that the protest had very little to do with holocaust denial, and everything to do with venting the sort of hatreds that led to the holocaust in the first place. If they had been born in Sudan they would no doubt have been waving knives saying “Behead the white middle aged Western woman for calling a teddy bear Muhammad”.

Put in these terms having to put up with a morally corrupt Labour government every few years, is a small price to pay if it takes the wind out of the sails of people who have little to contribute except hatred of life.

Nigel Sedgwick said...

That's the trouble with data security, it's just so hard for those who don't try hard enough.

Best regards

Chuck Unsworth said...

Frankly I couldn't care less about this 'story'. It simply is of little interest to me.

Boulton has a great sense of humour, anyway. And an overinflated sense of his own importance....

Anonymous said...

Instructive to compare the way that one press of the PUBLISH key puts sensitive information irretrievably in the public domain - and therefore the need for caution and forethought - with the breezy carelessness with which the Government treats our own private data and exposes it to the public domain.

If you hold any form of investment HMRC requires your investment provider to send full details, including name, age, date of birth, NI number and the amount invested, to itself. This data must be unencrypted, because to quote HMRC's own spokesperson, in a statement which is beyond parody, any moves to encrypt it "would be a recipe for chaos".

The potential nationwide identity fraud chaos caused by loss of this data seems not to have even entered their thoughts. Their own administrative convenience is what matters to them. It is this sort of foundation on which the ID card register is proposed to be introduced.

javelin said...

We've all sent the wife an email intended for the mistress - and had to take her out for dinner.

Johnny Norfolk said...

Iain

I now see why you have slipped in the polls. You are in danger becomming mainstream media when you have to say sorry to Sky.
Sky are in the Labour camp and have supported them not as obvious as the BBC but have never exposed Labour for what they are. You are becomming to close. You should not be agreeing to their terms and conditions.Keep your indepenence it is your strength. hand in glove with other is your weakneess.

Anonymous said...

ukpaul

My heart bleeds for you and your fellow addicts on politicalbetting.com

Have you tried Gamblers Anonymous?

Iain Dale said...

Johhny Norfolk, with respect that is rubbish. I worked in the media long before I started blogging. I make no apologies for respecting embargos and I make no apology for apologising (that sounds like a Donal Rumsfeldism) to sky over my inadvertant breaking of their embargo last night. And to describe Sky as a Labour front organisation is risible.

Johnny Norfolk said...

Iain

I say again get a grip.

I did not say Sky was a front for the Labour party. If you looked at their main news page last week the Labour story was hidden lower down on their front page or not there at all, just like the Times. Now I wonder why that is. I am saying that Sky ( and the Times & Sun ) always give them the benifit of the doubt. Perhaps its to do with the owner.
I cannot understand why the Tories just dont go for it they will never have a better chance. The party has gone soft.What about only one owner per newspaper.

ukpaul said...

anonymous at 9:47

Seeing as I start with a kitty of no more than £100 in the new year and then see how much I can do with it I think that gamblers anonymous would laugh in my face if I was to go to them!

You appear to misunderstand the whole idea in any case, pb is more of a cross party blog than anything.

Mark Harrison said...

Iain,

Isn't this just a classic example of how people are MEANT to act.

You made an honest mistake. You then admitted to having made it, and said sorry.

I don't expect perfection of anyone, just effort and integrity.


As a separate matter, are you going to move your blog AWAY from Blogger as a protest that they won't let bloggers give their identities in the "identity" section unless they also happen to use blogger? (Leading to monstrosities like the signature below.)

Mark Harrison
http://markharrison.wordpress.com

Raphael said...

anonymous 9:47

Different type of gamblers on pb.com - no-one is really doing it for the thrill (which is why casino gamblers become addicted) - money is more a way of keeping score. It's more about being right than the actual betting. A lot of visitors don't even bet (tubthumpers not punters).

The quality of analysis is really very good - I have learnt a lot, and you find that when people are generally interested in putting their money where their mouth is, you tend to get fewer 'all mouth no trousers' hacks who use the comments sections of blogs as their venting holes.

Anonymous said...

Classic !!

Live by the sword, die by the sword..

But at least you have apologised...

strapworld said...

Iain,

Whilst acknowledging you worked within the media and that I believe you to be an honest individual.
Please do not insult our intelligence by saying that SKY is not a Labour loving organisation.

Boulton is a personal friend of Mendlesson and called him 'a man of integrety' I will await the outcome of the police investigation and, hopefully, a prosecution, before I can disprove that statement. SAVE that Guido does not have much good to say about him.

Boulton plays down any Labour problem. He is married to a lovely lady who I met many times and think well of. Yet at their wedding most of the labour top fliers came along! HE is very biased towards the Labour Party.

Same with the grey old fox who comes on at weekends. You know the one who gave Marr lessons on the use of hands and arms..tell me that he is not supportive of the Labour line..yesterday he was saying this 'row' will all blow over!

Then what about the woman presenter who interupted Cameron's speech on immigration with her left of centre view!

Iain. Please I think you are getting too close to these people and away from your original objective and that is, surely, getting the TRUTH out!

Sky is controlled by Murdoch who determines editorial direction.

strapworld said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wally Timpson said...

Yes, typing 'blackberry' and 'sending links' into Google is a nightmare.

Still, you're the expert and I'm an idiot.

Benny Austwick said...

An honest mistake Iain, keep up the good work.

Johnny Norfolk said...

Iain

People are not trying to 'get at you', But us out in the real world see things different to the way you are going. we are not blinded my the lights of London and the fast pace of life. But talk to and meet many ordinary folk who just want any government to do things properly. They see a media that is leaning to the left at best and turn to where they can try and get at the truth. Sometimes you can be so nears to thing that you cannot see what is going on. No one talkes to me about green issues unless it is to complain about the bins only being emptied every 2 weeks, or that they are frightend about going into hospital incase they catch something they will die of. or thay their children are getting leftie and worse education than they had. We need to be rid of Labour and not be drawn into their evil web.

Anonymous said...

Iain,

Just a couple of observations.

Firstly, I think google blog search deserves some of the blame. Surely it can be stopped from identifiyng posts if you wish?

Secondly, perhaps its worth drafting your threads in MS Word or similar and then using the cut and paste function when you are ready to publish. Archaeic perhaps but no chance of publishing anything by accident.

Tim said...

"Unbeknown to me the article had immediately been sourced by Google Blogs"

Surely any regular user of Blogger.com - even someone who isn't a self-proclaimed expert - would be aware of this facility.

Mock Turtle said...

Tim said...

"Unbeknown to me the article had immediately been sourced by Google Blogs"

Surely any regular user of Blogger.com - even someone who isn't a self-proclaimed expert - would be aware of this facility.


And we all know that it was you who called Iain a "twat" at 11.05 pm on the 1st of December...wasn't it?

You really are a bitter and twisted saddoe, aren't you? Who gives a damn what you think?

You spend your miserable life riding on the coat-tails of others like Guido and Iain.

You are just a pathetic joke who is long past his sell-by date.

The fact is that, if you didn't raise your ugly head on their blogs, nobody would bother reading the tedious dross that you publish on your grindingly boring blog.

No doubt you'll be quoting some of this in one of your usual rants against Iain and his "sock puppets."

Then again, I suspect you don't have the balls.

Tim said...

Dear Iain,

I've waited very patiently (for nearly three days, in fact) and you have not responded to my point or challenged any of the absurd claims made in the comment under the name 'mock turtle' (above).

In fact, given that the only real constant in your ever-changing comment moderation policy is (to paraphrase) "anonymous abuse will be deleted", I'm quite surprised that you didn't delete the comment made by 'mock turtle'... *and* the comment made December 01, 2007 11:05 PM that he/she claims was from me (it wasn't).

Leaving aside the absurdity of being called a sock-puppeteer by someone using sock-puppets (it's happened twice in this thread) if you have any proof at all that I'm responsible for that anonymous comment (or any others on your site), I'd love to see it. And if you don't, it would be awfully nice of you to point out when such claims are made that you have seen no proof of this, rather than letting false accusations stand.

While your website has a serious problem with sock-puppeting from all sides and anonymous sniping appears to be the accepted norm here (when it's not directed at your good self), I choose to defy your arbitrary ban on comments from me by continuing to submit comments under my own name rather than circumventing it with anonymous comments - even when you have comment moderation on. Surely this alone must tell you *something*.

Iain Dale said...

Tim, as you were directly attacked I have now allowed your comment through.

You were not alone in being attacked on this thread. See 11.05pm Dec 1. In case you are interested, it had never occurred to me that you were behind that comment. You will also note I did not delete it.

It is for you to refute the claims of Mock Turtle, not me. I am accused of similar things all the time on your blog and those of your friends.

You accusation of me using sockpuppets is ludicrous. I have a busy enough life without devoting my time to asking people to speak up for me. If I was so concerned about it surely I would have deleted all the negative comments about me on this and other threads. Or maybe I am playing a double bluff! Joke. I am not.

I saw on Tom Watson's blog the other day that you think I need to develop a thicker skin. Those in glass houses...

Now, I hope you accept that I have considered your comments and actioned appropriately. Please let's not turn this into anything else. Life really is too short.

Tim said...

Iain, you may note in my comment that I refer to the abusive content purely in terms of the only thing you have clearly/repeatedly stated in terms of your comment moderation policy... that you delete anonymous abuse.

I also brought the 11.05pm Dec 1 comment to your attention as another example of your failure to stick to this stated policy.

I did not ask you to defend me against a scary troll. My primary* objection was to this and other claims that I am behind sock-puppeting on your website when you are the person who is in the best position to state the fact that I clearly am not.

(*Another is almost an aside, but I'll spell it out for you; the absurd notion that I somehow gain the majority of my traffic by criticising you on your website. Again, you're the best person to refute this claim, as it is you who maintains a 'no links to bloggerheads.com' rule.)

"You accusation of me using sockpuppets is ludicrous."

I did not accuse you of making the 'mock turtle' comment. I did, during our phone conversation, stress how it might appear to others when you let a comment of mine through moderation and then another comment attacking me that's of the type that you claim to delete without hesitation.

As for other claims that you personally are behind some of the sock-puppets on your own website, this is a good example of how you largely bring such accusations on yourself.

You have, many times in the past, allowed obvious trolling and sock-puppeting on your website when it is in support of you, and dismissing or deleted anonymous comments (that may or may not be trolls or sock-puppets) when they are against you.

It may very well be an accident this time. I accept that. But I would respectfully suggest that if you do not have the time to moderate comments effectively and responsibly, then you should take some sensible measures to correct that problem.

Imagine just for a moment what would happen if you allowed clear-cut libel to slip through and the target was someone with the means and/or motivation to seriously take you to task over it. Imagine also that you had no way of knowing who was responsible for the libel that you were being held responsible for.

One measure you can take to avoid this and other difficulties (like those problematic moments when the sock-puppets turn on you) is to adopt the new OpenID standard introduced by Blogger.com - this allows people using a wide range of profile facilities to access to comments, and will significantly reduce the instances of identity abuse on your website.

On this final point, allow me to say that I do not mind you being popular or successful, but I strongly object to your popularising this kind of behaviour by being selectively tolerant of it and/or slack in moderating it on your website - and then citing the number of comments you receive as evidence of your success, when (a) you know that an unknown but not insignificant proportion of it is the result of a few people pretending to be many people and (b) you should know how damaging this can be in the long term.

It is a selfish and irresponsible way to behave and yes, before you start, it *is* my business and the business of every blogger and voter in this country who has to put up with the ever-increasing number of online activists who see it happening at your site and others and accept it as the norm.

Oh, and you still haven't addressed my original comment, but I'm happy to let that go if you'll take on any or all of the above and at least promise to give it serious consideration.

Carl said...

Hmmm "need a thicker skin"...

You Iain? Nooooo, not you. You don't get rattled at all.

Honest mistake, methinks. But the "I worked in the media" and "I got embargoed press release from Sky"... weren't you they guy who told me you weren't a journalist (and thus didn't need to abide by the ethics of impartial and unbiased reporting).

Unless your stint in the media was as consultant, set designer or Mail reader...

Anyway - fret not. Sky regularly likes to point out it's "first" with the news, not necessarily "correct" with the news. All you've done is be first, but with their news. They're in a glass house... you just happened to head back the stone they regularly throw.