Accuracy is not an aspiration for journalists and law bloggers. It is a requirement when reporting or commenting on serious issues.
It was surprising, therefore, to read Alex Aldridge’s post in Legal Cheek where he again singled out Ashley Connick for scrutiny in a post about training contracts…
Aldridge writes: “To date, the only example I know of a student landing a job through their blog is Ashley Connick, a GDL student who, after failing in previous application rounds, built a re-vamped CV around his online writing activities – and netted a TC at a magic circle law firm. Surely, though, at a time when law firms are anxious to improve their engagement with blogging and tweeting – and bring in recruits with expertise in this area – there’ll be more Connick-style successes in the future.”
Quite apart from the fact that is unlikely a magic circle firm would offer a training contract on the basis of blogging or tweeting, Alex Aldridge appears to have got his facts wrong – and despite requests from several tweeters, including me, he has not adjusted his blog post in the light of Ashley Connick’s robust denial of this on his own blog: Getting a Training Contract by Blogging: Mission Impossible.
Ashley Connick makes the point forcibly: “And as for the journalist in question: stop writing this nonsense. You have been told countless times by numerous people, and I am telling you again. Your words are false. Your ‘spin’ is incorrect. You clearly do not understand trainee recruitment. I am flattered that you think that my blog is worthy of a training contract, but you are the only one who believes this to be the case. I am not even the best exponent of this particular medium. When you write ridiculous paragraphs like this one (the one I quote above)…”
Alex Aldridge is a journalist. He writes for The Guardian and others. A recent piece confirms this ‘status': Barrister fees spiral ever up as the economy trundles ever down.
I covered the initial singling out of Ashley Connick in September with a blog post: Postcard from The Staterooms: #Aldridgegate edition….Have you been *Aldridged*? and some other b*ll*cks and was fairly critical of Aldridge’s beheaviour. I even found a suitable quotation:
Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike.
“Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot” by Alexander Pope (1688–1744)
My question, this time, is straightforward – and addressed to Alex Aldridge - points put to Aldridge in a tweet yesterday, to which I have not had a reply: Are you contesting the accuracy of Ashley Connick’s recollection of his discussions with you and his robust denial? A second question: If not, then would it not be fair to adjust your post to reflect Connick’s denial?
It is, of course, unlikely that Ashley Connick will follow up with a “Chilling letter from Schillings”
And.. on the subject of accuracy – The Lord Chief Justice has told us that we may tweet away to our hearts content in court. Well… not quite. Journalists are allowed to tweet – but others must ask permission of the judge, an application which may be made through the court staff.
The Lord Chief Justice states in his guidance : “It is presumed that a representative of the media or a legal commentator using live, text-based communications from court does not pose a danger of interference to the proper administration of justice in the individual case. This is because the most obvious purpose of permitting the use of live, text-based communications would be to enable the media to produce fair and accurate reports of the proceedings. As such, a representative of the media or a legal commentator who wishes to use live, text-based communications from court may do so without making an application to the court.”
‘Legal commentators’ are included. Would this cover experienced lawbloggers – many of whom are practising lawyers? On a reasonable construction this would seem to be the case. The rationale behind the Lord Chief Justice ‘guidance’ is sensible as Joshua Rozenberg pointed out in The Guardian today – that journalists and legal commentators are more likely to know the rules for contempt of court and get their tweeting right.