A profit powerhouse

The Sydney Morning Herald, ACIJ
SMH, 2005, 1 March 2005
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Background The journalist co-authored the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism's major scholarly research report NewsWorthy, which analysed Australian media coverage of aid and humanitarian issues. The study found that most stories were linked to conflict or disasters, with little focus on policy issues. The ACIJ linked these findings with practice-based journalism research, which focussed on hidden dimensions of Australian aid policy. Contribution In 2005, there had been no previous mainstream investigation and little research of any kind exploring the role and growth of major contractor and energy multinational, Halliburton in Australia. A profit Powerhouse was published as a feature in the Sydney Morning Herald. The journalist, assisted by an advanced UTS journalism student, used an analysis of government databases, annual reports, company searches and interviews to map the activities of the company, revealing extensive links with Australian aid and defence activities. The second article, Aussie Aid AWB's best friend in Iraq, published almost simultaneously in NZ Scoop and ACIJ's Reportage used interviews, database analysis and chronologies to highlight previously uncovered material about how the aid budget had been used to assist Australian Wheat Board. Significance These articles are examples of where investigative methodologies are used to produce fresh insights and information, which can inform policy analysis. By focusing on the increased role of public and private contractors in the implementation of public policy, these articles gave readers a rare insight into major shifts in Australian policy. They are also significant in their early use of analysis of government tender databases to produce policy insights.
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