Australian Yahoo 7 journalist Krystal Johnson is in hot water after her news story on a murder trial caused the jury to be discharged. Johnson may be charged with contempt of court.
A spokesperson for Yahoo 7 told iMediaEthics by e-mail, “Yesterday Yahoo7 unreservedly apologised to the court, and to the victim’s family and friends. We await the outcome of the referral to the DPP.”
The problem was that the article “contained information that had not been presented to the jury,” The Age reported. Johnson’s article included “a Facebook post and other potentially prejudicial information.”
Johnson’s story was published Aug. 18, Australian Broadcasting Corp’s Media Watch reported. It was about the case of Mataio Aleluia, who was charged with murdering his girlfriend, Brittany Harvie.
Johnson’s lawyer, Justin Quill, said his client “forgot the first part of the report that this was a trial” in front of a jury when she was writing her story because she had to cover another story half-way through writing, according to the Guardian. Quill apologized for Johnson, calling it “human error” and saying she posted the article directly online because she didn’t want to bother her editors. iMediaEthics has written to Quill.
The judge, Justice Lex Lasry, didn’t buy that story, saying it “strains credibility,” the Guardian reported. Because of that, the Director of Public Prosecutions is reviewing the case.
As a result, Yahoo 7 is giving media law training to staff, The Australian reported.