Murdoch’s Laura Jayes was one of the first to cover the Sydney CBD stabbing, however, the language she used and what she covered has drawn the ire of many.
There are some journalists, like Laura Jayes, who don’t like being called out for their practices. One practice – which Jayes got plenty of column space to defend – was the tweeting of “unconfirmed but credible” information that the alleged Sydney Stabbing attacker, Mert Ney, shouted “Allahu Akbar” during his rampage.
This was allegedly heard in the video where he can be seen jumping on top of a car, falling off, and screaming, “Shoot me, fucking shoot me in the head, shoot me, I want to die”. Now, rather than report on the fact of what he clearly did say, and speculating that this might very well be an outburst designed by Ney to end in “suicide by cop”, she chose to report something unsubstantiated. The only substantiated evidence of him saying that phrase was put out later, while Ney was in the back of a police wagon.
And let me be clear here: putting out unsubstantiated claims of this nature can absolutely get people hurt.
“Sky News journalists get to prosecute Twitter arguments in major media outlets. People of colour have to lock their accounts and sign about because they’re being dog-piled by white supremacists,” climate science communicator and commentator Ketan Joshi tweeted.
“The framing of ‘just stating the facts’, and any critique as cruel censorship is part of the process. In this worldview, calling y’days attack an ‘allahu akbar knife frenzy’ is brave, uncompromised fact-transmission, rather than feeding fuel to 30,000 racist Facebook dudes.”
He’s very right. He goes on to point out that journalistic self-censorship is, indeed, a thing, and always has been. Ney apparently had on him a thumb drive with information pertaining to “other crimes of mass casualties”, according to The Guardian.
You know what you were doing. You know exactly what it means to people when a violent criminal utters those words, what it conjures in people’s heads.
Ms Jayes’ own website later confirmed that the information was indeed from the New Zealand massacre and has no links to terror organisations.
But, of course, any whiff of Islamic extremist terrorism gets the clicks, right? But does that information help anyone? She was tweeting information, she claims, to be helpful.
In fact, not long after, Jayes tweeted about how the police were not treating it as a terrorism case, that he had no links – suspected or otherwise – to terror organisations, and that he was also a patient who had fled from a mental health facility in Blacktown. In fact, he had a history of mental health problems, drug abuse, and violence against women, as implied by a reference to a “domestic violence issue involving his sister”.
No one factor here is more outstanding than another. It’s in fact a confluence of these factors – including that he was previously reprimanded for having knuckledusters on his person – that ended up with what happened on Tuesday.
People like Jayes should not be allowed to play the “strong independent journalist only reporting the facts” card when they are rightfully called out for merely fanning the flames of wild speculation.
“First of all, the detractors made the link to terrorism and Islamic extremism, not me. It reveals more about their own personal bias than it does mine,” she writes.
“Perhaps the keyboard warriors should be asking why a man with mental health issues with no strong religious affiliation to Islam decides to utter the words ‘Allah Akbar’.”
No, you know what you were doing. You know exactly what it means to people when a violent criminal utters those words, what it conjures in people’s heads. “Oh, I didn’t say that, but if they wanna take it that way, that’s on them”.
Give us all a break.
Does she know what journalism is? https://t.co/XKoc1vBKW5
— Amy McQuire (@amymcquire) August 14, 2019