How not to be a political hack
Here is a simple 10 point plan to follow to become a good political journalist.
1. When you get a press release from a politician ask yourself what is he or she trying to hide.
2. When you get a press release attacking another politician, it is probably a good idea to ask the politician under attack for a quote. Better still, ask the Press releasee to clarify and reference their material. This is called balanced journalism.
3. When a pollie refuses to answer a question, say "you didn't answer the question" and then ask it again.(and again if necessary).
4. When a pollie makes a statement, attribute that claim. Even a cadet knows to do this, but, the number of journos who turned Howard's Children overboard claim into a rolled gold fact was embarrassing to the profession.
5. If you are writing about the law get a lawyers opinion.
6. Get a relevent lawyers opinion. There is no point in asking the bloke who defended your drink-driving charge to comment on constitutional law.
7. Don't ask politicians if they have ever smoked marijauna. It's been done and nobody cares?
8. When you get a press release from a lobby group like the Wilderness society or the IPA, don't cut and paste it and then claim it as yours.
9. Re-read the AJA's code of ethics. If you go to this website it is only one more click away.
10.Now abide by it for a happy healthy democratic process.
Lots of love
from the Hack Watcher.