Slowly, slowly the media is rousing itself to bleat about the persecution of former customs officer Allan Kessing, who has been found guilty of leaking crucial public interest information to The Australian.
As reported in Crikey earlier this week, in this case the authorities avoided putting serious pressure on the journalists involved, but the alleged source was left to fry.
Unlike in the Harvey and McManus case in which the journalists themselves faced the possibility of jail, the media has been slow to react, although the case against Kessing has enormous and grim implications.
Coverage of Kessing’s court case was glancing at best, and although The Australian is now campaigning on the issue, the Fairfax press have left it alone – despite industry-wide implications.
The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance yesterday wrote to both the Attorney-General and the Opposition seeking meetings about better whistleblower protection. A good move.
Meanwhile in response to a telephone call from Crikey, the Australian Press Council this morning reiterated its support for whistleblower protection, but unlike in the Harvey and McManus case has not made any public statements or submissions on behalf of Kessing. The Press Council says it still supports its last submission on whistleblower protection – made in 1994!
Come on colleagues, this is important! The shield laws presently being drafted to protect journalists who refuse to reveal their sources will be useless if we are seen to let those accused of leaking to us go down without our protest or intervention.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
Kessing will be sentenced in May, and plans to appeal against the verdict. At the very least it’s time the media made sure every single move in this case is well reported.