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Federal Government

ENDANGERED: Julia Gillard’s life put at risk because of The Age

gillardunderthreat The Age and Sydney Morning Herald online endangered the life of Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard by pre-advertising her surprise visit to Iraq this past weekend.

They published a report written by Jason Koutsoukis, a former ALP member who has brought a more balanced approach to Fairfax’s Middle East coverage, that foreshadowed the visit, based on a briefing from one of Gillard’s staff.

It is generally understood that visits by prominent public officials to troops in Iraq are not foreshadowed by the media to avoid them becoming a target of terrorist groups operating within that country.

The Age online this morning was keen to drop Koutsoukis right in it:

The report was a serious error of judgment by the reporter.

Yet in its apology, it seems to highlight systemic problems with The Age online which is that material is posted without being reviewed by a “senior editor.”

Koutsoukis writes his copy and files it by email. He doesn’t control The Age’s online site from Israel. He didn’t add “exclusive” to the story or give it the prominence it had as its lead story either. It seems their site was and continues to run out of control.

Blaming the reporter for this serious editorial error of judgment does seem quite unjust in the circumstances.

Fortunately, the Deputy Prime Minister was able to get in and off of Iraq without incident. Perhaps even Osama bin Laden has got tired of reading material from his cheer squad in Spencer Street.


Julia Gillard visits Iraq

Jason Koutsoukis

June 27, 2009 – 9:07AM

EXCLUSIVE: Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard is about to embark on a surprise visit to the last Australian troops still stationed in Iraq.

Ms Gillard is currently spending the night in Kuwait City ahead of the visit.

Her senior staff confirmed the visit, but said they were unable to comment further for safety reasons.

In discussing the Iraq trip, Ms Gillard’s deputy chief-of-staff Tom Bentley told theage.com.au that Ms Gillard will fly into the Iraqi capital of Baghdad later today where she is expected to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and other senior ministers.

She will also meet with the last contingent of Australian troops still stationed in Iraq who are scheduled to withdraw at the end of July.

Their withdrawal will mark the end of the ADF’s military commitment to Iraq, a mission that started on March 20, 2003.

There is also speculation that Ms Gillard will sign off on a major trade between Australia and Iraq.

The Australian ambassador to Iraq Bob Tyson met with PrimeMinister Maliki last week.

Earlier this month Iraq announced that it was buying 100,000 tonnes of Australian wheat for around $35 million.

Ms Gillard’s stealth trip Iraq comes at the end of a 10-day around the world tour which has included a visit to Washington, Israel and the West Bank.

In Washington she met with US Vice President Joe Biden, in Israel she met with Israeli President Shimon Peres, PrimeMinister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Apology over online report

June 29, 2009 – 6:28AM

On Saturday morning, theage.com.au published a report about a planned trip to Iraq by Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, just hours before she took the trip. The report was a serious error of judgment by the reporter. The Age has long abided by the unwritten rule that nothing is reported for security reasons when senior ministers visit a country such as Iraq, until it is safe to do so. In this case, the online story was removed as soon as a senior editor was made aware of it. We regret and apologise for the report.



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  1. I think the Age’s processes broke down because it is not used to a reporter diligently getting a story in ahead of time

    Posted by Right Said Fred | June 29, 2009, 14:11
  2. The Age are currently charging $49 PA for Thursday to Sunday for all Palais card members. That’s around .23c per paper. At that price I re-subscribed after taking a 5 year absence from home delivery and reading any decent articles on-line. At .23c per copy it’s pretty obvious they are simply trying to get their subscription numbers up (and it worked with me) regardless of how much money they loose in the process. Half the time I don’t even bother unwrapping it, just putting it in the bin and reading anything of interest online. (to avoid the advertisements) The biggest advantage of the subscription is the Sunday TV magazine.

    Posted by anon | June 29, 2009, 14:26
  3. At least it is a more decent, balanced and intelligent read than the ‘Herald Sun’; a paper not worthy of wiping remnant stools of an anus.

    Posted by anon | June 29, 2009, 14:36
  4. The Age is great, provides lovely kindling in my open fire on these cold nights.

    Posted by Anonymous | June 29, 2009, 15:00
  5. Ideologically-paralysed dribble akin to that featured in the above article is just what we’ve come to expect from Vexnews reporting… Why, when presented with the opportunity to criticize serious flaws in the editorial structure of Fairfax, would Vex sink to politically-motivated insinuations and tired old left-right rhetoric? You cheapen an otherwise justified censure of Koutsoukis and theage.com.au with the same partisan hackery you claim as being rife on Spencer Street… Grow up, would you, please?

    Posted by alexjon | June 29, 2009, 15:04
  6. We read The Age

    Landeryou posts propaganda

    Posted by al qaeda | June 29, 2009, 15:20
  7. what would a terrorist have to gain by targeting la gillard? she & her mates are doing a great job of bankrupting the nation to the point where our miltary presence in places like afghanistan won’t be affordable

    Posted by Evil Bastard | June 29, 2009, 15:58
  8. Re Anon 14:36pm while I don’t disagree with your sentiments re the Herald Sun, I fear you give The Age far too much credit as being either a decent or intelligent read. A lass I went to school with is now an editor of the paper and I distinctly remember that she refused to read The Age at the time as it involved too much reading and not enough pictures a la the Herald Sun. Probably sums up the talent of the folk at The Aged, no doubt ambitious but really nuff nuffs hardly setting the world on fire. Woodward and Bernstein need not fear that their mantle will stolen by any of the brains trusts of Spencer Street.

    At least the Herald Sun knows its niche as a low brow tabloid for the moderately literate (lots of pictures, little print, sport, sport, sport). The Age is all pretension and smugness without the product to back up this haughtiness. They think that if they do new graphic layouts of their weekend magazines every couple of months that this amounts to a revamp of the newspaper. No it just changes the font and heading and ensures that there is consistency ever.

    Our papers should hang their heads in shame when they consider the great papers of the world. The Age certainly is not the New York Times that’s for sure.

    Posted by The Aged is just a bore | June 29, 2009, 16:40
  9. Just because a paper is small it doesn’t mean that one has to include the diatribe of Andrew Bolt, Matt Stewart and Mike Sheehan. How many times does Sheehan have to say that Carlton are coming, at this rate the blues could satisfy even the most fridged of ladies!

    tabloids are more practical for the working class. The cigar smoking, tweed jacket, liberal voting wankers down at the helm of fairfax could do worse and change the size to the tabloid format or they risk ending up like the Melbourne Football club.

    Posted by reds are better in bed | June 29, 2009, 16:40
  10. Would have been no great loss with Gillard anyway.

    Posted by Anonymous | June 29, 2009, 16:53
  11. @Evil Bastard:
    According to the Portfolio Budget Statements 2006–07, http://bit.ly/wsVe6, and The Australian’s reportage of future Defence procurement, http://bit.ly/lF5cY, Labor has committed to increase real Defence spending by at least 3.0% each year, until 2015–2016, regardless of the economic climate. Add to this the fact that Australia continues to outspend other developed nations in real expenditure terms (2.0% of GDP/9.3% of Government’s planned expenditure,2007–2008), and you have one of the most well-funded, bipartisan approaches to Defence in the West.
    It’s interesting to note, too, that much of the Government’s heavily-criticised stimulus package – 70%, in fact – is dedicated towards infrastructure projects that will directly affect procurement policy, like revitalising ports, utilities and transport systems employed by the ADF and its suppliers. Not to mention protecting employment in and around military operational centres.

    If you want to criticize the Labor Government, then please, by all means, do. It helps, though, to have more than the waffling of VexNews to support your argument, as you’ll often find their criticisms to be light on fact and heavy on rhetoric. Makes for enjoyable reading, but that is about the extent of it.

    Posted by alexjon | June 29, 2009, 16:57
  12. That’s what I call editorial responsibility. The buck stops anywhere but with the editor. They wouldn’t cop that sort of blame the minions crap from a pollie – unless the pollie was a Green.

    Posted by Jake the Snake | June 29, 2009, 17:30
  13. Is also great for lining the bottom of the rabbit cage, at $25 a year for students, or around 6.8 cents a copy.

    Posted by Anonymous | June 29, 2009, 18:34
  14. The age is the best newspaper. There is actual news in it. Unlike the herald sun which is just a picture paper kiddies book, that numbs the brain of anyone who reads it. That fact is obviously apparent when it comes to the writers on this site, who love the herald sun.

    Posted by Anon | June 29, 2009, 19:28
  15. Julia was in no danger…the Iraqi’s love Ronald McDonald!

    Posted by Hamburgler | June 29, 2009, 21:55
  16. Andrew it is time to let go of your absurd and hate filled sentiments regarding the Age. You seem to have got over Solomon Lew and other pet hates but you cling on to this one because they really hurt you. Get over it. It is one of Australia’s top papers without a doubt. Denial is not a river in Egypt.

    Posted by Dr. Amalfi | June 29, 2009, 22:48
  17. Jason Kotsoukis may be more “balanced” than say Ed O’Loughlin or Paul McGeough, however The Age (or al-Age as it is often known) still has a long way to go in its reporting of the Middle East before it could be considered as anything less than pro-Islamist and Hamas propaganda.

    Posted by Daniel Lewis | June 29, 2009, 23:20
  18. Agreed Daniel, what’s sometimes interesting is to compare the print editions of SMH and Al-Age using Jason’s copy. When Andra Jackson and the Age newsroom is finished with it, it looks like the Hamas Dispatch. The photos/headlines etc can be very different. But Jason’s work seems better/fairer/more balanced that his predecessors (admittedly not a high benchmark).

    I hope giving him credit where it’s due that we might encourage him to play nicely with his host country.

    It’s a given that the rest of The Age comrades won’t. Their record as you say is nothing less than shameful Israel bashing.

    Posted by Andrew Landeryou at VEXNEWS | June 29, 2009, 23:37
  19. alexjon, if you believe the budget estimates for the next couple of years, let alone the out years, you probably believe in the tooth fairy too

    Posted by Evil Bastard | June 30, 2009, 0:27
  20. I hope The Australian tears them a new one for this… What a shameful episode in Australian journalism.

    Posted by Daniel Lewis | June 30, 2009, 0:54
  21. Andra Jackson?

    Didn’t she die along with her brother and his pet monkey in LA last week?

    Posted by Karl Marx | June 30, 2009, 3:26
  22. There is another aspect to this which is being ignored: why did the Government cut a deal to give The Australian exclusive access to the trip? That’s the kind of spin game you would have expected from the Howard Government.

    Posted by John Taylor | June 30, 2009, 3:48
  23. Let’s be fair. The Age was just after a scoop – Deputy PM ambushed in Iraq, or Deputy PM gunned down
    Afterall, headlines sell more papers

    Posted by Adam Cross | June 30, 2009, 8:52
  24. I hear the Iraqis really insisted she wear a berka….just to cover that rough head of hers.

    Posted by clipposaurus | June 30, 2009, 8:56
  25. Evil Bastard; It is not necessarily a question of believing budget estimates, but rather in the commitment of a Labor Government eager to bolster their security and defence credentials. But to frame my answer in base, cynical terms – the likes of which I presume you value; It makes absolutely no political sense for Labor to abandon this course of action. To do so would expose them to heavy criticism, both from expert sources and, indeed, the electorate-at-large.

    Posted by alexjon | June 30, 2009, 11:00
  26. Strange that the Age’s leaking of Gillard’s visit to Iraq, is imaginatively construed as Israel bashing???

    Why the f**k would she be visiting Iraq anyway?

    Why the f**k would we be increasing military spending anyway? There are more pressing things to spend on.

    The war in the Iraq was all about the Bush Regime eliminating their boy Hussein when he refused to be their boy anymore, not to mention control of oil, and business for Halliburton.

    The war in Afghanistan is all about opium and gas pipelines.

    Posted by Anti Bullshit | June 30, 2009, 12:28
  27. the point is, alexjon, that you cannot trust the rudd government to do anything it says, & you cannot trust it to get anything it does do right. rudd will make nice noises about the value of boosting defence, visit the troops & pretend to be a bonzer bloke, but it is all fluff & spin, just like tony blair, of whom he is a pale imitation

    Posted by Evil Bastard | June 30, 2009, 16:32