Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tony Eastley - an Embedded Journalist?

We raised the possibility that ABC had an journalist "embedded" in the Climate Institute to try and explain some irregularities in the timing of a story that appears to have gone to air before the Climate Institute issued the press release (See HERE). However of greater concern is the news that the ABC now appear to have a journalist embedded in the Gillard government’s Climate Change Commission. How can ABC's audience expect impartial reporting if this is the case?
According to a  report in The Australian:

""The role performed by Mr Eastley at the forum was to facilitate the discussion, and enable community participation, feedback and engagement on a significant public policy issue. This is an appropriate activity for an ABC journalist/presenter to engage in, and regularly occurs with a range of presenters in a range of fora."
The ABC did not respond to questions about whether Eastley was being paid to conduct the forums, or whether he'd have to declare a financial interest when introducing climate change stories on the ABC."
ABC's new Editorial Guidelines no longer mention the phrase "conflict of interest". However section 1.3 of the new guidelines state:

1.3 Ensure that editorial decisions are not improperly influenced by political, sectional, commercial or personal interests.
It appears Mr Eastley's appointment puts him in breach of this clause.

We have asked ABC to provide answers to the following questions:

1. Has Mr Eastley been formally seconded to the CCC?
2. Who is paying Mr Eastley's salary while he is acting on behalf of the CCC?
3. Who will be acting in Mr Eastley's role while he is otherwise engaged?
4. Will Mr Eastley be barred from reporting on climate change issues given he now has a blatant conflict of interest?
5. If not will Mr Eastley preface his reporting with a statement to indicate he is in the employ of the CCC.
6. ABC's previous Editorial Policies clearly dealt with conflict of interest for staff. I am unable to find mention of the phrase "Conflict of Interest" in ABC new guidelines. How does ABC currently deal with issues of conflict of interest?

Given the conflict of interest faced while reporters have been embedded into organisations, how can the public trust anything Mr Eastley says?

PS. It's not the first time senior ABC journalists have put their hand up tot be involved in one side of the climate debate. See HERE for another.


  1. "I am unable to find mention of the phrase "Conflict of Interest" in ABC new guidelines."

    The term appears to have been "airbrushed" from the guidelines in Stalinesque style.

    "How does ABC currently deal with issues of conflict of interest?"

    Err, conflict of interest?

    They're no longer familiar with that term...

    Loaded Dog

  2. Tony Eastley's impartiality shone through at the Port Macquarie CCC 'conversation' night at around the 43:15 minute mark. An audience member asked how to overcome community ignorance and listening to 'shock jocks and the gutter press rather than scientists'.He said:

    "I had an idea today that I'd put the commissioners out at the MCG before the football game and we'd have a Q & A out there with a hundred thousand people looking on or the NRL or anywhere else. But it is difficult and it's a hard one to answer".

    Rather than NOT make a personal comment or state that there might be opinions contrary to the CCC's, he obviously agreed with the audience member that this is something that has to be overcome.


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