A Mother, a Dingo and an Australian Media Frenzy

In 1982, an Australian mother was convicted of murdering her baby daughter. She was later exonerated, but soon fell victim to a joke that distracted the world from the real story.

When Lindy Chamberlain’s nine-week-old baby daughter Azaria disappeared from a campsite in the Australian outback, she maintained a dingo had snatched the infant from inside a tent.

But the police didn’t buy it, and initially nor did most of Australia. Lindy was charged with her daughter’s murder, convicted and sent to prison. Three and a half years later new evidence surfaced, proving that Lindy had been telling the truth all along. She was released from prison and her conviction overturned. But her plight didn’t end there.

While in Australia Lindy battled with public opinion, in the United States a Hollywood movie starring Meryl Streep introduced Lindy’s cry to a new audience. Although the film depicted Lindy as a victim of a media feeding-frenzy, that wasn’t what hit home for most Americans. Instead the line, ‘A dingo’s got my baby’, took on a life of its own as a popular sitcom joke, far removed from Lindy’s tireless quest for justice.

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The media and Lindy Chamberlain, and reporting criminal matters in the Northern Territory today by Dr. Belinda Middleweek, University of Technology Sydney and Barry McKay, radio producer

  • Producer: Jennifer Forde
  • Editor: Anne Alvergue
  • Reporter: Sarah Weiser