Why is it news?

The ill-considered Daily Telegraph headline “How Could She” (baby
“Catherine’s” mother) might best have been ignored and forgotten
amidst the vast annals of editorial misjudgments. So why wasn’t it?
Tragedies nearly identical to this one are reported several times
each year. Why should this vulnerable mother be singled out for
nation-wide attention and judgement, from the Prime Minister down?
Why should she and her newborn baby become involuntary celebrities,
the next exhibit tabled in the court of public opinion?

What is it about us as a culture that we turn random private
tragedies into public headlines? Why are we so keen to “make a point”
that we fall to using the victims to make it? Melanie La’Brooy
(Opinion, 17/4), in an otherwise intelligent and compassionate
response to this very subject, couldn’t resist another jibe at Tony
Abbott’s view’s on abortion! Much more might have been made of a
brief observation that the extraordinary publicity “is guaranteed to
send (the mother) running even further for cover”. That surely is the
core issue in this opportunistic episode. If this mother did
contemplate emerging quietly in the shadows, it’s likely the furthest
thought from her mind now.

The right question isn’t “How Could She”. It’s “Why is it ‘news’?”


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