Newspaper to complain over Media Watch

pbarrySydney’s Daily Telegraph and political journalist Gemma Jones will lodge a complaint with the ABC and the Australian Communications and Media Authority following Monday night’s episode of Media Watch in which host Paul Barry criticised ongoing reportage on Kevin Rudd.

Barry accused News Corporation newspapers, and in particular the Daily Telegraph, of running “beat ups” against Kevin Rudd, including its headlines to “kick this mob out” and the Facebook comments of a make-up artist from last week’s debate:

Now, given that Kevin Rudd is running a presidential-style campaign and that Labor has been attacking Tony Abbott’s personality, the PM can hardly complain if voters and the media judge Rudd on his character.

But this is character assassination.

The Tele ran five deeply negative stories about the same incident—all built on the opinion of one woman who was with the Prime Minister for a few minutes.

Rudd says he didn’t actually speak to her.

He also said:

So let’s look at the Telegraph in a little more detail, because there is absolutely no doubt about its bias in this election.

In the first week of the campaign we tallied the Tele’s coverage and found that exactly half its 80 political stories were slanted against Labor, while none were against the Coalition. 

In the last two weeks the result is even clearer. 

Out of 107 stories:

59 in our opinion are quite clearly Anti Labor. While just four are anti the Coalition. Only three of the Tele’s stories are pro Labor, while 19 are pro the Coalition. And the rest are neutral.

Looking through the pages it’s also clear that it’s not policies or performance that Murdoch’s paper is attacking. It’s Rudd himself, whom they paint as a psychopath, a narcissist, a bore and a cheat, and a great deal more. 

And in later reference to articles by Gemma Jones:

All these stories, which carry the byline of the Tele’s political reporter Gemma Jones, make the Prime Minister look angry, dishonest or not to be trusted. 

Daily Telegraph’s managing editor Trevor Seymour has told The Australian that the ABC show “certainly did not contact myself or the editor Paul Whittaker”.

“In the past, they have been no strangers to contacting us and if they were going to devote so much time critiquing the newspaper, you would think they would ask a few questions,” Seymour said.

“Gemma has the newspaper’s full support.”

But in response Paul Barry has said, “I gave my comments and opinions on The Telegraph based on our findings.

“Opinion writers on The Telegraph and The Australian do the same thing. Would you expect Andrew Bolt or Janet Albrechtsen to (offer a right or reply)? It is the right of the commentator to do that, that is what we do.”

Meanwhile in unrelated news, Reuters reports Julian Disney, chairman of the Australian Press Council, has written to editors of major newspapers following complaints from the public and the industry over newspaper election reporting.

Disney reminded editors of guidelines issued in 2009, which stress the need to distinguish news from editorial opinion, although the Press Council says newspapers have the right to hold a political opinion and favor particular candidates.

“Newspapers that profess to inform the community about its political and social affairs are under an obligation to present to the public a reasonably comprehensive and accurate account of public issues,” Disney wrote.


  1. Good on Paul Barry for being brave enough to take on the Murdoch press. News Ltd is good at dishing it out but they are very thin skinned when it comes to criticism. There is no doubt that they are engaged in regime change and it’s sad to see so many journalists obviously so desperate to keep their jobs that they will write such bile.

  2. The Telegraph ceased to be a newspaper long ago. During this particular election campaign it has been the shrill propaganda arm of the Liberal party, with its message aimed squarely at Sydney’s western suburbs.

  3. It’s an interesting conundrum because while everyone may agree that NewCorp is very biased at the moment, to place any kind of restrictions or conditions on what it can and can’t do would affect the fundamental principle of freedom of the press.

    The only thing people can really do it vote with their feet (which I did a long time ago).

  4. while I don’t ready newspapers anymore, I think its funny the labor rags jumping up and down saying news is pro lib…. not saying they are, but the ABC being pro labor is apparently OK?

  5. Murdoch believes he can tell the Australian voting public who they must vote for.The Liberal Party, his party of choice, will never go against a wish Murdoch wants if the Liberal Party wins.he Liberal party will always be in debt to him.

  6. I bought the SMH yesterday and the headline was about Rudd “abandoning ship” (moving the navy base up north) … if SMH is pro-Labor (thats a big if), it is still light years ahead of News Corp in being impartial in its coverage.

  7. The Daily Telegraph and the journalist you have mentioned are notoriously biased and hysterical. They were allowed to print false claim, after false claim about the carbon tax. And they are allowed to depict the Prime Minister as a serial killer? It’s all a game to them, this is just a stunt. Paul Barry probably should have offered them a reply but whether or not they actually deserve it is in question.

  8. I’m with Paul Barry. The treatment of Rudd by the Ltd News in this campaign is nothing short of disgraceful. The journalists concerned have no ethics, and should be ashamed.

  9. I saw that on Media Watch and I thought it went completely over the top. It wasn’t media analysis it was just a full-on left wing attack on a newspaper which does not conform to the ABC’s particular view of the world and politics. I think that probably Media Watch jumped the shark on Monday night and has now made the ABC a prime target for the incoming Liberal government. Just because your side is losing in the election campaign and the dream run is coming to an end is no reason to spit the dummy and turn what is supposed to be an even handed analysis program analysis program into a petulant temper tantrum.

  10. A cursory glance through any of the Telegraph’s election issues is all you need; the bias is overwhelming. Presumably, the complaint is little more than a lame attempt at face saving or a futile attempt to warn Barry off. It doesn’t have a snowflake’s chance in hell of being upheld – and they know it.

  11. @Dalmanic – So the SMH is Labor biased? Better tell Fairfax Board member and its largest shareholder Gina Rhinehart. Remember her anti-mining-tax frenzy. Then, perhaps it’s good to see that a media baron can’t turn her papers into mouthpieces for the owners.
    I don’t mind paying my 8 cents/day for my ABC. Much better value than $2 for a paper (I purposeld don’t call them “news”papers).

  12. Maev....Sydney

    I breeze through a number of media outlets during the day….and it is plainly obvious where their loyalties lie…
    I feel they should report the news …as is…and save the opinions for the the opinion sections…not the front page and five pages in..
    Seems media watch were just stating stats..
    I try to avoid the political stuff…but sometimes it is just in your face..while trying to find general news…
    Just my thoughts.

  13. Well done Media Watch, you are doing a great job exposing Murdoch. Does anybody really take News Corp serious anymore. They are a total disgrace.

  14. I don’t read the Telegraph so I can’t say if the criticism is warranted or not, but I cancelled the Sydney Morning Herald a few weeks ago (after subscribing for many, many years) because I was sick of their blatant pro Labor bias.
    Bought a copy on Monday (for the TV section) and thought it was worse than ever!
    Perhaps the ALP owns it?
    Still, we are free to purchase either paper or not.
    Sadly we all have to pay for the ABC, whether we vote Labor or not.

  15. The Daily Telegraph (or any News Corp paper for that matter) complaining about negative coverage of their coverage! What an absolute joke! The height of hypocrisy! Gemma Jones’ (& others’) “reporting” during this election campaign has been absolutely disgraceful. News Corp has totally diminished its place as a legitimate and credible provider of information and news in this country. The daily garbage being served up is an insult to the intelligence of all fair-minded people. Its impact on the outcome of this election will be profound. History will judge it badly and so will most decent Australians who still value a fair go.

  16. carolemorrissey

    She can complain all she bloody well likes, but it’s obvious to anyone with half a brain the Telegraph is pro Lib biased. It’s an absolute disgrace the way they have been carrying on and they consider themselves ‘journalists’. It’s an absolute joke.

  17. ” the Daily Telegraph, … running “beat ups” ? No, never, shame on you ABC. Remind me again why I stopped buying, or even reading newspapers five years ago? Because they’re not “news”papers anymore, just opinion rags.
    “Daily Telegraph’s managing editor Trevor Seymour has told The Australian…”. Um, Rupert’s right hand interviewing his left hand?
    So, what exactly did MW say that was incorrect?
    Did the complaint originate from the American newspaper baron himself? Keep up the excellent work MW.

  18. Armchair Analyst

    @ Ted and Vitieddie. Spot on the Murdoch Press seem to think they are untouchable and can do whatever they want. I Commend Paul Barry on his comments about the deliberate and unjustified attacks which have only been aimed at Labor. i understand part of the reason is that Labor’s NBN is going to be better and will most likely finally put the nail in the coffin of the newspapers. I found it ironic that the Media Watch and by extention Paul Barry played a old interivew that Rupert did in the 60s about Media Ownership and Competition, either he was lying or somewhere along the line Rupert turned into a control freak and he had the gaul to critise Kevin Rudd about Rudd being a control freak, pure Hypocracy nothing but. Credit to Media Watch calling out BS when its there.

  19. I say this as someone who doesn’t much like Rudd …. Rupert’s press monkeys aren’t even pretending to be balanced anymore. It’s Fox News in print and it’s been depressing to watch.

  20. The ABC got fined in 2003 for saying Iraq “may” have WMD instead of “has”.

    The Murdoch press have waged a war against Labour whilst keeping schtum on Liberal govs cutbacks, school sales and health dept cuts.

    Now they want to complain because someone pointed out the obvious.

    Seems legit.

  21. Totally agree with Media Watch. Could not have said it better myself. I am honestly surprised that in a developed country, we allow such a “news” organization to go unpunished. No matter which political party you support, you have to shake your head at such biased and sensational reporting.

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