Political journalists, leaks and Freedom of Information
journal contributionposted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by Helen EsterHelen Ester
This paper looks at leaks from the perspective of political journalists, in particular, those working in the parliamentary round. This work draws on interviews with journalists in 25 of the 33 mainstream bureaus in the Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery (FFPG). It is based on a view that parliamentary democracy andthe parliamentary journalism round share a co-genesis – that mature representative democracies and principles of press freedoms are twin outcomes of the same gestation that binds parliamentary reporters and parliamentarians in a never-ending contest over information. Further, it is argued the health of this interdependent relationship can be seen as a bellwether for the key tradition of transparency in Westminster-derived democracies. In 2005, one of the longest-serving members of the FPPG, Michelle Grattan described it this way: “It is an old message that media and politicians are both natural adversaries and in a parasitic relationship. Their interests are often at odds. Sometimes they are openly at war, constantly they are engaged in a struggle of wits. What’s interesting is how this traditional conflict and cooperation plays out in new circumstances.” (Grattan, 2005 p.2) The topic of leaks highlights an important aspect of the contemporary state of play in this many- faceted struggle.