Piers Akerman may have just had his greatest moment in the sun with
yesterday’s speculative Sunday Telegraph column predicting the PM will make a
dignified exit in December, but on Thursday one of his bosses will have
the tedious task of sitting down at a Press Council mediation session
in Sydney with yours truly.

Jack Herman, the executive officer of the Press Council, will personally run the
mediation which will be attended by The Daily Telegraph’s associate
editor Roger Coombs.

At issue is the paper’s refusal to run a brief letter from me
responding to the following in an Akerman column last December: “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 brief letter simply pointed out that I am a journalist
by profession and was in fact business editor and chief of staff of the very paper
Akerman’s sledge appeared in.

It is interesting experiencing the Press Council process and the Roger Coombs letter
defending the non-publication of my letter contained some amusing
lines, including that Crikey regularly refuses to apologise.

Truth be known I can’t recall a single occasion that someone from News
Corp has requested a right of reply in Crikey and not been given
it. In fact, 20 examples have been produced and emailed through
ahead of Thursday’s mediation, including contributions from
Akerman himself, Andrew Bolt, Peter Blunden, Terry McCrann, Mark Day,
David Fagan and Michael Stutchbury, just to name a few.

By way of contrast, about half a dozen letters of mine to News Ltd
publications over the years have never been published, so it’s time to
check out the power of the watchdog to see if any redress is available.

Akerman even sent the following indignant email less than 24 hours after submitting one of his letters for publication: “Hey,
stupid: You haven’t run the letter I sent about your latest idiotic attack on
me. Piers”

We were about to hit the button on an edition with the letter at the time, yet it’s now been almost six months and The Daily Telegraph still hasn’t published my polite 96-word letter, instead choosing to fight it through the Press Council. Such hypocrites.

I’ll let you know how things progress although there may be some
constraints on reporting what actually happens at the mediation.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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