The death of David Hookes and the subsequent media coverage has
provoked a huge response from Crikey readers.  Here’s what they
had to say:

Channel 10 cut tribute package short

In response
to your piece on the media coverage of David Hookes’s death. You might
be interested to know that, in Melbourne at least, a tribute package
put together by Ten’s Sports Tonight on Monday was interrupted, without
warning, by a commercial break (“This program brought to you by Ford”).

When the break finished, there was no mention of the stuff-up,
an apology or a repeat of the tribute package (or even the missing
part). Pretty weak. A champion sportsman only ever gets one obituary
package per show, to cut it off midway is inexcusable.

FPP

Hookes had some flaws as media goes over the top

People
in the street and cafes and pubs have been blowing up the tragedy of
David Hookes’ death following an assault on Sunday night.

The
education chat rooms (Australia) even had people calling for the death
penalty. Few people were bothering to place the word “alleged” before
the word perpetrator. They miss the point.

While I was a fan
of Hookes in his playing days, I remember him recently as a radio
demagogue who used his profile to dump on a South African accuser of
Shane Warne as “a hairy back” or some such.

I respect him for his community activism and his support of disabled citizens and athletes.

The pleb journalists have a lot to answer for in the misinformation they are generating. 

Iain M

ACA plays it wrong in the West

The
Hookes death was mishandled by Nine/ACA here in the west.  The
announcement that David Hookes life support system had been shut off
came through in WA about 4.30pm.  That left Seven and Nine 90
minutes to fix their ‘Hookes fighting for his life story’ which both
news programs did admirably.

Today Tonight had the so-called
exclusive with the St Kilda resident who people in the West had already
seen on Sky News and heard on the Tony McManus program on 6PR.

ACA’s
2nd story was about Hookes and left us with the teaser about the latest
on Hookes still fighting for his life.  Surely it would be updated
we all thought, but no, it was the same story that would have run in
the east 3 hours earlier when he was still alive.

So Nine was
left telling their viewers that Hookes was dead at 6pm, but fighting
for his life 40 minutes later.  Is it any wonder TT flogs ACA over
here?

Media squeezing every last drop

Keep up the
interesting reporting on the David Hookes story and the way it is being
run by the media which is an absolute joke!  Talk about squeezing
every last drop out of this story. 

Last night a Current
Affair was so bad in its coverage as to be laughable with the cricket
fan breaking down in tears for the camera and a re-enactment including
visuals of the exact spot where Hookes was alleged to have been
assaulted and then revived by paramedics.  It just looked so
staged and superficial

I had visions of Steve Bisley in his
role as Executive Producer for Frontline wringing his hands in glee and
trying to work out what tomorrow nights spin on the story might
be. 

Also particularly poor was the Telegraph’s edition
today which talked about Hookes the hero donating his body
organs.  I think its all starting to get a bit out of hand. 

jc

Media should try to influence jury

When
I heard the news about David Hookes early on Monday morning it was
though a close friend had gone.  I listened to his radio
program about 6 hours a week.  Others in the house watched his
cricket show on Foxtel and his various other reporting.

 

I
am fed up with the crap that sports journalists in this country dish
up.  Apart from Peter Roebuck and Patrick Smith, they are all a
bunch of drivelling and sycophantic fools.  Channel 9 seems to
hire those with the lowest IQ and who want to flog stuff that you can
buy in Sunday markets 2 months later for half price.

 

At
least Hookes was passionate, interesting and thought outside of the
square.  I hope that the bastard that caused his death gets a long
stretch, but I would think he will get 3-5 years for involuntary
manslaughter. 

 

Most of the time I hate the mainstream press for the crap that it serves up which is why I am a subscriber to your newsletter.

 

On
this issue, I hope that they stir things up so that the creep gets what
he deserves, and that organ donation also gets a run out of this
terrible tragedy.

 

Sandra

Australia’s tunnel vision

Well knock me over with a feather if the biggest story to come out of
Australia (besides the hilarious NAB cock up) is something about yet
another sports ‘hero’. No wonder the world views Australia as a bunch
of inconsequential no-ones. Focus on something important for a change
for christ sakes! And no, sport does not fall into that category! I
have nothing against this guy (whoever he is), but to see the summary
of media babble on your site about his death, you’d think he was
Australia’s first astronaut. I’d say get some perspective, but having
worked for the media (Fairfax) and knowing how sport obsessed the
Australian populace is, I know there’s no chance for a change for the
better. Until Australians learn that it’s a complete waste of time and
effort to glorify some moron just because they can hit/kick a ball,
there’s really not much hope for them.  Imagine if they took all
the money they spent on the institute of sport and all the associated
rubbish and channelled it into education and support Australian
inventions so they weren’t whisked off overseas. I guess I’d better
just go on imagining that, because I know it’s never going to happen.
Pillocks.

J. Webster

Irresponsible and one-sided coverage

Here I was thinking that by early 2004 we’d left public lynchings a long, long way behind.

But, like Lindy Chamberlain and dozens before him, bouncer Zdravco
Micevic has been tried and convicted in the press long before he sets
foot in a court to stand trial for the manslaughter of cricket legend
David Hookes.

I’m shocked and saddened by Hookes’ death. I was a fan during his
all-too-short international playing career and remained a fan of the
Sports Today program he shared with footballer Gerard Healy on
Melbourne’s 3AW. Hookes, the player and the media commentator, is a
bright talent lost forever and I’m upset.

But the tragic circumstances of his death and the palpable nature of
the public grief over his death – most keenly felt from colleagues and
listeners at 3AW – is no excuse to deny Micevic a fair trial.

Much of the reporting of Hookes’ death gives a very one-sided account
of events – an account that should not be reported at all under the
strict sense of contempt of court laws put in place to ensure we all
get a fair trial after we are charged with an offence.

When it all comes out in the wash, all these reports that Hookes was
blameless might be true. I have no reason to doubt that.  The
point is the claim and counter-claim as to what happened that led to
Hookes’ death should only be played out in a court.

Press reports of Micevic’s address have forced him and his innocent family into hiding.

The pub where the trouble brewed, St Kilda’s Beaconsfield Hotel, has
been vandalised and the owners threatened. Micevic was employed as a
bouncer by another company, which was hired by the hotel’s management.

I’ve heard and seen some atrocious things about this case in recent
days, from 3AW, to news reports and bloggers inciting hate crimes. Any
defence lawyer worth their salt would be Googling ‘til the cows
come home, watching for any breach of the law that might mean Micevic
can’t stand trial. And wouldn’t all the pundits spew if that happened?

The Hack

Why Micevic’s address was revealed

After all the hot water you’ve been in with defamation payouts I would
have thought you’d learnt a thing or two. journos must give street name
and suburb to avoid claims of defamation from other people with same
name living in the same suburb. what was wrong with Monday’s age report
re naming streets was the placement of the street name adjacent to a
par that listed the rego or the car that picked the bouncer up. The age
journo might as well have drawn a noose

 
Shedding further light on the Hookes coverage
 
Privately several in the news department of Channel 9 (on air staff)
have expressed severe reservations about the coverage, accuracy of
same, and blanket coverage including the gross exaggerations and
inflations of performance and character.

The facts on Hookes career speak for themselves.  Certainly not a
star or a superhero, a dammed good cricketer is it.  If he was not
on 3AW this story would have received less coverage and further if he
were not a member of the media, even less coverage again.  Several
have already died at the hands of crowd controllers over the last 3
years to a lot less fanfare.

The police evidence to be presented appears to indicate a smart mouth
whose group was asked to leave the hotel (no indication of drunkenness)
because of excess noise and rowdy behaviour and to be quiet in the
street when they left. This same group then created a ruckus in the
street and prompted minor scuffles with the bouncers who were trying to
keep them quiet.

One person who verbally provoked a poorly trained not very bright
bouncer with a tendency to physical violence was hit with one punch to
the face and yet again landed in trouble, the sad thing is that he is
dead.

Let the media frenzy cease and let the family mourn in private and let
us hope the Labor Government who has sat on reforms to the guarding /
bouncer industry for 3 years finally implements what their expert
consultative panel recommended those 3 years ago. 

If these policy changes and reforms had have been implemented when
proposed (and held back by Brumby and Thwaites) several people would
still be alive.  This bouncer would have lost his registration in
September 2002 after the Essendon incident under the proposed changes
to legislation and would not have been at the Beaconsfield hotel last
Sunday night
 
Tony


Who controls the crowd controllers?

 
Firstly, my sincere commiserations to the David Hookes nearest and dearest in these tragic circumstances.
 
Crikey postulates that police have not laid charges as it is likely
that the post mortem will establish cause of death as a heart attack.
Other things can cause hearts to stop as well as heart attacks, for
instance massive trauma. If the reports of the sound of the customers
head impact with the road are accurate, (and the bloodstains are
consistent with this) may I suggest that there was indeed a massive
trauma which could have stopped his heart. Only the postmortem will
tell.
 
If it was the trauma that stopped his heart and that trauma occurred as
a result of a premeditated assault surely then the police would have to
be looking hard at the nastiest act of manslaughter that we have heard
of in a long time.
 
And, sadly, the Beaconsfield management has to be counted in the
aftermath. Surely when employing staff of this nature strict guidelines
regarding bouncer conduct should be in place and surely, any education
body that graduated crowd controllers that are registered as such, had
to emphasise the need for professional conduct, not thuggery.

Bracks and Hulls will be beating their gums together for a long time
over this one. What a tragedy that one so well regarded by thousands of
good Australians should be the catalyst for the long overdue reform in
this area which will probably all now happen.
 
MX


Ensuring the safety of all patrons

No doubt about it…have seen 3-4 occasions whilst working at Crown
were bouncers overreacted or “taught someone a lesson”.  I thought
that the role of a bouncer was to ensure the safety of all patrons
(including those they are ejecting from the premises). 

Regardless of the behaviour of the patron the application of
“reasonable force” applies and if there is serious trouble then that’s
what police officers are for.

Nick

Look at it from the bouncer’s point of view

How many times in the past years have we heard about bouncers getting
knifed or stabbed with a syringe or even shot in the past years? How
long does it take for the media to forget these tragic incidents?

The majority of bouncers I have encountered, whilst being physically
intimidating due to their appearance, just want to do their job and
avoid as much trouble as possible. It can’t be easy dealing with
drunken revellers for a living, especially in this day and age of high
litigation. I acknowledge some bouncers go over the top, but these are
generally from places like Crown Casino and Star City.

Perhaps the industry does need an overhaul, but the media shouldn’t
label all bouncers as thugs, or even “Weapons of Mass Destruction” as a
cartoon in the Daily Telegraph the other day suggested.

Sam Hayward

Over the top coverage

I am a dissenter when it comes to the Hookes story.  Let’s keep
some perspective.  This is terrible for his family and friends but
— so far as reportage goes — he’s only a past cricketer! 
Contrast this absurd hyperbole with the treatment — such as it usually
is — of the deaths of really significant Australians.

Take an example.  The great historian, Patrick O’Farrell [who
created Irish-Australian history and Catholic history] died on
Christmas day.  Admittedly there have been some fine recent
obituaries on Patrick, but as for straight reportage?  Well, if I
hadn’t rung the News Desk at the Sydney Morning Herald (a staff member
of which paper had already been told), then that paper’s newspages
would have ignored the event completely.  The Australian did
ignore it, I think (though I could have missed something tiny).

Will the papers and the electronic media, when they tire of sensation,
reflect at all of the role of excessive consumption of alcohol in this
tragedy and many other deplorable aspects of Australian society? 
I doubt it.  I do note that one of your correspondents referred to
Australian cricketers’ “sledging” — there’s another issue: violence in
Australian society.  Will that be seriously reflected upon? 
I’ll leave you to guess.

In the meantime, let’s not encourage the hyperbole.  Let’s take a
sober view of whether this death is so much more important and
significant than many others which are ignored and whether the
“blanket” treatment is seriously overdone?

John Carmody

The subtext in the Hookes story

The Hookes overkill? It’s the silly season. Stories are hard to come
by.  Plus this one has sub-text. Blue-eyed, (formerly)
blond-haired Aussie sporting icon killed by immigrant. It hits all the
buttons – the national sports obsession, tabloid-fuelled crime paranoia
and the new climate of xenophobia in John Howard’s little and insular
Australia. You get the media you deserve. And this load of tosh is what
Australians deserve.

John Allen

The media’s rush to judge

Reading a lot of letters about Hookes’ death, there seems to be quite
an acknowledgment that he was, in terms of his radio career,
intelligent and “thought outside the square”.  This is contrasted
by the “low IQ” of the commercial station journalists and
reporters.  A few even talk about how we are an educated nation.
 
And yet, there are such calls for massive retribution to the
perpetrator.  How does this fit with “an educated nation”. 
There has been no trial yet, other than by media.  Let’s act
educated. If it were a case of assault and death was the terrible but
un-intended consequence, would not we wish justice for ourselves should
we ever find ourselves in that unfortunate position?  If it is
found that there was indeed intent to kill, the full force of the law
should then be executed.
 
At least let’s think about it a bit and recognise our emotions over
this terrible loss as being separate from what we have to do as part of
our justice system.
 
Pat W

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