Following the recent decision by Australia’s leading journalist’s union to ask ExxonMobil to fund its annual conference, the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism – I’m a research associate there -is circulating the following letter. I’ve signed it, as have many other leading reporters:
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
We have recently become aware that Exxon Mobil is the Gold Sponsor of the 2010 Walkley Media Conference. As journalists and others with an interest in media, we ask you to reconsider this decision and remove its sponsorship.
The MEAA Code of Ethics emphasises the central importance of striving for the truth and the responsibilities of media in a democracy. While we can understand the need for sponsorship, we consider that Exxon Mobil, a transnational oil corporation with a strong record of funding climate skeptic groups is an inappropriate choice. These groups promote confusion and ignorance in the community. They also protect fossil fuel interests threatened by policies aimed at meeting the grave challenge of climate change. Not only does Exxon Mobil funds these groups but it has been neither open nor honest about it.
In addition, Exxon Mobil has a long record of funding groups, which continually attack and undermine media organizations and individual journalists, which they consider to be too liberal.
Exxon is sponsoring the conference in order to gain and enhance their credibility through association with the Australian media community. We consider that whatever financial advantages have been gained by the MEAA in return for this sponsorship deal, the reputation of the MEAA and its credibility in protecting the role of journalists to seek the truth and the public right to know is too great a price to pay.
Therefore we the undersigned call on MEAA to withdraw from this sponsorship arrangement before the conference. If you would like to discuss this matter with a group of signatories, please contact us.