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Daanyal Saeed

The office commute: The journalists that went to the dark side

Guardian Australia political editor and press gallery veteran Katharine Murphy last week moved over to the dark side, taking a job with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. It is currently unclear what her specific role will entail, although it is expected to be in communications. 

Murphy’s move, while a high-profile one, is not unique in the incestuous crossover universe of journalism and politics. It does, however, mark the first move of a chief correspondent or political editor to a prime minister’s office since former ABC chief political correspondent Mark Simkin joined Tony Abbott’s office in 2014. 

As the ethical debate about journos jumping ship rages on, your correspondent decided to take a non-exhaustive look back at some of the other journalists over the past 20 years who took their talents from the fourth estate to the big, bad world of politics. 

Disclosure: your correspondent worked one day a week for now-Industrial Relations Minister Tony Burke for eight months in 2018. 

  • Lanai Scarr: A journalist at News Corp for more than a decade before joining Seven as its federal political editor. Spent three years at Seven before taking a job with Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth after Labor’s 2022 election victory. 
  • Anna Patty: A health and state political reporter at News Corp for six years, including a stint at The Times in London, before joining The Sydney Morning Herald as education editor in 2006. After 17 years at the SMH, including three as a state political reporter, she joined NSW Deputy Premier Prue Car’s office after Labor’s 2023 election victory. 
  • Lizzy Aboud: A journalist with Seven in Queensland for two and a half years before joining Queensland Labor frontbencher Glenn Butcher in 2023. 
  • Tom Richardson: A News Corp reporter for three years before joining Adelaide independent outlet InDaily as a columnist from 2006 to 2014. Worked as a state political reporter for Nine in Adelaide until 2014 before rejoining InDaily as a senior journalist. Joined Labor SA Transport Minister Tom Koutsantonis’ office in August 2022. 
  • Madeline Collins: Worked across a number of outlets in the 2010s before joining Sky News to produce for the likes of Peta Credlin, Paul Murray, Andrew Bolt and Chris Kenny. Joined Liberal MP Michael Sukkar in October 2022. 
  • Wendy Fitzgibbon: Worked as a journalist for 27 years, leading digital for News Corp’s local mastheads and becoming The Daily Telegraph’s associate editor of digital. Left journalism in September 2022 and joined NSW Minister for Regional Transport Jenny Aitchison after Labor’s 2023 election victory.
  • Brigid Delaney: Everyone’s favourite Guardian Australia columnist was a feature writer and editor across several outlets for more than two decades before joining Minister for Finance Katy Gallagher’s office as a speechwriter in October 2022 after Labor’s federal election victory. 
  • Madeline Hayman-Reber: Spent four years at NITV/SBS as a reporter, producer and Victoria correspondent before briefly becoming Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe’s media adviser after Thorpe entered the Senate in 2020. 
  • Sally Whyte: Began her career at this prestigious masthead while still a student. Spent three years at SYN Media before returning to Crikey, becoming deputy editor in 2017. Joined The Canberra Times in 2018, where she would report on the public service and federal politics for three and a half years before joining independent MP Helen Haines as media adviser in June 2021. After the 2023 election was promoted to Haines’ chief of staff. 
  • Sarah Whyte: Worked in Parliament House for Fairfax from 2010 to 2015 before joining the ABC. Joined independent MP Zali Steggall as a media adviser in 2019 after Steggall’s 2019 federal election win in the Sydney seat of Warringah. Left in October 2021 to join the Australia-India Institute. 
  • Clive Mathieson: Worked at News Corp in various roles, mostly at The Australian, from 1999 to 2016, before joining Liberal NSW Premier Mike Baird’s office. In October 2017, would join then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s office until Turnbull was deposed in 2018. 
  • Stephen Spencer: Worked in the Canberra press gallery as a reporter at 2CH Radio, 2GB and AAP for 15 years before joining then-Labor deputy opposition leader Simon Crean as press secretary in January 2001. Would return to journalism in 2005 as a political reporter with 2GB and Network 10, before joining politics again as media adviser to then-shadow health minister Catherine King. Also worked for Penny Wong before joining current Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus in August 2019. 
  • Nicky Hamer: Worked at Sky News for just under three years before joining then-assistant minister for home affairs Linda Reynolds as a media adviser in November 2018. Left Reynolds’ office in April 2021 to join mining company Fortescue. 
  • Justine Landis-Hanley: Worked at The Sydney Morning Herald, Crikey and Guardian Australia before joining Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters in July 2020. Would launch a politics podcast in 2021 before returning to journalism with Schwartz and Guardian Australia. Currently a federal politics and public sector reporter at The Canberra Times
  • Stephanie Anderson: A journalist for over a decade across publications, including time in the Canberra press gallery with Fairfax and the ABC, before joining Labor MP Andrew Leigh’s office in May 2017. 
  • Stephen Fitzpatrick: An experienced journalist with News Corp and former Indonesia correspondent for The Australian, joined former NSW Labor opposition leader Jodi McKay’s office before bouncing to Senator Tony Sheldon, and then NSW Treasurer Daniel Mookhey.
  • Stela Todorovic: Worked as a political reporter at Network 10 for around four years after a similar amount of time at Sky News, before quitting in June 2023. Todorovic now works for Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. 
  • Mark Simkin: Was the ABC’s Canberra-based chief political correspondent for over five years before taking up the role of head of the Prime Minister’s Office for Tony Abbott in 2014. 
  • Katharine Murphy: Worked in the Canberra press gallery for the Financial Review, The Australian and The Age before joining Guardian Australia in 2013 as political editor. Joined Prime Minister Anthony Albanese this year after almost 30 years in the Canberra press gallery. 
  • Clint Thomas: A senior journalist with over a decade of service at the ABC, Thomas joined WA Environment Minister Reece Whitby in 2020.
  • Jason Koutsoukis: A former Fairfax, Bloomberg and Nikkei Asia journalist for almost 30 years, Koutsoukis joined Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil after Labor’s 2022 election victory.
  • James Jeffrey: A columnist and sketch writer for The Australian for 16 years, Jeffery left News Corp in 2019 to join Anthony Albanese’s team while in opposition.

Correction: A previous version of this article erroneously stated that Stephen Fitzpatrick left NSW Treasurer Daniel Mookhey’s office to join Premier Chris Minns. Fitzpatrick at the time of writing remains in Mookhey’s office.

Should jouralists be taking up jobs in politics? Let us know your thoughts by writing to Please include your full name to be considered for publication. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity.

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