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Australian journalists sacked over fake reports

Friday 26 Aug 2011
Australia’s Channel Nine has sacked three journalists for faking reports about the search for the remains of a young murder victim, ABC News reports.
The network’s Director of News in Queensland has also resigned over the issue, accepting full responsibility.

On separate days, two reporters filed fake crosses from the station’s helicopter, saying they were near Beerwah, over the site of the search for the remains of a murdered Queensland teenager, Daniel Morcombe.

In one incident, the chopper was actually hovering near the station’s Mt Coot-tha studios and in the other, it remained on the Channel Nine helipad – and was filmed there by a rival network as the live cross went to air.

Earlier this week, Channel Nine admitted the crosses had been faked, citing time restraints and poor weather.

Director of Queensland news Lee Anderson resigned after almost 25 years working for the network, while reporters Melissa Mallet and Cameron Price were sacked, as well as producer Aaron Wakeley.

Channel Nine management said the incident had prompted changes to its news gathering guidelines.

Nine Network Managing Director Jeffrey Browne said: “Our position is unequivocal. We rightly demand accountability and high standards of others, and we must meet those expectations ourselves.

“Over the weekend, we did not. Our clear determination is to ensure that sort of conduct is never repeated, and we have drawn a very clear line in the sand by removing the staff involved in that breach of trust with our viewers.”