The Australian is in a tizz over yesterday’s Crikey item about its
political editor Dennis Shanahan’s late-edition story on the
resignation of Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson. The Australian’s political reporter Matt Price writes:
claim John Anderson’s resignation was leaked to “selected journalists”
at the media ball to garner favourable coverage is just bu*llsh*t.
sat next to the Andersons on Wednesday night and – like at least one
colleague from another paper – gently ribbed John and Julia about
Ando’s imminent retirement with an eye on getting an exclusive for The Australian. They gave no hint of the Thursday announcement.
that night my colleague Dennis Shanahan got a sniff of the yarn. A bit
of old fashioned journalistic legwork, ending with a late night phone
call to Ando who’d left the ball, produced a front page exclusive for The Australian. I didn’t learn about it myself until Dennis drove me home.
Anderson admitted today, the late call and Dennis’s story disrupted his
day and arrangements had to be brought forward. The story clearly
wasn’t dropped to Shanahan. When experienced hands mix with hundreds of
pollies, occasionally they pick up useful information. If other
“selected journalists” were briefed, it didn’t show up in their
newspapers the next day. Dennis and The Oz had a scoop.
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all understand journalists are a typically ungracious mob and that
taking snide potshots at an exclusive story is commonplace. In this
case, it’s also spectacularly wrong and unfair.
… andThe Australian‘s Strewth columnist Jane Fraser led her column with this item today:
leader Mark Vaile introduced his early evening press conference last
night apologising for the late hour and commiserating that the hacks
had had a late one the night before. “Where’s Dennis?” he asked,
referring to The Australian’s political editor Dennis Shanahan,
who broke the John Anderson resignation yarn in the late edition of the
newspaper yesterday. “He’s not here… probably sleeping it off.”
Internet site Crikey sniffed that Shanahan’s yarn was a
deliberate leak designed to get a good spin. Not so. Try old-fashioned
journalism instead. Shanahan was indeed at the Mid Winter Ball at
Parliament House with about 200 other journalists and towards the end
of the night picked up a whisper that Anderson might be resigning – and
soon. In fact, a number of journos had apparently been asking Ando
about his future. Seeing that both Anderson and Howard had left,
Shanahan – in dinner suit – abandoned his wife and headed up to The Australian’s
offices, where his phone call got Ando out of bed at 12.05am. Having
confirmed the story, Shanahan then rang the news desk, filed his splash
by 12:30am and returned to the party to rejoin his wife and head home.
Anderson confirmed yesterday that he hadn’t believed The Aus could get the story in the paper that late at night.
CRIKEY: Crikey unreservedly apologises to Dennis Shanahan, Political Editor of The Australian, for our item yesterday which may have been interpreted as insinuating that his report in yesterday’s late edition of The Australian newspaper was not an “exclusive” or “scoop.” Crikey
acknowledges that Mr Shanahan did obtain the story through professional
excellence and foresight, and could in no way be construed to have been
a “leak.” Crikey withdraws any imputation that Mr Shanahan is
anything but a diligent and professional newspaper journalist, and
acknowledges Mr Shanahan’s high standing throughout the industry in
which he is a leading practitioner. Furthermore, Crikey accepts
that Mr Shanahan does not take a partisan view in the execution of his
duties, and withdraws any imputation to the contrary. Yada, yada.