Crikey just got the following email from News Limited’s spin doctor Greg Baxter. He claims, contrary to my piece in the Crikey email today, that all News Limited journos get a copy of the News Limited Code of Professional Conduct on induction.

Now I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is not so, and indeed that it can be hard to find a copy in some News Limited newsrooms. It is on the intranet, but many employees don’t know it is there.

But I am not at liberty to say how I know this.

So here is a call to News Limited employees past and present, from the humblest community newspaper to the Daily Telegraph. Tell us whether, how and when you first heard this document existed. Or anything else you might like to contribute. You can Tweet to @margaretsimons, you can comment here, or you can email me in confidence at [email protected]

Baxter’s entire email, and my response for publication in Crikey on Monday, are below.

I have no doubt Margaret Simons has a mate somewhere in News who claims never to have seen our Code of Conduct, therefore allowing her to assert that most of our people have never seen it, never been encouraged to read it and don’t abide by it. Etc etc.

The code has been published and updated twice in the past 5 years as far as I know and hard copies distributed to all newsrooms. It is also available on the intranets of each of our major divisions. It is included in induction packs when we employ staff, including journalists of 15 minutes or 50 years’ experience.

Hartigan made two points about the code in his note to staff. One, his personal belief is that the code should guide everything we do. If it doesn’t, it should. And, implicit in that is a warning to any journalist who has left the code unread in the bottom of a drawer. Take it out, read it and abide by it.

As for Margaret’s reference to Jay Rosen’s tweet, would any decent media outlet allow a reference like this to be included in a story in this way, gratuitous, unchecked, without elaboration, explanation or qualification? Clearly Crikey works to different standards. If Crikey has a code of conduct please send it to us.


Greg Baxter| Director, Corporate Affairs

My response:

Here is a challenge for Greg Baxter. Without forewarning, walk into the newsroom of a News Limited community newspaper outfit, and talk to the journalists. Ask them how many of them have a copy of News Limited’s Code of Professional Conduct. Ask them how many are aware that there is such a thing. Ask them if they have read it, or been encouraged to read it by their bosses. Then try to find a hard copy in the newsroom. Then come back and argue with me, if you wish.

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