Another great article... some which hasn't been mentioned already.
Drags on a little bit, but makes a very good point in putting things into perspective
Never heard of this site before but it's a welll written article raising some points that noboyd on here has as of yet.
Team of photographers deployed by Telegraph to ambush Dogs
(Op-ed) Big News Network.com
8th September 2018, 05:33 GMT+10
SYDNEY, Australia - Is the National Rugby League (NRL) and the Australian public right to be shocked at the events of last Monday when one two footballers were photographed after stripping off, and another was photographed vomiting?
The NRL rightly claims the image of the game has been diminished by the publicity that has flowed from it.
There are however perhaps more serious questions to be asked rather than focusing on the apparently drunken behaviour of a team of footballers letting off steam after the winding up of a pressure-packed season. That is not shocking. It is not called ‘Mad Monday’ for nothing. This is an annual ritual for players who keep a strict discipline for most of the year, commencing with pre-season training which for most clubs commences in October each year. The one day when they can relax, consume copius alcohol and let their hair down is this day. What is shocking is that The Daily Telegraph deployed a team of highly skilled photographers with telescopic lenses to spy on the unsuspecting group, apparently in the hope that some indiscretion would occur from which they could profit from and exploit.
During several hours of espionage, the team could only catch their prey out for the duration of a Neil Diamond song. The DT article was emphatic, the player or players took their clothes off and danced during the duration of the song (3 ½ minutes). There was no question they stayed in a state of undress. There was also a photo of a player looking as though he had dozed off on a chair. There was another one of a Bulldogs player lying down, seemingly asleep. There was another photo of a player vomiting. Each of these photos described “a Dogs player,” or “a Bulldogs player.” Nowhere did it make it clear, all 3 photographs were of the same player. So in summary, you have one or two players strip off while dancing to a song, one player dozing off and vomiting, and that’s the sum total of several hours of spying on them.
The Harbour View Hotel is a quiet neighbourhood pub in a residential area of The Rocks, in the heart of Sydney. There are nearby terrace houses, and just up the road are the Sirius apartments, the only residential tower within cooee of the hotel. It has been closed for several months and is roped off, awaiting its sale and likely demolition.
The Canterbury Rugby League club apparently has its annual Mad Monday wind-up at the hotel every year. They book the first floor restaurant, which is sometimes used for private functions. The hotel is now the subject of widespread publicity, and serious charges and fines under the Liquor Act, brought about because of the barrage of publicity.
Foxtel commentators argue these are footballers who people pay to go and watch, so they can’t complain about “intrusive media.”
We would argue they are entitled to a degree of privacy. Their club had organized a gathering in a private function room, not open to the public.
When one or two players shed their clothes while singing and dancing to the Neil Diamond classic, “Sweet Caroline,” with only their mates in attendance, one could hardly claim that was offensive or obscene behavior, which police have now charged the players for. When Prince Harry did the same thing six years ago at a private function in Las Vegas in mixed company, there was no public outrage, the prince was not fined or charged. Nor was the monarchy hit with a $250,000 fine.
And The Daily Telegraph’s coverage
was nothing like what it dished out to the Bulldogs this week..
The Australian public, the NRL and the police all seem to have overlooked the fact that the furore that followed the Mad Monday incident damaged the game, not the incident itself. If the players had been left to themselves, as they and their club understood was the case, there would have been no scandal. The police confirmed at the time there had been no complaints. The hotel reported it had received no complaints from other patrons.
The fact that you had The Daily Telegraph stake-out and spy on this group, and capture what to the players was probably regarded as a harmless prank, and then publish those photographs on its front page and throughout their newspaper, and other News Corp newspapers in other states, and across their extensive stable of online websites, and their social media platforms, and their 100%-owned broadcast networks Foxtel, Fox Sports and Sky News was the problem. No-one can argue it was the very public exposure of the photographs that brought the game into ill-repute.
It is our estimation that the chances of anyone from the public actually getting a glimpse of nude footballers on that day would have been close to zero. You would have to be walking up the hill past the hotel, towards the (abandoned) Sirius apartments at the exact time when this brief incident occurred. Knowing the foot traffic on this road is somewhat negligible it is quite probable that no-one saw anything. But through the actions of The Daily Telegraph, photographs of the incident have saturated the media generally, as other publications and television have piggy-backed on the back of The Daily Telegraph ‘exclusive.’
All of the media are to blame, perhaps with the exception of Fairfax
, and there are some serious issues at stake here. Firstly, you are not allowed to photograph people in the nude without their consent, regardless of the circumstances. And secondly you are not allowed to publish photographs of nude people without their permission. Irreparable harm has been done to the footballers, their club, and the NRL. The players in particular have been humiliated and their reputations and livelihoods severely impacted.
When Andrew Ettinghausen was photographed having a shower in the locker room on a Kangaroos tour in 1990, and a photograph was published in HQ magazine which was then-owned by Kerry Packer, Australian Consolidated Press was sued for defamation. Ettinghausen told the court he was not asked his permission to be photographed in the nude, nor was he asked if the photograph could be published. He said the photograph was taken without his knowledge
and held him up to ridicule. He won the case and was awarded $350,000 by the jury for defamation. Packer’s company appealed the case, however the appeal judges remained firm on the verdict, but revised the damages down to $100,000. Nonetheless $100,000 in 1993 when the case was finalized is probably equivalent to an amount in excess of the $250,000 the Canterbury membership, which had nothing to do with Monday’s events, was fined this week. Canterbury too lost its long-time sponsor Jaycar
on Friday as a result of the exposure of the photographs.
What is interesting is that when the Ettinghausen verdict came down, the media went berserk. They realized the decision had repercussions for the bigger picture. The media believe they are entitled to intrude on people’s private lives, if they are celebrities.
“The media response to the decision was one of incredulity and derision,” D Rolph of the University of Sydney wrote in a summation of the case. “Given the media response, Hunt CJ at CL felt compelled, two days after the jury verdict, dealing with an application brought by ACP for a stay pending an appeal, to take the somewhat unusual course of castigating the media for their reporting and analysis of the jury verdict, accusing them of unbalanced reporting of the outcome of the case arising out of their vested interests.”
In the case of the Canterbury get-together they were not aware there were professional, some may say predator, photographers lurking in the bushes opposite their hotel, ready to take advantage of them. If the photographers were caught by police, they would probably now be facing charges of being peeping toms.
The second thing we should be looking at is whether the newspaper has engaged in stalking. Why is it that professional photographers appear to be immune from stalking and invasion of privacy laws? This wasn’t one or two photographers either. The Daily Telegraph sent a team of three photographers to cover the event: Toby Zerna, Justin Lloyd and Christian Gilles.
A fourth photographer, Davis Swift, was over at Manly’s Mad Monday, no doubt hoping for a scoop there. The Manly players, as is well known now, were in fancy dress. The players did not ask to be photographed, and one would assume were not asked for consent in having publication of photographs of them in costumes being published, however numerous photos of them accompanied the initial story about Canterbury, dragging them into the debacle. It was a classic case of guilt by association, and all they were doing was minding their own business and having their once-a-year day-off.
Yes, the game has been damaged by this. So too have the reputations of the players caught out, their team mates, the officials and their club, and the families of those concerned. And yet they were the victims of deceitful conduct by a small group of people that wield so much power they believe they still own the game, as News Corp once did. Few would argue News Corp through its over-exposure of every conceivable incident that is negative to the NRL and saturates its hugely dominant platform to the fullest extent, is by far the most destructive force in the game. Just as some of its commentators played a significant part in bringing down the Australian government a fortnight ago, News Corp will stop at nothing to undermine the game. Through their commentators they call the shots. They tear strips off the NRL executive, individual clubs, coaches, players and referees. They called for the heads of CEO Dave Smith and ARL Commission Chair John Grant and undermined them until they were gone. They play a major part in coaching spills, raids on players, and attacks on referees. Ringmaster Phil Rothfield was even directing the NRL on how much it should fine the Canterbury club. “The NRL needs to come down hard on the Bulldogs for this, don’t muck around with fines of $50,000 or $100,000,” he wrote in an article on Tuesday titled ‘NRL needs to come down hard on Dogs
.” Hence the fine of $250,000.
There is no question the club, the NRL and the police were bullied into action, playing into the hands of the Telegraph, as each action taken became a story in itself. The lightning speed at which each of these bodies acted is testament to the pressure and power wielded by News Corp in this country. This was not the dispensing of justice, it was ‘lynch mob’ mentality conjured up by the DT. The public is still waiting to hear the players side of the story. None of The Daily Telegraph articles have included statements from the players, or indications that statements had been sought. Nor would it appear that bodies investigating the day's events would have had time to grill the players. They and the Canterbury club were tried, convicted and sentenced before the public got any explanation as to the circumstances surrounding what occurred.
When Prince Harry spent 72 hours partying in various clubs in Las Vegas in 2012, culminating in a race in the pool with Ryan Lochte and then a game of strip billiards in his private two-storey hotel suite at Wynns, with 25 people in attendance, fifteen of them women, and lost, he was photographed by a ‘friend’ and two images were sold to TMZ magazine which published them. The photographs were then front page news around the world, all except Britain. There was a concern with privacy laws. Clause 3 of the UK’s then-Press Complaints Commission Editor's Code of Practice said: "It is unacceptable to photograph individuals in private places without their consent." The only newspaper to break ranks was the News Corp-owned The Sun which published the photographs. The widely-read publication also issued a statement
saying why it was publishing the photographs. “We believe printing the photos IS
within the Press Complaints Commission’s code, based on a previous PCC ruling in favour of a UK magazine which published pictures already widely seen online,” the statement said.
“On that occasion the PCC said that in privacy matters its code “required the Commission to have regard to the extent to which material is already in the public domain.”
It concluded: “The Commission felt that the images were so widely established for it to be untenable for the Commission to rule that it was wrong for the magazine to use them.”
In the Canterbury footballers’ case, the situation is entirely different. The Daily Telegraph used espionage to obtain the photographs itself.
It should be noted, at the outset of the statement The Sun made to its readers it said:
“The Sun is NOT
making any moral judgement about Harry’s nude frolics with girls in a Las Vegas hotel. Far from it. He often sails close to the wind for a Royal — but he’s 27, single and a soldier. We like him.”
Prince Harry at the time of his Las Vegas partying was a Captain in the British Army, about to be deployed to Afghanistan. He was on leave. He was at the time third in line to the throne. No action was taken by the Ministry of Defence or the British monarchy. At least two newspaper articles suggested Harry would be given a dressing-down by his commanding officer, and one suggested he may be asked to donate two weeks of his salary
(1,450 pounds or $2,600 (Australian dollars) to a charity of his choice.
So it is: “Different strokes for different folks.”
And The Sun? It’s actions drew more outrage than those of Prince Harry. Even more astonishing is the popular newspaper, a day before it published the actual photos, had two interns strip naked
and replicate the pose of the prince and his companion in the actual photo being circulated in international media and online. Of course in this case the interns had no doubt given their permission. However, what company would ask and expect interns to strip naked to be photographed for front page coverage in their newspaper?
Just like the leadership spill of a fortnight ago, the people who matter get no say. The entire membership of the Canterbury club has been humiliated, embarrassed, fined heavily
, and have lost a $500,000 a year sponsorship. The readers of The Daily Telegraph are similarly miffed. They have let it be known they disagree with the course of events this week, with nearly two thirds of them (64%) in a two-question poll run by The Daily Telegraph and published on its website, saying the incident was a matter “of just boys being boys.” And should Mad Monday be banned. A poll conducted by News Corp's Fox Sports had 83% of its viewers saying NO.
A similar poll carried out by Britain’s The Daily Telegraph (not related to News Corp) after Prince Harry’s naked incident produced similar results. In response to the questions, 27% were in the negative, while an overwhelming 73% of the newspaper’s readers gave the prince the thumbs up, saying he was “just being an ordinary young man and the Royals are better for it,” and “it doesn’t matter that he gets naked, but he was stupid to get photographed.”
Even Rupert Murdoch was light-hearted about the prince’s actions
."Prince Harry. Give him a break. He may be on the public payroll one way or another, but the public loves him, even to enjoy Las Vegas," he tweeted at the time.
News now controls 100% of Foxtel, Sky News, Fox Sports, and owns two thirds of the newspapers sold in Australia, together with a large holding of the Australian Associated Press, total ownership of the most dominant online news sites and social media sites, and there is a slim possibility of this media goliath taking over the Nine Network. If News Corp is to continue to rule the print media, the airwaves and the online space it needs to do so responsibly. The hacking scandal
and the fallout from that should be a constant reminder of what happens when it doesn’t.
Chasing a story is one thing. Creating controversies by setting NRL players up should not be the norm for a respected newspaper of the caliber of The Daily Telegraph, or a company the size and reputation of News Corp.