After a week of Channel Nine promoting the first AFL Footy Show of the season, featuring what was hyped as a “tell all” interview with Collingwood star Dane Swan, the cleanup is now underway for a situation that should not have been messy at all.
In an interview during which Swan was questioned about a rumoured drug addiction and supposed drug policy strikes against his name, Damien Barrett appears to have not only skipped over the line of ethical journalism but kicked dirt all over it in doing so.
When it comes to media, there is a standard protocol that the majority follow. Generally a media outlet will contact a club’s media manager and organise an interview with the club being fully aware and providing consent. Club media managers do their jobs very well when it comes to providing the media with interviews and access considering the huge demand and the ever-changing landscape that is the AFL world.
However, there are always those that like to skip protocol and organise interviews with the potential interviewee themselves. Unfortunately, there is nothing that says media outlets cannot do this and in a situation like this, it is generally the interviewee that gets punished. In this case, Dane Swan was fined $5,000 by the club for providing Channel Nine with an interview the club knew nothing about until days before the interview aired.
Although Swan will pay the $5,000 fine, it is reported that he earned roughly $20,000 for the interview. Under AFL rules, clubs are not permitted to fine players more than $5,000.
The interview itself was quite general and straight forward, providing no new information about the supposed drug culture at Collingwood despite being promoted as a large story. However, ethics seriously come into question in a situation such as this.
It’s no wonder clubs are sceptical and sometimes reluctant to provide media outlets with big-name interviews, especially considering that metaphorical line is continuously being scuffed by the same old people. This isn’t the first time Damien Barrett has had his journalistic ethics questioned and you can guarantee it won’t be the last.
Considering the large majority of the media goes about things the right way, it’s a big disappointment when the same groups of people continue to cause a rift in the relationship between clubs, club officials and the media.
The bottom line is that Channel Nine and Barrett conducted an interview knowing all well that it was going behind the club’s back, yet made no attempt to inform anyone involved at the club of the interview. As mentioned, it’s not illegal or dancing on the edge of any rule, though it is an act that is frowned upon and has ramifications for every other media outlet.
The most unfortunate thing is that this will not be the last time those in question will disregard that ethical line. As a result, all other media outlets that at least make attempts to follow the general protocol are made to suffer.