Sydney’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.