The vibe of the thing. Chris Graham is no stranger to legal tussles over his journalism, but this Tuesday was the first time he has had to represent himself in court.

The New Matilda editor and publisher didn’t manage to organise legal representation in time for an injunction hearing brought by suspended University of Sydney Professor Barry Spurr’s lawyer, so he trundled off to court alone.

“I made one legal argument which I think the court accepted, which is that a tort of privacy didn’t exist,” he said. Luckily, the court didn’t ask Graham to expand on that.

“When I sat down, I didn’t know where to sit,” Graham said. “Then the other side began providing me with copies of documents, which just kept coming. I had this huge stack of documents under my arm — they woudn’t fit in my bag. But everyone involved, even the other side, was very gentle with me. I remain very grateful they didn’t seek to exploit my clear ignorance.”

After news of Graham’s lone defence was reported Tuesday night, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance got in touch Wednesday morning and offered to put him in touch with some lawyers. Law firm Banki Haddock Fiora is currently acting pro bono on the case. “It’s very generous of them and we’re very grateful,” Graham said.

He doesn’t plan on repeating the experience. “While I don’t think I contributed very much to the legal academy, I think I contributed a great deal in terms of entertainment.

“But at least I didn’t quote ‘the vibe of the thing’.” — Myriam Robin

Journo lunches. Press Council chairman Julian Disney is to address the Press Club in Canberra in just under a fortnight. Crikey understands Disney has yet to finish writing his speech, but according to the Press Council website, it’ll focus on the dangers online journalism can pose to standards. “Declining strength and diversity within the mainstream print media in Australia has made it especially important that the benefits of digital media are maximised and the dangers minimised,” as the preview states.

It will be the Australian media’s first chance to ask Disney some tough questions in an open forum after he was the subject of a News Corp campaign, targeting what many of the company’s editorial team view as the activist way he’s moulded the Press Council to be more interventionist. The Press Council and the media industry have always had a somewhat tense relationship in Australia, so it should be an interesting lunch.

Meanwhile, in other lunch news, a bunch of journalists were last week invited to the Melbourne Press Club’s Cup Lunch, but by yesterday afternoon, the lunch had been cancelled! A pity, because Victorian journalists (Crikey bunker included) often have to work on Melbourne Cup Day and we’re sure could use a little entertainment that day. The cancellation came via the club’s Facebook page yesterday afternoon. Crikey contacted the club to find out their reasons for cancelling and they replied their “reasons are confidential” and they had no further comment. Perhaps there were problems with the catering? — Myriam Robin and Tom Heath 

Video of the day. “If we want to have a free nation there’s give and there’s bend. If you see something say something, but beyond that don’t freak out when it happens.” (Pro tip: If you’ve never watched Shep Smith before you could have an enjoyable day ahead of you, YouTubing his best rants. Just saying … )

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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