tip off

Posetti receives letter of demand from Chris Mitchell, and a special invitation

 

Download [mp3]

 

Download [mp3]

The editor-in-chief of The Australian, Chris Mitchell, has sent a letter of demand to journalism academic Julie Posetti, confirming he will pursue her for defamation over a series of tweets .

Mitchell is understood to be seeking an apology for Posetti’s tweets at an academic conference last week at which a former News Limited journalist criticised Mitchell for controlling the coverage of human-induced climate change.

It is understood that Mitchell is not pursuing damages but is demanding a fulsome apology over the comments by journalist Asa Wahlquist, who described writing about climate change at The Australian as “torture” and “debilitating”.

The letter also contains an offer from Mitchell for Posetti to visit the offices of The Australian and observe the editorial process of the paper, he has also offered for her to sit in on editorial meetings.

Mitchell has also offered to attend mediation with Posetti.

The topic has been hotly debated on twitter since last Friday, with a special site #twitdef canvassing hundreds of mostly negative comments from Posetti’s supporters.

Posetti had tweeted that Mitchell as editor-in-chief had prescribed her coverage of climate change in the paper. But Mitchell denied this to Crikey, describing the assertion as a “lie”.

As Crikey reported on Friday,  former senior News Limited journalist and respected rural affairs journalist for more than 20 years, Asa Wahlquist mounted an off-the-cuff defence of environmental reporting on a panel at a journalism educators conference at UTS in Sydney last week, explaining the difficulties of having stories published about climate change because of the attitude of and pressure from senior editors at the paper.

Her comments were quickly reported on Twitter, prompting editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell to threaten legal action against the author of the tweets and anyone else who published the “lie”.

Mitchell told Crikey that “any reading of The Oz’s editorials on climate change would make it clear that for several years the paper has accepted man-made climate change as fact”.

It has supported market mechanisms to reduce carbon output for the best part of a decade,” he said. “What people do not like is that I publish people such as Bjorn Lomborg. I will continue to do so, but would suggest my environment writer, Graham Lloyd, who is a passionate environmentalist, gets a very good run in the paper.”

Wahlquist, the long-time science and rural affairs writer for The Australian, accused Mitchell of controlling coverage of climate change because he believes those who subscribe to the “eco-fascist line” that humans have induced climate change are “aiming to destroy everything he loves and values”.

Wahlquist subsequently backed away from some of her comments, but days later a tape of the conference surfaced that seemed to support Posetti’s paraphrasing.

Julie Posetti is standing by her Twitter coverage. The journalism academic told Crikey earlier this week that she has reviewed the tape and, “while I cannot comment on the truth or otherwise of what she said, I stand by the accuracy of the quote I attributed to Asa Wahlquist”.

Crikey has the full recording that can be downloaded here and here (MP3  —  approx. 2mb). Watching the panel session on environmental journalism, Posetti tweeted on Thursday:

It was absolutely excruciating. It was torture’: Asa Wahlquist on fleeing The Australian after being stymied in covering #climate’

Wahlquist: ‘Chris Mitchell (Oz Ed) goes down the Eco-Fascist line’ on #climatechange.’ I left because I just couldn’t do it anymore”

Wahlquist: ‘In the lead up to the election the Ed in Chief was increasingly telling me what to write.’ It was prescriptive.

The tape records Wahlquist making each of the statements about the paper and Mitchell. What’s more, says Posetti: “I consider the quote to have been in relation to a matter of significant public interest concerning journalism and politics and was appropriately the subject of discussion in my tweet.”

22
  • 1
    shepherdmarilyn
    Posted Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Mitchell just proves he is a bullying idiot. Instead of sucking up the truth the OO has become something akin to Foxnews and facist “reportage” of nonsense.

    Look at the continual anti-refugee editorials and misuse of langauge and editorials to suggest we breach the law and commit genocide instead of simply abiding by the law.

  • 2
    Grinder
    Posted Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    So, shouldn’t Mitchell be suing Wahlquist, instead of going after the messenger? Why not sure the tape recorder as well?

  • 3
    Norman Hanscombe
    Posted Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    No one is perfect, marilyn, even if [by comparison with your odd attacks] you sometimes give people that impression.

  • 4
    Roger Clifton
    Posted Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    For several years the paper has accepted man-made climate change as fact”.
    Is that so? Well, in 2006, Media Watch exposed The Oz for printing spin from the carbon lobby.
    .
    The readership of The Oz hasn’t changed; The Oz keeps feeding them what they want to hear.

  • 5
    David Sanderson
    Posted Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    You have to read the letter (available at the Justinian site) to fully appreciate how foolish and bullying Mitchell’s behaviour is. This matter should end his dismal editorship but I doubt it will.

  • 6
    Joe Hoogland
    Posted Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    When Mitchell says “…my environment writer, Graham Lloyd, who is a passionate environmentalist, …” he can’t be referring to the same Graham Lloyd who wrote that atrocious piece on wind farms in the Weekend Oz, surely?

  • 7
    Posted Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    So Posetti believes Wahlquist is telling the truth about Mitchell, and tweets it.

    This is defamatory.

    As reparation, Mitchell wants her to belive he is telling the truth about Wahlquist, and publish that?

    Right.

  • 8
    julieb
    Posted Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    I see on Caroline Overington’s ‘Media Diary’ that the blogs immediately underneath the Mitchell letter are ‘Posetti invited to visit the Oz’ and ’ Editor in Chief Goes Back to University.’ For a moment I thought the stories were related and ‘what a good idea’, crossed my mind, before re-reading and seeing the SMH bit!
    Between this, the wikileaks debarcle this week, and the student protests in London, finally some entrenched bureaucratic values and biases are being outed and challenged. Maybe the 60’s are back at long last.

  • 9
    nicolino
    Posted Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    So Mitchell believes he will lose all he loves and believes in through human agencies. I think the planet will do it for him through climate change.

  • 10
    zut alors
    Posted Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    The letter also contains an offer from Mitchell for Posetti to visit the offices of The Australian and observe the editorial process of the paper, he has also offered for her to sit in on editorial meetings.”

    Jeepers, hasn’t Posetti suffered enough already.

  • 11
    Rohan
    Posted Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    @Joe Hoogland,

    Frank Campbell has taught many people on this site that the definition of a passionate environmentalist encompasses whatever you want it to.

  • 12
    Kevin Herbert
    Posted Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Mitchell has comprehensively outflanked Posetti & her armchair editor boosters.

    Score:

    Mitchell 1

    The Australian detractors 0

    End of story

  • 13
    PeterM
    Posted Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    So let me get this straight:

    Chris Mitchell, a newspaper editor-in-chief still wants to take action against someone who has been shown to be an accurate reporter of an event, who despite his claims to the contrary, can pretty well prove the words reported were what was said?

    Apparently he doesn’t like accurate reporting? He’d rather use one of the more draconian provisions of the defamation laws to extend action against any person involved in publication.

    Presumably next time his paper is sued for defamation, he wouldn’t mind it if the plaintiff threatened legal action against each and every person delivering his paper to someone else as a participant in the publication process, and ignored the author of the defamatory words ?

    A man of principle. Apparently having trouble working out not just his own paper’s stance on the worse features of defamation law, but also what constitutes a fair and accurate report of an event.

  • 14
    Smithee
    Posted Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    I hope News Ltd proceeds with this because it’ll be another massive fail and PR disaster.

    You’d think News Ltd would have learned something from the Guthrie case.

  • 15
    silent witness
    Posted Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    given posetti has never worked in a newspaper newsroom a visit might be instructive to see real journalists in action

  • 16
    A. N. Onymus
    Posted Friday, 3 December 2010 at 2:02 am | Permalink

    It is fortunate that this is not the only article that has appeared on this subject in Crikey and elsewhere because without other information, a reader would be confused and/or misled by this one.

    Paragraph 1: “The editor-in-chief of The Australian, Chris Mitchell, has sent a letter of demand to journalism academic Julie Posetti, confirming he will pursue her for defamation over a series of tweets .”

    The letter to Posetti at the Justinian site (thanks, David Sanderson) is from Blake Dawson (Mitchell’s solicitors), not from Mitchell.

    (Paragraph 2 has the correct information: “Mitchell is understood to be seeking an apology for Posetti’s tweets … .”)

    Paragraph 3: “It is understood that Mitchell is not pursuing damages but is demanding a fulsome apology over the comments by journalist Asa Wahlquist, … . ”

    Wahlquist made the comments; Posetti repeated them. The letter from Blake Dawson appears to indicate that the apology requested is for her action of repeating the statements, not for the comments themselves. (Again, the second paragraph of the article had the correct information.)

    Paragraph 7: “Posetti had tweeted that Mitchell as editor-in-chief had prescribed her coverage of climate change in the paper. But Mitchell denied this to Crikey, describing the assertion as a ‘lie’.” Posetti was not the one whose coverage was prescribed; Wahlquist was.

  • 17
    mook schanker
    Posted Friday, 3 December 2010 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the Media Watch link Roger. In the link it’s amusing the Australian refused to reveal the author of its piece compared to it’s behaviour recently where the Oz penned articles declaring bloggers should not be anonymous….pathetic double standards really….

  • 18
    Norman Hanscombe
    Posted Friday, 3 December 2010 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Why would somone want a “fulsome” apology?

  • 19
    Andrew Dodd
    Posted Friday, 3 December 2010 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Thanks A N ONYMUS

    I agree that the reference to “her” in paragraph seven is confusing. A few paragraphs were added at the last minute, and on deadline, meaning that the personal pronoun lost its meaning as a reference to Wahlquist and not Posetti. I’m comfortable saying that the letter came from Mitchell as it was sent at his behest and presumably in his words. At the time of writing we were not able to link to the letter and I had not seen it.

  • 20
    JamesG
    Posted Friday, 3 December 2010 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    I suggest Mitchell read Anthony Trollope’s novel “He Knew He Was Right”. Such arrogance can only come from a conviction that he, and no one else, knows the truth on climate change.

  • 21
    PeterM
    Posted Friday, 3 December 2010 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    A.N. ONYMOUS: “The letter to Posetti at the Justinian site (thanks, David Sanderson) is from Blake Dawson (Mitchell’s solicitors), not from Mitchell. “

    Sheer sophistry. Cute, but silly. Of course a legal letter comes from Mitchell’s solicitors. It is from Mitchell.

    Or are you somehow implying that Blake Dawson are falsely purporting to act on behalf of Mr Mitchell, and that this letter was not written by them as his agents, acting on his behalf?

    Get real.

  • 22
    Kevin Herbert
    Posted Saturday, 4 December 2010 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Today’s feature in the Oz on the Posetti Position, one & for all sinks hers & her boosters claims of balanced, accurate comment. They’re no different to the far right dimwits who write their regular contrarian crap e.g. Hitchens, Hinch, Sheridan…although in Greg’s defence, I think he really believes it…really.

    Posetti & her boosters do nothing to further debate on anything…..they’re just as bad a P F S Ackerman & Janet Albrechtson….hands over one eye……not a true news journo’s bootlace.

    Good entertainment though…

    Note to Julie Posetti: a JournoTrash feature along the lines of the unforgettable cable show Eurotrash would be a nice addition to your ‘UNi of Canberra’ course…..get over it girlfriend.

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