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Media Watch -

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(generated from captions) CC THEME MUSIC this place, WILSON TUCKEY: When you leave that you keep your trap shut. it's not a bad idea MARK SIMKIN: In other words - WILSON TUCKEY: Buzz off, Pete. on the ABC News in Perth. Wilson Tuckey talking turkey Did you spot the name super? to overlook the error. Mr Tuckey tells us he's happy Just as well. I'm Jonathan Holmes. Welcome to Media Watch, One of the two big prizes Quill Awards dinner last Friday at the Melbourne Press Club's for Outstanding Journalism: was the Gold Quill from The Australian. And the winner is Cameron Stewart Stewart won for the sort of story dream about - that journalists everywhere that left everyone else standing. the exclusive scoop a controversial story, You may remember it was which we looked at last year. of The Australian It was splashed in late editions and Victoria Police conducted raids on the morning that Federal all over Melbourne, of plotting a terrorist attack. rounding up people suspected the Victoria Police wasn't happy. Chief Commissioner Simon Overland of was for sale on Melbourne's streets He claimed the story about the raids several hours before they took place: unacceptable risk to the operation, This in my view represents an an unacceptable risk to my staff. I take extremely seriously It's a risk that and is cause for great concern... newspaper had broken an agreement... The Victoria Police claimed the The Australian denied that. it had the police over a barrel. But there's no doubt days before the raids. It had the story to Cameron Stewart. Someone had leaked the operation of Police Integrity, The Victorian Office

and its Federal equivalent, ever since. have been investigating that leak has been suspended. A Victorian policeman last Friday night: According to Cameron Stewart What none of you know here is that ugly legal battle behind the scenes it's been a very, very difficult and of legal confidentiality which for reasons by certain organisations which has been slapped on me I cannot say a thing about tonight. It's all very mysterious. What organisations? under pressure We understand that Stewart's been to provide information about, his source. and even sworn testimony against, no option but to stand firm. Well, if that's true, Stewart has But not everyone sees his story the Quill Awards saw it: in the way the judges at concerns He balanced national security right to know the details and the Australian public's to attack an Australian army base. of an alleged terrorist plot Ah, the public's Right to Know! a specialist in media ethics, But philosopher Edward Spence, wrote at the time: his acceptance speech: Cameron Stewart said in The lack of shield laws for sources, and everything in this country for journalists, is an absolute disgrace. APPLAUSE this case was a whistleblower, But it's not as though the source in revealing corruption or wrongdoing. to a journo No, it was a policeman blabbing investigation. about a legitimate terrorist still in the dark Meanwhile the public's behind the scenes - about what's going on and that's at least partly because to know. The Australian doesn't want us police investigators A joint report by state and federal and Victorian Parliaments this week. was due to be tabled in the Federal

because of this Federal Court Order, But now it won't be, of the report which has forbidden publication until a formal court hearing... the application of... The order was granted on newspaper, and... the owners of The Australian who is the editor of The Australian. court document, that the report: They claim, according to another are highly critical So we know the police investigators of the Oz and its editor.

But News Ltd's lawyers are arguing integrity commissions: that the Federal and State police no legal right to investigate In other words, that they've of The Australian. and criticise the conduct So, until that matter is decided, how justified the criticisms are. we can't form our own opinion about in court, we never will. And perhaps, if News Ltd wins Chris Mitchell, According to Editor-in-Chief that the draft report: his main concern is His full response is on our website. But in the court documents,

with its own reputation. The Australian seems more concerned to silence its critics To me, its legal action oft-proclaimed support for: sits very oddly with the paper's And now to a cautionary tale in distant and dangerous lands. about television reporting On 13 February last year, in Canberra the Australian Defence Force an operation made an announcement about earlier in Afghanistan. that had taken place two nights

an exchange of fire It claimed there'd been and the Taliban - between Australian special forces

Current reporting indicates include a suspected insurgent that those killed

including five children killed and sadly, local nationals, and two adults injured. and two children There were no other details. the Victorian bushfires, Pre-occupied by no further. most of the media took the story The SBS's Dateline program did. it aired an interview Just three weeks later to have survived the incident with a family who claimed and who, George Negus said: happened without any warning, ..also claim that the killings and without provocation. in Afghanistan, With the help of contacts and producer Aaron Thomas reporter Sophie McNeill put together this report.

when the story broke, Sophie McNeill was in Australia

and she stayed there. to the remote village in Oruzgan She couldn't have travelled safely where the killings took place. she explained to her viewers, So instead, Dateline turned for help in Afghanistan before, to a producer it had worked with called Fazel Reshad. in Australia, but on our behalf, SOPHIE MCNEILL: Fazel now lives here he asked his brother in Afghanistan, Wahab, to find survivors from that night. Now, it's true that there are many parts of Afghanistan where it's very dangerous for Western reporters to go, unless they're embedded with the military. The same is true in Iraq. Many foreign correspondents use local journalists, or fixers, to go where they can't go themselves. It's dangerous and valuable work. A Canadian reporter who has used Afghan helpers to video interviews with Taliban leaders told Media Watch... No-one from Dateline ever met Wahab Fazel, before or after he was commissioned. But it seemed that he came up trumps. He travelled to the city of Kandahar, said McNeill's report, where the family had fled from Oruzgan. The family gave him a detailed, if surprisingly unemotional, account of what happened. Salaam ali kum. This man's name, we were told, is Zahir Khan. His brother and sister-in-law were in the next room. But almost as soon as that report went to air, there were questions. An Afghan ex-pat in Perth, called Farid Popal, noticed that the family didn't dress like southerners, didn't behave like southerners, and didn't speak Pashto with the accent of Oruzgan. He contacted Media Watch. He offered to go to Afghanistan to try to check the family out, but this program doesn't have that sort of budget. We were unable confirm his suspicions. Popal then went to Dateline, and to its credit it took him seriously.

Two weeks ago, the program aired a second report by Sophie McNeill. This time she interviewed Zahir Khan herself after he'd travelled to Kabul with his wife. His account wasn't dissimilar to that given by the first 'Zahir Khan'. But obviously, this was a totally different man. Dateline is positive, this time, that with the help of Farid Popal it's found the right family. The ADF has confirmed that, and so have we, from another journalist who has recently interviewed Zahir Khan. So who was the first Zahir Kahn, and how did his allegations come to be aired? The only explanation Dateline offered its viewers was this:

SOPHIE MCNEILL: After consultation with the ADF, we now believe he's an impostor,

giving a false account of that fateful night. For over a year, Dateline has neither apologised to its viewers, nor explained what happened. And it has been no more forthcoming with Media Watch.

To a long series of questions we sent the program, we received only this response: Yet it seems it wasn't just the family that were impostors. Wahab, the local cameraman went to the Mirwais Hospital in Kandahar to see if there was any official account of the death of Kahn's daughter, Malalai. Dr Kareem Saidi is a surgeon at the Mirwais Hospital. But none of the dead, according to the ADF, was a seven-year-old girl called Malalai.

We believe this so-called surgeon was an impostor too, and so were his records. We've contacted Fazel Reshad, the man who originally suggested to SBS that his brother find the family. Fazel is now back in Kabul.

He told us he was only told about the hoax when contacted by SBS two weeks ago. He says he has now discovered that, without telling him, or Dateline... It was Latif, claims Fazel, who found the family in Kandahar. They were afraid to talk on camera, but suggested... Well, frankly, we don't believe that story. The impostors didn't have southern accents. We've been told that the real family is outraged by the hoax. It's possible that apart from footage of the hospital, which could have come from anywhere, none of the report was shot in Kandahar.

If Dateline had used an independent translator from the region to check Wahab Fazel's report, instead of his own brother,

it might have smelt a rat before it went to air. Instead, it cut corners. And the program was comprehensively conned. As one veteran reporter who's worked often in the region asked Media Watch: A good question. Three weeks ago, Dateline itself demonstrated how it should be done. Sophie McNeill's second report is compelling. It includes film of the surviving family,

and the graves of the victims, in their village in Oruzgan.

And it poses serious questions about the ADF's original account of the incident, and why a year later it has said nothing more, and not even interviewed this family. There's a link to that story on our website, and I urge you to watch it. But that doesn't excuse the fact that Dateline has tried to brush over its own responsibility for a serious deception of its viewers. When mistakes are made, they should be frankly admitted and fully explained. Dateline has decided to do neither. That's it for this week. Lots more detail on our website, where you can leave a comment, can watch the show again, or download a vodcast. Until next week, goodnight. Closed Captions by CSI

Hello, Tony Jones live in

studio 22. Tonight live on Q&A, Greg Hunt, Baroness Valerie

Amos, John Doyle, Nicola Roxon

and Tim Wilson. Health, cricket

and Chinese justice. Q&A is

live and it's coming

This program is not subtitled Paul Bendat Besmirch

This Program is Captioned Live. Good evening. There are continuing reports tonight that Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu has pleaded guilty to bribery charges. Mr Hu is alleged to

have received $1 million in bribes. The Australian and three of his Chinese colleagues have gone on trial in Shang hie, most of it behind closed doors. In the United States. Republicans are warning Barack Obama will face political backlash over his historic health reforms. The bill has narrowly passed the US Congress. It'll provide health insurance cover for 32 million more Americans. The Republicans say they'll repeal it if they win back their majority in November elections. Back home, Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott are preparing to go head-to-head on the same issue - health. The pair will discuss the Prime Minister's planned shake-up of the program tomorrow at the leaders' debate in the National Press Club. A severe thunderstorm has brought wild winds, flooding and hail to Perth. The deluge hit the city's northern suburbs first

causing widespread blackouts. The storm is now making its way south, leaving a trail of destruction. Southern Cross Equities Southern alcho Frances Bell This Program is Captioned Live. Good evening, there are continuing reports tonight that Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu

has pleaded guilty to bribery

charges, but reporters haven't

been able to confirm it,

because most of the trial in

Shanghai is being held behind

closed doors. Mr Hu is alleged

to have received $1 million in

bribes. The Australian and three Chinese colleagues went

on trial today. In the United

States, Republicans are warning

Barack Obama will face a

political backlash over his

historic health reforms. The

bill has narrowly passed the US

Congress. It'll provide health

insurance cover for 32 million

more Americans, but Republicans

say they'll repeal the

legislation if they win back

their majority in November

elections. Back home, Kevin

Rudd and Tony Abbott are

preparing to go head-to-head on

the same issue - health. The

pair will discuss the Prime

Minister's planned shake-up of

the system tomorrow in their

first leaders' debate at the

National Press Club. And a

severe thunderstorm has brought

wild winds, hail and flooding

to Perth. The deluge hit the

city's northern suburbs first,

causing widespread blackouts.

The storm is now making its way

south leaving a trail of

destruction.

More news on 'Lateline' at

10:30.