A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw last night gave an editorial following a story about online attacks against Chrissie Swan.
Swan had been criticised for a magazine story in which her children were photographed, with some questioning whether she was raising overweight children and the responsibilities of parenting. The comments gained traction in the media, including a slam from Neighbours‘ Ashleigh Brewer. None of the commentary was published here…
Last night Tracy Grimshaw drew attention to a wider issue of online comment, following the story:
“There was a wider issue at play in what happened to Chrissie Swan on the weekend and it had nothing at all to do with weight or nutiriton or parenting,” she said.
“It was about bullying.
“It was also about the often-white noise of social media versus traditional media. And how a bunch of anonymous bullies took to websites to vent their prejudice and inexplicably made the jump to mainstream news outlets.
“Remember when to express your opinion you had to write a Letter to the Editor? The paper would only run the best letters with a view to balance and content. Now there’s no such filter. And the online tyrants are running amok.
“Let them have a Twitter page, that’s democracy. But why translate their jaundiced opinions and intemperate language into news copy that’s supposed to actually carry some authority?
“Ignore them. Seriously, how can we on the one hand plead for schools and governments to tackle bullying in the playground and then reward it in adulthood by giving the online bullies a louder voice?
“Chrissie Swan who has never said a mean word about anyone was made miserable by their rants at the weekend and they should never have been given that power.”
Grimshaw certainly made some valid points, showing a skill that lends itself well to A Current Affair, and contrasting with the absent views of Matt White on Today Tonight. It’s one of her strongest attributes as a journalist.
But is there also a question of whether the show can have it both ways?
Is it reasonable to editorialise about online bullying, given that ACA recently accosted Clive James in the street in London when he is both elderly and ill? How was he able to defend himself or prepare an adequate response? Was the story even in the public interest?
I’m hoping Tracy might give us an editorial on that one, as forthright as the one delivered last night. But I’m not holding my breath.
UPDATED: A tearful Chrissie Swan thanked Tracy Grimshaw for her comments this morning on radio.