Crikey’s take on leaks to The Australian

July 19, 2007

Unfortunately we can’t see the story that this item from the Crikey newsletter refers to. It has been removed from The Australian’s website, but as Margaret Simons notes, it’s a disturbing development in police-media relations when this type of deal appears to be the norm.

There’s no doubt that security services worldwide like to cultivate tame journos and editors and there’s no doubt about where The Australian stands on international terrorism. Is there an interesting convergence of interests here?

In Richard Flanagan’s novel, The UnkownCover of The Unknown Terrorist Terrorist, this scenario is played out
in a fictional way, but hey…truth is stranger, so they say.

Top Stories

1. The Oz, the AFP and the Haneef leak: What is going on?

Margaret Simons writes:

What’s going on with the editor of The Australian, Chris Mitchell, and the Australian Federal Police?

Commissioner Mick Keelty was on AM this morning claiming that Mitchell had assured him that the AFP was not the source of the extraordinary leak of the record of interview with Dr Mohamed Haneef. Keelty pointed the finger firmly at Haneef’s defence team as the source, although Haneef’s lawyer flatly denied it.

What is Mitchell doing entering into this conversation with Keelty, given that almost any discussion of sources is dangerous for journalists, since it necessarily narrows the field of suspects?

Read the rest of this entry »

When you’re too close to the story

July 5, 2007

Here’s an ethical dilemma for you. Your boyfriend leaves his wife and you have to cover the story for local TV news. How do you react?

“A hypothetical?” you ask.
“No a real case study,” I respond.

Here’s how it was covered by Bob Steele at the Poynter Institute (you can read the full account, plus links from here:

As the Times story recounts, “On June 8, Salinas opened Telemundo’s newscast with a report about Villaraigosa confirming that he and his wife were separating. ‘The rumors were true,’ Salinas said in Spanish. ‘Mayor Villaraigosa confirmed today that he is separating from his wife, Corina, after more than 20 years of marriage.'”

It’s important to note that the Daily News story quotes a Telemundo spokesman as saying Salinas “moved off the political beat, which includes coverage of the mayor, about 11 months ago.”

What’s not clear, of course, is when Salinas started her personal relationship with the mayor and whether it was going on while she was covering him as a journalist. If that was the case, there are serious concerns to be raised about her ethics and those of her station’s news managers if they were aware of the intersection of professional and personal connections.

“Ouch,” we’ve seen this before. It’s not what I’d call a healthy “life-work balance”.