Journalist and broadcaster Tracey Spicer, who has been lauded for raising awareness on sexual harassment in the Australia media, says issues surrounding defamation have made media organisations nervous and matters have hit the ‘pause button.’
Speaking this week at the Australian International Documentary Conference, Spicer said, “The defamation laws are the toughest in the western world. What I’m trying to lobby for at the moment is to increase the public interest part of it which is what they’ve done in New Zealand, Canada and the UK.
“The other problem here is we don’t have the First Amendment protections they have in United States for free speech, in our Constitution.
“So you combine that with the fragmentation of the mass media and organisations saying ‘We have no money anyway, we have no eyeballs. We can’t lose a Defamation suit.’
“Also combine that with some of the people being named, being executives of those same media organisations -then you have less interest in doing these stories and a fear of a Defamation suit.
“So we’re incredibly stuck at the moment. We’re kind of ‘on pause’ with this stuff.”
Spicer has been contacted by hundreds on the subject of harassment and #metoo, revealing that more cases centre on the music industry than film or television. She is due to appear in a two part ABC documentary on the subject, Silent No More (working title).
“We have a national inquiry into #metoo which is tremendous, but when it comes to storytelling -aside from a wonderful documentary from Southern Pictures and the ABC which I’m proudly part of- I don’t see any other media organisations doing this kind of work and it’s very sad,” she added.