Two years ago late last month, something strange happened in the world of newspaper journalism in Britain.
For the first time in 25 years and in the midst of the worst recession in a generation, a new quality national masthead was launched.
The first edition of the simply titled “i” newspaper carried a serious front page story on the housing crisis and fears public spending cuts would hit economic confidence, but in the top corner of the front page was the headline “Is Bert Gay?” accompanied by a picture of the Muppets character and pointing to a story inside.
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Fifteen years ago, when I was at uni studying Anthropology, Political Discourse, and the Hegemony of the Hate Media, I couldn’t have foreseen the day I’d be eager to defend Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers.
Back then I also thought a belly button piercing would give me a certain je ne sais quoi, when all it gave me was a deep and revolting infection. Things change.
But although I can feel my gorge and my blood pressure rise when I hear the way politicians pretend adverse media coverage is to blame for their entirely self-created debacles, it’s still hard to leap into the fray.
There’s been a long-standing, slightly confused and often-broken taboo on reporting suicides. Many believe – perhaps without basis – that just talking about suicide could lead to ‘copycats’. But all the important players agree that it should be discussed, and today the Australian Press Council has released new standards for media coverage of suicides. The Punch spoke to Press Council chair Julian Disney about the changes and what he hopes they’ll achieve.
Q. What’s changed?
A. There was a Senate inquiry that gathered evidence from a number of perspectives and found the Mindframe guidelines should be reviewed – and we thought we should review ours as well. In particular that related to whether there was a feeling in the media that discussion of suicide was taboo. Our guidelines never said that (it should be taboo), and the Mindframe ones didn’t either.
Read all about it
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