It was a camera crew from Channel Ten, not Channel Nine, that unjustifiably invaded the Latham family’s privacy.

Yesterday (item 2), I
reported that Mark Latham had accused Channel Nine of poking a camera over his fence
to film him playing with his sons in the backyard. But, Channel Nine insists, they didn’t have
a crew anywhere near the Latham residence yesterday. On checking with Latham, he
acknowledged that he couldn’t be sure which television network was to blame. He
recognised the reporter, and thought he was from Channel Nine.

But apparently it was Channel Ten,
which screened footage in Sydney last night showing Latham had draped the gates
to his backyard in fabric to shield him from the media. Nevertheless, the crew
walked down the side of the house to film over gates and into the backyard.
Channel Ten has not yet returned calls asking for comment.

When you’ve published wrong information
there is nothing to do but wipe the egg off your face and eat humble pie, if a
mixed metaphor can be forgiven. I apologise to Channel Nine.

I am particularly mortified because the
mistake was made in the course of criticising media ethics and laziness – a
point that Channel Nine’s director of corporate communications, Christine Lacy,
enjoyed hammering home to me yesterday afternoon. I did place a call to Nine’s
head of news, Tony Ritchie, but very close to deadline. Not surprisingly he did
not get back to me before the accusation was published.

From under the humble pie, I stand by the
general comments I made about media invasions of the Latham family’s privacy.

Research by Melbourne University’s Denis Muller is to the point – Muller, himself a former senior Fairfax journalist,
surveyed members of the public and journalists on ethical questions, including whether
it was ever justifiable to take a picture of someone in their backyard without
their consent. Ninety two per cent of
members of the public said it was never all right. But among the journalists,
60% thought it was all right in
some cases, and two per cent thought it was always all right.

Muller’s research showed there is a gulf
between journalists and the community on ethical issues, particularly privacy. The
pursuit of Latham is the kind of thing that saps the public trust, and hinders the ability
to make it count when going in hard is justified.