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.

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Ethical Journalist

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      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

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Name: The Ethical Journalist

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Parts 1 and 2 of this investigative series explored key political drivers, and the framework for the opinion management process as a whole. These were illustrated and evidenced with clear unambiguous supportive examples. Part 3 revealed the mindset of the ABC Board, with apparent desire to preserve the relationship with Indonesia at the expense of Schapelle Corby's welfare.

In Part 4 we will begin to investigate events at a more operational level. For our first foray into our database we will focus on what appears to pass for acceptable journalistic practice and behaviour within the ABC.


Ethical journalists are well aware of the requirement for respect, objectivity and fairness when interviewing members of the public. Indeed, the AJA Code of Ethics covers this through a number of its clauses, amongst them "Use fair, responsible and honest means to obtain material", "Never exploit a person’s vulnerability or ignorance of media practice" and "Respect private grief and personal privacy".

But consider how the ABC interview members of the public. Consider for example how they interviewed Mercedes Corby, in the context of her struggling to support her sister Schapelle during her terrible ordeal. We recently discovered a recording of one such interview. Here are some extracts:

Play Or Download The MP3
(To Download Right Click, 'Save As')

[Note: These are short extracts. Much of the interview
is extremely unpleasant and not suitable for a public website]

Mercedes Corby in fact did very well indeed, given the sort of journalist she was confronted with. The bigger issue though is what this open hostility clearly indicates regarding the ABC's position with respect to Schapelle Corby.

Consider those words and listen to the tone in his voice.

Is that the voice of someone adopting a neutral, objective, and truth seeking journalistic perspective? Or is it the voice of someone who has a clearly entrenched hostile position, annoyed that a young woman is standing up for herself and her family?

Is it the voice of true objectivity, or the voice of subjective bias?

Is it the voice of someone you would trust to report neutrally and fairly on this issue?

Indeed. I think the same thing too.


If you were pursuing the father of Schapelle Corby instead of investigating the real case issues, how would you research him? Perhaps you would use the internet to search for background information.

Or perhaps, because Mr Corby served in the Navy, you would post a question on a naval message board, stating clearly that you were really working on an historical naval piece, and not on Schapelle Corby at all.

No, you wouldn't really do that. And neither would I.

But I'm afraid it appears that the ABC would:

Words escape me.


So, after months of investigation, and after apparently using every dirty and unethical trick in the book, what did the ABC actually discover? They discovered that Mr Corby once smoked a joint at a party. No, seriously, that is what they established: Schapelle's father once smoked a joint at a party.

But what they actually reported wasn't this at all. What they reported was absolutely appalling. The fruits of their labour were embellished to make a series of false but hugely damaging allegations, and state them as fact.

Subsequently, they were forced to apologise:

For the ABC, that ridiculously lame apology, and a note tucked away on their website, the matter was closed. For Schapelle Corby and her hopes that Australian support would bring her home, it was devastating.


Allow me to help you with your story Mr Stewart. This is how an investigative journalist would handle it. He would actually ask the police, officially. Here is what the police had to say, for example, when they were asked if you had contacted them: "I can advise that QPS has not spoken with any journalist from 7:30 Report".

Here is what they have had to say on some similar fiction to your own: "We have found no links, nothing at all...". For the record, they even used the word "laughable" in that particular interview.

But more still: they are clearly sick of people creating smoke to give the public the impression of fire. They have even issued a certificate to make it plain:

That took me five minutes to find. Why didn't you find it, Mr Stewart? Or did you?


The disturbing methods detailed in this article are apparently endorsed by the ABC, at least with respect to Schapelle Corby related stories. They make every honest and ethical journalist shudder, but the ABC would appear to be perfectly happy with them.

In fact only recently they told us that John Stewart was "a good, honest and ethical journalist". Apparently, he had only "made errors in the way he described certain things".

Ah, got it. That's ok then. Thanks for clearing it up for us!


Michael Corby lost his battle with cancer in January 2008, and Schapelle Corby continues to suffer in her Indonesian prison cell. Much of the Australian public have accepted what the ABC told them as truth, and have had their opinions shaped accordingly.


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I have received a number of emails recently suggesting that I should investigate the ABC Board. I fully intend to look at this area in due course, but in the meantime I had a quick scratch of the surface.

Readers will recall that part 2 of our investigation cited the astonishing ABC MediaWatch broadcast of 30th May 2005. This was a ferocious and sustained attack on other media organs, whilst defending the Indonesian regime which had so seriously breached Ms Corby's human rights. It appeared to be a very clear and open message to the Australian media regarding the requisite nature of future Schapelle Corby reporting.

Straight out of the blocks was a journalist called Janet Albrechtsen, who two days later, produced a shocking piece in The Australian newspaper laced with open hostility to Schapelle Corby, and defending the Indonesian regime, astonishingly referring to "defensible positions taken by democratic governments to deal with perceived problems". Accusing many Australians of "overdosing on compassion", her position could not have been more stark.

The Australian newspaper is a News Corporation publication. With their significant investments and presence in Indonesia, this is perhaps the sort of disturbing story which might be expected to align with News Corp's general editorial stance on this issue.

But wait, Janet Albrechtsen?

Yes, the same Janet Albrechtsen who had been appointed to the governing board of the ABC by Prime Minister John Howard shortly before Schapelle Corby's imprisonment.

You might wish to read that last sentence again. You did read it correctly.


Amongst the general vitriol, Ms Albrechtsen did produce one noteworthy remark: "it may damage Australia's relationship with Indonesia". That relationship was indeed under severe threat.

This insight into the ABC's thinking, at Board level, is extremely interesting. As referenced in part 1 of our investigation the Australian government values that relationship higher than Schapelle Corby's human rights, with the apparent ABC led media campaign in support of this policy emerging simultaneously.

Ms Albrechtsen's comment demonstrates clear knowledge of the political dimension in play. Having been appointed by the government, this is perhaps not surprising. But dropping a direct reference like that amongst the general hostility to Schapelle Corby certainly is surprising, as it illustrates openly what was going through her mind at the very point in time at which the hostile media campaign actually began to unfold in earnest.

[Note that Janet Albrechtsen is still a member of the ABC Board.]


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