CityNew’s Ian Meikle has been kind enough to copy us in on his recent correspondence with Andrew Barr’s media adviser Paul Kinderman.
For reasons at this time unknown Mr Kinderman forwarded an example of how the Canberra Times’ John Thistleton makes sure he gets the quotes he’s after:
- From: John Thistleton [mailto: [Address redacted]]
Sent: Wednesday, 26 November 2008 2:23 PM
To: Kindermann, Paul
Subject: Prof Cox article
– following is a draft article – it will be cut down a bit. I would like to make room from a comment from Andrew Barr or Neil Savery.
As you said there are excellent examples of intensifying the city centre – any other planning developments would be welcome for the article.
If I can get a response by 2.30pm tomorrow that would be appreciated.
[Draft article follows]
Ian’s reply to this went as follows:
- from: Ian Meikle [Address redacted]
to: “Kindermann, Paul” [Address redacted]
date: Thu, Nov 27, 2008 at 10:59 AM
subject: Re: Prof Cox article
I acknowledge your desire to keep correspndence between yourself and a “Canberra Times” journalist as private as you can. More than that, on reading it, I can see precisely why you want to keep it private.
But you have done our profession a great service by letting the local media family see this this chummy email.
I’m sure any journalist exposed as cheerfully submitting his/her work before publication to a Government pr flak would be extremely embarrassed, especially coming from the city’s senior media outlet. And it would seem at odds with professional, impartial journalistic practice from a newspaper that has built the integrity of its masthead and trust of its readership on those very qualities. So why has he done it?
Mr Thistleton’s article reads extremely well and I do hope it meets your approval – and you are able to embroider your Minister’s comments into the story to meet the author’s deadline; though I am perplexed why the writer wasn’t moved to seek comment directly from the Minister and Mr Savery than burden you with the chore.
However, the email does the raise the question about journalistic ethics in Canberra and I was wondering if you would be gracious enough to clarify if this is the new Government’s method of media manipulation (no quotes unless we see the story)? Or better still, share the names of other journalists voluntarily or otherwise submitting material prior to publication for your comment with our now-inner group?
Thoughts dear readers?
UPDATED: It seems even within the Canberra Times this is not an approved procedure. The following went out last night:
- From: Peter Fray
To: [redacted – all CT journalists]
Date: Wednesday, November 26, 2008 7:03:41 PM
Subject: reporters please
Don’t send your stories to sources to be checked.
Sure, check facts with them over the phone or in person.
But do not give them the story.
This gives them the chance to edit the story, often to make it ‘softer’ or more to their point of view.
This flies in the face of your job — and the essence of journalism.