George Pell – Some Media Training Might Help!

Dear oh dear, what on earth is George Pell up to? The Catholic Cardinal’s response to Julia Gillard calling a Royal Commission on child sex abuse is not only abysmal but a clear indication that he doesn’t realise how perceptions play out in the media world.

Whether this man likes it or not, the media are the public – that’s their role in life – and the public are well and truly sick of all the disclosures about child sex abuse, much of it involving the Catholic Church. They, and the media, would like some answers to all this and blaming the media for a “smear campaign” is not going to help matters.

To me, George Pell belongs to a past era and if that involves one priest confessing to child sex abuse to another priest in a confessional and getting away with the crime, and George defends the inviolability of the confessional, then that era’s time is well and truly up.

I know about the Catholic Church’s role in child sex abuse from near first-hand experience. I went to a Catholic Marist Brothers school in the Hunter Valley and for a particular lesson with a particular brother used to race my mates to sit in the back of the classroom. Why? Because this brother used to sit on front row desks and fondle the boys unlucky enough to get caught there. I just wish I had had the courage thenĀ  that I do now to tackle this blight on our society.

George, come to one of my media training workshops and I’ll teach you one of the fundamentals of crisis management – own up, explain what you’re doing to fix things (properly, that is) and then move on. Enough of all these fancy sounding organisations that have been set up to look into this scandal – names like Melbourne Response mean very little. At least the victims call a spade a spade and named their organisation The Melbourne Victims’ Collective.

Plainly Egregious? Not In Our Media Training Workshops

Now I’ve seen it all – as far as Plain English is concerned (or not).

The Gillard government’s hand-picked human rights commissioner, Gillian Triggs has hit out at the detention of asylum seekers on Nauru, saying the indefinite detention of asylum seekers on Nauru is ”an egregious breach of international human rights law”.

But here’s the good quote from Professor Triggs: ”I have made my view really plain to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship in saying that to detain people on this remote island, and delaying by at least six months their processing, and where they’re advised that they will be kept there for five years, is an egregious breach of international human rights law.”

I’m so glad she made it “really plain”.

If you apply my media training rule of “stop 10 people” and ask them what “egregious” means I don’t believe you’d find two out of the 10 who could tell you – the rule says therefore don’t use the word when speaking to the public via the news media.

For those other eight people,” egregious” means “extremely bad”. I would have thought “really bad” might have done the trick for an Aussie audience.