From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Employees distressed at Telstra’s ties to military contractor. A Telstra insider has raised concerns that the telco has signed a large “learning provider” contract with Raytheon. This may raise eyebrows because “Raytheon Australia is a wholly owned subsidiary of Raytheon Company, one of the largest defence companies in the United States with annual sales of $US25 billion”, according to the company’s website.

A quick online search shows plenty of job advertisements citing “Raytheon’s trusted partnership with Telstra”, most for “training solutions”. Raytheon Australia has offices around the country and employs 1400 people.

“Apparently Raytheon “met the criteria”,” our Telstra mole reports. “I am not the only employee who is very distressed by this.”

Telstra told us they have outsourced training and development to Raytheon for six years, and recently switched to making the company their “learning provider” as well (we don’t know what that means either). The Telstra spokesman would not comment on the size of the new contract.

When asked about Telstra’s association with the military company, the spokesman said:

“Following the selection process, we felt that Raytheon was best positioned to be the preferred training partner for us. They are award winners and provide learning and development services for many Australian companies as well as governments. We welcome the range of views from our staff.”

More changes at the Hun. We hear that Herald Sun assistant editor Mark Alexander is leaving to take up a job with NAB. Crikey called the Hun to confirm this but was told Alexander was not at work today.

The move follows big changes to management at the Hun, after the paper’s editor Simon Pristel resigned and was replaced by Damon Johnston. Rumours are swirling about Pristel’s next step, with The Australian reporting that he may be taking up a position with a commercial television network. We’re hearing that it’s not Nine.

Media self-regulation can work. Our piece this week from an anonymous former TV reporter on the practices (and ethics) of journalists dealing with grieving people has generated a passionate response from readers. The story was sparked by concerns raised by the family of a girl who died in an accident, about Seven News’ behaviour.

Two ex-journalists have sent us examples of cases where self-regulation appears to have protected the public’s right to privacy:

“As a former crime reporter at a daily metro paper … I can say truthfully that I never intruded on private grief when I knew I was unwelcome, that I pretended on a number of occasions to have done death knocks, that I was frequently disappointed by the behaviour of TV news crews, and that I never failed to be amazed and gratified by the politeness and grace of victims’ families. However, first, we should make the distinction between print and TV reporters. I suspect most print reporters would leave a property if asked to, or if told the victim’s family would not be talking. TV reporters, however, are all too aware that they NEED the vision and talking heads. This puts more pressure on them.

“Also, people might slag journos off for the old “well, that’s what the audience demands” excuse. But unfortunately it’s true. Try and tell me many viewers are not more likely to watch channel X than channel Y if it has vision of the victim’s family or, unfortunately, vision taken from a helicopter of a body under a blanket. This is simply a fact, and unless viewers start boycotting media outlets that cross the line, it will continue to happen. I wonder how many of the people posting outraged comments on Facebook could put their hands on their hearts and say they’ve never clicked on a story, bought a paper or tuned in to a commercial news at 6pm on the promise of graphic coverage of a terrible crime.”

And here’s the second account:

“I know there are some dodgy practices out there, but I would argue that in some cases self-regulation works — but it’s definitely at a journalists’ individual level. When I was a radio journo working out in the country, our chief-of-staff called and told me to chase up the family of man whose body had just been discovered in shady circumstances. After I hung up the phone, I sat there for about half an hour, and then I called the COS back and told him I had no leads on the family. I’d rather get fired than harass a grieving family for a 10-second grab.”

In the club after all? An attendee at a business dinner at the Campbelltown Catholic Club on Wednesday night reported that they did a “double take” when Fairfax columnist Peter FitzSimons was introduced as the guest speaker. FitzSimons recently blasted the clubs industry for its “rather mushy ads” claiming the industry helped problem gamblers. “Is it just me, or is this a little like the tobacco industry claiming to be very good at helping people who get cancer from smoking cancer sticks?” asked FitzSimons.

Our diner wanted to know why FitzSimons graced the club — which has 350 poker machines — with his presence.

*Do you know more? Send your tips to [email protected] or use our guaranteed anonymous form

Peter Fray

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