Balmain Boys Do Cry

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Sydney Porning Herald

I love the Sydney Morning Herald. It's the paper I grew up with, a comforting voice of authority, moderation and decency. It's where I hungrily devoured news from home when overseas, first in libraries and embassies, then online. I've always felt it strived towards a sense of balanced reporting (and I don't mean in a Fox News way), and I've looked down on people whos lips move when they read the big pictures and small articles in the Terror. So what does the SMH do to rapay these years of trust - why all today it runs a story in the feature spot on the website about a young woman, Susie Zhang, who brought a court case against her employer for sex discrimination and assault, and lost both cases. It would probably have been a routine story, if not for two facts:

1) that the judge, in dismissing the case, mentioned in passing that the applicant had posed for FMH magazine, so that her complaining about having to wear a short skirt at work (which, if you read the full judgement, was a mutual decision between employer and employee) was a bit rich, and

2) the SMH managed to get hold of the photos from FHM magazine, and has been running them all day on the front page of their website.


I'm sure they're justifying it to themselves (and anyone else who asks) by explaining that they are just highlighting the judges' terrible attitude, but lets face it - they are happily exlpoiting Susie Zhang, probably to a far greater degree than her previos employer ever did. Asking her to wear a short skirt to entertain pokie punters? Bad. Slapping her on the front page in a Bikini, to be seen by around 350,000 people? Way bad. They even thoughtfully have another picture on the story page, just to keep the theme going, and a special pop-up pictorial. Class.

Regardless of whether the judge, Rolf Driver, was correct in the law (probably) or morally (probably not), the SMH exploitation just reeks.

As a bizarre side note, one of the defence counsel for the employer / accused groper was the old battleaxe we bought our house from. A very nasty old piece of work if ever there was one.