The Age apologises…the JCCV accepts

October 22, 2009 by J-Wire Staff
Read on for article
John Searle, President of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, the peak body of Victoria’s Jewish community, stated today:
“On 24 July 2009, The Age published an article entitled ‘Motorcycle victim was Holocaust survivor’. This piece resulted in numerous complaints, which I considered clearly justifiable, from members of our community.
I accordingly wrote to Age Editor-in-chief Paul Ramadge, including the following observations:
“This article concerns a person killed in a road accident, a sadly too common event, but one which I accept The Age may consider worth reporting. That he was an American tourist and a Holocaust survivor may also be of interest to some. But surely the fact that his son is a member of “Melbourne’s Adass community, an ultra-orthodox and reclusive group [that]… hit the front pages last year when the principal of the Adass Israel Girls School, … a mother of eight, fled to Israel ahead of allegations of molesting teenage girls at the school” is irrelevant to this tragedy and merely tabloid journalism unworthy of The Age.
… There are three issues that concern me. Firstly, The Age has smeared a grieving family by gratuitously connecting their name to what supposedly occurred at the Adass school. Secondly, both the Adass community in particular and the Jewish community in general were traumatised by this alleged child abuse. To bring this up in such an unwarranted way is insensitive and may well open up wounds for many. Thirdly, many members of the Victorian Jewish community already believe that The Age has a bias against Israel, the Jewish State, and thus by implication against Jews. You will well remember the furore caused by Michael Backman’s piece some months ago. Such reporting will only confirm this belief. ”
While Mr Ramadge apologised consequent to my letter, my Executive and I considered it inadequate. Accordingly we complained to the Australian Press Council which took the matter up with The Age. Following further discussions, The Age published an apology in its 20 October 2009 edition (attached hereto). I am satisfied with this apology and now consider this particular matter closed.
In conclusion, I note that both Danny Lamm, President of the Zionist Council of Victoria, and I are continuing to work on the Jewish community’s relationship with The Age. It is an important institution, both in Victoria and nationally. Recently, for example, Mr Ramadge addressed a public meeting jointly sponsored by our organisations. It was open and frank, and useful for our community and, I believe, for Mr Ramadge as well. Our relationship must be an honest one and, as the JCCV’s complaint indicated, we will not sacrifice community interests for the sake of expediency. ”

Following complaints to the Press Council by the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, The Age has printed an apology.John Searle, President of the JCCV reports:

“On 24 July 2009, The Age published an article entitled ‘Motorcycle victim was Holocaust survivor’. This piece resulted in numerous complaints, which I considered clearly justifiable, from members of our community.

I accordingly wrote to Age Editor-in-chief Paul Ramadge, including the following observations:

“This article concerns a person killed in a road accident, a sadly too common event, but one which I accept The Age may consider worth reporting. That he was an American tourist and a Holocaust survivor may also be of interest to some. But surely the fact that his son is a member of “Melbourne’s Adass community, an ultra-orthodox and reclusive group [that]… hit the front pages last year when the principal of the Adass Israel Girls School, … a mother of eight, fled to Israel ahead of allegations of molesting teenage girls at the school” is irrelevant to this tragedy and merely tabloid journalism unworthy of The Age.

Age-Apology… There are three issues that concern me. Firstly, The Age has smeared a grieving family by gratuitously connecting their name to what supposedly occurred at the Adass school. Secondly, both the Adass community in particular and the Jewish community in general were traumatised by this alleged child abuse. To bring this up in such an unwarranted way is insensitive and may well open up wounds for many. Thirdly, many members of the Victorian Jewish community already believe that The Age has a bias against Israel, the Jewish State, and thus by implication against Jews. You will well remember the furore caused by Michael Backman’s piece some months ago. Such reporting will only confirm this belief. ”

While Mr Ramadge apologised consequent to my letter, my Executive and I considered it inadequate. Accordingly we complained to the Australian Press Council which took the matter up with The Age. Following further discussions, The Age published an apology in its 20 October 2009 edition [pictured left]. I am satisfied with this apology and now consider this particular matter closed.

In conclusion, I note that both Danny Lamm, President of the Zionist Council of Victoria, and I are continuing to work on the Jewish community’s relationship with The Age. It is an important institution, both in Victoria and nationally. Recently, for example, Mr Ramadge addressed a public meeting jointly sponsored by our organisations. It was open and frank, and useful for our community and, I believe, for Mr Ramadge as well. Our relationship must be an honest one and, as the JCCV’s complaint indicated, we will not sacrifice community interests for the sake of expediency. ”

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