April Jones 'murder': Kay Burley takes Sky to 'new low'

Oct 5, 2012

Fury as presenter tells volunteers live on air that girl is presumed dead


SKY NEWS anchor Kay Burley has been vilified on Twitter and sparked a debate about media ethics after appearing to tell two volunteers in the hunt for missing girl April Jones that the search had become a murder inquiry, live on air.

Burley, reporting live from Machynlleth, had just finished talking to a journalist about the fact that police no longer expected to find April alive when she turned to a woman stood nearby and asked for her reaction. The woman, a volunteer in the hunt for Jones, made it clear she had only just heard the news that the abduction probe was now a murder inquiry and was too distraught to answer the question. At that point another woman approached and asked what had happened.

Burley replied: "Let me just tell you what we've heard from the police is that it's now become a murder investigation."

Although she was visibly shocked the second volunteer kept her composure and insisted that the search would go on. Burley then asked her how she was feeling, and told the women: "I'm going to let you go and compose yourselves." She added: "If you want to talk to us again later, we're here."

Reaction to the clip was instant and withering on Twitter, and Burley was bombarded with abuse. Among those who joined the feeding frenzy were MP Tom Watson who said: "Kay Burley: Insensitive bordering on cruel. Is breaking news so important that you have to forget your humanity?"

George Monbiot posted a link to footage of the interview and described it as "the worst kind of television news reporting: cruel & pointless". Robin Parker of Broadcast magazine described it as "a new low for journalism".

Others urged people to complain to Sky News and Ofcom over her behaviour and her Wikipedia entry was briefly changed so it read "she also works part-time as Death".

Papers were quick to pick up on the story and the Daily Mail said the incident raised "questions over the ethics of rolling live news coverage of such breaking news stories."

Some tried to mount a defence, and pointed out that the second volunteer had actually asked what was happening. New Statesman blogger Simon Hern tweeted: "In her defence, she was answering a direct question", and asked readers to make up their own minds. Others urged critics to view the entire clip in context.

However, the fact that the cameras kept rolling while the two visibly distraught women reacted to the news was too much for many people. One commenter on The Guardian website said the footage was "abhorrent, but what do you expect from Burley or from Sky?"

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Baloney. I've seen the clip and it sure doesn't seem like heartlessness...the lady simply asked what had happened and was told

Burley has been insensitive all week, probing her interviewees to try and get them to say the girl is probably dead, long before today, and even hinting earlier that they were being kept out of the way because there was something gruesome to see. Dreadful reporter.

Criticism from the Guardian about insensitivity in the April Jones is a laugh - they had their Live Blog up-and-running on Tuesday with breathless reports from their man on the ground. Burley is awful, Sky News isn't any more, and should quietly move her on.

Typical media reaction. I suppose she just thought it was a "new break in the story". These people have the empathy of slugs.

Just seen the clip and what on earth is wrong with it. Kay does a great job and has always dealt with these things with campassion, come on folks dont shoot the messenger.

This woman is crass! Anything for a story - not at all what we need in a situation like this - the poor parents of little April, surely, have enough to contend with without this metropolitan idiot putting in her penn'orth!

She did the same thing to peter Andre saying insesitive things regarding his children, this woman is the wrong choice to cover sensitive stories, she's obviously more concerned with trying to get the shock factor, she thinks shes controversal, she's not she's just a dragon better suited to spread gossip in tacky magazines.

Kay Burley was even worse when interviewing the searcher with the dog, she had to emphasize the fact it was a Cadaver search Dog ..... a real modern witch ... hunting for sensationalist fodder

A reporter who uses the probable murder of a child to go chase audience ratings is stooping very low indeed. However, there were mitigating circumstances. She works for Murdoch.

i totally agree, she has made me so shocked on many ocasions due to her lack of sensitivity, that ive turned the tv off. shes the wrong person to cover these stories

Im no fan of Kay Burley but having actually watched the footage cannot see whats wrong with it. She was asked a direct question and gave the answer that the Police themselves had already made at a press conference.

She didnt announce anything confidential. What she said was already in the public domain and the people near her didnt know as they were not at home watching the tv.

We prefer unbiased and sensible reporting, especially on sensitive issues like the disappearance of April Jones. Gimmicky cheap tricks like the ones used by desperate attention-seeker Kay Burley are taboo for professional journalism. They're stale. Give us fresh new reporting with intelligence and dignity, please.

I reckon we should all turn off sky news over this, its shocking that she could sink so low as to tell people with no compassion at all she should be sacked.

burley is digusting her interviews disgusting and everything about her reporting is the same she should go sky and its news reporters delight in upsetting people

Given that it was live TV and the news of it becoming a murder investigation had already been released, I don't see why people are getting so offended by Kay Burley's on-the-spot reportage. She was clearly upset herself and mindful of the shock and hurt that the news would convey. One just has to note Burley's body language to see that.

Once again, this is an example of the 'professionally offended', with their faux outrage on display, as part of their sick, tacit need to become part of this dreadfully distressing situation. It also tells you all you need to know about Tom Watson MP and others, with their ever present band-waggoning - it begs the question as to who are the guilty drama mongers, trying to make some freakish, self indulgent gain out of this awful tragedy?

noone has wanted to say it but most people have known since tuesday that she is almost certainly not going to be found alive. instead of focusing on the negative aspect of the reporting be grateful for the publicity from the news in trying to help find april.

I've been saying it for years! I'll say it again! Burley is the WORST "Broadcaster" I have ever seen! Arrogant. Obnoxious. Totally unfeeling. She has been doing this for years now! She obviously knows too much about what goes on behind the scenes ... or surely they would get rid of her!

how can they charge the man with april jones murder when they havent found her body wether shes dead or alive they carnt charge him with her murder there is no proof till they find her they can charge him with her kidnap but thats a bout but i hope she is alive some were and i hope the guy gets whats coming to him she is an inocent girl