Radio New Zealand Morning Report is using the director of a public relations company – Kerry-Anne Walsh – as its Australian correspondent.
Walsh has had a long career as a political journalist. In 2009 she left Rupert Murdoch’s Sun-Herald reviving and her Canberra- based PR firm, called KA Communications.
The question is not why public radio uses a PR person for a significant editorial role as a ” correspondent”. A lot of people straddle journalism and PR. (Though you would hope public radio analysis of Australia would be handled carefully? Walsh is clearly knowledgable.
The question is why RNZ – once again – feels it does not to spell out PR links for its correspondents.
Remember post-election when Morning Report used soft questions for an undeclared media adviser to the PM to declare journalists had to censor the questions they asked the PM.
It was revealed in Parliament that on February 12 last year that RNZ failed to declare that one of its guests on The Panel – Tracey Bridges – was at the time a PR staffer Ardern’s office.
RNZ uses lobbyist Matthew Hooton for its Monday politics coverage, though his firm.Exceltium is declared.
KA Communications is a small company. And if RNZ spelt it out there would be no issue. After the Tracey Bridges incident, promised a review of its processes. The review was completed but it seems to have gone no-where.
The Linked in profile of Kerry Anne’s company says: ” Carving out a presence in the complex Australian media world is difficult. Without experts to guide you, it’s even tougher. With a few exceptions, impossible. No executive walks into a boardroom without knowing the audience, the agenda of individuals and companies, or the minefield of possible tricky questions or issues. Yet that’s an attitude some take to engaging with the Australian media, and ruined careers and dented company reputations have resulted. Even if you think you’ve learned the beat and know what it’s all about, you’ve only ever been a lucky break away from a disaster if you haven’t been guided by experts with decades of experience in the Australian media. Contact KA Communications’ to talk confidentially to our staff about what you need to create your powerful media voice in Australia.
Her own profile says Walsh is director of Communications, assisting companies in Australia and Asia communicate with key stakeholders more effectively
* Previously senior political journalist in the federal parliamentary press gallery in newspapers, radio and TV
* Regular national and international commentator on Australian affairs on radio and TV
* Experienced keynote speaker on Australian politics and the media
* Convener and facilitator of seminars and conferences
* Award-winning author’
So she clearly knows her way around Canberra and Australian politics.
RNZ seems convinced it does not need to behave like a proper public radio service. It seems slack. Which is worrying as it is destined for more funding of public media. It will end up talking to Communications Minister Clare Curran, whose background is in public relations. RNZ did not respond to queries.