Reading the tragic news about Jill Meagher hit me a lot harder this morning than I thought it would. It feels like all of Melbourne was subconsciously holding out hope for a better outcome, and this is just fucked. She is easily someone I could have known. Everyone I know feels the same, and it makes this hit harder than similar cases.
It’s just fucked.
I guess what I’m feeling is some strange kind of projected grief, or some variant of it as a coping mechanism, even though I didn’t know her. The result is that I’m clambering to know more about this. I can’t tear myself away from news reports, my Twitter feed, whatever. So I have a request to any media types who may be listening.
Don’t tell me.
I hate being one of those who think I can tell the media what to do (they’re not listening for starters), but the minute the guy was arrested and the body found, the need to report on this beyond the basics evaporated.
Just because the public is interested does not mean that it is in the public interest. In a strange, macabre way, it’s like the recent fascination with nude royals. It’s hard not to look., even though it teaches us nothing.
During the investigation, media reporting was, by and large, sympathetic, considerate and invaluable. But it’s now grotesque voyeurism. We’re interested, but it’s not in the public interest. We don’t need to know, exactly, where the body was found. We don’t need to know the specifics of the crime.
Unfortunately, this appears unlikely. Already, The Age is running close up images of the grave the accused dug. It will only get worse. There will be cameras and reporters at the funeral, invading the worst and most personal day of the families’ lives.
As of now, it is simply a true crime story. There has been much scholarly research done on the human need for true crime stories (particularly women), yet it behooves us nothing to dwell on this case.
Please, media of Australia, back off. A woman has died. Leave her family alone. Don’t inflame the fear. Don’t resort to hysteria. Don’t give us what we’re all aching to see.
Just treat this like you would any tragic story that wasn’t in the news. With some decorum. The last thing we want to do is inflame more idiots like these.
In other news:
Commenter Em pointed me to the Facebook page for a revived Reclaim the Night. There are few better things people can do in the wake of this than to head down to Brunswick and march alongside fellow Melburnians to demonstrate that women should have nothing to fear on their streets.