Saturday, August 27, 2011
Channel Nine in Brisbane has fired two journalists and a producer for faking two live news crosses to aerial footage above the site of a search. In a live news cross, journalists broadcast back to the newsroom in real time when an event is happening.
Melissa Mallet and Cameron Price and Producer Aaron Wakeley were sacked by the Nine Network after rival Channel Seven filmed footage of the Nine News helicopter sitting on the helipad at the time it was supposed to be in the air on a live cross near the site of a search for the remains of a missing schoolboy, Daniel Morcombe. Evidence emerged the helicopter had not been near the site of the search during a live cross on the previous day, as well.
Channel Nine began an investigation after the footage came to light.
The incident, labelled “Choppergate”, has lead to the network’s credibility being questioned. Following the scandal, Lee Anderson, Queensland news director, resigned after 25 years at the network.
The Nine Network boss, David Gyngell, issued an apology. “The integrity of the Nine news brand is the value of Channel 9. Integrity is paramount. … Staff made a massive mistake, and on my watch. That will never, ever, happen again. I am truly sorry.”
The network has said that the decision to sack the journalists and producer was necessary for the network’s credibility and the trust viewers place in their information.
Cameron Price said he was considering legal action against his dismissal. “Thanks for all the support”, he tweeted to his followers. “I believe what happened today is completely unfair … And I am seeking advice on the matter.”
Bruce Morcombe, Daniel Morcombe’s father, said of his family, “We genuinely see it as a storm in a teacup and feel quite sorry for the loss of those people’s jobs”.