‘I am angry… on behalf of myself and other women’: Lisa Millar condemns social media abuse on air03/08/2023
ABC News Breakfast presenter Lisa Millar has publicly addressed the social media abuse she has received this week, and raised concerns about how some news outlets chose to cover the story.
Millar was targeted by social media trolls on Monday who focused on her appearance. The attacks were then boosted by news outlets, News.com.au and the Daily Mail, with both publications republishing the social media commentary.
Lisa Millar called the social media abuse upsetting but also criticised news sites that chose to republish hurtful comments.
On Wednesday morning, Millar addressed News Breakfast viewers directly, taking aim at both the abuse and the way in which it was covered.
“I’d like to take a minute to talk about what went on during the last 48 hours. If you’re blessedly oblivious, and you’ve just been getting on with your life – great! – I won’t dwell on it,” she said. “The fact that what I wore on Monday attracted obnoxious commentary on Twitter – foul, disgusting personal abuse that I couldn’t and wouldn’t repeat – was upsetting.
“That it then ended up online on some news sites where the photos and the abuse were republished made me angry. Thanks for all the support, you’ve all been awesome and some of you pretty funny, [with] some of you suggesting if we all turned up in pyjamas you’d still be fans of the show.”
Speaking on International Women’s Day, Millar’s frustration was underscored by the fact that she is regularly the target of social media abuse.
The ABC News Breakfast host deactivated her Twitter account in September 2021 despite being an avid tweeter and boasting almost 55,000 followers.
“I am angry though, on this International Women’s Day, on behalf of myself, but also on behalf of other women, young women, who see those stories and see someone like me being violently abused day after day for whatever reason bullies can find.”
“I worry it might make you think that no progress has been made and that it’s not worth it to be a woman in the public arena. ”
Newsrooms are increasingly grappling with the problem of social media abuse, particularly given its disproportionate impact on women journalists, including at this masthead.
“What Lisa is subjected to every time she turns up for work is at the extreme end of what all women in journalism and public life face every day while they’re simply doing their jobs,” said Tory Maguire, executive editor of The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, WAtoday and Brisbane Times.
“It’s appalling that anyone would be expected to cop this kind of psychological battery, and we need to make it clear to everyone that they don’t need to just suck it up and accept it as part of doing business.
“We’re closely examining our newsroom’s interaction with social media right now for this very reason and the more people at senior decision-making levels who call this out for what it is, the better.”
The ABC also released a statement specifically addressing the coverage of the Millar story by News.com.au and Daily Mail.
“If Daily Mail Australia and News.com.au were genuine in their concern about such behaviour, they wouldn’t amplify it by republishing the comments they describe as ‘vile’ and ‘sickening’, accompanied by a screenshot,” the statement said.
ABC news director Justin Stevens added that the “relentless and vile bullying Lisa Millar is subjected to on social media, particularly Twitter, is unacceptable”.
“Media outlets that amplify this disgusting anonymous trolling need to take a good hard look at themselves and their standards.”
The trolling of Millar follows the ABC’s decision last month to begin closing down Twitter accounts connected to specific shows. ABC News Breakfast was among the accounts shut down, alongside Insiders, with all updates to now come through the broadcaster’s main ABC News Twitter account.
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