Telstra has turned the spotlight on Today Tonight‘s ethics after getting hold of a fax in which the Perth edition of the show appears to coach an interviewee for a negative story about Sensis (which is owned by Telstra).

The fax makes for enlightening reading. Of the advice given to disgruntled Sensis customer Bruce Williams, most startling is the line: “Describe what happened when you said you refused to pay for the ad that was misprinted? (this is where you can say you were blackmailed by them – they wouldn’t print the following year’s ad).”

While news of TT skirting the edges ofjournalism isn’t exactly breaking news, this story is interesting for two reasons. Firstly, it provides a unique insight into the TT process – and the extent to which stories are managed, if not manufactured. Secondly, it’s interesting because this fax became news when Telstra’s General Manager of News Services, Andrew Maiden, used his Telstra blog to dob in Today Tonight.

We rang Today Tonight for a comment but they didn’t respond before Crikey’s deadline.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey