Confronting trolls for ratings, just a cheap shot?

I don’t usually like to pre-judge content before I have had the opportunity to see it…. but I have to say I am decidedly unimpressed with promos for Seven News in which Charlotte Dawson is confronting Twitter trolls tonight, seemingly in some kind of name and shame exercise.

It wasn’t that long ago that Dawson was hospitalised following relentless online abuse.

In my view all the parties should know better than to go down this road as Television. How is provocation via the media really that far removed from online abuse?

What would be their duty of care should one of those people also end up in hospital?

Seven News was itself accused of abusive behaviour when covering the death of Molly Lord in a quad biking accident in July. It took a grieving mother and outraged social media users to name and shame Seven for that act.

I’m also unclear how confronting trolls constitutes ‘News’ -are they reporting the news, or creating it? I suspect it would be better placed in a public affairs show such as Today Tonight, at least that is designed to tackle hot topics in society.

There is so much in the mainstream media that constitutes provocation and abuse that this feels like a very thin line.

At least Insight on SBS had a considered, contextual debate on the topic last week instead of a brief confrontationalist approach.



  1. I watched it and thought it was excellent. Highlighted these people for who they are and they agreed to be on so who cares?

    Nice for her to stand up for herself and show the world she wont suffer in silence.

  2. Ah, Stephen, a “latest book”. Now why did I think that may be so? And dollar notes? Who is this person? I can’t say I’ve ever heard of her. If someone was so “traumatised” that they had to be “hospitalised” would not one be advised to simply close Twitter, Facebook etc. or whatever?
    That reminds me why I no longer watch 7 News but catch either ABC at 7 or ABC24.

  3. Some good comments here, but @MuchoTB puts it perfectly for mine – C. Dawson is just not behaving as one would expect from someone who went that near to the edge. Unless she has somehow become incredibly, unbelievably resilient in the interim – and even then she is ill advised to milk the issue.

    @Secret Squirrel’s ‘pool of (warm) excrement’ – LOL. Nice to see you back to your stomach-churning best, Faramir! Easily your best work since your Putrifying Cadaver series earlier in the year!

  4. Spot on Pertinax.

    Channel 7 ran a 2 minute “news report” on Gangnam Style last week which was merely an excuse to finish with the cross promotion that he would be on Sunrise/X-Factor a couple of days later.

    That isn’t news and will never be news.

  5. Good to see the majority of those commenting see this for what it is,most good people would cringe at this,for her one just hopes that the water will find its own level.

  6. At the end of the day Charlotte is a freelancer ‘personality’

    I think she’s just trying anything to strengthen ties with all the Networks… 60 minutes on 9 … now Seven News..

  7. If I was a cynical person, I might think this whole issue had been dreamt up purely to publicise her latest book.

    If this is not the case, then all the publicity, (and the fact that this publicity has been milked across several networks at a time when really she should have been recuperating if her ‘hospitalisation’ was what her PR releases suggested it was) certainly was excellent timing for the release of it.

  8. Secret Squirrel

    I was going to say more “gutter journalism” but one of those words doesn’t apply. Seven have really set themselves up as king of the dunghill haven’t they?

    This is nothing more than small sordid television made by small sordid people for other small sordid people to pleasure themselves with.

    Dawson should know better and has either received some very poor advice or is simply unable to resist the bucket of cash being dangled in front of her.

    I’m picturing Peter Meakin waist-deep in a pool of excrement waving some $100 dollar notes in the air and saying to Ms Dawson – “Jump in, it’s still warm”.

  9. This is trash television masquerading as news…Charlotte Dawson’s whole fiasco happened at the exact same time she released her new book of memoirs. I sympathise with people going through legit harassment, bullying and depression but IMO Charlotte Dawson is not a good role model for how she’s handling this whole thing and I can’t help but be cynical as to whether she is not just milking this thing for all it’s worth.

    In three months’ time she will stop being the face of cyberbullying and will go back to being a nobody judge on a niche modelling competition that airs on Pay TV, then she’ll have to find something new to use to promote herself and her “brand”.

  10. David, I’m glad you’ve taken issue with this. I was dismayed when I saw the promo last night.

    But I didn’t even notice the fact that this story is going to be on Seven News (I just assumed it was a routine naming and shaming exercise on TT). While it’s terrible that we’ve almost come to accept the role of TT and ACA in provoking and humiliating individuals, it is even more disconcerting that these kinds of ‘stories’ might be spreading to programs purportedly bringing us an independent account of the news.

  11. What gives her the right to track people down to their places of work and even their homes?? If it was the other way round the cops would be called…..

  12. Confronting those who troll and fronting them with camera crews is just bad taste. I sympathised with Ms Dawson, I got that she was attacked and unjustly so…but for gods sake Charlotte…just let it go for your own mental health. Let it go and move on and forget the trolls. Set an example.

  13. Not picking on Charlotte but it sounds like she got cash from Nine for 60 Minutes and then Seven came along and offered her some more cash so she jumped on board.
    Has no one learned anything about Trolls…… They can only get to you if you pay attention to them…. Ignore them and they will go away.

  14. It is lazy lazy news – something News International here have started reporting ever since they got into the shit over the hacking, making front page stories out of one or two Twitter or forum posts while their own columnists often make far more personal attacks than any faceless post on the net.

    The real story for me is the poor moderation of Twitter – no way to report a tweet or see people banned, unlike forums and blogs like this which have self moderated for years. With Twitter it seems anyone taking the slightest offence runs to the police!

  15. I have no idea who is advising Charlotte to go ahead and do this but after what happened I believe she is still highly vulnerable and should stay away from this kind of publicity.I went through the whole saga back then as a twitter fan and watched in the wee hours of the terrible tweets that were sent and what Charlotte did. I was also one of a few that rang emergency services to help her and they did so and were absolutely fantastic to deal with. Don’t bite off more than you can chew they say,book or no book, is it worth yr mental health?

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