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Sydney Uni privacy row. University of Sydney student publication Honi Soit has been forced by its Students’ Representative Council to remove the name of a student who allegedly took and shared a naked photo of another student without her knowledge.

In its print edition released yesterday, the 85-year-old student rag published an article alleging the university had failed to protect the victim, who claimed she’d been subjected to harassment and intimidation since the incident. That article named the student alleged to have taken the photo, but an article posted online yesterday went further, also including a picture of the alleged perpetrator.

The university responded swiftly, asking the SRC to force Honi Soit to redact the man’s name from the online edition. “I can confirm that the university requested the SRC reconsider the publication of the photograph and address of the person named yesterday following potential security concerns,” a university spokesperson told Crikey. However, the spokesperson continued, it didn’t force Honi Soit to do this. “[The university] has no capacity to direct the SRC, as it is an organisation independent of the university”.

The SRC complied with the university’s request, as did Honi Soit’s editors. But in an editorial published last night, they railed against the decision forced on them:

“We are disappointed and infuriated — though, perhaps not surprised — with the University’s chosen course of action. Where it had it dragged its heels for six months — assisted the victim only after repeated prompts, forced her to organise and conduct her own mediation sessions, and failed to discipline the perpetrator … — the University has swiftly, and inexplicably, moved to suppress our public identification of the man.

“The Honi Soit editorial team stands by our decision to make public the perpetrator, particularly given the manifest failings of the University’s handling and the inability of the woman to even access the criminal justice system, due to a six-month limitation period.”

Crikey understands the article is available (with the alleged perpetrator’s name) in the print version still on stands. No moves have been made, at least yet, to pulp the article or the edition. The editors also say they haven’t received any legal threats of defamation since publication, although the alleged perpetrator has contacted the SRC about the article.

“All wording and facts in the article were comprehensively checked with our lawyers,” Honi Soit’s editors, of which it has 10, told Crikey in a joint statement. “Naming the perpetrator was approved because we have all the requisite evidence.” The original Honi Soit article quotes from a letter the alleged perpetrator wrote to the alleged victim, in which he admitted the photo was taken without her knowledge and shared with others.

The article’s publication led Honi Soit to its biggest day of online traffic in history, according to the editors. “Our readers have been overwhelmingly supportive of the victim and our decision to publish the name of the perpetrator,” they say. Concerns over the perpetrator’s identity being revealed have to this point constituted the only official response to the article, they say.

The broad facts of the incident have been the subject of an investigation by The Sydney Morning Herald, though that newspaper did not name the student alleged to have taken the photo. — Myriam Robin

Fiendish trials for would-be journos. A state government media advisor will give you an exclusive story, but only if you don’t get any reaction. Do you take it? What about a court case you’re sent to cover where the family asks you not to write the story? Do you tell your chief of staff nothing much happened, or write it anyway?

If you want a cadetship at the Herald Sun, you better start thinking about your answers. Applications opened yesterday, and the form is fiendish. Applicants are also asked to include a 30-second video with voiceover of a local event, and a single-page CV. No other samples of work are allowed. It’ll be interesting to see whether the Herald Sun process is as gruelling as that at Fairfax. — Myriam Robin

Sharri goes global? One of the benefits of having a local edition of The Guardian is that it seems news about Australia’s media scene filters through somewhat more quickly than it used to to the London mothership. After the Oz’s undercover investigation into journalism education, Guardian media columnist and frequent Murdoch critic Roy Greenslade has issued an invitation to News UK to visit his lectures at City University London, “where, of course, I treat Murdoch and his organisation with due fairness and without any trace of bias”. We’ll let you know if anyone takes him up on the offer. — Myriam Robin

Front page of the day. Even daily newspapers move a lot more slowly than the political cycle these days. But while it seems in the Crikey bunker that the Lambie/Putin story has been and gone, we will pay attention to the most creative wraps to make the front pages. As has often been the case in recent months, The Courier-Mail is, well, certainly creative …

Peter Fray

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