A group representing journalists around the world has condemned this week’s Australian Federal Police raids on a News Corp journalist’s home and ABC offices in Sydney.
The Sydney-based Reporters Without Sources said the raids threatened to tear apart one of the fundamental and long-cherished rights of journalists.
RWS president, Jess Maxopp, said it was a well-established practice for journalists to be protected from revealing their sources for stories they wrote.
“Without such a protection nobody would have ever taken up the dangerous profession of journalism and risked their livers…. I mean lives, to report what may or may not be the facts,” Ms Maxopp said during an exclusive interview with The Bug in her office in the public bar of an inner-Sydney hotel.
“For the Australian Foreign Police to raid the home of Annette Smellburst looking for information about the sources she used to write her stories on whatever it was she wrote about is just appalling.
“Then for them to follow up by raiding ABC Child Care offices is taking things to a new low.
“They never find anything in these raids because, as you and I both know, there’s nothing to find.
“As we all know quite often journos just make up sources to give the impression the snippet of gossip they heard or made up is a legitimate reason to write a story.
“I’m sure even Leonard and Bernstein made up bits and pieces of their Waterbed coverage which nobody seemed to mind because everyone wanted to see President Nickson …. I mean Nixon out of the Opal Office.
“I’m sure even you and your colleagues at The Butt have made up stories and have got even the most basic facts wrong. Am I right?” she asked.
When assured that was not the case, Ms Moxapp persisted.
“In the UK the reporters covering the Royal Family have made up shit and put it on the front page for decades and nobody complains,” she said.
“They always cite ‘royal sources’ but we all know it’s them or their mates writing crap they’d like to be true, which is fair enough really isn’t it. I mean their intentions are good.
“Remember years ago that story about Prince Andrew’s missus Fergie having her toes sucked by a bloke who wasn’t her hubbie.
“Well I was working in Sleet Street at the time as a royal correspondent for the Daily …. ummm, something or other and we all thought the bloke who wrote the Fergie yarn had gone too far in making it up.
“But it turned out to be true, and there were photos and all. So it just shows you never can tell what’s true and what’s not, which is how the whole profession of journalism has always operated.
“The RWS will always stand by our working journalists who do the right thing and who abide by their very flexible and self-serving coat of ethics,” she said.