Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Gutter and gutter-er journalism

The allegations made by former swimmer Emma Fuller against her one-time coach Greg Hodge have, in only the two days since they were first aired*, degenerated into an ugly battle by proxy between the Seven and Nine TV networks. “Ugly” of course, because while cutthroat competition between rival TV networks – and their rival dumbed-down “current affairs” shows in particular – is to be expected, staging a battle of the eyeballs and (network) egos involving real human lives at their most vulnerable is disgusting, sheer exploitation.

Of the two networks and their respective tabloid flagships, Seven’s “Today Tonight” deserves the stronger condemnation. While Nine’s original story could hardly be described as balanced, they were fairly careful – as far as I could tell – to only put to air material that would not attract a defamation writ. In contrast, Seven has declared open slather on Emma Fuller, seeming happy to airing any piece of “dirt” on her at all. Unfortunately for the young Emma, if Seven’s campaign against her is eventually revealed as baseless smearing, her defamation payout is unlikely to be anything near as fiscally hurtful to Seven as the whopper amount paid to John Marsden, a higher-profile victim of an ill-conceived Seven witch-hunt.

And the “Who do you believe?” 1900- and website-voting poll at is even lower down in the gutter. Memo to Seven – current affairs is not (yet) reality TV.

* Broadcast on “A Current Affair” 13 October 2003 (no URL)

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