Even doing a
single shift on ABC local radio required a one hour briefing from
“management” about editorial standards, ethics, conflicts of interest
and the like. It was quite reassuring to hear the spiel as presenters
are required to tell their bosses about any external speaking gigs they
have and limit outside commercial interests.

Crikey launched its “disclose the speaking fees” push two weeks ago and we’re still waiting for Herald Sun
columnist Andrew Bolt to deny that the Pharmacy Guild recently paid him
$3,000. From what we can tell, News Ltd commentators are a law unto
themselves and can accept speaking fees from whoever they like without
disclosing it to anyone. That was certainly what Terry McCrann did when
I worked closely with him on the Herald Sun from 1994 to 1997.

Bolt’s
only response to questions is to demand I ask 774 ABC Melbourne’s
Virginia Trioli about her speaking gigs. No problem, we think everyone
should at the very least have a policy and a disclosure regime. Trioli
responded that her policy is as follows:

Regarding speaker’s fees, I do moderating and facilitating
work (hosting panel discussions, forums, mc-ing such events, etc). Any
speeches are strictly to do with the job I do and the role of the
broadcaster in a functioning democracy. I don’t spruik on behalf of
anyone. Fees range from nothing (for charity work) to a negotiated fee
depending on the organisation.

Bolt’s policy is clearly much broader than that and we’re still waiting
for him to lash out at the pharmacists for hiding behind government
protection and ripping off consumers to the tune of $500 million a
year, if you can believe Woolworths CEO Roger Corbett. We’ve also asked
Bolt’s editor Peter Blunden if he is informed about paid speaking gigs
by his columnists and will let you know when he gets back to us.

Meanwhile, we were most interested by this snippet in the New York Post yesterday:

If you want to hear Dan Ratherdrone
on about the state of modern journalism, it’ll cost you US$75,000 and a
pair of first-class airline tickets. That’s what the deposed CBS anchor
is asking for his speaking engagements, reports the Media Research
Centre’s website. Rather has signed with the Newton,
Massachusetts-based American Program Bureau to book his big-bucks
chats. “The new speaking deal may soon raise questions about conflicts,
given that he continues to file stories for 60 Minutes Wednesday,” writes the website’sBrent Baker.

If you have insights into journalists getting paid to deliver speeches, email [email protected]

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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