Journalism

Jul 29, 2014

Let’s go to the tape: ethical quandries in Age dictaphone saga

You'd be hard-pressed to find a journalist who doesn't record conversations, even if they are off-the-record. But ethically, it's a grey area.

Myriam Robin — Media Reporter

Myriam Robin

Media Reporter

This month’s big political story in Victoria hasn’t covered anyone in glory. After a lost dictaphone fell into the wrong hands, a journalist’s off-the-record briefing has been revealed to the world. But was she right to record it and other briefings in the first place? It’s certainly legal, at least in Victoria, but opinions differ on the ethics of it all.

12 comments

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12 thoughts on “Let’s go to the tape: ethical quandries in Age dictaphone saga

  1. klewso

    This would be a drop from one of those “party sources/a senior Party spokesperson” – that don’t like being quoted – would it?

  2. Yclept

    Gee, politicians who are introducing more and more draconian laws to allow the rest of us to be spied on at will, don’t like being spied on. Well, well, who’d have thought?

  3. Peter Blakeley

    hmmm what it does mean is don’t trust journalists, now I expect that of News Ltd, News of The World types but did I perhaps naively think that some could be trusted?

    Do not speak to journos unless they are naked and you are both inside a Faraday cage.

  4. The Pav

    Given that there was a whole lot of other confidential convesations on the tape and Tomazin failed to keep them secure is a slam dunk for why they shouldn’t record.

    If it isn’t on tape it can’t be lost.

    Why did she keep them on the machine? Should have backed them up elsewhere and had a clean machine so when it got lost the harm was minimal

  5. CML

    I don’t care what The Age says. NO ONE should have their conversations recorded unless they give consent. Anything else is deception by the journalist.
    Since consent is required in most of the country, perhaps it is time to make it Australia wide.
    And surely Tomazin should be a little more careful with equipment containing the private conversations of others. She deserves the blame for all that has happened since.
    Get off Daniel Andrew’s back – he had nothing to do with it!

  6. Brian Melbourne

    Surely Farrah Tomazin should be accepting most of the blame. She leaves behind a tape of a confidential interview with a member of the Liberal party at a Labour conference. It’s an amazing example of carelessness or worse. It’s generated pages of bluster from the thin ranks of Age journalists, though. It’s a self generated story.

  7. klewso

    Almost everyone else (depending on Party of course) has to take responsibility for their actions – check the viewsmedia for details – except the media?

  8. AR

    As Pav notes, bad enough that Tomazin records covertly, and apparently deceitfully in that the conversation was meant to be confidential, but to not have transferred the other conversations to a more secure format is just sloppy.Back to cadet skool.
    On tuther hand, could the Lib comments have been “lost” accidentally on purpose at an ALP venue?

  9. drsmithy

    I don’t care what The Age says. NO ONE should have their conversations recorded unless they give consent. Anything else is deception by the journalist.
    Since consent is required in most of the country, perhaps it is time to make it Australia wide.

    It’s not hard to come up with scenarios where recording another person without their knowledge or consent is reasonable.

    Very few of them involve journalists, and even fewer, politicians, however.

    Legally, the standard where at least one participant must consent is fine. Ethically, a reporter telling someone they won’t record them, and then doing so, is very questionable.

  10. Kevin_T

    Quote: “Off-the-record does not automatically mean off-the-tape.”

    But doesn’t putting an off-the-record interview onto tape, actually put the interview “on-the-record” – particularly if you irresponsibly leave an apparatus containing supposedly confidential information lying around for anyone else to find and listen to?

    =============
    Quote: “But journalists doing face-to-face interviews, where the recording is more obvious, are often asked to turn off the recorder for an off-the-record part of a briefing.”

    Wasn’t the point of the Ricky Muir scandal, when interviewed by Mike Willesee for Chanel Seven, that an interviewee can not just go on and off the record at their own whim?

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