Opinion Commentary & Media IV

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Bleeding Blue and White
Sep 23, 2005
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Other Teams
Arsenal, Chicago Bulls
AFL Media journalist Mitch Cleary stood down over Brooke Cotchin tweet
Richmond has distanced itself from the AFL’s decision to stand down AFL Media journalist Mitch Cleary amid outcry at the lack of independence over the league’s journalism arm.

Richmond has distanced itself from the AFL’s decision to stand down AFL Media journalist Mitch Cleary amid outcry at the lack of independence over the league’s journalism arm.
The Herald Sun revealed on Sunday night that Cleary had been indefinitely suspended by the league after he posted on social media the Instagram post from Brooke Cotchin that saw the Tigers fined $45,000.

It is understood the AFL had made clear to clubs fined for COVID breaches that the players and partners involved would not be made public in its Friday press release.

The Tigers had hoped Cotchin’s identity would remain private despite her name being outed on 3AW Radio the previous day.

But while they were upset on Friday night that media outlets including the Herald Sun published that post, they are adamant they made no demands about Cleary’s position.

Instead, the AFL decided to stand him down on Friday night in a decision that destroys the veneer of independence between the AFL and its media arm.

It is only the latest in a series of decisions that have worried AFL Media journalists, with some complaining they have been censored about story choices and had breaking stories pulled by management.

Cleary will be forced to attend a meeting with the AFL’s Human Resources department to explain his conduct in presenting an image already in the public domain.

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said he wasn’t aware of any link between the club and the decision to stand Cleary down.

While the AFL was angered by the decision to name her, some AFL officials on the Gold Coast believed her post about a day spa was particularly negligent because it was advertising a private business.

Richmond has been keen to placate the Cotchins given their status in the club, with Brooke and Trent Cotchin on Sunday agreeing to pay the $20,000 fine ($25,000 was suspended).

“I’m not going to lie, it has been tough on them but as Trent and Brooke do they took accountability for it,” Hardwick said.

“But it has been tough on them, the situation is that we live and learn and everyone up here is trying to do the right thing but mistakes will be made.”

“I think everyone is trying to put their best foot forward as best they can but we just have to understand that sometimes people are going to get things wrong, not through any fault of their own it was just an innocent mistake and we are fully supportive of them.”

“We understand that they have accepted responsibility and prepared to move on pretty quickly.”

“I’m not too sure from that point of view (whether that had been an agreement not to identify Brooke), but the reality is that we all know how the industry works.”

“I’m not too sure (if the club discussed Mitch Cleary posting the story with the AFL), I just worry about the performance side and what I can control on the field and I let other people deal with the off-field matters.”

Fox Footy host Gerard Whateley described the AFL’s decision as a “betrayal of journalism” that undermined any suggestion of independence from the AFL Media arm.

“The AFL standing down Mitch Cleary is a betrayal of journalism and it is an exposing moment and I would think it’s an unnerving moment if you worked at AFL Media and you believed that you were working as a journalist rather than as an employee of the AFL,” he said on SEN Radio.

“You always have to know who you’re working for, but usually when you’re a journalist it comes without interference. That’s just a straight out betrayal of journalism.”

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Norm Smith Medallist
Jun 4, 2013
AFL Club
North Melbourne
It's indicative of the AFL' s level of campaigner-ness when the majority of fair minded people are in total agreement with the views of Ralph, McClure and Whatley.
However it's worth noting though that probably the only reason every other footy journo in Australia is laying into the AFL and AFL Media is because AFL Media is a direct competitor, and one with better funding and access than the papers and radio stations.

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