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SPIRO: The case of the porn-watching reporter at the MCG

Chris Gayle. (Melbourne Renegades)
Expert
6th January, 2016
106
4908 Reads

The Guardian Australia deputy sports editor, Russell Jackson, has accused a fellow sports reporter of watching hardcore pornography between tabbing his match reports during the recent Australia versus West Indies Test at the MCG.

This is an explosive and devastating accusation that until Jackson reveals who the male reporter is implicates every male reporter in the media section.

Aside from not naming the reporter, Jackson’s account of the porn-watching reporter is detailed and, therefore, can be easily verified (or otherwise) by the relevant organisation employing the reporter, and by Cricket Australia who issued his media accreditation.

Provided the verification stands up, the porn-watching reporter at the MCG needs to be named and have his accreditation removed.

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Here are some of the details of the case of the porn-watching cricket reporter, as set out by Russell Jackson.

The browsing of the hardcore porn took place in the press box at the MCG and came to Jackson’s notice on the third day of the Test.

There were male and female reporters “sitting metres away” from the reporter “with clear views of the screen.”

Jackson wrote that he “could hardly believe what I was seeing” when the pictures of the hardcore pornography came up on the laptop screen.

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The flicking on and off of the pornography lasted throughout the third day of the Test.

Finally, on day four of the Test, an administrator told the reporter that “not only could those female and male colleagues see what he was doing but that they’d appreciate it if he stopped.”

And the porn watching was stopped.

As I have noted earlier, these details are easily verifiable. They are so specific that they can be (and probably already have been) tested for their accuracy. That being the case, the career of the reporter needs to be ended.

To begin with, how can the public or the organisation employing the reporter trust him to handle a matter like the Chris Gayle public harassment of Mel McLaughlin with a proper understanding of the issues involved?

How accurate was his coverage of the Test when his mind and eyes were otherwise engaged? This amounts to an issue of competency about his handling of his reporting tasks.

There is also the matter of exposing fellow reporters to hardcore pornography, a workplace issue.

It will be a test of the media organisation that employs the person in question.

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The media has a reflective instinct to protect its own. This is the case even when the offence would warrant the sternest of words and calls of harsh treatment if perpetrated by someone outside of the (protected) world of journalism.

I am thinking here, specifically, about the case of Peter Roebuck, a case that has haunted my own sensibilities for many years.

I still miss Roebuck’s reporting on matters cricket in the Sydney Morning Herald and his enlightening, articulate radio commentaries on the ABC.

No one comes near Roebuck, in my view, as a writer and broadcaster on cricket in the last 50 years, probably more. He possessed vibrant opinions and articulated with a delightful turn of phrase. He was informed, fearless and a compelling read.

But did we excuse inexcusable behaviour on his part, which led undoubtedly to his bizarre and untimely death, because we were in love with Roebuck the writer and excused Roebuck the villain, the user and abuser of young men?

I stand guilty, I am sad to say.

If Roebuck had been a less brilliant writer and broadcaster on cricket, would we have been less forgiving of his obvious failings and the dark side of his dealings with the young men he abused but who he, undoubtedly, was trying to save?

These questions are particularly difficult for me to think about because right through Roebuck’s career at the SMH and even after his death, I have been essentially supportive of his cause.

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And I will admit it, this support was for the wrong reasons.

He was a great journalist and, therefore, worth supporting. That was, essentially, the way I saw matters regarding him. I see now that this is self-serving.

This attitude (expressed by me and many thousands of his supporters, many of them in high places) allowed Roebuck to continue a dysfunctional lifestyle that compromised the interests of the young men who faced repeated beatings on bare buttocks, kisses on the mouth and other unwanted sexual advances because Roebuck’s generosity could save them from abject poverty. His victims were young, black, poor and at considerable disadvantage.

It wasn’t as if we didn’t know about Roebuck’s unseemly behaviour, either. In October 2001, he pleaded guilty in a Devon court to charges of common assault for caning three young cricketers he was coaching.

Roebuck was given a four-month suspended sentence.

Roebuck lost his jobs in England but not in Australia.

I remember being in a discussion at the SMH when Roebuck’s future with the paper was being considered. The human resources department wanted Roebuck sacked while others felt that Roebuck should be kept on. And so he was.

My voice was one of the many in support of Roebuck, unfortunately.

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I am an old dog journalist but I think in recent years I have learnt some new tricks. And foremost of those tricks is that it is unacceptable anywhere, in public or in private, to use a position of power to demean anyone on grounds of their gender or sexuality.

Chris Gayle is finding this out right now. What was condoned in the past, the hitting on of women, in public and in private, is no longer condoned.

And I am pleased to note that the SMH has changed in these matters, too. In the case of Gayle, for instance, his column has been taken away from him. Good. This is something that was not done for Roebuck, although in retrospect it should have been.

This is the fate that surely awaits the porn-watching cricket reporter, too.