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Charlotte’s Web

By Janet Wilson February 25th, 2014

There’s been a lot written in the past four days about the untimely death of Charlotte Dawson.  It’s always fascinating when media on both sides of the divide, from mainstream to social media, receive significant push-back for their behaviour.

I don’t wish to contribute any more to that debate, except to say that, yes, this was a fragile woman who had fallen victim to cyberbullying in the past but who had been fighting depression for much longer than that.

Some of the talk has focused on why Dawson left this country after being back here for five years. She has said in the past one of the reasons was repeated attacks by “The Herald on Sunday”s” “Spy” column, at the time under the aegis of Rachel Glucina. There’s no doubt that the “HoS’s” then editor Shane Currie allowed Glucina to conduct what I genuinely believe were little more than character assasinations on Charlotte in the Spy pages.

This morning TVNZ’s “Breakfast” host Ali Pugh interviewed Media It Girl Sally Ridge and daughter Jaime who spoke of how they were subjected to weekly reputational floggings from Glucina.

And to highlight the broader issue of cyberbullying “Breakfast” did something illuminating.  They got their presenters and a couple of journalist’s to quote an anonymous comment they had received, amongst others, on their Twitter feeds.

One was called “hot but fucking dull”, one was told they were “hated” while Ruth Wynn-Williams was bluntly told she was a “C***” (hey, there could be kids reading this).

And while TVNZ’s social media policy, called The Rules in some darkly Orwellian way, lets reporters know what they can’t tweet (their own opinions apparently) and are encouraged to tweet (self-promotional comments and praise about the company), I wonder if The Rules talk about the journalist’s rights as people to do their jobs without suffering this kind of abuse?

Betcha it doesn’t.

One of the most vile views on Charlotte Dawson came from Deborah Hill-Cone’s column yesterday in “The New Zealand Herald”, headlined “It wasn’t just depression that claimed Charlotte.”

In a spectacular example of “Interviewing-Your-Own-Typewriter”  DHC wrote this about a woman she admitted she had never met; “I think you were also claimed by the fear of getting old. It is hard being 47. At the crisis of middle age, losing your sexual currency, becoming invisible.” How on earth could you know this, DHC? The short answer is you don’t know that at all. It is just some kind of weird transference.

What makes it ok for one woman to write this about another:‘You felt shunned for being single, being childless, for having a mental illness. The truth is no one really cares. But for you that was even worse.” Again DHC seems to have mastered the art of the séance and can talk with the dead.

Yes, I get the fact that you’re reflecting a number of your celebrity-hating, middle-aged bourgeoisie readers but doing a hatchet job on someone when they’re dead, is the lowest form of journalism.

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