Culture

A Full Timeline Of Australia’s Absolutely Wild Schapelle Corby Release Coverage

This was like high school muck-up day, but for accredited journalists.

After being convicted of smuggling drugs to Bali in a boogie board bag in 2005, Schapelle Corby has been released from prison. She served 13 years for the crime.

Corby’s conviction was undoubtedly one of the biggest local stories of the new millennium; I certainly remember the rampant debates about whether or not she was guilty (Corby claimed the drugs had been planted in her bag, possibly by a baggage handler) as the trial progressed in Indonesia. Once she was convicted, stories of Corby’s life in prison continued to dominate the Australian news cycle whenever they cropped up.

Now she is free and returning to Australia. So, in tip-top form, the Australian media has taken this opportunity to lose its collective shit. It’s like a high school muck-up day, but for accredited journalists!

Of course, we all certainly expect the news to include coverage of Corby’s release; she and her family are (for better or worse) part of our national psyche when it comes to current affairs. But journos riding shotgun in the back of utes? Photographers scaling (and falling off, lol) walls trying to catch a snap of her? 40 members of the Australian media booked on her flight from Bali to Brisbane? It’s madness.

If you steered clear of broadcast TV over the weekend, here’s what you missed:

Surrounding The Encampment

So there were truckloads of journos camped out at Corby’s prosecutor’s office, and at the compound where she was staying while she awaited her journey back to Brisbane. So. Many. Journos.

There were local Aussie journos literally hanging out the back of open-bed trucks, and looking like they just jumped off the ropes course at Year 8 school camp.

And there were local Indonesian journalists climbing the walls of the compound. Turns out that wasn’t the best idea because LOOK AT THIS MAN WHO FELL OFF THE WALL.

And, yes, you read it right. That post came from Corby’s newly minted Instagram account, posted without comment. Shots well and truly fired by Corby right there.

The Journey Home

Wowza, Corby really had to pull a fast one to get the media off her tail on the way home to Brisbane. The media discovered which flight she was booked to return home on, and journos started booking tickets on that flight quick smart. Soon, it was Schapelle and 40 Australian journos trapped on a five-and-a-half hour flight together. Sounds… delightful.

Then, at the last minute, Corby and her security team pulled the old switcheroo on them. She booked a different flight and left those journos wanting on their journey home. Smart, Corby. Smart moves.

Boarded

A post shared by Schapellecorby (@schapelle.corby) on

Then, when she arrived in Brisbane with her sister Mercedes, Corby left the airport via a private entrance and her security team pulled another fast one: they sent two convoys out from the airport to further confuse the local media camped out at Brissy airport. This is like an episode of Homeland.

One of those convoys headed to the family’s Gold Coast home (not before it made a stop off at a KFC first, and tbh, same), while the other made its way to the Sofitel. By the by, the Sofitel is also the base camp for the NSW State of Origin team; there’s now speculations that Schapelle might just bring down the entire State of Origin 2017.

In any case, the media could not ascertain which convoy (if either of them) was actually carrying Corby. She slipped by them again, the wily minx!

The Fam’s Back Together

In preparation for Corby’s return home, every Corby relative under the sun converged on her mother Rosalie Rose’s house in the Gold Coast. My personal favourite member of the Corby clan, and the country’s new media darling, is Aunty Jen, who showed up at the Gold Coast house with a cheeky “$600 bottle of vodka”. (The vodka’s Belvedere which runs at $79.99/L from Dan Murphy’s, but ok).

Nice one, Aunty Jen. We all need an Aunty Jen.

Not wishing to be outdone by Aunty Jen, other members of Corby’s family arrived at the Loganlea house dressed in creepy Halloween clown masks and fist bumped in front of the cameras i.e. literally trolling the media for their obsessive eye on a suburban Queensland family reunion.

The family is staying quiet about Corby’s current whereabouts, and no one does a better job of putting off the media than our new best mate AUNTY JEN:

Meanwhile, locals added their own response to the media frenzy with the now age-old “put your X out for Y” joke. Observe:

The Media Turns On Itself

Look, the whole media response is so insane, that the media is now reporting on its own reaction. Karl Stefanovic had a right old spew at the media’s obsession with Corby on air this morning.

I mean, to be honest with you, Karlos is absolutely right. However, it’s a little hypocritcal to be sitting on your high horse chastising the media for their coverage of the Corby release when you’ve been right there with them tracking her like a hungry dog for years.

Additionally, The NT News (my favourite newspaper what of it) has crowed this morning about their entirely Corby-free front page. I mean, can you blame them? Monster snake in loo is a massive news scoop.

To be fair, part of the appeal of this story is simply that Corby has been in prison for an incredibly long time. 2005 was so long ago, friends. The OC was still on television. John Howard was still Prime Minister! Instagram — Corby’s chosen method to reach out to the public — didn’t even bloody exist when she was convicted. It’s pretty wild.

So, yes, the media has gone absolutely stark raving bonkers in response to Corby’s release. But also, can you blame them? This is how we cover current affairs now: it’s the 24-hour news cycle, it’s the circus of the Trump presidency, it’s the calls of #FakeNews that give some media outlets a free pass to act a 24-pack of complete rancid nuggets.

This is news media in 2017 — are we having fun yet?