Fresh from a fortnight of relentless critical asides about Sydney’s lord mayor, the Daily Telegraph is at it again. Today on page 5, below a photoshopped picture of Clover Moore on a pushbike stuffed with goodies, the paper takes a shot at the “cycling-obsessed mayor’s latest follies”. In a $13 million grants budget, Sydney City Council has spent $9000 teaching people how to cycle, $10,000 for Mandarin lessons, and, would you believe it, a scheme that gives 10 women money to reduce their power bills. Reportedly.
A little more on that last one. It was a grant, given in 2013, to “10 women to help them reduce their power bills by 20%” (as the Tele puts it). Daily Tele chief reporter Janet Fife-Yeomans, one of the paper’s biggest names, emailed the council yesterday to ask about several of the grants, including the energy one, and to put to the council a series of questions, including whether the council had nothing better on which to spend its money.
She got a response from a council spokesperson, which Crikey has seen, saying the grant went to NGO 1 Million Women to fund a three-month trial looking at ways to encourage better home energy usage that, if successful, could go towards helping the organisation’s 82,000 members reduce their home energy use. The spokesperson also noted that the organisation had a number of high-profile ambassadors, including Fife-Yeomans herself. By the by, Fife-Yeomans describes herself as a “huge admirer” of 1 Million Women founder and CEO Natalie Isaacs on the organisation’s website. “She made it sound possible that we can really do something to cool down climate change,” Fife-Yeomans is quoted saying.
So, the question is: would Fife-Yeomans’ byline appear on a piece bagging the council for giving money to an organisation for which she is an ambassador?
The answer is: no. Matthew Benns is listed as the sole author, even though it was Fife-Yeomans who was chasing up comment yesterday. She didn’t even get a research credit. Why could this be? Crikey asked, noting the awkward situation with Fife-Yeomans being an ambassador for the organisation and all that. She gave us this response: “I did not write the story. That is why my byline is not on it.”
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