In journalism there are three main objectives: the story, the story, the story. How the story is obtained, of course, distinguishes one news organisation from another.
The recent shooting in Melbourne’s stripper strip rather prompts the question whether The Age, a journal which most often invites the marriage of the words “quality” and “broadsheet” in much the same way as Steve Vizard must suffer the conjoining of “disgraced” and “businessman”, is heading into the yellow end of the journalism spectrum.
The design team at The Age has had quite a fortnight. You could say they’re on a roll with events lending themselves to GIANT pix and even more GIANT headlines. How else is one to convey the adrenaline of such emergencies as:
Tony Mokbel’s Big Fat Greek Arrest AND the Kerang train crash (6 June)
Mokbel’s bad hair day (7 June)
Paris Hilton suffering cruelly from a dose of ordinary people justice (10 June)
John Thwaites on the slopes (‘Perks on piste’ 15 June)
Alleged serial rapist doing lousy job of the jacket-over-the-head thing (16 June)
The Hells Angel shooting (19 June)
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The shooting victim eulogised (20 June)
Hells Angel perp surrenders himself (21 June)
Phewie. The subbies and designers have sucked so much oxygen from the editorial floor that it has clearly deprived the toiling scribes of a sustainable atmosphere, the reports of the Hells Angel shooting are that breathless.
Our intrepid journos are particularly anaerobic on the subject of Autumn Daly-Holt. Perhaps sensing a Kath and Kim opportunity, Andrea Petrie, Carolyn Webb and Ari Sharp covered themselves with glory as they happily slandered Ms Daly-Holt on 20 June.
We were informed that Daly-Holt was an alumna of “one of Melbourne’s elite state high schools, McKinnon Secondary College, renowned for its ability to nurture young artistic talent”.
Do we detect a whiff of snide? But our scribes were just getting into their stride.
“Early reports indicated it was Ms Daly-Holt who was Hudson’s ‘girl’.” Note well the escape clause in that “early reports”.
Daly-Holt was a stripper, we were informed. “She did it for ‘the easy money’, a friend said yesterday”. Hmm, some friend. “She was in party mode… stripping to her G-string.” Yeah, baby.
But it didn’t end there for Autumn Daly-Holt.
“Ms Daly-Holt also provides an intimate insight into herself on her MySpace site, only her site is set to private.” (So how did The Age gain access?). Again there is the suggestion of a sneer in that honorific. I mean she’s a stripper, isn’t she, a “self-proclaimed bis-xual adventurer” and “party girl”? Not quite as it turned out.
The next day (21 June), it was reported that Daly-Holt was only stripping to repay an out-of-control credit card debt “according to a friend” (very possibly the same “friend” from the day before in a fit of remorse).
More to the point, Daly-Holt was not Hudson’s ‘girl’ but had encountered him only hours before. She is “a great girl,” the friend continued, “who’s completely different to how she’s been portrayed in the media.” You would hope so.
The Age journos believed they had a story – the story – and it seems very much as if they were not about to let any ethical squeamishness get in the way of securing it.
The lurid tale The Age originally spun suggested nothing less than that Autumn Daly-Hope was a good time adventuress (read sl-t). And we thought she was a victim.