When the Herald Sun and West Australian pressed publish on a photo of former AFL coach Dean Laidley in custody, Twitter was already abuzz with the Laidley photos, reports Paul Barry on Media Watch. Which is not surprising given that more than 100 police officers had allegedly been sent them via WhatsApp.
But does that justify newspapers and TV showing them too, and adding to his shame? When they could have reported his arrest without the images and prurient details, which for all we know are entirely irrelevant to the alleged crime.
So how does the Herald Sun defend its decision? Editor Sam Weir told us:
The publication of the arrest story and photographs was clearly newsworthy and in the public interest. The story, photographs and accompanying headlines provided a complete and accurate account of the arrest of a high-profile person charged with serious criminal offences, and also a complete and accurate account of the fact there was a police investigation into the leaking of the images. Both were major news stories.
Email, Sam Weir, Editor, Herald Sun, 8 May, 2020
We had a similar response from the editor of The West Australian, Anthony De Ceglie, who told us:
Pictures of a high-profile public figure such as Dean Laidley being arrested are always going to be in consideration for the front page – no matter what the alleged offender is or isn’t wearing.
Email, Anthony De Ceglie, Editor-in-Chief, The West Australian, 10 May, 2020