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Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow – Book Review

Content warning: This article mentions sexual assault and harassment.

On October 5th, 2017, the New York Times published a report by journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, revealing multiple allegations of sexual harassment against Harvey Weinstein. This article led to the resignation of four members of the Weinstein Company’s board, and ultimately to the firing of Weinstein.

On October 10, 2017, The New Yorker bravely published a piece by Pulitzer-Prize-winning investigative journalist Ronan Farrow, which broke and detailed the stories of thirteen women. In a ten-month investigation, Farrow interviewed these women, who said that between the 1990s and 2015, Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them.

In Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, Farrow recounts in shocking detail the personal and professional challenges he had to overcome in order to bring these stories to light, where he not only faced rampant threats to end his career, but to end his life. 

Continue reading “Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow – Book Review”

Order in the court

Original article can be found here

Note to readers: As part of my degree, I was required to complete 80 hours of professional placement within a six-month period. I completed it in three weeks. I woke up in the middle of the night for three weeks to intern on a TV News show. I packed a suitcase and lived in a different state for a month. When one of my peers dropped out of a great two-week radio stint, I didn’t think it wise to say no. I took on a third, then later, a fourth. Being an intern is a humbling experience. You don’t get paid anything, and you realise that people don’t have to be nice to you. But you have to start somewhere.

The following is an account of two days I spent in the County Court, and the knowledge I acquired:

Day One

The court proceedings begin with a false start – two knocks, then the ‘Judge’ walks out and is greeted with silence, with respect. ‘All stand’ says the tipstaff. It wasn’t him. It was his assistant. All sit and wait. We, the reporters, are seated in the jury box. Our media passes stand out. We are personnel. We are allowed an insight into a very private matter.

I am learning to be a journalist – gaining experience from this case, while their lives have been fractured.

The Judge walks out, his gown decorated with bold, gleaming purple material. He speaks slowly, purposefully. I hear the pitter-patter of ferocity on portable keyboards, hooked up to iPads. Two reporters walk in late, bow to the Judge, and take their seat away from the rest of the media, with the public gallery, where the victims are seated. They know to bend down where the camera is, so they don’t get in the way. They sit separate to them, but on the same level. They write with pen and paper, rather than the bright machines the rest are utilising. The Judge begins to deliver a monologue, and sometimes embeds his own thoughts into a sort of diatribe, whilst revealing facts about the case. It is a theatrical scene.

I feel a bit greedy, as a journalist, hanging onto details that have nothing to do with me. But as I look at the victims, trying hard not to stare, but also not wanting to ignore them, I see partners holding hands, glancing at me, possibly wondering what someone as young as me is doing there. I am clearly not a real journalist, for I am not ferociously typing notes. I am scanning the room, occasionally writing an observational note.

I don’t realise, as I walk in, that the perpetrator is sitting at the back of the room. During my second year of studying journalism, we spent one day in the County Court, and two weeks learning about defamation and contempt of court. My little experience in this area renders me naïve, where everyone else knows the protocol. He, like me, hangs onto every word the Judge says. He is attentive. He doesn’t obviously show remorse, or any other emotion at all. He is just there, listening throughout the five-hour ordeal.

The Judge delivers the proceedings slowly, because each victim’s story needs to be heard. It makes one wonder, are they glad he is taking this approach, or do they just want it over quickly?

I feel uncomfortable as I go to the bathroom and one of the prosecutors holds open the door for me. I am waiting in line with some of the victims. I almost feel it is selfish for me to be in the room. I am learning to be a journalist – gaining experience from this case, while their lives have been fractured. I feel even wearier being the last person to file into an elevator with them after the first day; my media pass singling me out. I race down to tell the camera operator that they are coming out, so they should prepare to film their feet and their backs. They are to remain faceless to preserve their anonymity.

I worry I would be too soft to be a court reporter. You have to be detached from the victims. I felt for them greatly that day. I still feel for them now.

Day Two

As I enter the County Court on the day of the sentencing, the man I recognise as the Judge walks out, in his normal attire – a grey suit. Is he getting a last minute bite to eat? Or is he clearing his head before he has to deliver the long-awaited verdict?

I learned that university can’t completely prepare you for the workforce. You learn by getting out there and doing it, through experience.

There are two officers today in charge of the man on trial. A familiar reporter walks in. The accused wears the same clothes as the day before. A blue shirt, the collar tucked in. He has thick, black glasses frames and looks completely innocuous from where I sit. The Judge’s associate, with beady eyes and a serious demeanour, sees I am there again, and gives me a knowing look.

The other reporters are impatient. The Judge is half an hour late. I picture him, in my head, deliberating. He wants to bring the victims peace, and deliver the fairest result. The reporters just want to file and story and move onto the next one.

——

I learned that university can’t completely prepare you for the workforce. You learn by getting out there and doing it, through experience. As professional and intimidating as some reporters are, they are not robots. They too make mistakes, and lots of them, albeit of a smaller nature and not as frequently as a novice journalist. In the newsroom, the atmosphere can be tense. People are nice, but they are busy, and as an intern, you can’t be too passive, for then you are useless, but you also can’t be too keen, because then you’re annoying. My advice is to observe, and ask questions. Knowledge can only be acquired by doing, and if it’s journalism you’re keen to get into, just remember not to lose your sensitivity. It’s important to be strong. It’s also important to feel.

In the County Court of Victoria, I was able to consolidate my knowledge of media law. Textbooks and lectures are a useful guide, but you have to get out there and immerse yourself in every story you file. Observe the people; listen to what both sides have to say. Question it all until you’re satisfied you have a balanced story.
And never stop learning.

Walk for Humanity – raising money for Rohingya refugees

Melbourne’s migrant communities have banded together to raise money for the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

Organised by the local Vietnamese community, the recent Walk for Humanity walkathon generated $20,000 to help the UNHCR bring shelter, clean water and medical supplies to those driven from their homes in Myanmar.

(Feature image: Participants at the Walk for Humanity event. Photo: Anne Nguyen, VCA-Vic)

Triple R Midday News – Monday September 10, 2018

Triple R Midday Bulletin produced at the RMIT City studios.

Police have confirmed the deaths of two-year-old twin girls, their three-year-old sister and their mother and grandmother in Western Australia

Labor has proposed a new ‘superhighway’ set to cost $15.8 billion.

Papua New Guinea is gearing up to introduce an emergency polio vaccination.

Written and Produced by: Georgia Bell, Taylah Borg, Isabella Foster and Simi West

Presented by: Georgia Bell, Isabella Foster and Simi West

The revival of the Elaine Cricket and Tennis Club

The small Victorian country town of Elaine boasts just over 200 people and has struggled to remain viable since the closure of the local school 20 years ago.

But a determined band of volunteers, backed by government funding,  has been set on reviving a sense of community through the revival of the local cricket and tennis club.

 

(Feature image: The Elaine Cricket and Tennis Club welcomes new members. Photo credit: Simi West)

‘Bring Jack Home’ – the plight of stranded racing dogs in Macau

“I met a greyhound in the park and saw it running,” Nora Anderson-Dieppe says. “I just thought it was beautiful and got chatting to the owner. I said, ‘Why is she covered in those scars?’”

He said, “do you not know much about the racing industry?”

Nora Anderson-Dieppe is the founder of Sydney-based volunteer group Nora’s Foster Hounds.  In 2015, she created an international campaign, ‘Bring Jack Home’.

Jack, an Australian red fawn greyhound, was sold by his trainer in New South Wales and sent to Macau to race at the Chinese territory’s infamous Canidrome Racetrack.

Now five, he is currently fostered by a volunteer for Macau-based rescue organisation ANIMA until his travel plans are finalised.

Jack resting in the home of his foster carer, waiting to be sent back home to Australia. Photo: Edith Lam, ANIMA volunteer

Jack resting
Jack resting in the home of his foster carer, waiting to be sent back home to Australia. Photo: Edith Lam, ANIMA Volunteer.

 

Ms Anderson-Dieppe adopted Jack’s sister, Millie, from a ‘whelping'(breeding) ground as an 11-month-old with an injured paw.  The dog now wears a prosthetic.

Following an investigation by the ABC’s 7:30 program in 2015, airlines QANTAS and Cathay Pacific stopped transporting racing greyhounds to Asia.

“With the help of Animals Australia, we put pressure on the airlines to stop sending greyhounds out there,” Ms Anderson-Dieppe says.

“Cathay and QANTAS both agreed to stop sending the racing greyhounds out, so we’re looking at QANTAS to help us return at least Jack.”

Animals Australia welcomed the move, saying “the export of these dogs not only condemned them to a death sentence but was in blatant breach of the industry’s own rules.”

But the Australian dogs were still racing in Macau until the track’s closure in July, signalling the end of legal greyhound racing in Asia.

After the Canidrome track shut, more than 500 dogs were taken into care.

Nora’s Foster Hounds also sell dog collars with the help of Kris Farley, fellow greyhound mum and Queensland-based designer.

Thanks to Nora’s Foster Hounds and animal welfare organisations all around the world, Jack will soon return home to Australia.

“If we get there together, does it really matter in the end, how we get there, if we get there? Not really,” Ms Farley says.

Plans are now in place to bring Jack home by February.

To donate to Nora’s Foster Houndsclick here.

Follow Millie on Instagram – @millie_thebionicgreyhound

(Featured image: Jack’s sister, Millie, campaigns against greyhound racing. Photo: Nora’s Foster Hounds)

Photos: Jack (pictured right) and a fellow rescued greyhound in their current foster home. Photo: Edith Lam, ANIMA volunteer.

Karen Leach: A Victor, Not a Victim

This article was originally published on the On The Game ’17 website here.

As a young girl, Karen Leach dreamed of representing Ireland on the Olympic Swim team. Instead, she suffered years of sexual abuse from the ages of 10-17 at the hands of her Irish swimming coach, Derry O’Rourke, crushing her spirit and her will to live. Now, at 48, Karen finally feels free.

She is now a qualified psychotherapist and counsellor, using her strength and knowledge to help others who are struggling in silence.

Karen spoke at Play the Game’s 10th conference in Eindhoven on Sunday. This is her incredible story of survival, and how she has managed to gain her freedom once again, after 37 years trapped in “a prison.”

The sound of idle chatter and flashes of cameras are palpable. Cameramen hover, as they wait for guests to file into the conference room. Amidst this chaos, I spot her – a woman who has gone through the unimaginable. She sits in solitude in the front row, waiting patiently.

She is invited to the podium. She rises from her chair, with an air quite unlike anyone I have ever seen before. She walks to the podium with the greatest strength, with vigour. She is valiant.

“I am Karen,” she begins. “This, is my life.”

The hall is silent throughout her testimony… No one moves.

Karen is honest in saying that “unless abuse comes to your door, you will never know the true pain it can cause.” She does not sanitise her experiences. They are graphic, and they are shocking.

Her abuser told her that what he was doing to her was to track her physical development as a swimmer. After practise, she would beg the other girls to “please, wait for me” but “they couldn’t, because they were running too.” She recalls rushing to her Dad’s car still wet from the pool water because she did not have time to dry herself.

“I would hear the chair creak, and I would hear footsteps through the shower and I’d see the handle of the door open, and the door would open and I’d see a shoe, and I’d see a knee and I’d see a belly with a Speedo t-shirt, or the familiar jumper and the next thing, he’d be standing there, and he’d shut the door and I’d be stuck there.”

She was unable to speak about her abuse until she turned 30, until after O’Rourke was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. He only served 9. It was then that she finally told her mother, who said, “Karen, I’m reading the newspaper today, today I’m reading about my little girl. This is my child I’m reading about and it’s you.”

Her mother was unable to live with the fact that her daughter had suffered. Karen received a call shortly after this, that her mother’s body had been pulled out of the canal by a fireman.

Karen also lost her father from a stroke. Before he died, she told him he was “the best dad ever” and he responded, “Karen, I don’t know about that” and that she knew exactly what he had meant.

For years, sexual abuse has remained a taboo. With more cases being reported and with survivor’s testimony, the sporting world is now pressured. Now, more than ever, they need to ensure that children are safe. “Every child has a right to be saved in their childhood,” Karen asserts, “Children are sports’ future”.

Her testimony ends. There is a poignant silence. Suddenly, there is an eruption of claps.

Despite all her hardships, she survived numerous suicide attempts. She has conquered her life.

She is inundated with people, as if she is magnetic. I wait for her, until suddenly, it is just us and the employees who are packing up the conference room. I am greeted with a plethora of warmth.

I ask about the most rewarding part of being a psychotherapist and counsellor. She says she takes her patients “from the darkest places of their life until they find the light. I see people grow and change over time, the most rewarding part is when I’m finishing up with someone, they’re leaving and going out the door and they’re saying, “Karen, I’m good now, and I just say go get your life, go get the world.”

Karen attributes her recovery to “the people I met along the way – kindness, people listening to me” as well as psychotherapy, counseling, spending years in a psychiatric hospital and homeopathy. She wants others to know that recovery is possible and that she tried many times to love herself, that she “failed many times, and this year succeeded” at loving herself.

“I want there to be the right support, awareness, and education. I want children to have the awareness and the support. I want them to be able to know that there is someone there that they can go to talk to, there’s someone there that will listen to them, that will believe them, and that their dreams can come true, and that they’re safe.”

She tells me about her son. “He has just turned 11 and he loves swimming. He’s a great little swimmer.”

She is leaving for Ireland in the morning, as her son needs his mum.

 

Feature Photo: Thomas Søndergaard/Play the Game