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Too much truth?

By johnboy - 29 March 2010 87

Tonight Media Watch had a go at the Canberra Times for informing the public that Narrabundah car crash victim Scott Oppelaar was himself a thieving shitbag with a life spent bringing misery to the wider community.

According to the Media Watch headline this front page news was “too much truth”.

His grandmother, the Anglican Reverend Ruth Dudley is excerpted saying the article:

…caused pain to the family. Scott’s lifestyle gave them heartache when they were alive. His death was devastating. They did not need to see his misdemeanours spread across the front page of The Canberra Times.

So should the feelings of the family which spawned the career criminal be given primary concern? Or should a community grappling with a tragedy be informed of the full nature?

Me? I don’t think there’s ever such a thing as “Too Much Truth”. But what do you think?

When the subject of news has an extensive criminal record

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87 Responses to
Too much truth?
p1 9:14 am 30 Mar 10

Generally I would say that the personal or criminal history of a victim of crime is not really relevant, unless it is relevant to the particular incident. The fact the the victim knew the ferret driving the stolen vehicle is that I would consider an interesting bit of info. DO we all need to know? Not really, but then since they are all dead, they are no longer a threat to the community.

neanderthalsis 9:10 am 30 Mar 10

Dying in a horrific accident at the hands of another recidivist rebrobate does not make him a matyred model citizen.

Aurelius 9:05 am 30 Mar 10

When it’s relevant, yes.
In this case, it wasn’t.
The actions of Williams were relevant to the incident.
The actions of Oppelaar were not.
He was doing nothing out of the ordinary, and certainly nothing worthy of what happened to him. What he did the night before is irrelevant to the story, as it had no impact on what happened on the Saturday night in Narrabundah.

motleychick 9:00 am 30 Mar 10

I think that we should know the facts about the other person, but I didn’t see the need in this case to report about Scott and Samantha’s life so soon after the crash. After all, regardless of their lifestyles, they were victims in this situation.

JC 8:47 am 30 Mar 10

Whilst clearly he (and his family) were victims, the bottom line is this information clearly puts into context the family’s attitude to the situation as a whole, in particular the role the police played in his death. So yes it should be in the public domain like everything else surrounding the case.

Growling Ferret 8:39 am 30 Mar 10

I believe the CT did the right thing in publicising the victims extensive criminal history. The Derryn Hinch theory ‘Owe the dead the truth’ is a good one – no point rewriting history.

The WIN news report last night on Mully’s funeral was a shocker of a report though. The 18 year old who did the report didn’t know if she was writing a sob story, a sympathy piece or an angry rant.

I’d also like to ask the CT from refraining from publishing the dyslexic rants of Mully’s family and friends on Facebook in the paper. They are there for the public to read if they want to, but should not be referenced in every story regarding the accident.

screaming banshee 7:52 am 30 Mar 10

The family would have been all too proud to have details published if he had a record of self-sacrificing community service. If they were ashamed of his criminal history then perhaps they should have done more to set him straight.

As for media watch, I haven’t tuned it for a while but it would appear its going downhill.

trevar 7:49 am 30 Mar 10

Scott Oppelaar was not the only victim of said crash, so regardless of his background, I think some discretion was in order.

Ian 7:41 am 30 Mar 10

Don’t you know that there are no bad dead people? Death makes any scumbag a saint.

I am amused by the calls from the families and friends of Oppelaar (and Williams) to show respect. why? Do they deserve it? Did they show respect to the victims of their crimes, the law and the community in general?

Its quite simple really – if you don’t want to be remembered as a scumbag, don’t be one.

Fiona 7:39 am 30 Mar 10

Can this be applied to ‘famous’ people too, who suddenly become flawless upon their death?

Jerry Atric 6:52 am 30 Mar 10

Whatever the man’s history it had no relevance to his accidental death. Journalism should be relevant to the issue not gratuitous. The CT, once an intelligent and intelligible source of information has has started to take its lead from the metropolitan gutter press. The broadsheet will be the next to go.

Cameron 5:45 am 30 Mar 10

I suppose I don’t really care either way. It would bother me if the family, through the media, tried to portray the death of their son as a greater tragedy than it already was because their son was a saint when it turns out he was anything but.

When it comes to his record though, it is his record, not his the record of his family, and it dies with him. No sense in making life more difficult for the family.

That said… *shrug* meh.

facet 4:46 am 30 Mar 10

As a grandfather I will not stand by and watch my grandson become a criminal scumbag. Parents and grandparents that make excuses for their offspring are not helping them to take responsibility for their behaviour.

cleo 12:52 am 30 Mar 10

What has the past history of the unfortunet victims got to do with the tragedy? I think the Canberra Times are a bunch of blood sucking leeches, and are a disgrace to human kind!
As far as I’m concerned, you are a bunch of paricites!

fozzy 12:35 am 30 Mar 10

Working on the premise of “there’s never too much truth”, could you tell everyone the purpose and results of your last doctor’s visit? And your yearly salary?

I’ll stick my head up and say I don’t know any of the parties involved, but I was appalled at the information on the front page of the CT. Irrespective of how a person lived their life, they don’t deserve to die like they did.

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