by MESHEL LAURIE
Yesterday morning, like every morning this week, I fished around my bed-side table before I even opened my eyes, grabbing for my phone. I know I wasn’t the only one compulsively checking the internet for information about a woman I’d never met, but for whom I’m now grieving, Jill Meagher.
The news websites informed me of the terrible break in the case overnight, and Jill’s fate was confirmed. As I sat up in bed, feeling so sad for all the people who knew and loved her and for everyone feeling they could’ve prevented it in some way, I considered the debate about the role of the media in tragedies like this.
Although I’ve been on the receiving end of some truly embarrassing attempts at journalism over the years, the fact is that I’m a member of the dreaded “mainstream” media myself. While I’m not always it’s proudest member, there are times when it’s capabilities within the community inspire me, and it’s self-serving detractors remind me that they are on the outside looking in for a reason.
Australia’s media can be ceaselessly cheesy, laughably sensational and at times it’s so insensitive that it sickens the citizens it so desperately wants to impress. A low point was reached earlier this year when a news chopper hovered over a NSW woman as she crouched beside the body of her daughter, killed in an accident on their farm. The footage from the chopper was aired on the news and uploaded to the network’s website which is obviously disgraceful. A very, very long way back from that desperate precipice is the coverage of Jill Meagher’s disappearance.