The perils of being a woman with a platform: Emma Alberici as the target

The perils of being a woman with a platform: Emma Alberici the latest target

Earlier this year the ABC’s chief economics correspondent, Emma Alberici, wrote two lengthy pieces on company tax in Australia. To say these pieces have sparked controversy is a gross understatement.

The backlash was swift and unrelenting: the government was furious, with Malcolm Turnbull, Scott Morrison and Mitch Fifield among the senior ministers who complained immediately. The Qantas chief executive, Alan Joyce, was just one business leader who sent a letter of complaint in response.

The ABC took the news piece down and made some corrections, including the removal of passages which may have amounted to opinion, before republishing it.

In April at Senate Estimates it was resolved that the stories contained nine errors or omissions, but several months on Alberici remains firmly in the line of fire: she has sustained unrelenting criticism since February.

Exhibit A.  

On Friday The Australian levelled a new set of accusations at Alberici which the ABC quickly responded to.

It turns out that neither ABC News or an ABC independent complaints investigation found there were “wrong claims” or “confusion” in her corporate tax piece as has been insisted.

The piece on Friday appears to confirm that the treatment of Alberici goes beyond mere reportage: it borders on targeting.

Which is perhaps the reason many of the ABC’s most high profile journalists have shared the organisation’s statement – along with statements offering their personal support for Alberici – since Friday.

The response to Alberici since February has been intensely personal and entirely disproportionate: a pattern that is desperately, eerily even, familiar.

In maintaining her line and failing to slink away, Alberici has joined the ranks of Gillian Triggs and Yassmin Abdel-Magied. She is a woman with a platform she is not afraid to use, and we know, too well, how this combination plays out in Australia.

Badly. These type of women need to be silenced: why else are they targeted?

Earlier this year Crikey published the work of data analyst and writer Ketan Joshi which showed since posting her infamous Anzac Day Message “Lest we forget (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine)”, Yassmin had 207,979 words written about her. More than two hundred thousand words, which had the effect of making Abdel-Magied flee the country.

According to Joshi almost half those words (47%) were published by News Corp (including the 25% in The Australian and Daily Telegraph) and the Daily Mail Australia published 17%.

Alberici may not have had 200,000 words written on her just yet, but she has had several thousand column inches dedicated to criticising her since February. The ‘reporting’ has been variously described as a vendetta, a hatchet job and obsessive.

While Alberici isn’t showing any signs of fleeing in her treatment we are seeing – once again – the perils of being a woman with a platform.

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