Following my article in yesterday’s Crikey about Sydney Morning Herald journalist Peter Hartcher taking a free trip to Israel, today his entire answers are published (sent to me a few days ago and quoted extensively in my original piece):
Antony Loewenstein, thanks for putting the questions to me and for giving me a chance to respond.
I don’t intend to debate the minutiae of how I do my job. Please allow me to make five points:
1. I have accepted paid travel to a number of countries over the years. I have always disclosed the fact when I have written anything as a result. It is routine for journalists to take paid travel. The question is not so much whether journalists take paid trips; it’s whether they disclose the fact. This allows readers to take this into account in forming a view.
2. I am not a partisan in any war. Indeed, a Crikey survey of the Australian political “punditocracy” found that there was no more balanced commentator in Australia.
3. Every paid trip always has an inbuilt viewpoint. The journalist’s job is to take information from a trip, assess it in the usual way, and to draw on it as one input among many, as we do with every subject, every day.
4. My column, on the Opinion page, does not purport to be an encyclopaedic treatment of the history of the conflict between Israelis and the Palestinians. It presents, as it says in its opening, a view from within Israel, with an explanation of the Australian Government’s position, and a comment from the Palestinian delegation. I should have thought that to be self-evident. There is no hidden agenda.
5. You, by contrast, are a declared partisan in the conflict. You are not in any position to act as a neutral analyst or objective commentator. If you critique my piece, you should disclose your interest, as I have mine.