Last Monday, Channel Sevens current affairs show Today Tonight aired a segment involving a court case that was awaiting sentencing, which identified the convicted party.
David Smith had pleaded guilty to burglary, criminal damage and stalking and last Thursday was due to undergo sentencing until the segment aired on Monday night. He was moved to protective custody due to threats he had received after the segment aired.
Judge Hampel had no other choice last Thursday, but to suspend proceedings. Yesterday, Judge Hampel sentenced Mr Smith to three years and three months in jail. In passing down the judgement, she said that the sentence she passed down had changed after the case was featured on Today Tonight.
Read the full case details from The Age.
The level of journalism in Australia has continued to diminish over recent years due to cut backs in the media ranks. The airing on Today Tonight on Monday night of a case which had not been completed in the courts is a prime example of the irresponsible reporting which needs to be stamped out. This irresponsibility has lead to a significantly shorter sentence for Mr Smith who pleaded guilty to burglary, criminal damage and stalking.
The blame for this type of reporting can’t land in the laps of the news readers or journalists, it goes right to the top of the management pole. The instructions are clear, get the story. Helicopters are sent to film the wreckage of car crashes, capture images of someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter being rushed into the hospital from an ambulance or a white sheet covering the body as in the case of seven-year-old Molly Lord who was killed in a quad bike accident on her parents property in July.
The media holds the general public to account, but who is holding them? Just have a look over the past month at the sporting landscape. During the 2011/2012 summer of cricket, the media talk was all around Ricky Ponting no longer deserving his spot. His statistics spoke differently and during 2012 he continued to produce innings better than any other Australian player who could replace him. Yet as soon as Summer hit, the media hounded him until he finally decided to step down. It is sad for a cricket enthusiast like me to accept. There is currently no one better to replace him and the only failure he has had recently was against South Africa, the number one team in the world. How would you play with so much media pressure on your shoulders?
There are lines and boundaries which need to be clearly set in stone. Journalists and their management need to be made accountable for their actions. It isn’t just about reporting a story, it is about being compassionate and using common sense.
Do you think the media oversteps the line? If so, is this a new trend?