Press Gallery

This fact sheet investigates the work of the press gallery in gathering information and publishing stories about what happens in the Australian Parliament. It includes information about the relationship between the press and Parliament.

The press gallery is made up of approximately 250 journalists and related staff who work for newspapers, television, radio stations and other organisations that collect and publish information. The press gallery also describes the area of Parliament House in which journalists work. This includes offices, broadcasting studios and special viewing areas above the Presiding Officer's chair in both the Senate and House of Representatives.

Role

The role of the press gallery is to gather information and publish stories about what happens in the Australian Parliament. The stories might include items about Question Time, policies and decisions of the government and opposition and particular people such as ministers and shadow ministers.

Relationship with Parliament

The press gallery and members of parliament both wish to publicise the work of Parliament. Members of parliament depend on the media to inform the public about what is happening in the Parliament. Ministers and shadow ministers are interviewed on television and radio from studios in Parliament House so they can explain what they are doing in Parliament. Members of parliament call press conferences, inviting the press gallery to hear and ask questions about a particular issue. Members may also be interviewed as they enter and leave Parliament House—this is known as a doorstop interview. Members of parliament and the media do not always agree on events and the media may publish highly critical accounts of parliamentary activities.

The press gallery is influential because the journalists and media organisations are free to select the news and publish what they think is interesting and important. They decide which members of parliament they will interview and publicise. Journalists have a professional responsibility to find the truth about a subject and to compare information from different sources. In this way, the media has an important role scrutinising the work of the Parliament.

Relationship with the public

The public relies on the media to scrutinise the Parliament and government, and to search out the truth of events and stories. As a result, the media has a lot of influence on public opinion, and members of parliament are careful in the way they work with journalists.

Watching Parliament at work

In both the Senate and the House of Representatives, there are special seats reserved for the press gallery. These are located above and behind the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives where the journalists can see and hear everything that is happening. Subject to the Presiding Officers' approval, journalists sit in these galleries and take notes, especially during Question Time. They also watch the proceedings on television in their offices so they can copy video clips for news programs.

The Treasurer talking to the media about the Budget.

The Treasurer is being interviewed. There are people with cameras and boom mics.

Penny Bradfield/DPS Auspic

Description

A man in a suit is being interviewed by a man with a handheld microphone.They are surrounded by people with cameras and boom mics. They stand between lines of tables covered with papers and laptops.

The Senate press gallery.

Media with cameras and notebooks sit in tiered seating above a carved wooden Commonwealth coat of arms in the Australian Senate.

DPS Auspic

Description

A number of people with cameras and notebooks sit in pink tiered seating above a carved wooden Commonwealth coat of arms and 2 Australian flags.