For those of us who live outside the high-powered media bubble..

For those of us who live outside the high-powered media bubble, it's actually quite laughable to watch two key players in the Australian media industry go tit-for-tat in a battle of he said/she said.

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*Disclaimer: In the interest of fair play, I need to state that I used to intern at Mamamia. However, I am not currently associated with them, nor does anything I say in anyway represent them.All opinions expressed on mysocial media feeds/on my website/in this article are my own.

If you missed the storm in a teacup that is #strippergate over the last 24 hours, you can read a play-by-play here, otherwise let's get into it.

#strippergate has blown up over what seems like a series of unfortunate events. Of course that makes it sound like it was an accident, and both sides definitely made deliberate decisions that caused the issue to snowball out of control. So what went wrong?

1) Mamamia didn't check their facts before publishing.

Mamamia is an opinion website, their articles aren't known for being hardcore breaking news journalism. It's an opinion website covering everything from fashion, to parenting issues or celebrity gossip, and the latest hot topics. Sometimes the opinions they share are controversial, and they get people off side. Remember how the internet blew up about Mia's opinion on interns, or the connection between drinking and rape?

So the MM editor-in-chief Jamila Rizvi writing an article in response to the Sunrise Couture segment is completely justified, it's what they do. Where the MM editors went wrong was thatthey didn't check their facts, and they assigned "feelings" to Samantha Armytage without actually asking her how she felt.

You see it's all well and good to have an opinion, but the opinion needs be argued in a way that's factually correct. Otherwise it's just spin.

To their credit, following a response from the Sunrise team, Mamamia updated the article and added a disclaimer that the facts had been corrected.

2) Sunrise could have left well enough alone.

This all could have been over before it ever really begun.

Sunrise could have turned to themselves and said: "You know what? We don't think that segment to be offensive, we certainly didn't mean it to be. The opinion article on Mamamia was nasty, but we're going to leave well enough alone." Or quite simply put, Sunrise could have taken the high road.

By biting back, what was a simple difference of opinion, has snowballed into a bigger than Ben Hur crap fight. A fight that's going to keep escalating until one side stops retaliating all together.

But you know what? I get it. If someone had published an opinion article about me I'd want to bite back and say "No, actually this is what happened." I'd defend myself. In fact, isn't that one of the founding principles of journalism?

Sunrise deserved a right of reply. Where they went wrong was escalating (from comments on the side, to twitter, to a 7 minute segment live on breakfast television) to ensure they we're heard.

3) Kochie's right of reply (aka comment) went missing/was banned/didn't appear on the site till four hours after he posted it.

Mamamia has had a comment moderation system in place for awhile. A unrelated post by Mia on the 9th September 2012 features the following note: (Although interestingly Mia put a link to this article on her Facebook this morning.)

COMMENT NOTE: To keep the site positive, respectful and troll-free, we are now pre-moderating all comments. So if you don't see yours pop up straight away don't panic! We will get to it as soon as we can (were aiming for close to real time) and so long as it doesn't breach our comment guidelines, it shall appear. Thanks for playing.

-MM Team

Now I can't claim to know how things work now, and I certainly wasn't in the office when this went down but:

As a general rule, the MM team didn't moderate the comments themselves, it's one of the many tasks they assigned for their interns to do. The majority of the comments we're straight forward. You either let them straight through or you trashed them. The only comments we ever trashed we're spam or downright personal attacks. The personal attacks where commenters went "You are a this and a that , and your mumma so fat . you get the idea. It was ok for you to disagree on an article, your opinion is worth exactly the same as ours. If it was said nicely, it let it through.But occasionally there we're the comments where we just weren't sure. The toed the line between healthy debate, and a personal attack of the author/another commenter. That's the time where we played by the rule"when in doubt, don't [publish]"

So some poor unsuspecting intern was probably subjected to the decision of whether or not to publish Kochie's comment, and they made the wrong call. I can understand Mia claiming there was a f**k up, and they've fixed it. It's not a big deal. The actual politics of whether comment moderation is ethical journalism is another discussion for a different day.

If the original comment hadn't gone missing for whatever reason, that might have been that. Each party said their piece and we're done with it. But when it looked like Kochie's reply had been censored, he took to twitter to make sure he had been heard.

4) Mia chose to reply to Kochie privately instead of publicly.

Now I can completely understand wanting to calm the waters before this got any bigger than it already has, so replying to tweets privately may have seemed like a good idea. Settling the issue privately out of the spotlight would have been a great idea, had the whole saga not begun in the spotlight. You can't publicly take aim at someone, and then privately apologise for it.

Of course that made it look like Mamamia didn't want to publicly admit fault for their part in #strippergate

It sounds to me all Sunrise wanted was a good old fashioned apology, and Mamamia believes they've done nothing worth apologising for.

A public apology, regardless of who is at fault, would do a lot towards calming the waters and putting the whole incident to rest.

But no-one would have known that Mia replied in private, had the messages not been read out live on television this morning.

5) Twitter is full of trolls. but we knew that.

Public attacks on personal opinions never go down well, somebody is always going to be off side. The problem of playing out these kinds of things in a digital age, is suddenly everyone has a way in which to express their opinions. And their opinions are very rarely nice.

Twitter is a buzz with people supporting either Mamamia or Sunrise. #strippergate was trending for awhile. (as was Jamila Rizvi) Some commenters are simply saying "I agree with." or "well said."But others are becoming down right nasty, carrying out personal attacks on both Mia Freedman and Jamila Rizvi.

And that's not neccessary.

It doesn't need to get to the point of death threats. Quite simply, take some advice from Bambi: "If you can't something nice, don't say nothin' at all."

This fight wasn't yours to begin with, stay out of it. Watch from the sidelines with interest if you must, but stay out of it.

Finally, what did we learn? (in jest, with just a hint of seriousness of course)

1) Wittner makes shoes worth fighting over.

2) On that note Wittner, you should probably send some thank-you flowers for all the free publicity your shoes got.

3) It's going to be interesting to see where the Mia Freedman/Morning Show relationship goes from here.

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Posted in Sport Post Date 11/15/2016


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