Media education group, union protest over police demand for ABC ‘inside story’ climate footage

Escalation . . . the 30sec ABC trailer
"Escalation" . . . the 30sec ABC trailer for tonight's controversial investigation screening. Image: ABC screenshot/APR

Pacific Media Watch

The Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia (JERAA) says it is “deeply concerned” at reports that Western Australian police are demanding the ABC hand over footage about climate protesters filmed as part of a Four Corners investigation.

“As researchers and teachers of journalism, we uphold the ethical obligation of journalists to honour any assurances given to protect sources,” said JERAA president Associate Professor Alexandra Wake in a statement.

“This obligation is imperative in supporting the Western democratic tradition of journalism and to investigative journalism in particular.”

The ABC case relates to an investigation due to be broadcast on Four Corners tonight: “Escalation: Climate, protest and the fight for the future”.

“I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life.” Video: ABC Four Corners

WA police are reported to have demanded footage via “Order to Produce” provisions of the WA Criminal Investigations Act. The law compels organisations to comply.

One of JERAA’s core aims was to promote freedom of expression and communication, said the statement.

“The association is concerned that the WA police action represents a direct threat to media freedom and the practice of ethical investigative journalism,” Dr Wake said.

“We join the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) in urging the ABC to stand firm and not hand over footage which could potentially undermine assurances by the Four Corners team to their sources.”

The union for Australian journalists said it was alarmed at the reports that WA police were demanding the ABC hand over footage featuring climate activists filmed as part of the television investigation before it had even aired.

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