The tragedy of Garuda flight 200 is creating all sorts of tricky challenges for journalists and media companies alike as they juggle the twin responsibilities of supporting those affected and covering a huge story.

The Daily Telegraph’s Malcolm Farr today captured the scale of the grief in three small tight-knit and inter-connected communities – the press gallery, the federal police and DFAT.

Given the avalanche of coverage, a Crikeyesque perspective would be to point out that white journalists engulfed in tragedy generate so much more copy than a plane full of Indonesians would. However, the media is a small pond and we’re all connected in different ways.

Cynthia Banham worked for Crikey publishers Eric Beecher and Di Gribble on The Eye before she joined The SMH in 2000.

Similarly, DFAT spinner Liz O’Neill came to the February 2000 launch of Crikey in Melbourne as she was a very close friend of one of the founders, Andrew Inwood. I met her several times in Sydney around the turn of the century and, as Michael Brissenden pointed out on the ABC news last night, she was indeed very popular and respected.

ABC radio’s chief political correspondent Chris Uhlman is godfather to Liz’s 10-month-old daughter Lucinda and has flown to Jakarta. Liz was married to Wayne Adams, a former business reporter for The Australian – the paper which today had the exclusive picture of mum and baby on the front page.

Traditional Fairfax and News Ltd rivalries have been temporarily put aside as today the Herald Sun ran a huge picture of Cynthia Banham on the front page, under the headline “Saving Cynthia”. This wouldn’t have happened if her partner wasn’t Herald Sun chief political reporter Michael Harvey – one of the nicest blokes in journalism.

Harvey, a former Labor spinner, must be cursing Attorney General Philip Ruddock. First he gets charged with contempt and threatened with jail for merely landing a good scoop and then his partner finds herself fighting for her life after following Ruddock on a ministerial visit to Indonesia.

The AFR rolled out the tributes for Morgan Mellish today but it was The Age which today ran the front page picture of their Indonesia correspondent, Mark Forbes, comforting his girlfriend, Nila Tanzil.

Morgan was indeed the most handsome man in print journalism, cut down in the prime of his life. In fact, it was Morgan who deservedly collected the business Walkley last November moments before Glenn Milne’s brain snapped.

It’s just so sad.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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