Desperate for any positive story about the NBN staff at the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy have taken to writing their own stories and then offering the content to journalists to put their name to in an effort to create credibility.Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, who likes to lecture the media about ethics and standards, has been left embarrassed by the program.
The Australian newspaper reported that James Paterson, editor of the Institute of Public Affairs Review, who has been fiercely critical of the NBN, was startled to receive an offer of an article from an adviser at DBCDE on Friday offering a “meticulously researched” article on the NBN and women “quite gratis”. A follow-up email explained “the article is overly long — but deliberately so, to give you more choice if you cut”, while asking Mr Paterson to retain references in it to the Broadband Champions program launched last year by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.
Staff from the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has told editors that they are free to run the stories under the names of their own journalists.
James Paterson was told: “I have no problems with you by-lining it from your team.”
Mr Paterson asked yesterday: “How many other pro-NBN articles were secretly written by the government?”
“Stephen Conroy likes to lecture the media about ethics and standards while his own department is breaching every ethic and standard imaginable,” he said. “It is deeply hypocritical.”
The (Australian) Press Council general statement of principles say that publications ‘should not deliberately mislead or misinform readers’, so how can the minister justify his own department subverting journalistic standards in this way? How many other departments has been ghost-writing pro-government material for the media?”