Hands up if you’ve ever cried at work.
I know I have…on more than one occasion.
Earlier this week, an Adelaide radio host found herself reduced to tears while on the job, but it wasn’t in the privacy of the ladies’, or at her desk, it was broadcast to the entire state live on radio.
Ali Clarke, presenter on ABC Radio Adelaide’s morning show and mum of three, broke down in tears after reading an abusive text message from a listener which flashed up on screen during the show.
Responding to an interview she had conducted with a local woman who had rescued a joey, the listener described her work as “pitiful” which provided “excruciating listening for the Adelaide audience”.
Speaking through tears, Ali opened up to the audience while joking that she that is an ugly crier (same):
“Sorry … we don’t always get things right here but we do always try our best, you know and we sit here with the text line in front of us and it just adds up you know,” she said.
“Sometimes we do interviews and it is handed to us last minute and we are trying our very best and when someone texts in that was a pitiful interview, and what you just said was awful, I’ve embarrassed the interviewee, and provided excruciating listening to the Adelaide audience, and maybe this is too, but it adds up.”
Ali received a flood of support following the incident.
It’s part of listener interaction and has become a bit of a beast. I never had a producer so fielded it all myself. Those who have producers have one, whose hands are very full producing a show. It’s a quandary of connecting with audience but also copping some harsh “feedback”.
— Zan Rowe (@zanrowe) August 21, 2018
Notable today that an ABC broadcaster broke down on air today thanks to abusive commentary from a listener – the type of thing below is what we get every single day for doing our jobs. https://t.co/kD5Gv5ZTIN
— Leigh Sales (@leighsales) August 21, 2018
Kudos to ABC Presenter Ali Clarke for speaking out about just how hurtful the comments can be from listeners or viewers. I regularly used to cop abuse from viewers saying I sounded “too gay” – I didn’t know there was such a crime! #aliclarke https://t.co/UYu3FASzLA
— Mark Reddie (@ReddieNews) August 21, 2018
Power to you Ali. My theory is people have always yelled at the TV or radio, as is one’s right, but the difference now is broadcasters hear it, in real time, in the middle of doing their job. Some days I’d laugh it off, some days it cut to the core.
— Daniela Ritorto (@danielaritorto) August 21, 2018
I had one nasty text recently that came through while I was on air and it really threw me for a moment. You have to remember the vast majority of listeners appreciate what you do, and we’re not expected to be perfect humans.
— Selina Green (@SelinaGreen5290) August 21, 2018
While it was heartwarming to see fans and fellow journalists defending Ali on Twitter, we wish we could say public criticism of female journalists was a rarity.
It seems women in media are forced to defend themselves against abusive comments on a weekly, or daily, basis.
Ali’s ABC colleagues Annabel Crabb and Virginia Trioli are regularly subjected to abuse on social media, while Leigh Sales and Lisa Wilkinson are constantly having to defend themselves for being “too aggressive”.
In light of Ali’s emotional Tuesday morning, ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie called for further training and tips within the ABC on how to deal with trolls in an all-staff email published by The Guardian.
“We are looking internally and externally at additional measures to protect our people,” Michelle wrote.
“This includes peer support and safe engagement with our audiences.”
She added that she was “concerned” about the increase of harsh backlash against presenters.
“I am concerned that one of our colleagues, Ali Clarke, found herself visibly affected by harsh online texts while presenting her program this morning,” Guthrie said. “This follows online attacks on a range of ABC presenters and guests in recent months.”