A conflict of interest is a conflict of interest, no matter who you say you are

When you?re caught out in a conflict of interest, the smart strategy is usually not to dig yourself even deeper in conflicts of interest. But ethics and standards are for the ?deplorable? little people: activists on a mission are far above such petty concerns. Quote:

An opinion piece published by The Guardian that defended an ongoing environmental review of Adani?s mine failed to disclose its lead author was the partner of the academic heading the inquiry.

Published on Saturday, the article followed media coverage last week of the review and an interim report written by Melbourne University?s Brendan Wintle into Adani?s plan to manage the endangered black-throated finch, which could derail the multi-billion-dollar project. End of quote.

Coverage which exposed the teensy detail that Wintle is an avid anti-coal activist. Quote:

It accused News Corp newspapers of ?seeking to degrade political debate? with ?relentless, sustained, needlessly personal attacks? on Dr Wintle, who has faced accusations of bias.

The Guardian article did not disclose that all five of its authors ? Sarah Bekessy, Hugh Possingham, James Watson, Georgia Garrard and Alex Kusmanoff ? were involved with a public think tank directed by Dr Wintle, the National Environmental Science Programme?s Threatened Species Research Hub.

Lead author Dr Bekessy was described as an RMIT University professor and Australian Research Council Future fellow. It did not disclose she is Dr Wintle?s partner. End of quote.

I guess when you?re penning a hit-piece for the boss and your partner, it?s a bit embarrassing to have to ?fess up. But The Guardian is supposed to be a newspaper, beholden to professional ethics. Quote:

Disclose conflicts of interest that affect, or could be seen to affect, the accuracy, fairness or independence of your journalism.


Gary Allen, managing director of Australian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services, an adviser to universities and government departments on integrity issues, said the conflict of interest ?should have been noted??Hub spokeswoman Jaana Dielenberg said: ?There is no rule, code of ethics or law specifically requiring academics to disclose all of their affiliations every time they engage in public discourse.


Don?t get involved. Don?t contribute money, don?t work in a campaign, don?t lobby.


End of quote.
From late night comedians to crusading academics, too many shonks and liars try to hide behind this kind of defence. But it?s a lie. John Laws was rightly lashed for trying to claim that he was an ?entertainer? and ?salesman?, not a journalist, when he was taking cash for comment. The regulator didn?t buy it, and no-one should buy this shameful piece of dissembling. When you?re writing opinion pieces for newspapers, you?re not just an academic, you?re a journalist. As such, you have an obligation to disclose conflicts of interest.

To be fair, The Guardian claims that they were unaware of the conflict, and have updated the article. But, given their underhandedness, the academics involved have surely shredded their own credibility.