Yesterday’s Crikey item – How does Ros Reines feel? – has roused our
readers. Christian Kerr wrote: “Ros, in the wake of what’s transpired,
how do you feel about this piece you had on Rene Rivkin on page seven
of The Telegraph the day he topped himself?” He was referring to Reines’s Sunday Telegraph story, which began:

The marriage of disgraced stockbroker Rene Rivkin and his wife Gayle is understood to be in serious trouble.

Rivkin,
who was found guilty of insider trading in 2003 and sentenced to nine
months periodic detention, has moved out of the family home to live
with his mother in Darling Point.

Jeni O’Dowd, editor of The Sunday Telegraph, writes:
I am responsible for the editorial content of The Sunday Telegraph.
Ros Reines’ reports on Rene Rivkin on Sunday May 1 were well informed
and accurate accounts, as subsequent information from a wide variety of
sources demonstrates. If there is any doubt about the accuracy of any
statement in Ros’s pieces, either on page 7 or page 134, please provide
the evidence. Crikey, as usual provides no substance and no evidence to
support its position.

In what were balanced, accurate and
somewhat sympathetic accounts, it was, as Ros noted, to be hoped that
Mr Rivkin would be able to eventually resume “some of his old life”.
Tragically this will not be the case. Crikey’s portrayal of our
articles as in some way to blame for Mr Rivkin’s death is disgusting.

Shelley Gare writes:
Your
piece – “How Does Ros Reines feel?” – by Christian Kerr was
unconscionable. Rene Rivkin’s suicide was tremendously sad, but you’d
have to be looking back at the vast array of people, from journalism as
well as the authorities, who pursued him over the past recent years to
say nothing of his own health and neurological problems, let alone his
self-created business disasters, to find reasons as to why he finally
suicided. Given his sense of shame, who knows what effect the segments
on Enough Rope and Australian Story, and his own
family’s revelations, also had on his feelings of bleakness? (Stephen
Mayne and Glen Dyer covered this thoroughly in yesterday’s Crikey
website piece.)

For Crikey to single out one gossip journalist
who had the misfortune to write a piece about Rivkin – a straightforward
piece incidentally, that ended on a sympathetic and hopeful note
although Christian Kerr doesn’t acknowledge that – which appeared on
the day he finally decided to commit suicide after threatening it for
years was nasty, bullying and irresponsible scape-goating, as well as
being beside the point.

And Paul Murphy writes:
Like most Aussies, I reckon that journos are lying bastards. But I’m a
bit puzzled by your atttempt to convict journos of killing Rene Rivkin.
You particularly point the finger at Ros Reines.

Journos didn’t give Rivkin his bipolar disorder (manic depressive state).

Journos didn’t do his insider trading.

Journos didn’t prosecute him. ASIC did.

Journos didn’t convict him. A jury did.

Journos didn’t jail him. A judge did.

Journos didn’t divorce him. His wife did (understandably). Ros Reines didn’t.

Journos did not wrongly tear him down. They wrongly built him up.

It is very sad that Rene Rivkin killed himself after crying for weeks
in a room in his mum’s house. It is very sad that he died in the
grip of a mental illness. Journos can be bastards but this time journos
didn’t do it. He did.

CRIKEY: The point of yesterday’s item was not “in some way to blame”
Ros Reines for Rene Rivkin’s death, but to raise the question of the
role of journalists in the stories they write. Journalists, especially
gossip columnists like Ros Reines, dish out dirt of one kind or another
almost every time they write a column. That dirt invariably hurts at
least some of the people they write about. Surely it’s legitimate to
raise the question of cause and effect in the case of journalists – and
we can’t exclude ourselves from this – who dish it out for a living?

Send your comments to [email protected]

Peter Fray

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