10 September 2010

There is Silly, then There is Stupid, and then There is Matt Nicholls...

This post needs to be premised with a disclaimer of sorts. It is based on facts currently available to me. I reserve the right to amend this post should "other" facts come to light which force we into a back down and apology to Mr. Nicholls.

Here we go!

There was a recent shooting death in Sydney of a NSW Police Officer. Constable William (Bill) Crews was involved in a raid on a house in Bankstown (Southwestern Sydney). The raid was drug-related. During the raid Constable Crews was shot in the head and subsequently died. One man has been charged with discharging a firearm with the intent to kill. Another has been charged with the possession of an illegal firearm.

The charges in themselves are interesting in that they highlight the forensics team is still trying to work out who fired the fatal bullet. There is current speculation that Constable Crews may have been shot by a fellow officer. Ultimately, forensics will reveal all with respect to who fired the fatal shot.

However, I digress. Constable Crews is from a reasonably small rural town in NSW called Glen Innes. I passed through there not long back on my way to Moree for a practicum placement. The editor, Nicholls, of the local newspaper, the Glen Innes Examiner, has updated his Facebook status to suggest that the paper can capitalise on the death of Constable Crews and the devastation of the family he has left behind because of his history with the town of Glen Innes.

For Nicholls, the death meant that it was a perfect opportunity to boost the circulation of the Fairfax-owned tome. Not content to leave it there, Nicholls decided that it was worth noting on Facebook that the paper must be looking at exploiting the death for all it is worth by making the most of the tragedy.

Now, Nicholls has denied that he made the offending Facebook posts. Nevertheless, he has been stood down effective immediately. Fairfax has issued an apology for any offense that has occurred to the Crews family.

Here is the commentary part to this post. Even if you were thinking that, and even if you believe that, where was the common sense kick in that said, "do not post this publicly on Facebook?" If we were to be perfectly honest about this whole thing, then it is fair to say that papers, as do magazines and television, endeavour to capitalise on the tragedy that befalls people and their subsequent suffering. That is the nature of the game, is it not?

What is not done is confessing this in public spaces such as Facebook within 24 to 48 hours of the tragedy unfolding. We as people, as consumers of news, are a little more savvy, perhaps cynical, than this. We certainly do not need the editor of the Glen Innes Examiner to be telling us this on his Facebook page.

Final point. The alleged Facebook posts of Nicholls are disrespectful more than anything else. The decision to become a police officer and dedicate your life to the protection of others and the community as a whole is one very few men and women take. Perhaps it is because, for some of us, we are not prepared to lay it all on the line and make the ultimate sacrifice as Constable Crews has done. Maybe this is what we should be considering in this case.

My condolences to the Crews family on your loss.

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