Lees, Falconio and some territory justice

First it was the rail link, then it was the prospect of cricket in August, but finally the NT government have stumbled across the perfect way to keep its economy bubbling along - a murder mystery. It was indeed good fortune for the Darwinians that the star witness this time around happened to be an attractive Englishwoman, and not, say an ugly Kiwi bloke or a no-hoper local.

As it is, the Australian media, with a healthy selection of Fleet Street gutter-crawlers, have headed to Darwin for the Lees-Falconio hearing. Let's hope that the magistrate is a proud territorian and allows the case to progress from the committal hearing in the Maggie's Court to a full blown Supreme Court battle.

What is remarkable, although probably not surprising, is how much of the media has focussed on the most minute of details surrounding Lees and her appearance in the top end. The silly saga surrounding who would have photographic access to her, as well as the regular appearance of media lawyers in the court room, is demeaning to everyone for whom journalism is a profession.

Unsurprisingly, Lees jetsetted straight back home as soon as her appearance was over, but if the case does go to trial she will no doubt be back. When she does arrive back, the media would do well to give her some breathing space, and a chance to have some control over the situation. By not doing this the first time around, the media have suffocated their own story.

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