Nikki Savva and journalistic ethics

I still recall my amazement when Peter Costello chose Nikki Savva as his media advisor. She was the ideological twin sister of Michelle Grattan, Michelle at The Age, and Nikki at the Herald Sun. Media advisor was, I suppose, different from actual policy but nonetheless, she was every inch a know-nothing leftist. It is why I have never paid attention to a single thing she writes and am always surprised to see her as a supposed spokesperson for the right side of the political divide. Everything she has written about Abbott might as well have been written by the ALP media team. And now she has written a book about Abbott’s years as PM and the role that Peta Credlin played, without bothering to talk to either! This is how Credlin has replied to Nikki this morning: Niki Savva’s Road to Ruin: politics is now unsourced gossip.

I always thought a dignified ­silence was the best way to deal with Niki Savva’s attacks. They were personal, invariably founded on unsourced gossip and rarely made any attempt at balance.

I have always just got on with the job. I felt my 16 years of service to four Howard cabinet ministers and time in opposition, including as deputy chief of staff to Malcolm Turnbull, said more about my ­record than any bile from Savva but she was never interested in the facts.

Then, like now, she hasn’t ever wanted to speak with me — including in preparation for her book. Her colleagues in the Canberra press gallery would often ask me what I had done to warrant her attacks. People were often taken aback when I responded that I barely knew her.

It is one of the golden rules of journalistic ethics to provide a right of reply to anyone you’re going to criticise. In the end, journalists are supposed to weigh up the contributions and seek their own truth, but to not want to hear the other side of the story is extraordinary.

It is extraordinary. It also makes her book worthless as an objective account of what went on.

FROM THE COMMENTS: This is a direct quote from Nikki Savva picked up by Aaron:

“As a journalist I lied often, usually about my sources, but about other things, too.”

Not even occasionally but “often“. How weird it is to confess to this in print. The story is by Laurie Oakes as well, definitely not someone out to get her.

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