Investigative Journalism

MCCARTHY’S ADVOCACY CONTINUES TO SHINE LIGHT ON SEX ABUSE

As the final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Reponses to Child Sexual Abuse is due by the end of this year, Christina Koutsoukos presented a case study of the role journalism played into the lead up to the commission.

Dr Koutsoukos, a lecturer in Communications at the University of Newcastle, presented her in-depth case study into how investigative journalism becomes a case of advocacy on Friday. Looking at The Newcastle Herald’s coverage of child sex abuse during World Youth Day in 2008 alongside The Telegraph’s coverage, Koutsoukos showed how regional journalist Joanne McCarthy “spearheaded” the Herald’s advocacy.

This Shine the Light campaign gave voice to many victims of clerical abuse, highlighted the trauma of the victims and “drew attention to the cover up of abuse in the Catholic Church”.

The importance of this investigative journalism and its advocacy was noted by then Prime Minister Julia Gillard as she wrote to McCarthy to thank her for this work after signing off on the Royal Commission McCarthy had called for.

“There will be a royal commission on the church’s handling of child sex abuse because there must be”.

This “well-crafted declaration of war on behalf of victims of clerical sexual abuse” is directly contrasted in Koutsoukos’ case study by the The Telegraph’s “razzle dazzle” coverage during the large religious event of 2008.

“She contrasted the silence of the bishops around clerical sexual abuse of minors with the despair of the victims and the finality of suicide.”

Koutsoukos made the point that these hundreds of interviews and reports over four years “became a case of advocacy” and a “battle cry for a royal commission” that “instigated” the Royal Commission.

The Royal Commission will inquire into and report upon responses by institutions to instances and allegations of child sex abuse in Australia with the final report due by the end of this year.

 

Image source: http://www.walkleys.com/walkleys-winners/2013_gold_walkley_joanne_mccarthy/

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