93.9 BayFM Geelong
This week Australia was stunned by news of the death of another of our soldiers in Afghanistan.
We can all imagine what a terrible time this must be for the man’s family and friends, who requested the military not release his name until they had a chance to ensure his loved ones had all been notified. Defence passed this request on to the media, which by and large respected the family’s wishes.
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But not the Herald Sun.
That newspaper (owned by Rupert Murdoch, whose British newspapers are at the heart of that country’s phone hacking disgrace) ignored the request of the military and thumbed its nose at the fallen soldier’s loved ones, publishing the man’s name the day after his death and, we can assume, adding to the family’s grief.
Australian army chief Lt Gen David Morrison has written a scathing letter to the Herald Sun but whether the paper will publish it or not is unclear. BayFM News suspects not.
In the interests of the public’s right to know, which News Limited so frequently claims to be representing, we have chosen to publish this letter so you can see how the army feels about the Herald Sun’s despicable act. The full text is reproduced below.
BayFM News condemns the Herald Sun’s actions in the strongest possible terms. As is so often the case, this newspaper has demonstrated where its ethics lie.
Rob McLennan, News Director
To the Editor,
It was with the greatest disappointment and dismay that I read Ian McPhedran's article in your newspaper this morning, releasing the name of our most recent combat fatality before official release by Defence and his family. The Army and the Defence Force have well established protocols for the release of names and personal details in these circumstances; protocols with which your journalists are very familiar but have clearly chosen to ignore.
The family in this instance, whose lives are currently consumed with their own grief, had asked Army to wait to release his details so that they could deal with this terrible loss in their way. You have robbed them of this right. Such actions are un-conscionable and un-Australian. Our only concern is to look after those of the grieving family of a courageous soldier. Their trust has been betrayed by the selfish act of a journalist intent on being 'the first'.
Chief of Army