HACKING SCANDAL: The Age newspaper throws stones around its glass house of illegal intrusion

media_heroIt’s not great that rogue folk within the world’s most hard-hitting tabloid – the UK’s News of the World – authorised outsiders to hack the computer systems containing private voicemail messages for the purpose of generating stories.

It’s illegal in Britain, as it would be here.

It’s certainly unethical, anywhere.

And yet the astounding humbug from the world’s less popular media on this issue is something we find particularly confronting.

Are we really to believe that one weekly tabloid in Britain is the first or last to engage in hacking of this kind?

An answer to that question can be found in Melbourne where the ailing Age newspaper was recently exposed for its involvement in an outrageous hacking incident, involving potentially many more confidential records, when they illegally accessed the ALP’s computers during the Victorian state election.

VEXNEWS understands this is currently being investigated by the Australian Federal Police.

Did that stop them sanctimoniously editorialising about the News of the World?

Scandalously, it didn’t.

They claim those involved in illegal hacking “taint the profession” to the extent that “free speech” itself has been undermined. Strong words.

The cutest part of the diatribe that followed is that apparently Paul Austin, the former state political reporter, who is married to Ted Baillieu’s head spin-doctor Josephine Cafagna, is writing The Age’s leading articles currently.

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It has been strongly rumoured around Media House that Austin was knowingly concerned in the search in addition to other identified parties including Royce Millar, Ben Schneiders and the ambitious Nick McKenzie.

So in that context we found it hilarious to read the Age’s pompous editorial this morning which opined:

We believe that the best defence against unethical behaviour by journalists is the industry’s self-regulation, through vigilant adherence to codes of conduct that – among other things – prohibit unjustified intrusions on the privacy of individuals.

Many would think this would exclude a few Age scribes hacking a political parties’ confidential database to look at potentially thousands of private records of MP’s constituents. As has been previously demonstrated, the targets of The Age’s illegal hacking included subjects of stories, work colleagues, friends, lovers, spouses and the prominent.

Leaving aside the illegality of the Age’s hacking, many of the searches clearly had nothing to do with any matter of legitimate public interest of inquiry.

Their own words seem such a fitting description of The Age’s disgraceful and illegal acts:

“This was conduct beyond any bounds of decency, made worse by the fact that some who should take responsibility… refuse to resign and deny knowledge of any misconduct.”

That’d be Paul Ramadge, the current editor-in-chief of The Age.

If what the News of the World has done is bad – and it seems to be quite the mess – then it also logically follows that journalists engaged in illegal hacking ought be held to account, not just legally but also by their employers.

Ramadge – despite knowing about this at the time and having the evidence laid out in full public view – has failed to act to protect the many dozens of victims of the Age’s illegal intrusions into their private records, including information about their health situation, their families and so on.

The Age does not enter the debate on privacy – or the illegal hacking it undermines – with clean hands. Those responsible need to be brought to justice. We are confident they will be.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “HACKING SCANDAL: The Age newspaper throws stones around its glass house of illegal intrusion

  1. inga binga

    my little boy paul is in there still, great to see him ensure our little libs are protected. I might suggest a smaller sideburn though paul

  2. Giuseppe De Simone

    I have all these lovely stones that I am prepared to give away gratis to Paul Ramadge. I know The Age has very little money for luxuries now-a-days with the deep cuts to their discretionary budgets.

    If Paul is hesitant, I am happy to throw the first stone. It will go straight into the lovely front window of The Age lobby.

  3. Anonymous

    It’s sad that journalists are above the law.

    No matter what they do like being found guilty of endangering children (Alan Howe) or breaking suppression orders (Derryn Hinch), they never lose their job let alone jailed.

    If a politician were to do any of the above, the holier than thou journo’s would demand their head.

    A journo breaks the law and its expected to be swept under the carpet.

    Journo’s hold themselves up and indeed are in positions of significant influence (unelected) but really are a law unto themselves.

  4. Anonymous

    The Age—> soon to suffer the same fate as News of the World.

  5. painful

    If Austin was involved I wonder whether or not Cafagna accessed any information? Surely he must have talked about it with her?

  6. Ben

    How disappointing. I expect more ethical consistency from The Age. It is giving Melbourne a bad name.

  7. Perry White

    The Age has little moral high-ground here, but News of the World would have to be the worlds most despicable excuse for a newspaper.

    The questions need tombe asked:
    Who knew about it?
    When did they know about it?
    What did that know?
    WhAt other papers in the organization have deployed similarly contemptible practices?

    There is a rot that has afflicted journalism generally. It has become more about character assassination and ruining people’s lives over matters that are neither the media’s or the public’s business.

    “News” is now a euphemism for real life soap opera and these reptiles don’t care how they get the information, whose lives they destroy, whether the matter is any business of the public.

    The media has become an unaccountable monster where legality, integrity, decency and truth are not allowed to stand in the way of a “scoop”.

    The Age, for all of it’s pretensions as a serious investigatory paper is not above this in any way.

    But the worst examples: NoTW, FoxSpews etc are all in the Murdoch stable and the Hun ihas some serious grubs working for it as well.

    It’s time these reckless media cowboys are dished out some of the treatment they like to dish out to anyone else.

    Good riddance to NoTW. May the criminals behind it rot in prison and may all islime of a similar ilk summer the same consequences.

  8. Bill

    FXJ now 90c! Is it time to put a toe in the water?? Could there be an LBO on the way, (followed by the axe for 30% of the hacks and 80% of the management)?

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