News National Q&A: ‘Journalism jumped the shark’ in 60 Minutes saga

Q&A: ‘Journalism jumped the shark’ in 60 Minutes saga

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An award-winning journalist believes the Nine Network and 60 Minutes have damaged the reputation of her profession by pursuing the controversial kidnapping story in Lebanon.

Walkley Award-winning journalist Caroline Overington told ABC’s Q&A program she feared her “profession had jumped the shark” if allegations the network paid for the kidnapping proved true.

Four members of a 60 Minutes team, including journalist Tara Brown, were arrested along with a professional “child snatcher” after abducting two children from their father in Lebanon last week.

They will remain in a Beirut prison after the case was unexpectedly postponed until Wednesday for further investigation.

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The children’s mother Sally Faulkner claimed it was rightful they be in her care.

“If somebody at Channel 9 has authorised a payment of $115,000 for children to be kidnapped off the street then my profession has jumped the shark,” Ms Overington said.

“I would be shocked and horrified if that was true.”

The journalist said she hoped 60 Minutes had not convinced Ms Faulkner to take such an action.

Author and social commentator Jane Caro shared the despair of many on the panel.

“I think it’s a great shame she seems to have fallen into the hands of people who weren’t very good at retrieving children,” Ms Caro said.

“I worry very much for the crew of 60 Minutes.

“Getting people to pay attention to anything is so hard now and there is a temptation to run off towards any story that looks like it’s going to get a whole lot of attention.”

Bank bosses should ‘hand back bonuses’

During debate about the need for a royal commission into the banking sector, former Liberal Party leader John Hewson said he believed bank bosses should have to forfeit bonuses if their banks performed poorly.

“People understandably don’t like the banks,” he said. “You need to make sure that they don’t just get given bonuses on the basis of short-term performance.

“It’s got to be longer term sustained performance and in fact I would like to see a system where they have to give the bonuses back when something goes wrong.”

John Hewson
John Hewson did not defend the banks like other Liberals had recently. Photo: Twitter

Liberal MP Ewan Jones repeated his party’s official line of opposition to a royal commission.

“It’s a wonderful political stunt [for Bill Shorten] to say we need a royal commission into this,” Mr Jones said.

“We saw questions today about someone who’s received bad financial advice and the royal commission is going to fix that up. No, it won’t.”

Labor MP Alannah MacTiernan said there is a “cultural issue” within the banking sector.

“We do think this is a systemic matter that has to be dealt with,” Ms MacTiernan said.

“We really have to look at whether or not that just looking after shareholder value is.

“In fact, driving a very negative culture so we think that there is a very strong case for a royal commission.”

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