News Corp ‘failed to act’ on abusive Twitter trolling of rivals, colleague and ex-PM by subeditor on The Australian

A former journalist on The Australian has claimed News Corp management failed to act when she discovered evidence a colleague was anonymously trolling public figures and colleagues with abusive posts on Twitter.

Gina Rushton, who is now a breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed, worked for The Australian from 2013 to 2016.

In a full page article published in this weekend’s The Saturday Paper, Rushton outlined the steps she took to uncover the troll after receiving an abusive tweet about a review she wrote.

‘As far as I know, no further action was taken’: Rushton’s piece in The Saturday Paper

She claims she discovered strong evidence that the Twitter troll was a subeditor on The Australian. She did not name the male colleague in the piece.

In two crude tweets directed at a former Australian prime minister, the troll taunted the politician that his daughter “takes it up the arse”.

And it abused Sydney Morning Herald columnist Peter FitzSimons, as a “fucking rag-headed imbecile”.

According to Rushton, the account tweeted at Sky News reporter Amy Greenbank, writing “best tits ever” and called former Fairfax columnist Mike Carton a “sad old sack of shit” and a “gutless, gormless piece of shit”.

It labelled Guardian Australia assistant news editor Bridie Jabour an “idiot”.

Rushton, in her first journalism job with The Oz, began her detective work after the anonymous account tweeted criticism of one of her articles, in terminology that suggested it has come from a colleague on the newspaper. It wrote: “Gina that’s a shocking poorly researched yarn. There’s no point dumping on the vast majority of your readers.”

Rushton tracked down the person likely to be behind the account by looking at old tweets and finding that when he first started tweeting, he signed messages with his newsroom nickname. As a further clue, she was able to conform that the mobile phone number tweeted at one point by the account matched that of the subeditor.

Rushton said that she reported it to the newspaper’s managing editor at the time, who told her that the subeditor’s  embarrassed reaction made him believe the man was guilty. But because he denied it, there appeared to be no further consequences. She wrote:

“It took a lot to persuade the managing editor that the account might belong to a staff member. Eventually, a representative from human resources asked if I wanted to take the tweet directed at me ‘further’.

“A week later I was called into another meeting and told that the subeditor had denied the account belonged to him.

“‘I think it was definitely him; he was pretty embarrassed,’ the managing editor said.

“The tweets were deleted within a few months and, as far as I know, no further action was taken.”

News Corp declined to comment, telling Mumbrella the company does not comment on internal staff matters.

The Saturday Paper article is the latest to suggest that The Australian has a culture of going to war against its rivals. Last month, Crikey launched 13-part series The Australian Holy Wars in which it explored claims the newspaper “waged vicious, personal, biased editorial jihads against its ideological, political and commercial enemies”.


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