Experts blast Daily Mail ‘granny panties’ story
Sam Armytage had threatened to sue the Daily Mail for defamation. Photo: Getty
A leading academic has labelled coverage by a British-owned, Australian-based website of TV host Samantha Armytage’s underwear as “nasty trash” that should leave those responsible feeling ashamed.
The director of the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advancing Journalism, Dr Margaret Simons, said the journalist and editors behind a Daily Mail story calling out the Sunrise host for wearing “giant granny panties” should be “hanging their heads in shame”.
The article, published on Sunday, was accompanied by a number of paparazzi shots, taken as Armytage shopped for groceries in the Sydney suburb of Bondi while wearing a loose-fitting singlet dress.
The story’s original headline, “Sam Armytage’s giant granny panties show a visible line”, was later altered to omit the word “giant” after a slew of negative comments and tweets flooded the publication.
The New Daily has chosen not to publish the full pictures.
The original headline posted by the Daily Mail. Photo: Twitter
“Armytage should be allowed to go about her daily life without this kind of rubbish. Yes, she is a celebrity but that does not negate her right to a private life,” Dr Simons told The New Daily.
A spokeswoman for the Seven Network, which airs Sunrise, said they would not be commenting on the story, nor the media scrutiny heaped on morning show presenters, while Armytage told Buzzfeed News she was seeking legal advice.
Underwear and dating rumours
The article also drew attention to multiple dating rumours that have plagued Armytage in recent weeks.
The Sunrise host was forced to post an image on Instagram denying she was dating anyone after various publications, including news.com.au and Daily Mail – which has posted 10 articles on Armytage’s love life since the beginning of December – wrote about the rumours.
Armytage published a blanket denial on her Instagram page on Sunday, posting an image of a t-shirt emblazoned with the message, “No, I’m not dating anyone”.
“In the past week or so, according to the gossips, I’ve been ‘in love with’; a gay colleague, a straight colleague, a bloke I stood next to at the races 3 months ago, a Gladiator, a British boy-band member & 17 other people I’ve never met,” wrote Armytage.
RMIT journalism professor Dr Alexandra Wake said the Daily Mail appeared to be “channelling Donald Trump” in its “inappropriate” coverage of the accomplished journalist and media personality.
“Those kinds of personal attacks on professional women should not be tolerated,” she told The New Daily.
“The journalist who wrote that story should feel personally ashamed, as should the editor who commissioned or published it.”
The New Daily has contacted the Daily Mail for comment.
See Armytage’s post below:
‘It’s not journalism – it’s clickbait’
Both Dr Simons and Dr Wake said the story was nowhere near a representation of proper journalism.
“I think commenting on the personal appearance of television personalities during private moments is well beyond the bounds of legitimate journalism,” Dr Simons said.
“It is particularly concerning to see this kind of demeaning reporting about female journalists at a time when sexual harassment in the newsroom is in the headlines.”
Dr Wake said the Daily Mail article did not fulfil even the “minimum standards for what we should consider journalism in Australia”, and labelled the story “absolutely deplorable”.
Despite the Daily Mail audience’s clear interest in Armytage, Dr Wake said news publications should uphold the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance’s code of ethics, which include not allowing “commercial considerations to undermine accuracy, fairness or independence” and “respecting personal privacy”.
“Journalism should be about the public benefit (rather than interest), even when it’s not popular and there should be some kind of accountability to the public,” Dr Wake said.