When a journalist moves from press secretary to press gallery reporter, it raises tricky ethical questions for news editors in the face of possible concerns about the former political staff member’s independence and partisanship.
For some editors, the risk of the returning journalist being perceived as politically biased would be too great, and they wouldn’t be employed. For others, the benefit of fresh inside knowledge and connections outweighs the risk.
I interviewed ten Australian news editors and nine politicians in 2015-16 about managing the shift from press secretary to political reporter. The responses boiled down to questions of professionalism and reputation.