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Journalism, journalism lecturers, ethics and trade unions - Janine Little article in The Conversation

Here's the blurb from The Conversation's website about its own ethics

The Conversation is an independent source of analysis, commentary and news from  the university and research sector — written by acknowledged    experts and delivered directly to the public. Our team of professional editors    work with more than 4,600    registered academics and researchers to make this wealth of knowledge and    expertise accessible to all. 

 We aim to be a site you can trust. All published work will carry attribution    of the authors’ expertise and, where appropriate, will disclose any    potential conflicts of interest, and sources of funding. Where errors or  misrepresentations occur, we will correct these promptly.  

Here's the website - www.theconversation.edu.au  

And here's a link to the article we spoke about on this blog on Monday, 14 January this year.

As you'll see, many of our readers were concerned that the Journalism Lecturer at Deakin University, Janine Little, didn't disclose that she is a union official, in fact her disclosure statement said she has no relevant affiliations and does not work for any organisation that could benefit from her article.

We made a noise about it on 14 January.   Grace Collier wrote to Janine on the day.   I let it go until yesterday when I wrote this letter to Andrew Jaspan, the editor and executive director of The Conversation (and formerly the editor of The Age in Melbourne). 

Many of our readers went to the trouble of pointing out that the disclosure statement at least needs fixing - it's still there today.

So, here's the letter,  still unanswered, to Andrew Jaspan.

Dear Andrew,

On Monday, 14 January 2013 I published a few comments about Janine Little's story " AWU 'scandal' says more about the media's ethics than the PM's".   Here's a link.
I asked my readers to give me and Janine their views on the piece.  Many of the comments pointed to Janine's Disclosure Statement at the top of the article, "Janine Little does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article and has no relevant affiliations."
The article was about a trade union.   The word "union" appears 18 times on the page and the acronym AWU appears 21 times.  The article advanced the interests of a union and the broader union movement by supporting the view that the The AWU Scandal and the PM's involvement in it should remain concealed.  Ms Little's article advances that cause by suggesting that it is unethical to pursue and report on the investigation.   Perhaps Ms Little might care to discuss that matter with Victoria Police which is investigating the allegations Ms Little says are unfounded.
Later that day I published this post linking to the National Tertiary Education Union website, it lists, Janine Little as a Branch Member of the Deakin University Committee of the National Tertiary Education Union.    The NTEU's website describes Ms Little's role thus, "Every two years, at each university, members elect a Branch Committee to govern the affairs of the Branch and to represent you at a local level, for a term of two years"
So Ms Little is a trade union official, one of a group of 6 branch members who govern the affairs of the Deakin NTEU branch and represent members.   Sounds a little bit like Ms Little does work for an organisation that might benefit from her article and that she does have a relevant affiliation.   The article was about ethics too!    10 days later, the same disclosure statement remains, unaltered, at the top of the story link.

You might note that the respected Industrial Relations practitioner Grace Collier took issue with the factual assertions in Ms Little's article and asked me to publish this letter.
Janine's article was biased and mistaken in fact.   There is sufficient prima facie evidence of the commission of serious indictable offences by known surviving persons involved in The AWU Scandal to trigger a full-scale investigation into the crimes by Victoria Police, that investigation is afoot and was reported on today in the Fairfax papers by Mark Baker.   I know that Julia Eileen GILLARD is a person of interest because I lodged a report naming her and describing prima facie evidence that disclosed an offence against the Crimes Act carrying a 10 year gaol term.  Given then, that Ms Little's article was biased towards the interests of the union movement and Ms GILLARD, her failure to disclose her own position as a trade union official is all the more egregious, particularly when she is paid to lecture aspiring journalists on ethics.
Kind regards,

Michael Smith

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