Wellington Scoop

Resignation or sabbatical? Scoop’s co-founder Alastair Thompson in the news

Media reports last night stated that Scoop’s co-founder and managing editor Alastair Thompson had resigned. But this morning he tweeted that the situation is “more like I am having a sabbatical.”

A report on Stuff said his resignation followed claims that he was to be the general secretary of Kim DotCom’s new Internet Party and that he had registered a domain name. Stuff quoted Scoop’s controlling shareholder, Selwyn Pellett, as saying he had not previously been aware of the extent of Thompson’s involvement with the new party till details were published yesterday on Cameron Slater’s WhaleOil blog. He said that after the blog became public, Thompson tendered his resignation.

According to Stuff, Pellett said that while he understood Thompson’s passion for internet freedom, there was a clear conflict of interest with his journalism.

The New Zealand Herald report was headlined: Editor resigns to work with Dotcom. The Herald report states:

Scoop Media confirmed this afternoon that Mr Thompson had stepped down as chief executive and editor…. Scoop Media owner Selwyn Pellett said: “We had no idea of the extent of the involvement until Cameron Slater’s blog today. We knew he was considering some involvement and the discussion was ‘you can’t do both jobs’. You can’t be an editor and be actively involved in Dotcom’s party. It is disappointing. There is no ill-feeling with Alastair. This is his passion and it is what he believes in and wants to do.”

The resignation was also reported by Radio New Zealand News, whose bulletins this morning included an interview with Selwyn Pellett.

In tweets this morning, Alastair Thompson said:

just to clarify. As you can see I have a new job, which was announced prematurely

Also to clarify. I have not left @ScoopNZ. More like I am having a sabbatical inside the business I founded 17 years ago as a client.

[This article was amended after publication to include the tweets from Alastair Thompson and the extract – below – from Gordon Campbell’s article which was published this morning.]

Gordon Campbell:

I’ve personally known Al for over 20 years, since he walked in off the street while I was acting features editor at the Listener, and handed over a piece of well-researched journalism into the noise problem at Wellington Airport. Then as now, Al seemed to be a born journalist: curious, idealistic, and impulsive enough not to second guess whether something could really be done. Al just went ahead and did it, somehow. That impulsiveness has now come with a cost. Some of the fallout from his involvement with Dotcom has been at a personal cost for Al, some of it damages Scoop’s reputation. Obviously, this incident has not been helpful to the role envisioned for Scoop by its new investors.

Gordon’s article in full is here

And here’s how the Scoop website describes the company which Alastair Thompson co-founded:

Scoop.co.nz is New Zealand’s leading news resource for news-makers and the people who influence the news (as opposed to a news site for “news consumers”). It brings together the information that is creating the news as it is released to the media, and is therefore a hub of intelligence for the professionals (not just media) that shape what we read.

Scoop.co.nz presents all the information driving the news of the day in the form it is delivered to media creating a “no spin” media environment and one that provides the full context of what is “reported” as news later in the day. Its audience has a circle of influence far greater than the number of reported readers, which averages more than 450 000 a month, and it is a key part of the New Zealand media landscape.

Established in 1999, Scoop’s three founders were Andrew McNaughton, Ian Llewellyn and Alastair Thompson.