Q: As part of my job, I have to put people in difficult and sometimes embarrassing situations. Normally it’s all in good fun but this week it went horribly wrong. An inappropriate interview with a minor turned very wrong. As soon as things were obviously getting out of hand I shut the interview down but the damage had been done, live on air. It’s been suggested that the whole premise of what we do is flawed, not just this particular situation but my employers and my fans are both very happy with me.

I’m good at my job even though sometimes it is controversial. We decided it was OK to talk to children about their sexual activity and maybe that was a mistake but when things didn’t work out we offered them counselling and maybe it’s best that this issue was outed. I think we’ve made the best out of a bad situation. Sometimes these things just happen. It’s part of my role to push the boundaries. I’m sorry if people were offended, and I’m sorry for the girl, but I don’t think I should change my style for anyone if it gets great ratings. Haven’t I apologised enough?

J.O, Sydney

A: How awful to find you’ve hurt someone deeply, unfathomably and publicly, almost without intention. I sense shame, guilt and bewilderment here J.O. Not comfortable emotions, and ones that demand action as well as expression. Wishing things were different won’t make them go away, it will simply prolong suffering and ignorance.

You courageously state your understanding that this young woman fell victim not simply by accident, but by design. By the very design of your work. This understandably leads to a dilemma for you. To continue to participate in work that can be harmful, or to change direction and risk some of your livelihood, comfort and reputation. One of the difficulties here appears to be that there remains something puzzling for you about what happened. This makes it difficult to resolve your dilemma, because right action needs first to be thoughtful.

Be fearless in your examination of the situation from all sides, particularly your own. Be especially thorough when you come to explore those points at which you felt a prickling of insight into what lay ahead. It is at these points that we betray ourselves and others by ignoring these messages and taking the soft option. And the soft option always involves causing pain to another rather than to ourselves.
This young woman has been betrayed. First violently, then by neglect and then by public exposure, exploitation and ridicule.

You were a part of that betrayal, which places you in a unique position to recognise and respond to the pain she has suffered. Do your best not to betray her and yourself by taking this lightly.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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