'If there was someone to apologise to in person, I would': Sky News reporter explains MH17 bag rummaging

The Sky News journalist condemned for rummaging through the suitcase of an MH17 flight victim’s baggage has written to explain his “screw up”.

And Colin Brazier has criticised reports of the incident that didn’t recognise his instant apology – "we shouldn't be doing this … this is a mistake" – instead being “determined to see what I did as a powerful example of journalistic vulturism”.

Brazier said that he reached for the bag live on air because he saw a pink drinking flask similar to the one his six-year-old daughter owns.

He also revealed that he had committed “a cardinal sin of broadcasting… blubbing on-air”, but that this cannot be heard on the online version of the video.

“At the weekend I got things wrong. If there was someone to apologise to in person, I would,” he wrote in The Guardian.

“Certainly it was a serious error of judgement. I acknowledged that and so did Sky. My bosses issued an apology by tea-time. They were supportive and keen to stress that they understood the context of the gaffe.

“And what was that context? What can mitigate the seemingly indefensible? I doubt many of my more roar-throated detractors on Twitter feel there can be any justification for such morally insolvent behaviour.”

Brazier said there seemed to be no rules at the crash site and that he had seen other well-known journalists broadcasting “intimate belongings” that “brought home the poignancy of the tragedy”. He added: “I foolishly took that as a precedent.”

Brazier wrote: “And so during that lunchtime broadcast I stood above a pile of belongings, pointing to items strewn across the ground. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a pink drinking flask. It looked familiar. My six-year-old daughter, Kitty, has one just like it.

“I bent down and, what my Twitter critics cannot hear – because of the sound quality of internet replays of the broadcast – is that I had lost it. It is a cardinal sin of broadcasting, in my book anyway, to start blubbing on-air. I fought for some self-control, not thinking all that clearly as I did so.

“Too late, I realised that I was crossing a line. I thought aloud: "we shouldn't be doing this … this is a mistake", an instant apology that was only selectively quoted by those determined to see what I did as a powerful example of journalistic vulturism.”

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