Media Release on complaint to Journalists' Union

The Australian journalist’s union, the Media Entertainment Arts Alliance (MEAA) has found a Melbourne journalist breached the union’s code of ethics in his reporting of events relating to the sexual harassment claims against former Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle.

And the MEAA warned Melbourne Herald Sun journalist Ian Royall to avoid placing undue emphasis on selective points of his reporting.

The Australian Local Government Women’s Association (ALGWA), a non-party political organisation representing women in local government, made a complaint to the MEAA about a series of articles by journalists John Masanuskas and Ian Royall.

“We complained that the articles were misleading, unfair, unbalanced and economical with the truth. We were particularly concerned about a photograph of former councillor Tessa Sullivan being splashed across the front page together with an unrelated text,” said National ALGWA President Cr Coral Ross.

Only one of the journalists is a member of the MEAA, and the Alliance’s Ethics committee convened a panel to investigate the complaint against Mr Royal and his stories More Twists in the Doyle Scandal and The Doyle Dilemma.

The stories concerned the former Councillor registering the name Tessa Doyle but the ALGWA complained they failed to disclose that Doyle was her mother’s maiden name.

The ALGWA complained the journalist breached two clauses of the Code of Ethics. The panel found that Mr Royall had breached one clause but not the second.

“We are pleased that the MEAA found there had been a breach in the Alliance’s Code of Ethics. Mr Royal was found in breach of Do your utmost to achieve fair correction of errors. The panel recommended Mr Royall be warned to avoid placing undue emphasis on selective points in his reporting,”said Cr Ross.

The ALGWA is concerned that the Herald-Sun’s reporting deterred other women from making claims of sexual harassment.

“We did not make this complaint lightly,” said ALGWA Vic President Helen Coleman. “We are here to support women in local government and felt strongly that the reporting was victim-blaming.

“While we are very pleased that the MEAA warned the journalist, and trust that in the future journalists will abide by the journalist’s Code of Ethics, we are considering whether to appeal the finding in relation to the other clause,” added Ms Coleman.