'Brisbane Times' report [27/7/10]:
Queensland Health's most senior bureaucrat has condemned a newspaper for going into a hospital room to interview a grieving injured father without seeking permission.Many Queenslanders would agree this is certainly not the worst thing the 'Courier-Mail' has done, but it's typical.
Jade Quilligan, 22, died last month after allegedly shooting her ex-husband Lenny Comollatti, 36, and killing their eight-month-old son Anthony in central Queensland.
Queensland Health director Michael Reid argues The Courier-Mail breached "moral standards" by interviewing Mr Comollatti while he was recovering from gunshot wounds.
In a letter to Queensland Newspapers editor-in-chief David Fagan, seen by brisbanetimes.com.au, Mr Reid says he is concerned about the episode.
"The Courier-Mail holds itself up to the public of Queensland as a champion of the people - an establishment that goes into battle for those who can not fight for themselves," he writes in the letter, dated July 14.
"Yet your newspaper had a journalist enter a Queensland Health hospital at Rockhampton, without permission, to talk with a patient, without his consent, less than two days after his eight month old child was allegedly shot to death by his former wife, who was later found dead at the scene of a car accident."
Mr Reid says other media organisations had contacted Queensland Health public affairs staffers to request an interview, but the man "made it very clear he wanted time to grieve, time to understand what had happened".
"The Courier-Mail sells the article resulting from this interview with a grieving and injured man as an exclusive - exclusive because other media had the compassion to follow the known protocols," he writes.
"Your own article says the patient appealed for privacy, but he was offered none."
In the article, headlined Shot dad tells of horror and published on July 9, Mr Comollatti said he was "not up to saying much" and was still in shock.
"Everybody's talking about it too much already," the newspaper quoted him as saying.
"I'm just trying to get over it myself."
At the time, Mr Comollatti was reported to be awaiting surgery for gunshot wounds to the stomach.
Mr Fagan last night defended the journalist who visited the hospital.
"Queensland Health has peddled this letter everywhere," he said.
"We stand by our reporter who identified himself to the person he was interviewing.
"That's what journalism is.
"We don't need the approval of a government authority to speak to a citizen in this country."
Mr Reid declined to speak about the matter yesterday.
"The letter was intended to be a private communication to the editor of The Courier-Mail and as such I will not make any comment," he said in a short emailed statement.
London health authorities complained in 2005 after Australian journalists were caught "sneaking into hospitals" carrying bunches of flowers to interview bomb blast victims, ABC's Media Watch program reported.
The Murdoch Press are not about journalism, they are thugs and propagandists for the neoliberal cause.
News Ltd. has a long, well documented criminal history. For Fagan to keep hiding behind the excuse of journalism when he is defending these kind of unethical acts is unacceptable.
Keep speaking out against this immoral, undemocratic organisation.