SOAPBOX: Journalists are not the moral police

MEDIA organisations are not above the law, even though sometimes it would be nice.

When events seem out of kilter in other countries, we are also not moral police to determine right from wrong.

This is why if Channel Nine is proven to have paid $115,000 to have assisted in the taking of children in Beirut as part of a 60 Minute program, it should expect consequences.

Lebanese authorities have claimed they have uncorroborated evidence Nine paid for the failed child abduction.

This doesn't surprise me. Nine is known to have a long history of paying for interviews.

Attempts to find out how much interviews cost - as in the case of the interview with the four Italian sisters - go nowhere.

Mostly journalists are doing their job as best they can. I know I have made my share of mistakes.

But I firmly believe paying for information in pursuit of news compromises the quality of reporting.

Nine's botched attempt to "rescue" a Brisbane mother's children now sees four of its finest, including reporter Tara Brown, facing criminal charges in a country which has very different laws to ours.

It must be terrifying for them and I sincerely hope the judge will show leniency and understanding in this case.

However, Australia needs to step up.

Media organisations need to find a better way to achieve a result other than committing a crime, no matter how noble the cause.

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