Naked, murdered body aired on Vermont TV in Crime scene photo

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WCAX posted this apology on Twitter.

WCAX, a CBS affiliate news station based in Burlington, Vt., showed a “photo of [Melissa] Jenkins’ nude body, face-down underwater and weighted by cinder blocks” during its Oct. 9 6 p.m. broadcast. The photo came from court evidence, according to the Burlington Free Press.

The television station apologized for showing the photograph on the air, the Burlington Free Press reported.

Jenkins was found dead in the Connecticut River, which runs along the border of Vermont and New Hampshire, in 2012. A man named Allen Prue and his wife Patricia are accused of murdering Jenkins. Allen Prue currently is on trial but pleaded not guilty; his wife “will be tried separately,” the Free Press reported in a separate article.

The station’s news director, Anson Tebbetts, claimed the photo accidentally made it to air because of a “breakdown in our editing system.”

The station published apologies on its website, Twitter and Facebook.

At the bottom of one of the WCAX reports on the murder trial of Allen Prue, the station published an editor’s note apologizing for its “mistake.” The editor’s note reads:

“Editor’s note: We want to update you now on a mistake we made during coverage of the trial on the 6 p.m. broadcast Thursday. We accidentally aired a graphic photo that had been shown in court. We are reviewing and tightening our policies involving the video editing process. Some changes have already been made. Again, we are very sorry for airing that photo.”

On Facebook Oct. 9, the station wrote that it was “investigating how something so egregious could happen” by letting the photo be broadcast.

On Twitter, the station wrote:

WCAX would like to apologize to our viewers and especially friends and family of Melissa Jenkins. (1/3) #nek #vt




iMediaEthics has written to WCAX for comment.

Hat Tip: Jim Romenesko

UPDATE: 10/13/2014 11:30 AM EST WCAX’s news director Anson Tebbetts told iMediaEthics the station hasn’t made any decision about any disciplinary action for the person or persons responsible for the picture making it to air.

The station aired several apologies for the error, Tebbetts said. “The anchor apologized seconds after the image appeared. We noticed the error and apologized before going to the next story. We also said we were sorry again the end of the broadcast. And also during the 11 broadcast.”

WCAX also “apologized publicly and privately to family members,” Tebbetts added.

“We deeply regret the error. We violated our standards and we are so sorry for this error,” Tebbetts wrote to iMediaEthics.

Tebbetts indicated the photo made it to air because of a technical error, writing:

“It was an error. It was not a judgment error.  We never intended to show the image. The preliminary investigation indicates there were two files. One had the image. The second report did not have the image.  When we sent the second file we were looking at the correct version (the image was not there when viewing in preview)  but somehow the server/computer took the first report which contained the inappropriate image.”

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Naked, murdered body aired on Vermont TV in Crime scene photo

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