Zoe Hall

Crikey has been reporting on the Bulletin‘s bizarre decision to publish a 12-page profile of Martin Bryant, the Tasmanian serial killer (more from the Hobart Mercury). Herald Sun editor Peter Blunden has been one of the strongest critics of the Bulletin, saying in Crikey today:

But as a current board member of the Alannah and Madeline Foundation, established in memory of Bryant’s youngest victims, and editor of the Herald Sun at the time, I’m aware of how this tragedy still cuts deeply in the community. We filled many pages on the shootings in 1996. Filling page after page on the perpetrator in 2006 is not what I believe most Australians would desire.

Maybe I’m out of touch, perhaps I’m soft, but I really don’t think my comments show journalism is “very unwell”. By all means mention Bryant’s name, but a four-month (!) journalistic odyssey centred almost entirely on this creep, and featuring him on the cover of a national magazine, was always going to disturb people still hurting so badly.

I think Peter’s entirely right on this. I’m far from being one of the people most hurt by the tragedy, but one of Bryant’s vicitims, Zoe Hall, was my mentor at Minter Ellison, the law firm where I was a summer clerk at the time. Zoe was a brilliant lawyer, generous to everyone around her, and an amazing mentor to me. I can’t help thinking that putting her on the cover and talking about what a phenomenal person she was might have been a better use of the Bulletin’s pages than focusing on the weight problems of the psychopath who shot her.

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3 Responses to Zoe Hall

  1. Neil Hickey says:

    Hi Andrew,
    I hate replying here because I love reading your entries every day (as I did at IA) and this is about the only time I’ve ever disagreed with you.
    I know this is a story that’s going to cut a lot of people pretty deep, but I have to agree totally with Garry Linnell here. The kerfuffle about the Bulletin’s expose on Martin Bryant is a bit hard to take. Port Arthur was one of Australia’s blackest days and Bryant is – almost certainly – Australia’s worst killer. That makes him not only news, but big news. I agree completely with people who are repulsed and appalled at him and with people calling for tributes for the victims. But which one goes on the cover? There were 35 (direct) victims – and only one perpetrator. And we knew and understood the victims. But did we really know and understand their killer? Bryant is still highly newsworthy, for the same reason as other evil men – Hitler, Amin, Milat, Berkowitz, bin Laden etc – are highly newsworthy.
    Lastly, for Blunden, whose paper survives on a diet of police and court yarns, to be holding his nose over the Bulletin’s coverage is one of the worst examples of media hypocrisy I’ve ever seen.

  2. anon says:

    i have to confess that i only read the article to discover the reason for your strong reaction to it, andrew. you might be right that the tone is a little too sympathetic to bryant and would obviously be very hard for victims and family, but that’s the price of a free press, right?

    i’m curious as to what the conspiracy theorists make of the article and accompanying lawyers transcripts (do a google search for “Martin Bryant” and witness sheer lunacy).

    the transcripts reveal a psyche that is scarily reminiscent of someone i grew up with. one has to wonder what pushes a borderline personality over the edge and whether anything can be done about it…

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