News Corp has been accused of failing to properly fact-check its recent “dole bludger” splash after a key interviewee admitted to lying.
Amy, 17, of Mt Druitt, Sydney – one of two women interviewed for the youth unemployment exposé – has since claimed her story was false.
“I do work, I don’t know why I made it up, I thought I was being cool,” she told News Corp this week.
“I just went to Centrelink with my mate as she was making an application. I’m going to work tonight [at McDonald’s in Penrith] even though I feel depressed.”
Quotes from Amy and her friend Ashleigh, 21, were published widely on the front page of The Daily Telegraph newspaper, and in an online news report and editorial beneath headlines like ‘NEW BREED OF BLUDGER’.
The revelation “cast a shadow over The Daily Telegraph‘s journalistic processes with questions around how a teenager’s unsubstantiated comments made it to the front page without basic fact-check or consultation with her parents”, according to media monitoring website Mumbrella.
Editor Chris Dore strongly denied the claims. “I stand by our stories, they are accurate and they speak for themselves. It is not unusual for people to change their stories to suit themselves, as is quite evident in this case. Also, she is not a child,” he told Mumbrella.
Some readers were angry.
“Kid makes Daily Telegraph look like fools for printing a long emotive article that enrages 1000s based on a tall story told entirely by 17yo’s as a joke and with zero fact checking,” a reader named ‘Growler’ wrote.
“Sounds like another beat-up where the ‘reporters’ were too gullible to do any fact-checking, when they had a red-hot story about welfare bludgers ready to go,” Mark wrote.
Many other Daily Telegraph readers seemed unfazed.
As The New Daily reported at the time, the OECD data that formed the basis of News Corp’s original story did illustrate that a growing number of young Australians are ‘NEETs’ (not in employment education or training). But what News Corp did not mention was that Australia’s rate of under-skilled NEETs was higher than many comparable nations – possibly a symptom of failings in the education system.
Perhaps more concerning, it has emerged that newly installed Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe is worried that the labour market is not as strong as unemployment data suggests, mainly because of the trend toward casualisation.
“There’s probably a bit more slack in the labour market than suggested by the unemployment rate, but that’s a qualification on what has been a very positive story,” Governor Lowe told a parliamentary hearing on Thursday.
The government announced this week it will review unemployment benefits.