Four things to know about the Canberra press gallery

With the federal budget putting parliament squarely in focus, we offer a little insight into who exactly brings you the news from the House on the hill.

Graph for Four things to know about the Canberra press gallery

(Click here for a complete breakdown of the data)

With the Abbott government’s first budget approaching, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at the make-up of Australia’s federal press gallery – as judged by the contact and accreditation database on the Press Gallery website.  

Everything you need to know is in the graph above. And if you want to dig a bit deeper, here's a cleaned up spreadsheet containing the raw data we used to form the above graph. While we're on the subject, it’s worth at least acknowledging the interesting story behind this data, as it didn’t exist until quite recently.

The official list was uploaded onto the website late last year, under the purview of the Gallery’s current president, Sky News political editor David Speers. Prior to this, an earlier versions of the list – which we couldn’t verify with the Gallery, so we didn’t run with – was obtained by an independent news site called No Fibs.

No Fibs contributor and former Fairfax political journalist Margo Kingston started a campaign to force the Gallery to disclose its members after Independent Australia journalist Callam Davidson was refused entry to the group.  It resulted in a freedom of information request, and the eventual publication of the list on its site.

This, of course, is an abridged version of the tale. You can read the full saga on their site.

This full list and the total numbers are fascinating, because not just any reporter, photographer or producer can join the Gallery. Media workers can be declined membership by the Gallery’s board, based on their credentials and the reason for their application.

Digging into the data, here are four interesting points we pulled out of our analysis:

  • Obviously, the ABC by far has more journalists and producers operating in the Gallery than anyone else. But its headline figure is split between various divisions as they offer multiple radio stations, online news and a 24-hour TV service.
  • There are many more journalists from overseas Chinese publications in the press gallery than anywhere else. They also vastly outnumber the rather small number of journalists who from international news wires (Bloomberg, Reuters). It seems China has just as much interest in us as we do of them.
  • All three major commercial networks have the exact same number of journalists in the press gallery. SBS comes close, but its tally also includes SBS radio staff.
  • Despite the business focus of The Australian Financial Review and the political focus of The Australian, they each have roughly the same number of accredited reporters (10 and 11 respectively). Keep in mind that these figures exclude state political press galleries.

Oh, and full disclosure: Business Spectator has one journalist in the Press Gallery: our political reporter Rob Burgess.

Got a question? Contact the reporter @HarrisonPolites on Twitter or leave a comment below. Credit to Oliver Georges and Vivienne Mah for helping compile and sort the Press Gallery's contacts list.

Business Spectator is owned by News Corp Australia. 

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