This ‘Exclusive’ About An ‘Alien’ Proves Fairfax’s Journalism Is Just Fine


On Sunday April 3, Tim Barlass reported for the Sunday edition of the Sydney Morning Herald on a young woman who says she is part human, part alien. The story occupies half a page. The story was labelled an ‘exclusive’.

Those who go to the website version can see a video interview with the 22-year-old woman. The story also features drawings of aliens by the young woman, and her drawings of her “astral body”.

The reporter, Tim Barlass, begins his story by saying what “courage” it took for the young woman to address a gathering of UFO Research NSW. She claims to know the “names, culture and history” of aliens she has been in contact with. As a “new human”, which she identifies as, she is “highly intuitive and possessing multidimensional abilities beyond the five senses.”

Fairfax AliensIn researching the story, Tim Barlass also contacted the young woman’s mother, and UFO Research NSW president Mariana Flynn. The piece does not carry quotes from anyone else – or evidence of any further research. Apparently more interested in evidence than Barlass or his editors, Flynn observed that the young woman in question has not had “medical tests to prove she has got extraterrestrial DNA…. We have to take her on trust”. Luckily, Fairfax is willing to do so.

A few weeks ago, Fairfax announced it was cutting another 120 journalists. Chief Executive Officer Greg Hywood, responded to critics in an op-ed published last week. Hywood wanted to “put to bed the myth that as Fairfax reshapes its publishing model to respond to a very different set of industry economics, and yes, adjusts its staffing levels accordingly, there is some dire threat to quality journalism.”

Hywood observed that of the 9,000 stories Fairfax publishes monthly, internet data shows a “substantial portion” are “read by only a handful of people”. Thus, Hywood planned for Fairfax to focus “on the areas of their greatest interest and demand.” Sure, there will be nay-sayers: those who claim “that ‘digital’ journalism is sub-standard journalism, and that a focus on our large online audience involves forgoing quality.” Yet Hywood insisted that “as we reshape our business to meet readers’ demands we will not take a backward step on quality and we will not back away from tackling the tough issues.”

Clearly, the Fairfax editors who approved Barlass’s story are keeping that pledge, and only letting through journalism of the highest standards. I look forward to future quality journalism on ghosts, vampires, stigmata, and perhaps another run on miracle water.

Michael Brull writes twice a week for New Matilda. He has written for a range of other publications, including Overland, Crikey, ABC's Drum, the Guardian and elsewhere. His writings can be followed at his public Facebook page (click on the icon below right).