Why is it news?

Thursday, 17 May 2007 2:24 am

The ill-considered Daily Telegraph headline "How Could She" (baby "Catherine's" mother) might best have been ignored and forgotten amidst the vast annals of editorial misjudgments. So why wasn't it? Tragedies nearly identical to this one are reported several times each year. Why should this vulnerable mother be singled out for nation-wide attention and judgement, from the Prime Minister down? Why should she and her newborn baby become involuntary celebrities, the next exhibit tabled in the court of public opinion? What is it about us as a culture that we turn random private tragedies into public headlines? Why are we so keen to "make a point" that we fall to using the victims to make it? Melanie La'Brooy (Opinion, 17/4), in an otherwise intelligent and compassionate response to this very subject, couldn't resist another jibe at Tony Abbott's view's on abortion! Much more might have been made of a brief observation that the extraordinary publicity "is guaranteed to send (the mother) running even further for cover". That surely is the core issue in this opportunistic episode. If this mother did contemplate emerging quietly in the shadows, it's likely the furthest thought from her mind now. The right question isn't "How Could She". It's "Why is it 'news'?"