With a little PR magic from Max Markson, Naomi Robson’s lizard didn’t happen and neither did the cannibals

I had an intriguing press release from publicist Max Markson today.

Naomi Robson is back in front of the camera. Even if it’s only online. And Markson Sparks PR is helping her with the launch of The Naomi Show.  

Writing the background of the story, I wanted to give some details about her time on Seven’s Today Tonight. Like many people I’m sure, I vaguely remembered some sort of fuss about her wearing a lizard on her shoulder while covering Steve Irwin’s death. And something about a farcical rescue attempt of a boy from cannibals.

The details escaped me. So I turned to Robson’s Wikipedia profile. Oddly, none of it was there.

So after finding the relevant information elsewhere and writing the story, I did some digging…

If you aren’t aware, Wikipedia is created by volunteers. And anyone who registers as a user can edit entries. The idea is that crowd sourcing creates a more balanced write-up than a single individual might be able to provide.

All of that info was deleted four days ago.

Guess who was editing Robson’s Wikipedia profile last Thursday afternoon? A user with the account name “Maxmarkson”

So what did user maxmarkson change?

Well, she got two years younger – now she’s 46. Previously according to Wikipedia she was 48.

Of course, that may, for all we know, have been a correction. But the rest of the changes make me wonder.

This was deleted:

“In 2005, a recording of Robson was aired on [[Triple J]] Radio, containing swear words during a pre-show complaint to the producer. She is reported to have sworn seven times in 34 seconds.”

So was the link to the SMH story that reported it.

Happily it’s also on YouTube, so there’s little doubt the original newspaper report was wrong:

Details of Robson’s relationship with somebody connected with a serious court case were also deleted. So was the link to the original Herald Sun story reporting it.

Again, thanks to YouTube, it’s hard to deny the story is true:

This was deleted too:

“In May 2006, ”[[The Daily Telegraph (Australia)|The Daily Telegraph]]” alleged Naomi Robson had been labelled a “princess” by reporters covering the [[Beaconsfield mine collapse]] in Tasmania.”

And this:

The article claimed Robson had become the butt of jokes when a photo appeared in the ”Launceston Examiner”, showing a media scrum as reporters scrambled to hear an update while Robson was visible in the background having her hair tended to.

“Maxmarkson” also deleted this:

“Robson was the subject of a stinging profile by Amanda Meade, media writer for ”[[The Australian]]”. The 1,300-word article quoted an unnamed “former [[Seven Network|Seven]] publicist” as saying she lacked the skills for live interviews and that “her sincerity factor was very low”.”

A quote from Meade’s piece was also removed:

“There’s this cold, waspish, punishment-oriented, dominatrix in Robson that fits with the tabloid audience. They want to see these people [on the program] caned. And yet because she is relatively stylish and good-looking she doesn’t come across as a harridan. There is a bit of matron in there.”

And yes, the incident that got me digging was also deleted from her (now very short) profile:

“Robson’s personal style was again raised following the death of [[Steve Irwin]]. Robson hosted ”Today Tonight” from outside [[Australia Zoo]], wearing khaki with, at one point, a lizard on her arm. The choice of outfit caused viewers to complain, describing the move as “tacky” and “insensitive”.”

And indeed, her jungle bungle was also expunged:

“On 14 September 2006 Robson and her crew were detained in [[Indonesia]], after arriving in the country with tourist visas to film a story on a boy they believed was in danger of being killed by cannibals. They were later deported”

Indeed, looking at the history of the Wikipedia article, there’ s been a battle going on between users who keep posting additional information and users who keep deleting it. The other deleter is a user called “marksonsparks”.

Clearly, good PR is about using the tools at your disposal to correct errors and remove the libellous. Maybe Robson really is just 46.

But to go further – deleting references to infamous moments – seems, to me at least, to cross the line into attempted censorship.

At the time of posting, Max Markson hadn’t returned my call, but I’ll update this if he does.

Tim Burrowes



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