Senator Stephen Conroy has drawn the ire of News Limited papers the Daily Telegraph and The Australian due to a novel media management strategy. Conroy has begun issuing general press releases whenever he responds to questions from the Oz and has indicated that he’ll take similar action with the Tele, with the reasoning being that it’ll stop them distorting his answers, or at least give other media organisations the chance to call bullshit on News’ spin.
So what’s the considered response from Daily Telegraph editor Paul Whittaker?
“This level of media management would make Joseph Stalin proud – next they’ll drag editors off to the gulag.”
I suppose we should at least be grateful that Whittaker decided not to go the full Godwin.
Laughably, the Tele then sought the opinion of John Howard’s former chief of staff for some helpful analysis:
“Maybe it’s time that some of the senior staff said to the ministers, ‘Stop being sooks and welcome to politics’.”
Perhaps, or maybe it’s time that someone said to The Daily Telegraph and The Australian “Stop making stuff up“?
The circus surrounding the set-top box program, which had complete bi-partisan support up until a few weeks ago, seems to be the final straw for Conroy, who has also had The Australian waging a campaign of misinformation against the NBN. By releasing his answers to all media organisations he deprives the News mastheads of their ability to scoop their competitors, and also stops the other media (I’m looking at you ABC) from mindlessly repeating the News Ltd story before corrections can be issued. It’s no surprise that this annoys News Ltd, but I’m struggling to find a compelling argument as to why Conroy shouldn’t be issuing this information to all of the media organisations.
Is this a sign that the Federal government has decided to stop taking the regular beatings handed out by News Ltd?
Update: In today’s Australian, editor Chris Mitchell calls for a wahmbulance of his own. This time the target is Defence Minister Stephen Smith who preempted a story in the Oz by giving detailed answers about a troubled project during question time. This is looking more and more like a government strategy to deal with hostile media.