The line between reporting and stalking

The level of detail in stories about Madeleine Pulver is just creepy. Yesterday’s Sun Herald reported that she went for a swim in the morning with a friend, then went home and changed clothes, then went to play hockey. Today’s Daily Stalkergraph – oops, Daily Telegraph – reports that she went out in the morning for a coffee, then went out again with two friends at 1.30pm. Clearly the journalist Amy Dale and photographer followed her, because she reported that the three girls then met up with a male friend, and then went to “Sushi Train on Military Rd, where they spent more than a hour”. What the fuck?

Journalists from print, tv and radio, as well as photographers and probably a few international journalists, have been loitering outside her home for six days now, reporting the every move of a victim of crime.

And, of course, we have the gormless reporting of Mr Pulver asking the media to leave them alone: Maddie’s father appeals for privacy as she faces HSC trials:

Media outlets have remained outside her home and school since the incident and have reported extensively about her weekend activities with friends.

Seriously journos, how can you not get that he’s talking about you? You should be too embarrassed to report that.

I challenge any news editor to justify the stalking of this teenager. I challenge any news editor to justify the level of detail they are reporting. I challenge any news editor to argue that what they are doing is right. Hasn’t she been through enough without some dickhead timing how long she spends eating lunch?

27 responses to “The line between reporting and stalking

  1. Creepy is right. If they weren’t journalists, we wouldn’t tolerate what is really just a bunch of people perving on schoolgirls going about their day.

    I don’t think it’s newsworthy either. I don’t care what Madeleine is doing this week or ever. I’m glad she’s not harmed, but she is no longer the story. The story is now about the perpetrator of the crime. Who are they? Where? What’s the connection? And to be honest, I’m not really interested in that either – there are bigger stories at present.

    Also, the coverage makes me wonder about the media fascination with this particular girl. There are victims of crime every day in our city, but this one has the media transfixed. Is it the whole attractive middle class girl thing?

  2. thefirstJanineonthisblog

    I am proud to say I haven’y even clicked on a story related to that poor woman. It is sick what they are doing.

    If she was ugly and the crime happened anywhere in the Western Suburbs of Sydney we wouldn’t be able to recall her name.

    • I hate to think what the story would be like if she lived out in Fairfield or Cabramatta or somewhere. Then they’d be doing some shameless victim-blaming. White, female, poor, under-educated, probably racist (let’s use ALL the stereotypes, even if they’re not true). Obviously her fault. But since they can’t do that in this case they’ll just go for some shameless victim-stalking instead. This kind of thing makes me want to hurt someone. If it had been a male teenager there would have been one report of him going surfing with his mates the next day and then the story would have disappeared. Young women are not fortunate.

    • ThefirstJanineonthisblog, welcome back. Hope your holiday was great. We missed you at SlutWalk.

      • thefirstJanineonthisblog

        Holiday was wicked, thanks. Could have done without the tummy bug at Glastonbury though. Too sad for words. Yet to catch up about the walk, I hope it was a success.

  3. Why do something that is not only disgusting, but provides an extremely boring ‘news’ story?

  4. Reading the tele ,Tut tut tut

  5. Or mentioning what time the Pulver family turned their lights out at night.

    • It amazes me that a sentence like that could go through subs and an editor without someone saying “hang on, this is really fucking creepy and of absolutely no relevance”.

      Carol Duncan, welcome to the News with Nipples.

  6. I’m afraid I didn’t know who you were talking about until later in the blog post. Must be state based as I don’t think we had anything much about her in Melbourne.

  7. I don’t think that reporters shoud be hanging around outside her house but I do think the story is interesting. I always got the feeling it was a set up and the girl was in on it. The way she was remarkably calm throughout, no explosives in the device, and then the note referencing Tai Pan which it came out is requried reading for a local boys school. Suspicious!

  8. umm I haven’t really been following this, but Shiva, I think you pick up on a general cultural thing in your comment, in regards to how women are meant to act in terrifying situations, and how we as a culture respond if they don’t conform. Why is it that if a woman doesn’t sufficiently, cry, wail and moan, we assume she either did something awful herself, or made it up (Lindy Chamberlain, Joanne Lees)? Yet, if a bloke were to show the same response, he would be lauded for his stoicism

    • I totally agree with you about this – there is a lot of this sort of thing in rape cases – like there is One True Way to react or behave in all circumstances.

    • Actually the first I heard of the story was that she was so calm and my first thought was that she was a brave girl. It was the other points that came out when all put together that made me suspicious. Why is it that if we accuse a woman of something those hyper-sensitive among us automatically accuse us of being unfair? I am very aware of the social issues women face today and I agree that the tone of cultural attitudes towards women needs to be closely monitored. However I don’t think it helps to bindly jump to the defense of any woman accused of something and scream injustice ala Lindy Chamberlain. And yes, I would have the same thoughts if it were a boy in the story. My views come from a general unfavourable view of teenagers rather than woman.

      • Shiva, I can see your point, but I don’t think we’re being hyper-sensitive. I have to agree with Natalie and rhiannonsaxon – they didn’t say she was innocent, they said that you thought the girl was in on it simply because she was reportedly calm. And that does get into how we expect victims, especially female victims, to behave. Besides, could you be hysterical for 10 hours? When you have a bomb around your neck? I imagine you would be doing EVERYTHING in your power to be as still as possible in case the fucking thing went off.

        As for the other points, journalists have a need to “move the story on”, regardless of how irrelevant the info is (see my point in the post about the use of collar bombs in movies). That book is probably on the reading list of most schools every few years.

        • I didn’t say she was in on it *simply* because she was calm so you’re kind of twisting my words there. Whatever. I really can’t with this.

  9. I think calling them “journalists” completely devalues that word.
    It associates the art of reporting facts to illuminate your readers with the gossip-mongering and troll-baiting that passes for “news” in those New Ideas of newspaper.
    Frankly, I’ve farted more intelligent stuff than that.

  10. If someone is really out to get her or her family, then how is publishing their EVERY MOVE in the paper helpful and not possibly risky?
    Also you are right, it is farking creepy.
    It gives me the quease factor. ICK.

  11. Oh, and you are reading A Million Little Peices. Let me know what you think. I really liked it, but it is quite a divisive book. James Frey is the author of The Last Testament of the Holy Bible as well.

    • I’m liking it so far (and don’t care that it’s not real). Although the dentist bit is very hard to read. VERY.

      • Yeah, he is brilliant at conveying pain in a very ‘right fucking here and now’ sense.
        I have run out of books so am reading one I found on the street coming home from your house the other day. It is not very good. I need something else.

  12. Pingback: When journalists stalk a child, episode 2 | the news with nipples

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