Guilt Parade

Posted: November 29, 2012 in HSU Saga, Media

Regular readers here would be all too familiar with the propaganda printed in the Herald Sun on the 22nd May 2012, in response to Craig Thomson’s address to the parliament.

Those who are unaware of what was in the article will surely remember the front page, pictured below.

I have always held the belief, and widely shared it, that this article is nothing more than right-wing propaganda. This is not the sort of article that belongs on the front of a major newspaper, and it is not the sort of opinion that a company like News Ltd, who controls a massive chunk of Australia’s media, should be printing portrayed as fact.

This shocking article was a clear example of what a witch hunt looks like, and a text-book case of trial by media. Complete with a trial by a readers jury, and a “Reader Verdict” of guilty this was an example of journalism gone off the rails.

When you read things such as:

“We asked our own jury if they believed Craig Thomson’s claims”

I fail to see how anybody could see this as anything other than trial by media.

Those in the media world who believed in the concepts of “innocent until proven guilty” and “balanced debate” were few and far between.

Interestingly, it was the online independent media that decided it may be an idea to look at the facts, and investigate the claims before jumping to rash conclusions. Among the first of those was The Hoopla with the “A Dingo Took My MP” piece, while other online publications such as Independent Australia delved deeper into the facts surrounding the case with their ongoing “Jacksonville” series of articles, named after the self-proclaimed “whistleblower” and “Joan Of Arc” type character with an apparent ego bigger then Ben Hur, Kathy Jackson

This is the type of reporting that highlights our need for an industry watchdog with some real teeth.

Thankfully though, the public reacted strongly, deciding that they were not going to be a part of any stacked “reader jury” and flooding the industry watchdog, many refer to as a “toothless tiger” with complaints.

Yesterday the Australian Press Council released its adjudication after investigating the complaints from the public. The full adjudication can be found here, however it details how the related articles in the Herald Sun were anything but fair and balanced, and were extremely prejudicial.

When the Australian Press Council states thing like those below, you know there are serious issues.

“The Council has concluded, however, that the overall impact of the front page and page 7 was highly unfair to Mr Thomson by seeking to convey too close an analogy with a courtroom conviction on criminal charges”


“Publications should take reasonable steps to ensure reports are accurate, fair and balanced.”

 The Australian Press Council is made up of 23 representatives, 9 of which are from the mainstream media, and the Council itself is funded by the mainstream media such as News Ltd and Fairfax. So when a collection of peers that are funded partially by the publisher of the articles being looked at say that the articles are irresponsible, you would hope for more than just a small article printed in the original publication, I thought a front page apology would have been more appropriate.

This adjudication is like the Melbourne Storm saying another teams breach of the salary cap is taking the piss, or Gina Rinehart saying people need to build businesses for themselves rather than rely on others, jeez, this is like Tony Abbott calling someone else sexist.

These articles, now deemed irresponsible, set the tone for the whole debate on this subject.

Not only that, much of Craigs speech holds water now.

Trial by media? I hope Craig Thomson has a good defamation lawyer.

  1. Dave says:

    Funny, with all the crap that has gone on with Craig Thomson, The AWU “slush fund” etc.etc. there is little reporting in MSM about the Jackson saga, and her relationship to FWA, Abbott etc.

  2. mick says:

    Agreed. Retractions should be as prominent as the original article. Can’t imagine that ever happening with these self-regulating phonies. Be interesting to see if the tobacco companies weasel out of their US apologies.

  3. DP says:

    The most humiliating – for the paper – front page I have ever witness. It says more about the paper, the journo’s and the editors than it does Craig Thomson . I thank god I’m better than that and would never be so low as to even want to read/buy a newspaper with journalism like this.

  4. Catching up says:

    Where are the headlines, saying the Kathy camp rejected by union members. It is surely worth the front page.

  5. Robert says:

    While the Australian Press Council has found “that the overall impact of the front page and page 7 was highly unfair to Mr Thomson ” its other findings –
    “The Australian Press Council considers that detailed and forthright description and analysis of the issues in this case was not only acceptable but a matter of considerable public importance” are staggeringly incompetent and prejudiced.
    What is the PENALTY against this newspaper and its owners ??.
    Just goes to show what a useless and biased bunch of hypocrites make up the Australian Press Council. It is simply a STOOGE to deflect critical review and oversight of these incompetent and biased media organisations.

  6. dafid1 says:

    The Australian Press Council can be likened to the Police investigating their own, or the Army. It is pathetic. The Herald Sun is a serial offender. The one consolation is, Mr Thomson has enough grounds to sue the bastards for enough to allow him to be a full time bank. My information is, lawyers are lining up to defend him. If I was the MSM or some members of the Opposition I would be checking with my bank manager about 2nd or 3rd mortgages.

  7. StJohnSmythe says:

    Sadly nothing will change, and the papers just move onto the next big thing when stories amount to duck eggs, a la AWU Scandal, or MP washes coloured socks with whites scandal. It seems that any beat up will do as long as the paper is in with a chance of being the one that “brings down the government.” Hopefully things will improve after the next election, but I shant hold my breath.

  8. sue says:

    I read a tweet that McLiarmont was won a walkley. I didn’t read what it is for, but could the Press Council be called in if it is for one of her Thomson stories, (sorry her ThomPson stories)?

  9. Matt says:

    McClymonts peers have seen fit to award her a Walkley in print journalism for the ”Thomson: New credit card claims” story.

  10. Kate McClymont wins the Walkley Award for her ThomPson credit card voucher story.
    Outrageous? Absolutely. Can you complain about it? Not while the media commentators are cheerfully saying there is no evidence of corruption on behalf of Julia Gillard and the AWU.

    If you want an honest media then you have to take the rough with the smooth. If you want the media to protect Julia Gillard you have to throw them a Craig Thomson.

    • dafid1 says:

      Don’t follow the reasoning of “If you want the media to protect Julia Gillard you have to throw them a Craig Thomson.” Why would the Govt or any sane fair minded person throw the media an utterly bullshit load of rubbish as happened with Craig Thomson?
      The MSM is in a big enough corrupt mess now, without encouraging them.
      Already the social media and fine ‘honest’ outlets of the 5th estate, Wixxyleaks and Independent Australia for example, is making a huge impression on the once dominant old style, ‘look at us’ media.
      Give MSM nothing but honesty, let those and their staff, whose numbers and profits are declining by the day, wallow in the slime they have decided to exist in.

    • Matt says:

      Really littlegrey, there is something you know that the rest of the world doesn’t?

      All the time and money that has been spent investigating this issue, and there has not been one substantiated allegation of corruption or criminal activity. But apparently you know better than the people actually investigating it?

      I guess it is easy(though not excusable) to get sucked in when a paper can get away with devoting the first 3-4 pages to defaming you, provided they hide a tiny weeny apology to you somewhere in the back of the next issue.

      This has been said a lot lately, but you need to put up or shut up. Honestly, this is the most boring fishing expedition I can remember. Reading articles devoted to it could replace counting sheep. Talk about grasping at straws.

    • Matt says:

      also grey, your closing comment is simply ludicrous:

      “If you want an honest media then you have to take the rough with the smooth. If you want the media to protect Julia Gillard you have to throw them a Craig Thomson.”

      You are saying if I want an “honest” media then I need to embrace them as a corrupt system? Really? This is what you actually think? Ever heard of reasoning? logic? Arguing is not one of your strong points, is it.

    • SG Warren says:

      That’s sickening.

      Just goes to show how useless any award in journalism excellence is.

  11. Marilyn says:

    Why do the MSM keep claiming that Thomson is up on charges? FWA are trying it on based on a bogus report.

  12. Marilyn says:

    HIlarious, FWA claimed their bogus report was factual, now they are hunting for evidence, some of it already shown to be completely wrong.

    As if brothels keep records going back all those years.

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