Citizen Journalism

Posts Tagged ‘Press Gallery’

The Press Gallery contemplates reform: Join the conversation

In Fifth Estate, Journalism, Margo Kingston, MSM on May 2, 2013 at 2:48 PM
Source: http://pressgalleryreunion.com.au/

The PG at old parliament house before the big move. Source: http://pressgalleryreunion.com.au/

By Margo Kingston

May 2nd, 2013

The Canberra Press Gallery is in a reforming state of mind, and to my surprise I’m making a contribution, thanks to Twitter. And thanks to the Press Gallery Committee President @David_Speers, Tweeps can have an input too.

The PGC decides who joins the club. In the old days we knew who belonged, journos chosen by their media employers. So there are no criteria for entry, no standard form, no process apart from emailing the president and obtaining a signature for Parliament officials to issue a press gallery pass. We all knew who belonged and who didn’t.

Times are changing. New media is moving in, old media is contracting, and the very definition of ‘journalism’ is contested. The increasing direct involvement of citizens in public political discourse is intensifying demands for transparency in the media, which has somehow kept its internal workings secret at the same time as it successfully demanded ever increasing transparency in the political institutions it interrogated.

The casual, oral tradition of volunteer working members of the Press Gallery exercising what amounts to secretly exercised, discretionary power is under serious pressure, exemplified its recent refusal of membership to @callumdav. His account in @independentausstory triggered Tweep questions on how the PGC worked and where they could access a list of PG members. Although I was a member for many years I didn’t have all the answers, and @walter_bagehot kindly briefed us.

I was surprised that the press gallery membership list, readily in Parliament House, was not a public document, and tweeted David for a a copy for  publication. Having received no reply, I lodged an FOI with the Department of Parliamentary Liaison, which has the list because of its duty to maintain the security pass database.

As a result, PGC secretary @Jamesmassola had a go at me by tweet: ‘FOI seems like a sledgehammer to crack a nut.’ David then asked for my email address. Here is our correspondence.

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Your guide to the Press Gallery and its gatekeeper

In Fifth Estate, Journalism, Margo Kingston, MSM on April 30, 2013 at 9:33 PM

Margo Kingston note: I was a member of the press gallery for many years. When I left Fairfax to take Webdiary independent my Parliament House ID lapsed. I applied to the then Press Gallery Committee president Karen Middleton for a new PG ID and she signed off without a hassle.

Yet I couldn’t answer some questions from tweeps this week about the status and powers of the PGC, and was surprised by the reasons given by the current president David Speers for refusing an application by Callum Davidson to join the PG as a journo for Independent Australia. The reasons for rejection were that IA was an opinion-based publication, not news-based, and that applicants had to be established working journalists.  I find the first reason odd, given IA’s intrepid investigations of the Ashby and Thomson stories, both of which have produced many news stories and news scoops, including one by me.

In addition, I confirmed with my former SMH colleague Mike Seccombe that he had been granted admission to the Press Gallery for the Global Mail, which is a feature-based publication not focussed on news. Gabrielle Chan, a member of the PG when she worked for the Oz many years ago, was also granted membership when she joined The Hoopla as an opinion and colour writer.

@walter_bagehot has kindly agreed to give us the facts on the privileges of the Press Gallery and the power and composition of the Press Gallery Committee. It seems that Callum can appeal to the PGC as a whole. Unfortunately, there appear to be no written protocols or guidelines for PGC decision making. As new media expands and the mainstream media contracts, I feel that the PGC needs to publish written guidelines and a process for appeal.

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Journalist @MargaretSimons stands up to Oz intimidation, speaks out on media reform

In Journalism, Margo Kingston, Media Reform on March 19, 2013 at 6:02 PM
margaret-simons

Dr Margaret Simons – Centre for Advancing Journalism

By Margo Kingston,

March 19, 2013

I’ve known Meg Simons for more than 25 years. We met in the Fairfax Brisbane bureau in the late 1980s – she was The Age correspondent,  me a new recruit for the Times on Sunday. We covered the Fitzgerald Inquiry, and I learnt courage and persistence – and tried to learn detachment – from her. She’s since written novels,  investigative non-fiction on the Hindmarsh Island Affair, books on the Press Gallery and the media and a biography of Malcolm Fraser. She’s now an academic journalist at Melbourne University and writes on media for Crikey.

Meg is one of Australia’s finest journalists. She has also been a victim of intense, sustained intimidation by The Australian over her support for Finkelstein’s recommendations on media regulation and her disagreement with the paper on the merits of a power struggle in the Victorian Police force. Jonathan Holmes detailed aspects of  the bullying in Trivial pursuit: When The Australian gets personal. I’m told The Drum did not want to publish this piece for fear of flak from the Oz, and that Mark Scott personally cleared it for publication.

During its campaign, the Oz published a page one story falsely accusing her of  a form of corruption in the judging of a Walkley award. It refused to published a letter to the editor from former Oz editor Malcolm Schmidtke and former Sunday Age editor Gay Alcorn (my sister) which corrected the record.

When I had dinner with Meg and her children last November, she told me the Oz had staked out her home (CORRECTION: Meg has corrected my recollection – her children feared their home would be staked out after Meg was snapped by an Oz photographer at work). It’s my guess she’d be one of the people Press Council Chief Julian Disney had in mind when he said today that victims of ‘very bad abuses’ frequently would not lodge a complaint for fear of retribution.

Meg still has the courage to stand up for good journalism and good policy on media regulation. Here is her submission to the Senate media reform inquiry. She will give evidence at 6.30 tonight.

I can see clearly now: PM

In Margo Kingston, MSM, Press Gallery on February 2, 2013 at 6:46 AM

By Margo Kingston
February 2, 2013

The Prime Minister has made a bold, perhaps revolutionary decision that has already flummoxed the MSM and will be fascinating to watch play out this election year.

She’s detached herself from the 24 hour news cycle.

Alex Ellinghausen The Pulse/Fairfax Media

Alex Ellinghausen The Pulse/Fairfax Media

That’s why she looks grounded. Settled. Real. Her stridency has gone. She can even shed a tear in public, as she did today at her farewell press conference to two minister friends.

I reckon she began moving into this new phase of her leadership after the public’s overwhelmingly positive response to her misogyny speech compared so starkly to the Press Gallery’s overwhelmingly negative one. Despite the powerful media forces determined to crush her, lots of Australians hadn’t heard their narrative, or at least hadn’t been smothered by it. They were frustrated too, and their sense of release hearing her speech released her too.

In the two months I’ve been watching politics again I’ve seen her relax into the practical consequences of this moment of clarity. She has begun making public statements on twitter, cutting out the so-called messengers.

She began the year with her controversial captain’s pick, wore the yucky flak, and then made a huge captain’s call by completely freaking out the Press Gallery in her first public set piece. Election date set. Challenge thrown down to Abbott and the MSM to respectively announce and report some stories of substance.

She also chose that moment to begin wearing glasses in public. They symbolise her psychological detachment and her physical shield from the lemming-like ADHD madness of a media in existential crisis.

After the Thomson arrest, she again traumatised the MSM by not rushing in to comment on or spin it. She’d been busy with Bundaberg flood victims, she said, and really, this was a matter for police. Which it is. So they reported she’d ‘deflected questions’ on Thomson, and got their revenge by highlighting smears by George Brandis that night that she had prior notice of the arrest and had timed her election announcement accordingly. His un-interrogated nonsense was big news, her prior categorical denial of foreknowledge buried.

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She wore it, and she’ll keep wearing it. And what will the MSM do then? Perhaps even fewer Australians will care.

Did you notice at today’s press conference that she gritted her teeth and set her jaw as the usual inane questions lobbed from journos? Contempt and endurance. And did you notice her wry smile when she said softly:


I note that there’s some speculation today about obligations about balanced coverage. Well frankly balanced coverage I think is a very good thing.

I would quite like to see around the nation an outbreak of balanced coverage. So if we do see that outbreak around the nation that will get a big tick from me.

What I would say about balanced coverage is it ought to bring to the Australian people the facts and the details that they need.

The Australian people are now in the situation where they don’t have to walk into a polling booth wondering.

There is a sufficient time and sufficient space for them to have every detail that they need, every policy detail, every costing detail, and the obligation is on every participant in the 2013 election to put people in that position.

And if they refuse to put people in that position, then I think people will be very, very suspicious why they are refusing.

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