The problem with newspaper journos receiving advance drops is that occasionally some nasty occurrence will intervene to turn the story from scoop to clanger.
Indeed, what you file pre-emptively at 6pm the night before could always be disrupted by nasty a terrorist attack. Unlikely, but possible. One classic example are Olympics opening and closing ceremonies in the northern hemisphere that usually occur during the wee hours in Oz or, more typically, a major speech or policy announcement.
Overnight — but well after the papers were put to bed — Julia Gillard came down with a nasty stomach bug and had to back out of a planned address to the Asia Society and the Economic Club in New York on Australia’s robust non-mining economy. Far from a lectern, Gillard was laid up in bed.
“PRIME Minister Julia Gillard describes the prosperity generated from the mining boom as ”low hanging fruit” when she warns today that Australia must become Asia-literate and Asia-capable if it is to sustain the economy well into the future. In a speech in New York to the Asia Society and the Economic Club, Ms Gillard will also tell investors that the Australian economy is less reliant on mining than widely thought. At the same time, she will stress the importance of continuing Chinese demand for minerals and declare ”Australia’s mining boom has long to run”. [emphasis added]
That’s present tense, with a bit of future thrown in for good measure. And here’s Sid Maher in The Australian (ripped offline but preserved for posterity below):
“Julia Gillard will today tell a group of New York economists that Australia’s economy is less reliant on the mining boom than is widely thought.”
“The Prime Minister is due to tell a New York Audience early today…”
But then botched it two pars down:
“She will urge Americans …”
Still, it could’ve been worse — often these stories are written in the past tense, especially if the event occurs at 1am or 2am local time.
What about that other famous pre-emptive scoop of recent years, Cameron Stewart’s August 2009 yarn describing anti-terror raids in Melbourne on the morning they occurred? The federal and state police were “poised to swoop”, Stewart wrote, leaving plenty of wriggle room if the targets managed to grab an early copy of the Oz and get the hell out of there.