Media criticised for excess in Corby case

By Greg Tourelle

Media outlets in Australia are facing criticism over the lengths some of them have gone in their coverage of the Schapelle Corby case.

Channel Nine last week screened a TV show, which was mainly a rehash of an earlier interview with Corby, in which she repeatedly professed her innocence of importing drugs to Bali. 

The Queensland beauty student will hear the verdict in her case in Indonesia this week.

After a review of the arguments, Channel Nine viewers were given the chance to vote on whether "Schapelle" was innocent or guilty.

The infamous indicator worm showed a comfortable margin voting for innocent.

The ABC's Mediawatch programme was scathing of the coverage, calling the programme, Schapelle's Nightmare: The Untold Story, the "pits".

"The premise of the show was always a joke and a bad one given the seriousness of Corby's situation," Mediawatch presenter Liz Jackson said.

It said the channel's online polls had already indicated 90 per cent of its viewers thought Corby innocent.

Mediwatch thought the media obsession with the Corby case had brought out some of the worst television and radio coverage imaginable.

It highlighted a Sydney radio host's comments on Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his country's justice system, saying 2GB's Malcolm T Elliott had used the Corby case as a licence for xenophobia. (Read Elliott's comments below.)

It will be of little consolation to Corby that she is proving a ratings hit.

Sydney's Daily Telegraph has been pushing her case for all it is worth.

Its front page yesterday carried a large photograph of a tearful Corby alongside a headline "Corby's Silent Agony". There was also a sub-heading, "The verdict: 3 days to go".

The silent agony referred to Corby's psychiatrist's revelation that the 27-year-old saw herself as a "desperate" figure without a voice to defend herself.

Conny Pankahila told the newspaper how Corby had sketched a person with eyes, nose and other facial features, but no mouth.

Inside the paper was another story about Corby's decision to get baptised in jail. The headline ran: "God found Schapelle in a prison cell".

On Monday, Corby's photo was also on the front page alongside the original baptism story.

The debate over whether Corby is innocent of importing 4.1kg of cannabis into Bali last October has been raging in Australia since her arrest, but the issue of whether she received a fair trial is also a big talking point.

Corby contends the bag of marijuana was planted in her boogie board bag by someone unknown to her.

* What Elliott said on air in an exchange with a caller on May 15 about the judges hearing Corby's case:

Elliott: "The judges don't even speak English, mate, they're straight out of the trees, if you excuse my expression."

Caller: "Don't you think that disrespects the whole of our neighbouring nation?"

Elliott: "I have total disrespect for our neighbouring nation my friend. Total disrespect.

"And then we get this joke of a trial, and it's nothing more than a joke. An absolute joke the way they sit there. And they do look like the three wise monkeys, I'll say it.

"They don't speak English, they read books, they don't listen to her. They show us absolutely no respect those judges."

- NZPA

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