AAP investigates tent embassy story
AUSTRALIAN Associated Press has launched an internal investigation into a story it posted on Australia Day that may have led to the confusion about tent embassy remarks made earlier in the day by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
The story, written by journalist Adam Bennett, was picked up at 1.35pm on January 26 by both news.com.au and The Australian newspaper's online site, which ran it under the headline "Time for tent embassy to fold, says Tony Abbott".
AAP chief Tony Gillies said that on reflection the story could have been handled better.
"There was no malice or agenda on our part," Mr Gillies said.
"We don't have one. It was one of many interviews we did with Mr Abbott on the day."
Mr Gillies said paraphrasing in the story deserved greater internal scrutiny both by him and others.
"I can see where the reporter got it from," he said.
"The interpretation was not right."
The story may have been the catalyst for events that unfolded less than two hours later when people attending Aboriginal Tent Embassy 40th anniversary celebrations heard of the report and descended on The Lobby restaurant, where Mr Abbott and Prime Minister Julia Gillard were entertaining emergency service volunteers.
The Australian on-line editor, Nick Hopkins, said the story was incorrect and would be taken down. It remains on news.com.au.
Mr Hopkins conceded that "sure it could have contributed" to the anger expressed by protesters outside the restaurant.
Mr Gillies said AAP would look carefully at how the inaccurate report went through without being questioned.
"We report in real time," he said.
"We have to take care, look at the question and how it is answered."