Sydney Morning Herald’ response to a reader’s query about hidden Israeli sponsorship in the media 30Jan12 January 29, 2012

Sections of the Australian media appear increasingly unwilling to declare their sponsorship by the Israel lobby. The Sydney Morning Herald’s Hamish McDonald was recently in Israel on a fully-funded junket courtesy of the “Australia-Israel-UK Leadership Dialogue”. His reports from Jerusalem failed to disclose any sponsorship. This was contrary to the Herald’s published code of ethics ( which promises that if an article is published as a result of free or subsidised travel, “the Herald will disclose when an airline, hotel or other interest has borne the cost of transporting or accommodating a journalist.”

A Herald reader put the following questions to the newspaper:

Twice recently (14 January and 21 January 2012) the Herald’s Hamish McDonald reported from Jerusalem “as part of the Australia-Israel-UK Leadership Dialogue”. Was his trip partly or wholly funded by the dialogue’s organisers, the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange, or similar Zionist lobby group?  And if so, why did the Herald choose to hide this information from its readers?

The Herald’s Readers’ Editor replied as follows:

Yes, Hamish McDonald’s trip was fully funded by the Dialogue, but no obligation was placed upon him on how to report it, apart from observing Chatham House-type rules about attribution.

He did take part in that he was able to make comments and ask questions, but he was not a listed speaker.

I agree completely that the paper should have (and usually does in these circumstances) published that he was a guest of the Dialogue as well as part of it.

I have forwarded your email to the editor and McDonald, and I thank you for it. Such an oversight should not go unmentioned.

Judy Prisk
Readers’ editor

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