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Sunday paper lies to boost circulation!

By Steven | June 22, 2010

Here’s the Sunday Star-Times headline from last week:

Sex attack gets drunk driver off

This is almost true. To be precisely accurate, however, it should have read:

Sex attack doesn’t get drunk driver off

The story is about a woman who was convicted of drunk-driving in the middle of the night after she said she was fleeing from someone in her household who tried to sexually abuse her.

She appealed against the penalty imposed: a 12 month suspension of her licence. She did not appeal against her conviction. So there was never any possibility of her “getting off”. The headline is badly misleading (and, we should note, was probably written by a subbie not the journalist).

To underscore the botch, there’s a sidebar headed “The ones that got away”, all of which concerned people who were discharged without conviction: that is, who can properly be said to have “got off”.

What happened here was that the woman managed to convince a High Court judge that the circumstances of her offending – a panicked, early-morning escape – meant that it wouldn’t be just to suspend her licence. So in some sense, she “got off” the suspension part of her penalty. But even then, she didn’t “get off” entirely. Justice Heath tripled her community service sentence to 300 hours instead.

It seems a fair call to me. Without the ridiculously overblown headline, it’s difficult to see why this is a front page story.

Topics: Media ethics | 1 Comment »

One Response to “Sunday paper lies to boost circulation!”

  1. Star-Times overblows headline to justify lead story, says media law expert « Whitireia Journalism School Says:
    June 29th, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    […] justify it’s lead story recently, writes Victoria University media law lecturer Steven Price. READ MORE> Without the ridiculously overblown headline, it’s difficult to see why this is a front page […]


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