Line-blurring in Australia

Damien Cave, Australian Bureau Chief for the New York Times, writes he still believes in ethical limits designed to avoid the “appearance of bias” and maintain a sense of healthy detachment from what journalists cover — although many people these days question them.

I’ve been thinking more about that here in Australia because I often see them challenged,” he writes in his latest Letter from Australia, headlined ‘Blurred Lines Between Journalists and What We Cover‘.

Some money quotes:

“The calls and emails no longer surprise me: At least three or four times in the past year, a well-meaning and interesting Australian organization has offered to fly me somewhere and pay for my hotel accommodation so I could witness what it does.”

I’ve also turned down a number of freelance pitches that would have been financed by those seeking coverage.”

“I honestly don’t know how common it is for journalism in Australia to be financed by those with a vested interest, but anecdotally, it seems to be on the rise. In a conversation with one of the organizations offering me a trip, I asked why and was told that with Australian media outlets making cutbacks, junkets were often the only way they could cover certain issues.”

But what all these examples show is that the boundary between source (or interest group) and journalist can be shaped, if not erased, in ways that threaten to hamper candid reporting.”

Link: Damien’s full letter.

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