A News Corp employee has slammed the organisation for spreading “climate change denial and lies” through “irresponsible” and “dangerous reporting” on Australia’s catastrophic bushfires.
In an email, obtained by The New Daily, Emily Townsend, a commercial finance manager at the company, hit out at executive chairman Michael Miller after he sent a company-wide email talking up all the ways News Corp is helping communities affected by the bushfire crisis.
In the email addressed to Mr Miller, which was was distributed to all News Corp Australia staff, Ms Townsend said she was grateful for the company’s fundraising efforts, but added that it did “not offset the impact News Corp reporting has had over the last few weeks”.
“I have been severely impacted by the coverage of News Corp publications in relation to the fires, in particular the misinformation campaign that has tried to divert attention away from the real issue which is climate change to focus on arson (including misrepresenting facts),” Ms Townsend wrote.
I find it unconscionable to continue working for this company, knowing I am contributing to the spread of climate change denial and lies.”
The email was reportedly deleted from New Corp staff inboxes within an hour of it being sent.
The statement claimed Ms Townsend had resigned in December and was due to leave News Corp shortly.
“We respect Ms Townsend’s right to hold her views, but we do not agree with them,” the statement reads.
“Our coverage has recognised that Australia is having a serious conversation about climate change and how to respond to it,” it said.
“However, it has also reflected there are a variety of views and opinions about the current fire crisis. The role of arsonists and policies that may have contributed to the spread of fire are, therefore, legitimate stories to report in the public interest.
“Contrary to what some critics have argued, News Corp does not deny climate change or the gravity of its threat. However, we – as is the traditional role of a publisher – do report a variety of views and opinions on the issue and many others that are important in the public discourse on the fires.”
The Australian has repeatedly argued that this year’s fires are no worse than those of the past – a claim which scientists have slammed as untrue.
Ms Townsend’s decision to write a damning letter condemning News Corp’s coverage has been welcomed by some current and former employees of the company.
The New Daily is aware of a growing discomfort among News Corp employees with how reporting on the crisis is being handled.
While afraid to speak openly for fear of reprisals from the company, some News Corp employees were quietly cheering their colleague’s stance.
One current employee described it as “huge”, while another said it was “amazing”.
“We’re all pretty thrilled,” another current news reporter said.
So far, more than 12 million acres have burned, and more of New South Wales has been burned in 2019 alone than the previous 15 years combined.
This week, an independent study also found online bots and trolls had been exaggerating the role of arson in the fires, at the same time that an article in The Australian that made similar claims started trending on the newspaper’s website.