Four Australian Journalists Lose Jobs after Misleading Viewers

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An Australian news station fired three and accepted the resignation of one after it was revealed the station misled viewers in a "live" segment. (Credit: Herald Sun, screenshot)

Four journalists for Australian news station Channel 9 have lost their jobs after it was revealed the station’s reporters weren’t reporting from a search mission despite telling viewers they were.

On Aug. 20 and 21, the station was reporting on the search for missing man Daniel Morcombe, according to the Courier-Mail.  The Brisbane Times reported that Morcombe has been missing for “about eight years” but the police have recently discovered “three human bones and a pair of shoes.”

But, instead of being near the search mission near the area of Beerwah, on Aug. 20, “the helicopter was in reality over Chapel Hill in Brisbane’s western suburbs.” On Aug. 21, the helicopter was “on Channel 9’s helipad,” The Herald Sun reported.

Journalists Melissa Malley and Cameron Price and producer Aaron Wakely were fired.  News director Lee Anderson, who admitted “full responsibility” for the error, resigned, according to the Courier-Mail.

Price tweeted that he is “seeking advice on the matter” because he thinks being fired “is completely unfair.”  Likewise, Wakely tweeted that he is “seeking legal advice.” Mallet suggested the group was “just trying to do what we do” in reporting, according to the Courier Mail.

However, Courier-Mail reported that Queensland journalist Hugh Cornish claimed the incident “sullied and damaged” the station’s credibility.

The Brisbane Times reported that in a statement, Channel 9 claimed “bad weather” and “bad judgment” were to blame:

“Air traffic control diverted the helicopter due to bad weather right before the cross was planned to happen. Timing is crucial in a news bulletin. There was certainly no intent to mislead. Not correct the record at the time was a bad judgment call made by the producer.  During Saturday and Sunday night’s Brisbane bulletin, we crossed live to a reporter in our helicopter updating the Daniel Morcombe case.

“On both occasions we said the helicopter was near Beerwah. This was not the case.  The fact that the location was misreported is totally unacceptable. We have launched a thorough investigation into all the facts surrounding these reports.”

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Four Australian Journalists Lose Jobs after Misleading Viewers

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