Welcome to the Schapelle Corby Media project. The rationale for the project and the objectives of the project are detailed on our introductory page.

The need for such an initiative is evident from even a cursory examination of the media publications and broadcasts over a number of years. Equally, serious criticism of the Australian media is now widespread and international. The YouTube film embedded on the front page for example was produced in the United Kingdom. A similar film has recently been produced in the United States.

Even Civil Liberties Australia (CLA) have commented: "The real story is how a young powerless woman is being imprisoned for a crime that she probably had nothing to do with. But the Australian media have become her persecutor"

Neither is it a question of the odd rogue article or broadcast: it has been systematic. We have seen countless examples of unsubstantiated allegations and in some cases outright lies. We have seen widescale censorship, in the form of hard news stories being completely ignored.

For any ethical journalist this is deeply disturbing. The fact that it has continued for so long reflects upon the profession as a whole.

The project will investigate and examine all aspects of this. It will probe the origins, explore the nature of editorial policy, examine the role and motives of individual scribes, and expose many of the specific smears and abuses.

It will seek and expose truth: truth being a pre-requisite to even begin to address this sorry situation. The project is essentially a service to journalism itself.

Tranche 1:
Fairfax Media Limited, News Corporation, AAP, Seven Network, Nine Network, ABC, Ten Network.

Copyright Journoz.Com 2009. All rights reserved.

Powered by Blogger

Resources For The
Ethical Journalist

    Do you have any information with respect to the unethical aspects of the reports made on this case?

    Can you help expose unethical practices with respect to Schapelle Corby reporting? If so, please contact us on:


    Thank you.
      The Truth Behind 'The Hidden Truth'

      The Hand of Government

      Media Interests in Indonesia

      How Deep The Rabbit Hole Goes

      Editorial Exposé

      ABC: Media Manipulating Media Watch

My Photo
Name: The Ethical Journalist

Monday, February 16, 2009


In November 2008 a remarkable event unfolded: for the first time in the entire history of the Australian nation there was a global protest in support of one of its citizens. People from across the planet joined in, presenting banners and protest cards in major cities across North America, Europe and Australasia. The citizen in question happened to be Schapelle Corby.

In case anyone harbored doubts that the apparent Schapelle Corby media agenda spanned broadcasting as well as written media, this event was totally ignored in Australia. There was not a single reference in any mainstream organ. Not one.

Furthermore, that protest was accompanied by a video, which has been referred to in overseas publications as "ground breaking" and "a landmark video". But was the video referred to by the mainstream media in Australia, particularly given that was actually about an Australian? Again, no. Not once.

Damaging smears, tittle-tattle and false innuendo regarding Schapelle Corby are regular features across the media as a whole: features which have seriously harmed her welfare. But a strong supportive solid news story like this one doesn't even merit an acknowledgement that it even happened.


Again, observers from outside the national borders of Australia have noticed. The following video was posted around the internet recently:

It is damning, but it is clearly accurate in terms of its underlying message.

I recently approached the producer of that particular video, who provided a full list of Australian media contacts that had been approached regarding the protest and story. Every mainstream publisher and broadcaster in Australia was represented. They were each notified twice: once for the protest and once for the video documenting it.

The real problem is that this is not an isolated case. It is part of a pattern. Much more on that at a later date though.

In the meantime all those editors who helped to hide this story from the Australian public should perhaps be reflecting upon when they lost their journalistic integrity. This one is so blatant it would fit neatly into the news suppression handbook of just about any media controlling totalitarian regime.




It is impossible to undo the damage caused by the media to the welfare of Schapelle Corby and her family. However, whilst we seek through this project to roll back some of the damage caused to Australian journalism, it would be remiss not to consider the situation of Ms Corby herself.

To a tiny degree this project assists, by reporting the truth and openly discussing the almost unparalleled unethical journalism in play. But surely active journalists in the field can make a bigger difference.

But how, other than reporting fairly and truthfully, and perhaps reporting on the issues raised by this project? This specific article has been posted to solicit your ideas and suggestions.

If you have any ideas with respect to this aspect, please do comment below, or send an email to me.



Just a few weeks ago, I came across the piece below in XenoxNews (http://www.xenoxnews.com), which was originally titled "The Anatomy of A Smear". It refers to an SMH report of Sunday 30th November 2008, and parodies its construction:
    A Lament for Journalism - aka The Art of Opinion Management

    Mr Ed: "Ah, young Harry, we could do with a bit of a story on Corby, and there's something supportive going around the net channels which is in danger of catching people's attention".

    Junior Scribe: "So it's best to cover it in some way, so as to cover our tracks, just in case?"

    Mr Ed: "You've half got it son. It's your first on this case isn't it? Do you know how to write it?"

    Junior Scribe: "I've got a couple of ideas, sir"

    Mr Ed: "Throw a few words in at the start to imply that it's edgy and probably irrational. 'Notoriety', now that's a good one, and call it 'political'! Make sure you re-enforce the term "convicted drug smuggler" to imply that she is somehow guilty, without ANY reference to what actually went on in the show trial. In fact NEVER refer to the show trial whilst you are working here.".

    Junior Scribe: "Yeh"

    Mr Ed: "And be sure to play down the increasing international concern about the lack of any action to help her. I know what to do: blame a film! What a good idea, if I say so myself."

    Junior Scribe: "Sure thing"

    Mr Ed: "End it with one of the old smears to signal to the readers that she is guilty and somehow deserves it"

    Junior Scribe: "Any in particular?"

    Mr Ed: "Use the Dad. He's dead so he can't sue us (and that's a decent tip for future stories by the way son). Use the lag, and his fictitious claims that he was some sort of massive drugs baron."

    Junior Scribe: "I take it you do actually know that a certificate of 'no disclosable outcomes' for him was issued by Queensland Police, and about their total lack of any interest at all in this mythical international drugs ring? And that you do know he was of very meagre means, especially for an international drug baron?" (sniggering). "Won't the public put two and two together?"

    Mr Ed: "As if we are ever going to tell the public any of that, stupid boy! What they never see they will never know."

    Junior Scribe: "Ha ha, I've got it now"

    Mr Ed: "That lot should help to marginalize the impact of this Schapelle Song thing, and keep the process of opinion management moving along nicely.".

    Mr Ed: "Ah, and yes, make sure you mistype the URL of the song link itself, so that the punters can't get to their turf easily. That's important."

    Junior Scribe: "I'm there. I've got all of that"

    Mr Ed: "Good lad"

    And Junior-Scribe's finished article?

    New York songbird's lament for Schapelle (Source: The Sun-Herald) (http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/new-york-songbirds-lament-for-schapelle/2008/11/29/1227491892588.html)

    AN AMERICAN musician has gained notoriety after penning a political song about convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby. New York-based singer-songwriter Tara Hack has attracted rave reviews and 1000 hits o­n YouTube after releasing the track earlier this month.

    Titled Saya Tidak Bersalah, I'm Not Guilty - Corby's final words before being sentenced - the song highlights her imprisonment and attacks the Australian Government and the media for their lack of support for the 31-year-old Queenslander.

    It includes the lyrics: "She touched down, she didn't get far/ she got framed in Denpasar/ she planned to stay at a fine hotel, but her stay in Bali turned into hell/ take two weeks on a fine vacation, spend nine hours in interrogation/ a one-way ticket straight to heaven, she won't get out until she's 47."

    Hack, described by US music website Top40-charts.com as a "highly acclaimed indie-pop artist", said: "I hope that in even the smallest way this song helps to bring awareness to Schapelle's horrific situation. I hope it is a tiny step to give Schapelle back the voice that was so cruelly and unjustly stripped from her."

    Corby was thrust into the US spotlight in June last year following the screening of a documentary titled Ganja Queen o­n HBO, filmed during Corby's 2005 trial.

    When a longer two-part version was screened in Australia, it reignited debate about Corby's guilt or innocence, largely due to convicted drug smuggler Malcolm McCauley, who said he knew the truth. McCauley was arrested in November 2005 when a police raid o­n his Adelaide home uncovered evidence of trafficking and pictures of him visiting Corby in jail. He served 15 months for his part in transporting 100 kilograms of cannabis to Queensland.

    In an exclusive interview with The Sun-Herald, McCauley said Corby's late father Mick had been the Queensland-based recipient of his drugs since 2000. He spoke of a "well-oiled machine", involving Mick Corby and Bali airport security personnel.

    Hear the song and watch the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-EENMoK9tA.

The SMH story is attributed to SMH employee Eamonn Duff, who I presume is "Junior Scribe" in the Xenox version. Ridicule though is perhaps the least he deserves.

Here, he essentially produced yet another re-run of a serious smear, which had already been debunked on a number of occasions. Presenting claims by a convicted criminal as though they have credibility, whilst ignoring the referenced certificate issued by Queensland Police and the comments by operational detectives that the claims were "laughable", appears to expose the standards to which Mr Duff works.

This was a story about a song: a talented artist on the other side of the world creating something extraordinary to support a suffering Australian. But he used it to re-enforce a message that had already been wholly discredited, and perversely to self-congratulate SMH for the offending "exclusive interview"!


So, fellow journalists, shall we perform an elementary 'subject interview' as a class exercise, and construct some sensible questions for Mr Duff on his eloquent masterpiece? How about these just for starters:
    Was that much trumpeted "exclusive interview" with convicted criminal McCauley paid for, Mr Duff?

    If so, how much was he paid?

    Did you not check his credibility with the police Mr Duff?

    Why no quote from the police at all in your "exclusive" story Mr Duff? Wouldn't a quote from the police strengthen your story? Or is it that you believed that their comments would blow your story away as a blatant smear?

    Please allow a fellow journalist to assist:

    Do you see what he did there? He simply asked the police. That's what journalists do: they investigate the truth.

    Why didn't you contact the lead subject of this story, Tara Hack, for a comment (and you didn't, because I checked)? Was that because you were too focused upon the objective of re-delivering a smear?

    Did you obtain the Michael Corby police certificate Mr Duff?

    If not why not? And if so, why didn't you mention it?

    Allow me to help you again. Here it is:

    Isn't the truth that the "exclusive" was wholly manufactured via the first drug runner who came along making such damaging claims, and that you avoided seeking credible substantiation like the plague, because you knew what the outcome would be?

    Further, that you now re-run this smear as legitimate, even though you are well aware that it is bogus?

Perhaps even more pertinent:
    Did you add the re-run of the smear to this story of your own volition, Mr Duff?

    Or were you told to add it by your editor, or via editorial policy, as suggested by the Xenox article?

    Do you have any idea how much damage 'stories' like this one do to the international reputation of Australian journalism?

    Do you ever examine your conscience regarding the effect smears like this one have on the welfare and life of Schapelle Corby, Mr Duff? If the objective was to seriously harm the chances of a woman in turmoil struggling to survive, it appears to have been devastatingly successful. Congratulations.

Ok, perhaps the last question was a little out of scope for our class exercise, but I am sure fellow journalists will agree that the implication isn't unreasonable in the circumstances.

I am not picking on you Mr Duff, I am simply exposing the nature of your "story" and your role because YOU are attributed with writing it. Having said that, I am still investigating some of your previous 'stories' which are of similar stature, and which I will no doubt feature later: along with others by scribes of similar standing to yourself. Have a good day, Mr Duff.


Labels: , , ,


The name of Australian journalism is dragged through the gutter and the profession of journalism is justifiably castigated all too often. But why? Generally, because some people who call themselves journalists throw ethics and integrity out of the window without even a passing thought for the implications: sometimes even when those implications include a significant contribution to human suffering.

This is particularly moot with respect to the Schapelle Corby case. Worse still, in this case it has happened over a prolonged period of years.

Equally, influence on public opinion via the media within a society is sometimes so unsophisticated and unremitting that it becomes visible outside that society. This to some degree has also transpired here.

As a result Australian journalism has been accused, and its international reputation has been tarnished. This should surely be of concern to every journalist.

The process to address this situation is clearly to identify, to correct, and ultimately to learn from the abuses which have occurred. This project is intended to be a tiny step to this end in a generic sense, but via focus upon this particular case.

Our Schapelle Corby project was on the cards long before this film emerged. The unethical journalism and the unsubstantiated smears have been obvious to most thinking journalists for years. The film though, which can be viewed below, crystallized some of the issues fairly well:

The 'six step process' it describes will be familiar in many ways to most journalists and media watchers:
    1. Shift focus from the facts... from what people have seen. Stop reporting it. Move the agenda away from it.
    EFFECT: Reporting bogus irrelevant stories creates distance between now, and then, in the public mind.

    2. Routinely refer to her as "Convicted drug smuggler, Schapelle Corby"... as though the wholly discredited show trial had some sort of credibility.
    EFFECT: This connotation invokes powerful negative imagery in the public mind, re-enfoced consistently by repetition.

    3. Invent stories and present doubt, using good old fashioned unattributed innuendo: "a source claimed that", "it is believed that", "some people allege"...
    EFFECT: The "no smoke with fire" card usually works. Fill the column inches with smoke and much of the public will believe it.

    4. Smear her family: present constant unsubstantiated allegation against Schapelle's loved ones and her deceased father, who are ill-equipped to fight back.
    EFFECT: The reliable "guilt by association" approach is surprisingly effective in clouding public vision.

    5. Publish outright fabrication. Even pay enormous sums for ridiculous 'stories' that are torn to shreds via litigation.
    EFFECT: Mission accomplished - more smoke and more shift of focus from the show trial.

    6. Marginize and bury real news, such as loss of remission, Schapelle's illnesses and lesser sentences for terrorists/muderers/etc
    EFFECT: Blinding the public from her REAL life prevents widespread sympathy developing.

These are extremely serious allegations. However, I would challenge anyone to obtain the archive of Schapelle Corby related stories and view each story one after the other, as I have done. Weigh each against proper attributable facts, and then against the above list. The objective researcher will find exactly what I did: that the allegations made by the film are broadly true. The overwhelming majority of stories over recent years fit into one or more steps in the process described.

The film also cites damning verdicts on Australian journalism by the CLA and FPSS:
    Published by Civil Liberties Australia (CLA): "The real story is how a young powerless woman is being imprisoned for a crime that she probably had nothing to do with." "But the Australian media have become her persecutor"

    The Foreign Prisoner Support Service (FPSS):"Schapelle Corby is being victimised by the Australian media. These constant attacks leave us with very little room to plead her case to anyone; and all the breaches of Indonesian and international law go unnoticed because they are overshadowed by hearsay and innuendo."
Ethical journalists should think about this very carefully, and consider the impact of this not just upon Schapelle Corby, but upon journalism in Australia. Having undertaken this exercise, I rather suspect that most will be as disturbed as I am about what has occurred.

But how has this happened? How has it been allowed to continue for so long? How orchestrated has it been? How much has the hand of government been involved? How much of the fabrication and opinion management has been down to lack of editorial control, and how much a result of editorial policy? How much has been driven by crude fiscal consideration, and how much by politics? What is the story of those who have been particularly proactive in this business? Who has been pulling the strings, where do they lead, and through whom?

After spending months researching this, I do have some answers: but only some. I have some pieces of a very large jigsaw, but not all. I am still investigating, but now, some of the investigation will be in the public domain, via this project.

The project will explore all of the questions above, and more. It will investigate editorial control, specific journalists, particular stories, government role, and financial benefits. It will seek to expose truth.

As the project develops it will continually seek feedback and information from the wider community of journalists. I know already that there are many working ethical journalists who are extremely concerned about this case: please come forward and provide information. This can be provided anonymously if you feel that it may expose you. My email address is in the right hand panel.

This project clearly isn't going to clean up Australian journalism, but it might enhance understanding of what has gone so wrong in this specific case, and thus potentially contribute to a reduction the number of future abuses. Although it is indeed a tiny step on this path, it is a long overdue step.