Chrissie Swan wins battle against Woman’s Day for publishing McDonald’s epics with children
RADIO personality Chrissie Swan has won her battle with gossip magazine Woman’s Day after it published a series of photos of the Swan family at a McDonald’s drive-through.
It comes as the same women’s magazine attempts to fight back a record $4.5 million defamation payout to actor Rebel Wilson after a jury found Woman’s Day and The Australian Women’s Weekly defamed her in a series of articles.
Three images of Nova FM’s breakfast co-host Swan and her three children caught unaware by paparazzi at a Melbourne McDonald’s were published in the March 27 issue of the magazine last year with the accompanying headline: “It’s McHappy day! These guys must be doing their chores”.
It was accompanied by a caption which read “STAR SPOTTER: Your favourite stars … caught on camera”.
The pictures were snapped by a photographer in hiding.
The Press Council’s latest adjudication concerns a complaint by Chrissie Swan about an article published in Woman’s Day magazine. https://t.co/pnhj9lrXym– Aus Press Council (@AusPressCouncil)
“The complainant said she enters into agreements with publicists to ensure her children are not photographed or reported on at events they attend with her,” a statement by the APC read. “If that agreement is not reached, she attends without her children. She said her children do not have any commercial endorsement or representation arrangements with anyone, are not in the media industry and are not in the public domain or of any interest to the public.”
Swan complained to the Australian Press Council about the article, claiming her children were not in the public eye and therefore breached their right to privacy. She claimed that ever since an article featuring her son in the Women’s Weekly in 2013 led to comments revolving around his weight, she has actively tried to keep them out of the spotlight.
“Ms Swan said her complaint was not about the coverage of herself but of her young children.
“The photograph showed them in an unflattering light, one with a pacifier and a security blanket and another with a pacifier. She said the effect of the picture was to expose the children to ridicule.
“The photograph had been taken without her knowledge or approval, and the article caused considerable distress to her family, made the children feel unsafe, and exposed them to threats and abuse, especially cyber-bullying.
“She said her children do not have any commercial endorsement or representation arrangements with anyone, are not in the media industry and are not in the public domain or of any interest to the public.
Woman’s Day disputed Swan’s argument, claiming Swan had used her children as fodder in her memoir, in radio segments for her show on Nova and on television before.
It said Swan “had not contacted it at an earlier stage to seek a general agreement to not publish photographs of her children”.
A media rep for Nova told news.com.au Chrissie “won’t be commenting on this one”.
Today, the APC said it agreed with Swan’s concerns and that Woman’s Day breached the children’s privacy and caused substantial distress.
The article caused outrage at the time, with ABC’s Media Watch also slamming the publication: “While radio stars might be fair game, their kids are definitely not.”
“Woman’s Day made no attempt to protect their privacy,” while also criticising a similar story by the Daily Mail.
The Daily Mail published the children’s names in full – and while the children are no longer in shot, the article, with Swan seen ordering drive-through, can still be found online today.
In its findings released today, the APC concluded: “The Council considers the article was likely to cause substantial distress to the family. In publishing the article with the unauthorised photograph of the children with their pacifiers and a security blanket visiting “Maccas” with the accompanying caption ” … caught on camera”, the publication failed to take reasonable steps to avoid causing substantial offence, distress or prejudice.
“The Council considers that their publication was not in the public interest so as to justify the level of intrusion.”