Apr 9, 2013

‘Bend over, lift your balls!’: Tony Barrass on journos in jail

Former WA bureau chief of The Australian Tony Barrass reflects on his time in jail for protecting his sources, as five of his colleagues are facing the same fate.

It’s Groundhog Day in Australian journalism, with a new push to recalibrate clunky state shield laws and finally build a proper national fortress that legally — and ethically — protects journalists going about their work.


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7 thoughts on “‘Bend over, lift your balls!’: Tony Barrass on journos in jail

  1. Achmed

    I agree that journalists should have the “right” to protect thier sources.

    The counter to that is that if there is a “leak” of confidential information it needs to be stopped as the information being leaked could end up in the wrong hands.

    It would only be right that the leak was exposed if not the name of the journalists source

  2. Ron Chambers

    The press are just as important to society as the courts and yet judges treat journalists with such disdain. They don’t respect Free Speech. The High Court only gives it grudgingly. A good journalist is more effective at justice than any judge and courts only look after the rich. Why should the public respect the courts when the courts don’t respect the people’s right to free speech? I can’t answer that question because if I did I would be subject to contempt of court as a publication which offends the dignity of the court. So you cannot criticize them. How is that for free speech?

  3. drmick

    Occasionally this is a good thing; but like the parasites they are, they use this alleged “right” to lie, cheat, threaten, abuse, oppress, disgust & literally get away with accessory to murder, and get shirty when they are called on it. Bend over princess; there is royal commission going on at the moment investigating organised, religious “protection of sources”. Which mob is your “saviour” backing in that one?

  4. Em_E

    Tony I enjoyed your article. I want those shield laws for Journos… I think America has them and yet here we have a government hell bent on tightening laws on the fourth estate wherever they can.
    It must have been hard for you in prison, but it’s more important to honour your word once it’s given – you did exactly that.Bravo more power to you…

  5. Em_E

    drmick I see your point..but there is a difference.
    I’d like the Royal Commission to pin point where the catholic church and other organisations failed to fulfil their legal and moral obligations when abuse occurred.
    The newspaper rule is insufficient. Investigative Journos need Shield Laws to protect their source at ALL costs, assuming the story would be in the public’s interest.
    Priests protecting paedophiles is a whole different ball game I think.

  6. charlesmaddison

    I remember Tom Barrass from my time as a young journo on The Newcastle Herald.

    A good man who taught me a lot.

  7. GF50

    I believe that a right to fair and fearless reporting is a necessity….but a protection of sources from the Judiciary not necessarily, BUT not to be published, nor access to that source to be given to the “other side” .. definite yes. Allows the Judiciary to “weigh” that evidence. So often it appears to be that it can come down to Journalists sources are other Journalists. So many Journalists use “confidential source” to print what they know to be non fact with fictional source “anonymous” rubbish and infer a legitimate source ie: back bencher, caucus member, minister whatever gives their opinion legitimacy, and definitely does not pass The Public Interest Test.
    The “other side” on a personal, punitive, fishing expedition should be dis-allowed by a Court, particularly in the type of matters listed in this article, personal litigation, demanding sources, that is IMO a perversion of legal process.

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