It is customary for journalists to report News. But, in the recent happenings, in Melbourne, Australia, journalists found themselves being reported in the News. It all started more than a year ago, when a teenage boy divorced his parents, and the same was reported by Mr. Chris Tinkler, in one of the leading newspapers, the Sunday Herald Sun. According to the news article reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, Mr. Tinkler sketched the boy’s case and titled it, "Divorced by my son: Teen may never see mum again". This item was eventually picked up by a number of TV networks and newspapers, like the Seven Network - covering the news in its Sunrise, TodayTonight; and The Australian, The Sunday Telegraph etc.
A number of well-known, leading newspaper journalists, and TV news reporters have been filed charges for their alleged identification of the concerned parties, in their reporting of this boy’s story. The list of persons facing criminal proceedings, in the Children’s Court include, Chris Tinkler, Alan Howe from Melbourne’s Sunday Herald Sun and Jeni O’Dowd from The Sunday Telegraph in Sydney. The TV personalities facing proceedings include, high-profile names such as, David Koch, Melissa Doyle, Naomi Robson and newsreaders Jennifer Keyte and Natalie Barr.
Padraic Murphy, reports in The Australian that, if the charges were proved and the defendants were indeed convicted, ‘could face up to two years’ jail for breaching section 26 of the Children’s and Young Persons Act’. However, the magistrate Mr. Steven Raleigh, though expressing his concern that none of the defendants had bothered to turn up for the proceedings, has made it known that, an appropriate penalty of tendering an apology letter to the Children’s Court, may be imposed. (adapted from the Sunday Morning Herald).
A sample view of the general public, can be had in the follwing interview with a Systems Business Manager in a well known Multinational Company.
“Do you remember this episode, in which the boy divorced his parents?”
“Yes, I do remember the news item about a 14 year old boy divorcing his parents.”
Asked to comment on the action of the journalists facing criminal proceedings,
“I believe the boy’s identity should not have been revealed given that he is a minor and it was a personal family matter. So the Journalists are not justified in disclosing the identity of the boy.”
While the proceedings may have spurred a keen interest amongst the journalist fraternity,
and, the emotional nature of the episode has, naturally ensured wide coverage, the feelings of the public, is still to be ascertained with more samples and survey.
List of Reference
Original interview: conducted by Ms. Kumar. Faculty, Image Multimedia, Cochin, Kerala, India. Phone : 0091 484 2205813. Ms. Kumar is also a free-lance journalist and copy-writer.
The person interviewed: an Australian citizen of Indian origin, settled in Australia, and has been residing in Australia for more than seventeen years. He works for Alstom Information Technology Limited in capacity as Systems Business Manager. Email id:
Tel No: not disclosed in order to ensure privacy.
Interview conducted through telephone and E-mail questionnaire on
September 14th, 2005.
Padriac Murphy, Sept 13 th 2005, The Australian, Journalists face jail over identifying boy.http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,16583991%255E7582,00.html
AAP, 13 th Sept 2005, Sydney Morning Herald, Journalists face charges over court case. http://www.smh.com.au/news/National/Journalists-face-charges-over-court-case/2005/09/13/1126377309996.html?oneclick=true