Courier-Mail columnist Peter Gleeson weathers scandal as more plagiarism revealed | The Weekly Beast

Journalist apologises for ‘unintentional’ lifting of material from political analysis written by Josh Bavas and is revealed to have copied Queensland parliament factsheet. Plus: Quillette charges US$150 for New Orleans social

In an opinion piece in March, the Courier-Mail columnist Peter Gleeson – who apologised this week for plagiarising another journalist’s work – filled 62% of his article with copy from a Queensland parliament factsheet.

In his Gleeso Confidential column, the former editor of the Sunday Mail used hundreds of words from the official document without quotation marks, Weekly Beast can reveal.

Peter Gleeson’s Courier-Mail column
Peter Gleeson’s Courier-Mail column: the words in red are taken directly from the factsheet Composite: Courier Mail screenshot

“The Queensland Parliament is unique among Australian state parliaments as it is unicameral, that is, it only has one chamber,” he wrote without attribution.

“Unicameral legislatures are uncommon in Westminster parliamentary democracies.

“The standard parliamentary model in Westminster democracies includes two chambers consisting of a lower house and an upper house of review.”

The article then goes on to copy 21 further paragraphs from the factsheet.

We asked Gleeson for comment on this cut and paste job but he did not respond.

The revelation comes after Gleeson was caught lifting four paragraphs of political analysis by the Brisbane reporter Josh Bavas, who wrote his piece for the ABC in 2020 when the deputy premier Jackie Trad stood down from cabinet.

Gleeson’s feature formed part of a 12-page “Special Investigation by Peter Gleeson” in the Saturday paper headlined “Power and Palaszczuk”. It was a hit job on the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk.

When we earlier asked the “Andrew Bolt of Queensland” if he would resign over that scandal, he said simply “nope”. Doubtless someone with fewer connections than the Sky News host and former Murdoch editor of several mastheads would have been out the door.

After Bavas posted his article side-by-side on Twitter with Gleeson’s article, Courier-Mail staff demanded to know what their editor, Chris Jones, was going to do about the plagiarism.

Why does today's Courier Mail analysis on Premier Palaszczuk by Peter Gleeson contain word for word chunks from my analysis for ABC News on Jackie Trad's departure more than two years ago?

— Josh Bavas (@JoshBavas) October 28, 2022

Jones told them he was taking it seriously and posted an uncharacteristically frank note for a News Corp editor on the offending online article: “Editor’s note: A previous version of this story included four paragraphs which were not the author’s work. News Corporation’s Code of Conduct states that ‘plagiarism is theft’. The Courier-Mail apologises for this error.”

Both Jones and Gleeson called Bavas to apologise.

Weekly Beast understands the candid admission of “theft” by Jones angered Gleeson’s Sky News boss, Paul Whittaker, who wasn’t consulted before the note was published.

On Thursday the Courier-Mail published a page-four apology from Gleeson in which he claimed the plagiarism was “unintentional”.

“I deeply regret the fact that material written by another journalist appeared under my byline in The Courier-Mail last Saturday,” he said. “This was not a deliberate act by me to use another person’s work and present it as my own.

“I had archived this particular material – written by Josh Bavas – as part of research for my investigation report into how power really operates in Queensland today.

“The error to include it in my report was unintentional and happened under the pressures of deadline. However, I recognise the seriousness of plagiarism even if it is unintentional.”

State of play

There is a “clear and obvious gap in the ABC’s news coverage”, according to the ABC’s former editorial director Alan Sunderland, who left Aunty in 2019. In an essay for ABC Alumni, Sunderland says coverage of state and territory issues has been lacking since the ABC abolished the state-based 7.30 programs in 2014. He argues that the ABC is not providing the depth of coverage of all levels of government that we need and says the lack of state coverage is “driven more by budget necessity than editorial judgement” because state-based programming is expensive.

Unsurprisingly, Sunderland’s view is rejected by the corporation’s news director, Justin Stevens, who says the ABC is doing more comprehensive state-based journalism than it ever has, and digital platforms mean the content has a far bigger audience than it did when it was confined to a 30-minute weekly TV program. Stevens says the state reporters are breaking more stories than ever before, and cited many examples including Josh Robertson and Mark Willacy’s investigations into Star Casino Brisbane, which led to Queensland’s attorney general ordering a fresh investigation.

Oz reporters rewarded

The MEAA Northern Territory media awards has joined Murdoch’s News awards in recognising the Australian’s Kristin Shorten, Matt Cunningham and Claire Harvey for their coverage of the acquittal of the Northern Territory police officer Zachary Rolfe over the 2019 shooting of Kumanjayi Walker in Yuendumu.

Judges of the Walkley event appear not to have been bothered by criticism from Indigenous journalists of the Australian’s coverage. The Indigenous affairs officer at Media Diversity Australia, Gomeroi woman Madeline Hayman-Reber, labelled it “a national disgrace”.

Shorten’s “What really happened at Yuendumu” was nominated along with the Australian and Sky News’ “Yuendumu: The Trial”, which she entered with Cunningham, Lia Tsamoglou and Harvey.

Freedom isn’t free

Claire Lehmann, the editor of the rightwing online magazine Quillette, is throwing a party for subscribers in January to thank them for “keeping free thought alive and continuing our plight to promote rational and often heterodox discussion”.

“We’ve rented a three-story mansion close to the French Quarter, where there will be plenty of space to spend the evening drinking fine cocktails and sampling delicious Southern cuisine all backed by a live jazz band,” Lehmann told subscribers.⁠

But before you get too excited about joining the Australian’s regular columnist to bond over how “isolating” it is to be a free thinker, the shindig is in New Orleans and once you get there it will set you back ⁠US$150 (nearly A$240) for a ticket. Attendees have been assured no riff-raff will be allowed into the mansion: “This will be the fourth Quillette Social we’ve run (prior parties took place in Toronto, London, and Sydney) and rest assured that security will be provided so that only those on our guest list will be admitted.”

ABC reprimanded

The media watchdog has slapped the ABC for a breach of privacy for identifying a man’s profile on a dating app.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority said the May 2021 segment included footage of a screen scrolling through a dating app showing the profile of a person, including an image of a face, age and first name.

“All of this is clearly visible, used without any consent whatsoever on my behalf and has gone on to create significant stress and issues in my life as I’ve not been on a dating app in over three years,” the complainant told Acma.

The ABC rejected the finding, saying casual viewers would not be able to identify the complainant.

But Acma’s chair, Nerida O’Loughlin, found it was a breach of the ABC’s code of practice: “Media intrusion into a person’s private life without consent must be justified to be in the public interest.”

Planting seeds

After weeks of flashy program launches from Seven, Nine and Ten heavily featuring big budget reality and dating shows – The Real Love Boat anyone? – it was a welcome relief to attend SBS’s upfronts this week and hear about a diverse and rich slate of content including a documentary from Jess Hill examining consent. The multicultural broadcaster has an impressive three Australian primetime dramas for the first time on its slate: Safe Home with Aisha Dee, Mabel Li and Virginia Gay, the queer revisionist historical drama While the Men Are Away and the anthology series Erotic Stories.

Adam Liaw, Ernie Dingo, Myf Warhurst, Lily Serna and Marc Fennell at the SBS programming launch
Adam Liaw, Ernie Dingo, Myf Warhurst, Lily Serna and Marc Fennell at the SBS programming launch. Photograph: SBS

The rugged Tasmanian wilderness will be the location for #AloneAustralia #SBS2023

— SBS Australia (@SBS) November 2, 2022

Also coming in 2023 is Alone, a local edition of the hit survival show, in which isolated contestants film themselves as they try to survive in the Tasmanian wilderness.

The take-home gift for the 450 guests at the Cutaway at Barangaroo was on brand for SBS: a menu printed on recycled paper and embedded with seeds.

Mission impossible

It’s been just over a year since News Corp tabloids vowed to take action on climate change in a highly unexpected company-wide campaign, Mission Zero.

The editorial series came as a shock because Murdoch outlets have been a major conduit for climate science denial.

Anyone remember that News Corp climate campaign pre election? Watersheds, turning points, all that. Looks like they’ve forgotten it too #auspol

— Katharine Murphy (@murpharoo) November 2, 2022

But the Tele returned to form this week with a front-page story claiming that “tens of thousands of jobs” were at risk from the Albanese government’s revamp of a failed Morrison government emissions reduction policy.


Amanda Meade

The GuardianTramp

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