It’s time to welcome the Daily Telegraph’s Clementine Cuneo to the sidebar here at Pure Poison for an article that reinforces the worst stereotypes of tabloid journalism. The subject of the article is Kristy Fraser-Kirk, who is currently in the midst of a high profile sexual harassment against David Jones and its former CEO Mark McInnes, and it appears to be little more than a nasty bit of mud slinging designed to make life uncomfortable for someone who is reluctant to play ball with a prurient media.

The entire basis of the story, the tone of which seems to be trying to throw doubt on Fraser-Kirk’s claims that media interest in her case has made life difficult, is some photos taken from her father Alex’s Facebook page. The photos show Fraser-Kirk enjoying time with her family in New York, which leads Cuneo to note

HAPPILY posing at a roadside fruit stand, sitting on a tractor and enjoying a cool drink in the sunshine, Kristy Fraser-Kirk doesn’t look like a woman afraid to venture out of her darkened apartment.

Gee what a shock, someone who’s travelled half way around the world to avoid the media camped outside her home is feeling relaxed in the company of her family.

There’s a couple of issues here that bear further examination, beginning with the use of photos taken from someone’s Facebook page. A disclaimer here, I loathe Facebook, I think that it’s a blight on people’s privacy and that its continually changing privacy settings are almost impossible for the casual user to effectively navigate, which is why journalists like Cuneo are able to use it as a way of finding photos of, and information about, people who find themselves thrust into the media spotlight. The decision to make use of photos or status updates from an unsecured Facebook page isn’t illegal, but I think it’s hard to argue that it isn’t disturbingly voyeuristic. I feel confident that when Alex Fraser-Kirk uploaded photos from his family holiday he didn’t expect them to become part of the continuing media circus surrounding his daughter.

The second thing about this article that is worrying is the way that it seems to be casually throwing doubt onto the credibility of Fraser-Kirk.

As these pictures show (see gallery link), the 26-year-old at the centre of Australia’s biggest sexual harassment case appears at ease as she holidays in New York, far away from attention back home in Sydney.

It seems it is easier to relax on the other side of the world. This week in the Federal Court, tendered documents said Ms Fraser-Kirk was suffering from an “adjustment disorder” that forced her to spend her hours behind drawn curtains in her home to avoid the media glare.

I don’t know what qualifications Cuneo has as a Psychologist, but the article strikes a tone of disbelief in the assessment of Fraser-Kirk’s adjustment disorder based on nothing but the fact that she’s relaxed in the company of her family. By this rationale no victim of any unpleasant episode should ever be seen as anything but a quivering mess, lest the media decide that they don’t look traumatised enough to receive the public’s trust or sympathy.

I have no opinion on Fraser-Kirk’s claim against her former employer, but it concerns me that Clementine Cuneo and the Daily Telegraph feel comfortable questioning her character based on a few photos that were never intended for their attention, much less publication.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey