Last Thursday’s edition of Crikey
included a cheap shot at our leading pay-TV news channel under the
headline, “Sky News – Channel of the year and blundering amateurs” (item 19). It
was a typical Crikey piece enjoying the irony of Sky News being
declared “channel of the year” on the same night that Sky Business Report was beset by technical difficulties. However, a former producer of the program immediately emailed through the following:

Your attack on Sky News was very unfair.
What you have failed to appreciate is that Sky News moved studios last
weekend and I’ll guarantee their technical problems last night were a
result of problems with new gear. Technology is great as we all know
until it doesn’t work. I’m sure there’s never been a technical glitch
at Crikey.

If those technical problems happened repeatedly you
may have a point. Surely though you would be much better off focusing
on the content of the program, rather than something which, while very
embarrassing, is a once off and can happen to anybody.

And a polite call also came through from Sky News CEO
Angelos Frangopoulos saying it was all rather unfair. Being an
agreeable chap and conscious of our policy of regularly publishing
rights of reply, I agreed to do a square-up item and can confirm that
the channel had indeed just moved its studio from Frenchs Forest to
Macquarie Park, near Ryde in Sydney.

Angelos pointed out that Sky Business Report‘s
ratings are up significantly since former ABC finance reporter Karen
Tso started presenting the program and the channel’s daily business
coverage is being substantially expanded from today.

All of this
got me thinking about the way News Ltd handles complaints, rights of
reply and letters to the editor. Piers Akerman produced a column last
year declaring that “it can be argued that almost anyone can call
themselves a journalist these days, as evidenced by the nonsense
published by people claiming to be journalists on websites such as Eric
Beecher and Stephen Mayne’s Crikey”.

The Australian‘s Strewth column mentioned the possibility that I would register a complaint. I can today reveal it is proceeding and a letter has come back from The Daily Telegraph‘s
Roger Coombs rejecting the complaint and making the completely false
claim that Crikey regularly refuses to give people a right of reply.

The
process is interesting to experience and the options now are to drop
the complaint, go to a full panel hearing or have a Press Council
mediation with the paper. I’ll be going for mediation, armed with a
pile of News Corp rights of reply that have appeared in Crikey over the
years. All we asked for was a brief letter in response to a patently
ridiculous claim that The Telegraph‘s former chief of staff and business editor wasn’t a journalist. Sadly, The Daily Telegraph is happy to take up management time and resources to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Such hypocrites!