Former Wallabies Captain David Pocock won a whole new band of admirers over the weekend not thanks to his three tries against the Highlanders but because of his Twitter conversation with News Limited’s Miranda Devine.
Devine tweeted following Pocock’s try celebration “Did David Pocock actually do Jazz hands when he scored a try?!!! What a Tosser.”
Pocock’s much publicised response was “@Mirandadevine it was actually Auslan/sign language for clapping. I have a friend who’s first language is Auslan so it was for her…”
To her credit Devine apologised and her response almost seemed contrite, but it does raise a very real issue. Like the athletes they cover do journalists and those in the media have a social obligation to conduct themselves appropriately on social media?
Devine loves to attract attention with bold statements, and maybe this was a ploy to attract more attention having a pop at a man who does so much for those less privileged than himself. David Pocock is the ideal target for many to try and haul down from a position of respect. He is a supreme athlete, a gentleman and selfless in his everyday life. The sort of role model we should in fact be building up. Even if he did do Jazz Hands, and even if Ms Devine thought this was wrong did he deserve to be publicly called a tosser?
To be fair Ms Devine is not alone, heading to social media and making such comments, many a media person in Australia and overseas has slammed an athlete or coach, many using expletives. If an athlete does something along those lines they are quick to report the fact, the athlete invariably is forced to publish an apology and is fined. Will New Limited sanction Ms Devine in a similar fashion to the sports bodies? That is extremely unlikely. In fact News Limited will probably celebrate the free publicity her tweet has garnered.
Just as we say players have a social responsibility to conduct themselves appropriately as they are role models, surely those who bring us news and opinion have the same obligations?