Search This Blog

Friday, December 02, 2011

Definition of journalism


In two recent posts, now corrected, I mistakenly said the Commonwealth Evidence Amendment (Journalist Privilege) Act 2011 included a definition of "journalism." It doesn't. I was alerted to the possible error by Kate Stowell an Australian completing LL.M studies at the University of Edinburgh who has just submitted her thesis on 'Journalist source protection in Europe and Australia: a study in human rights and evidence law'. Thanks Kate-more of her below.

The error of my ways
In December 2010  Senator Scott Ludlam in a senate report on the bill said The Greens would seek to amend definitions to include:
"journalism means the reporting in a news medium of facts which are, to the best knowledge of the person reporting those facts, fair, true and accurate, and includes incidental processes such as the gathering of information for that purpose."
When the issue came on for Senate debate Senator Ludlam referred to earlier negotiations to win Government support for Green amendments. While not mentioned the definition of journalism appears to have been a casualty and was not put. Other Green amendments passed.

The bill as passed by the Senate went through the House unchanged.

My memory was playing tricks in November 2011 when I went looking for definitions in commenting on shield law developments- I copied Senator Ludlam's comment from the committee report, thinking wrongly that the definition along with other Green amendments
had made it into the law as passed. Update 8 December-I did the same thing with the definition of journalist initially posting the Ludlam foreshadowed amendments in both cases not the words used in the act as passed. For the purposes of clarity (at last) the definitions in the Commonwealth act are:
informant means a person who gives information to a journalist in the normal course of the journalist’s work in the expectation that the information may be published in a news medium.
journalist means a person who is engaged and active in the publication of news and who may be given information by an informant in the expectation that the information may be published in a news medium.
news medium means any medium for the dissemination to the public or a section of the public of news and observations on news.
Thanks to Stilgherrian for correcting me on this one.)

Kate Stowell in Edinburgh spots it
Kate is a University of Sydney law graduate who has worked as a radio journalist for ABC and SBS, and has recently picked up some contract work with the BBC. Earlier this week she presented her findings at the Reuters Institute for Journalism at Oxford, where she tells me, there was great interest from the audience in the Australian source protection 'dilemma'....

Kate hopes to use her thesis to branch into the world of written/online publishing...If anyone out there is looking for a likely candidate, who knows plenty about shield law related issues and has a great eye for detail, I can put you in touch.

Stilgherrian is, well Stilgherrian

No comments:

Post a Comment