12 Nov 2012

How My Santos Story Got Swiped

By Sandi Keane
New Matilda got the scoop on Santos' dodgy coal seam gas advertising last week. Since then, the story has been picked up by the ABC and Fairfax - without attribution, writes Sandi Keane
The mainstream media constantly complains that online journalists leech off their hard work. But last week, the mainstream media were the parasites.

Some weeks ago, I pitched a story to New Matilda about the coal seam gas industry's PR spin. At that stage I didn't know how big the story would be — or that it would result in Santos pulling one of their coal seam gas ads after I busted their pro-CSG farmer on somebody else's land.

After several days researching the way PR and advertising agencies use social media, I rang Drew Hutton from Lock the Gate. He had appeared on a panel with Katherine Tey-White from Futureye (specialists in "social licence"). I asked about Futureye and if any of the CSG miners were using dodgy ads. He put me in touch with farmer and anti-CSG campaigner, Rosemary Nankivell.

Rosemary was sure one of Santos' pro-CSG ads featuring farmer and Santos employee Warwick Moppett, was not filmed on his farm, which was actually at Gilgandra, some 200 kilometres away. She thought the scene showing Moppett pulling up at an old gate with water in the background was filmed on Don Hubbard's property. A number of cotton bales that also appeared in the ad were identified as belonging to Ben and Trish Kelly.

I contacted Hubbard and the Kellys. Hubbard recognised the old gate and the shores of Lake Goran beyond. He as adamant that it was his and was pretty sure a third scene, showing Moppett walking through a canola field, was filmed on his neighbours, Ben and Phoebe Clift's, property.

I rang the Clifts who verified the crop was theirs. I was also put in touch with two people who had seen the crew filming near Clift's and Kelly's. I spoke to one of them. We verified the date by the fact the canola crop was flowering and when the cotton bales were collected.

It was essential for my story to show why Santos' ad agency didn't choose to film on Warwick Moppett's real farm. I rang anothe contact, who put me in touch with Milton Judd, who described the property. I spoke to Judd and verified with him that he'd never seen canola or cotton grown on the Moppett farm.

I then rang Santos for the name of the ad company. It is KWP! Advertising in Adelaide. I left several messages with KWP's Karyn Smith advising I was publishing the story asking if they would like to comment. I followed up with an email on 2 November.

The next day, Trish Kelly received a phone call from Mark Rogers of Santos, apologising for using their cotton bales for the ad without permission.

I received an email response from Andrew Fotheringham of KWP! on 5 November. He advised that they had strict guidelines about private property and the ad was filmed from the road or "fringe" on the property. I responded that the guidelines had indeed been breached with two scenes clearly showing Moppett and the film crew trespassing on both Hubbard's and Clift's properties.

The story ran in New Matilda on 6 November and unleashed a torrent of complaints on Twitter. Santos' Group Manager of CSG Policy and Communications, Matthew Damon, was involved in various heated exchanges, especially with Nankivell and the Greens' Jeremy Buckingham.

The next day, the website Independent Australia reposted the story with a link back to NM. In the introduction to that piece, I suggested Santos would pull the ad by the end of the day. Independent Australia's Dave Donovan also posted the heated twitter exchange that called for the ad to be pulled.

That day, ABC Rural's Kerrin Thomas, Catherine Clifford and Lisa Herbert ran the story, using almost the same lead and quotes from the very same people.

ABC Rural's lead:

"Don Hubbard, from Spring Ridge on the Liverpool Plains in northern NSW, was shocked when he turned on the television and saw another farmer standing in his paddocks, selling the virtues of coal seam gas."

My lead in New Matilda on 6 November:

"When Don Hubbard sat down to relax during spring this year after a day's canola harvesting, he was shocked to see his property and that of his neighbours, Ben and Phoebe Clift, featured in a Santos coal seam gas (CSG) ad on the TV." 

Then Don's quote:

"I've travelled a lot and there isn't much better dryland farming country in the world than in this particular area on the lower Liverpool Plains. If you can't stop coal seam gas development here, then I really despair about agriculture in general."

Mine in New Matilda on 6 November:

"There is no way an operating broadacre farm can co-exist with CSG wells and there is no better dryland farming anywhere in the world than here on the Liverpool plains. If governments haven't the wherewithal to protect that, I despair about the future."

Me in Independent Australia on 7 November:

"Don Hubbard, who has travelled extensively around the world, describes the O'Farrell government's decision as 'plain crazy'.

"There is no way an operating broad-acre farm can co-exist with CSG wells, and there is no better dry-land farming anywhere in the world than here on the Liverpool Plains. If governments haven't the wherewithal to protect that, I despair about the future."

I can understand if Don Hubbard (whose name they no doubt discovered from my story) gave them the same quote, but if I'd been reporting the story, I'd have asked for a fresh quote. I contacted the ABC but have had no response.

On the same day, Sam Crafter from Santos was interviewed on ABC's 2CR by Dugald Saunders. No mention was made that the story was broken by me in New Matilda.

Crafter said Santos might not run the ad in the future. I rang him that day and left a message asking for confirmation that the ad would be pulled.

That night, at 7.20pm, I received a call at home from Santos' Matthew Doman. He advised that Santos would no longer run the ad. He asked for my home email address and sent a confirmation email. He then rang back to verify I'd received the email. I confirmed to him that I would immediately contact all the farmers involved and would post his response on both New Matilda and Independent Australia's websites. It did that in the comments below each article.

The following day, ABC Rural's Lisa Herbert ran the story that the ad had been pulled, again failing to mention it was my investigation that forced Santos to do so. The Australian Financial Review also published an unattributed story about Santos being forced to pull the ad.

Content is only valuable when it can be trusted and the journalists' code of ethics upheld. Not only was my story plagiarised but in doing so it was stripped of context. It took me nearly a week to uncover the subterfuge in Santos' ad. I am a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance and am scrupulous about attributing original sources. All I ask is that the mainstream media comply with the same standards being set by those of us in the new media.

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Posted Monday, November 12, 2012 - 12:45

Busted! Or broken media model, again. (So many media articles now include reference to or summaries of how a topic is being discussed in social media, the claim 'online media is stealing our stuff' sounds increasingly odd anyway... but at least when they write about twitter feeds they attribute the hashtag...) Congrats to Sandi and NM, shows why you're needed.

Dr Dog
Posted Monday, November 12, 2012 - 13:47

Good on you Sandi, I was impressed with the original story and thank you for the update. I assume you have contacted Media Watch.

Posted Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - 09:36

Good on you, Sandi! However the really GIGANTIC gas-related stories are as follows (but of course are largely ignored by the endlessly lying and deceiving Mainstream media):

1. The Australian electoral Commission revealed that in 2010 the Mining Industry had spent a mere $22 million in 2009-2010 against the Mining Tax (see "Miners dig deep to get Coalition over the line" : http://www.watoday.com.au/national/miners-dig-deep-to-get-coalition-over...) - they had promised to spend $100 million - and this culminated in US-approved, traitorous Zionist-backed, pro-Zionist-led Coup that got rid of one of Australia's most popular PMs (see Antony Loewenstein, "Does the Zionist lobby have blood on its hands in Australia?": http://antonyloewenstein.com/2010/07/02/does-the-zionist-lobby-have-bloo... and Gideon Polya, "Pro-Zionist-led Coup ousts Australian PM Rudd": http://mwcnews.net/focus/politics/3488-pro-zionist-led-coup.html ). Australia is a US-, corporation- and racist Zionist-perverted Murdochracy, Lobbyocracy and Corporatocracy in which Big Money buys politicians, parties, policies, public perception of reality and votes (see "Boycott Murdoch Media": https://sites.google.com/site/boycottmurdochmedia/ ).

2. Gas is NOT clean energy as falsely asserted by pro-gas Lib-Lab (Liberal-Laboral, Coalition-Labor) politicians and pro-gas corporations. Gas is DIRTY energy and depending upon the source, burning gas for power can be DIRTIER greenhouse gas (GHG)-wise than burning coal because gas (mainly methane , CH4)) leaks (3.3% in the US, 7.9% from fracking) and CH4 is 105 times worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas on a 20 year tike frame with aerosol impacts considered (see "Gas is not clean energy": https://sites.google.com/site/gasisnotcleanenergy/gas-is-dirty-energy) . The recent written advice I have received from the Australian Government that “The Australian Government [has] a comprehensive plan to move to a clean energy future. Central to that plan is the introduction of a carbon price that will cut pollution in the cheapest and most effective way and drive investment in clean energy sources such as solar, wind and gas” is comprehensively incorrect: the Australian Labor Government’s plan is effectively for climate change inaction, a dirty energy future and indeed dirtier energy future. Further, gas is not clean energy and can be worse than coal GHG-wise due to systemic gas leakage. The Australian Government adumbrates a coal to gas transition for power generation as a consequence of its carbon price plan. However gas burning is a dirty energy source and if fracked shale gas is used to generate electricity instead of coal then power sector GHG pollution can double associated with systemic gas leakage.

3. The WBGU (that advises the German Government) has estimates that for a 75% chance of avoiding a catastrophic 2 degree Centigrade temperature rise, the world can emit no more than 600 billion tonnes CO2 between 2010 and zero emissions in 2050. Thus post-election Obama approval of the Keystone XL pipeline could mean 600 billion tonnes CO2 from the Canadian oil sands and "game over" for the planet according to top US climate scientist Dr James Hansen. Of course Australia under US lackey Lib-Lab policies of unlimited coal, gas and iron ore exports will exceed this terminal global CO2 pollution budget by a factor of THREE (3) (see "2011 climate change course": https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/2011-climate-change-course ). Indeed Australia's Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution is so great that it used up its "fair share" of this terminal CO2 pollution budget in 2011! Climate criminal Australia's ecocidal. climate genocidal and terracidal coal, gas and iron ore exports must be phased out ASAP (see "Climate Genocide": https://sites.google.com/site/climategenocide/ ) but Mainstream Media Lying ensures that the basic science is not even discussed publicly (see "Mainstream Media Lying": https://sites.google.com/site/mainstreammedialying/ ; "Censorship by The Age": https://sites.google.com/site/mainstreammediacensorship/censorship-by-th... ; "Censorship by The Conversation": https://sites.google.com/site/mainstreammediacensorship/censorship-by ; "ABC Censorship": https://sites.google.com/site/abccensorship/ ; and "Censorship by ABC Late Night Live": https://sites.google.com/site/censorshipbyabclatenightlive/ ).

Peace is the only way but Silence kills and Silence is complicity.

Posted Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - 10:58

Hi Sandi, nice work on the Santos story and good on you for defending your patch.

Please note however that the information had been around the traps for a while, ie i work at SMH and it came across my desk prior to the story being run here in new matilda, but didn't make the cut. Other people knew about it too. So, while it's a good scoop to get, please don't accuse people of plagiarism without being in possession of all the facts.

It seems that once a yarn is unleashed on the internet it's de facto public property, which can be frustrating for the original author. But i suppose that's one of the hazards of writing for online.

Posted Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - 15:19

hi sandi,

i've been wondering whether the ad agency concerned eventually conceded private property had in fact been intruded upon - and whether there are to be any ramifications for those who trespassed?

Posted Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - 15:30

cubby - but why don't you ask the important question as to why didn't yours and other MSM outlets consider it newsworthy? The strength of excellent writers like sandi and of online news is it isn't tied and muzzled by elites with alterior motives, censoring public access to information that has significance for our opinions and attitdues about CSG or other sorts of mining...you guys are so firmly on the leash of elites running this country that no one with half a brain has any respect for you...you churn out shit that is only attractive to people who lack critiquing and reflexive skills...not real journalistss IMHO...more like puppets...or a ventriloquist DUMMY...

Posted Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - 19:07

Gotta watch out for those alterior motives.

Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 15:17

no shit sandi! that kind of dissembling is just piss weak - the agency needed to take responsibilty and apologise directly themselves. i think the farmers should push back by any means necessary given that - it's a legal breach and proof is available!

Posted Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 11:15

You sure did have a story! And I believe the trespassing and therefore the false impression the ad gave, are two civil offences to start off with.
Then if you were the one and only journalist to actually expose this anomaly, then appropriation from you, without attribution to you, is another civil offence.
Just because we are using electronic media, does not mean all civility and decency flies out of the window.
There are still certain laws in place that should be brought in to deal appropriately with the above offences.