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