Newman attacks newspaper tunnel coverage

Lord Mayor Campbell Newman today lashed out at the Courier-Mail for downplaying the opening of the Clem7 tunnel.

“The largest infrastructure project in this city’s history did not actually have a photo on the front page — it had a photo of a paddock,” he said.

The tunnel opening story was relegated to an inside page following a stoush between City Hall and Brisbane’s daily newspaper over the council’s attempt to manage coverage.

The Courier published emails from a City Hall media officer seeking the guarantee of a front-page photo of the Lord Mayor and the use of prepared quotes, plus the right to veto negative coverage as well as exclusion of opposition Labor councillors in the story.

In an editorial the Courier said: “The Lord Mayor is out of line with such demands. The success of his first term – which involved building bridges with political opponents as well as building tunnels – will inevitably not be matched if his Napoleonic tendencies extend beyond the media into the rest of the community he is privileged to serve.”

At today’s Council meeting Opposition leader Shayne Sutton questioned the Lord Mayor about the Courier-Mail editorial, asking: “Why have you become so arrogant that you think you can dictate to the media not to write anything negative about you?”

Cr Newman said his clear understanding following conversations with Courier-Mail senior management was that the newspaper wanted an exclusive story on the tunnel opening.

“They wanted an exclusive desperately,” he said. “They wanted to have the tunnel on the front page.”

The Lord Mayor said any section of the media was entitled to judge his policy and infrastructure achievements.

“But I do not think it is appropriate that it really comes down to the fact that the Courier-Mail‘s editor does not seem to like me very much,” he said.

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